Can I have a short description of your career?
My passion for hospitality began as a teenager when I worked as a kitchen porter for a family friend. I learned to be a chef and worked for the Quinn Group before going to Shannon College of Hotel Management. Hotels I have worked in include The Morrison Hotel, The Westbury Hotel, Dalata Hotels, Soho Hotel, Bellinter House, and now Newpark Hotel, Kilkenny.
What is the history of the Newpark Hotel?
Newpark Hotel is built around the former Newpark House, an elegant 19th-century mansion that was completely renovated in 1908. The house was surrounded by over 50 acres of land, most of which is retained today.
In 1965, the building and grounds were purchased by a business consortium headed by a former manager of Jury’s Hotel in Dublin, (at its original site in College Green) the late Mr. Bobby Kerr. In 1966, Kilkenny’s first new hotel in over 100 years opened its doors and today it is acknowledged as one of Ireland’s finest provincial hotels.
The Flynn family, John and Allen Flynn, in 2008 added the four-star Newpark Hotel to their portfolio of luxury hotels. It includes the Imperial Hotel in Cork, the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis and The Park Hotel Dungarvan.
In 2016 the Newpark Hotel celebrated its 50th Birthday and it now comprises of a wide range of facilities including 40 acres of parkland, gardens, go-karting track, animal petting farm, and playground.
Interior facilities include a Health Club and Escape Spa with Aveda, fine dining restaurant and a brasserie along with a newly built outdoor terrace. There are extensive meeting and conference rooms, all with audio visual equipment.
What type of outdoor dining does the Newpark have?
The Terrace is the perfect oasis for casual dining, long lazy lunches and intimate evening meals. Its bistro-style décor with a Parisienne feel is complemented by plush throws and comfortable seating. It has a state-of-the-art retractable roof and outdoor heating which allows The Terrace to be used all year round.
Our recently launched Rotisserie menu served on the Terrace offers a unique dining experience, using slow roast cooking methods, for flavours that are bold, simple and natural. Our meat and vegetables are locally sourced.
The newest addition to the Newpark’s outdoor dining is Dotties Café, located on the front of the hotel. The Horsebox Coffee shop is open from 12 noon daily serving hot and cold drinks, sweet treats and savoury snacks.
How has business been this summer?
Business has been phenomenal with people going on staycations as travel abroad was severely impacted. We credit this to our social media teams who put together videos throughout lockdowns and on re-opening which showcased our hotel and staff at our best.
We have been working behind the scenes during every lockdown to come up with ideas to increase our occupancy. The Newpark Hotel has a full team of dedicated staff be it management or operational staff. We all work together to ensure our guests are looked after above and beyond their expectations.
Kilkenny is a great city to visit with a myriad of activities and sights to see for both adults and children. There are all types of cuisine available in the many restaurants in the city.
How have you coped with staff shortages, if you had any?
Prior to reopening in June, we hired 175 staff and trained them in the weeks prior to June 2nd so we were well prepared and fully staffed. A lot of those hired were students who had just complete d Leaving Cert exams and some have decided to stay with us for weekend work throughout their college terms. We also have an internal training programme for staff to progress within the hotel and this has proven to be very successful.
We also made a recruitment video as we knew a lot of our staff would be going to college and we needed to concentrate on midweek staffing levels. This has also proved to be very successful and we are now almost fully staffed for the coming months.
Who came up with the idea of the video for recruitment?
I commissioned the video; Niall our Operations Manager and Peter our Senior Duty Manager did all the hard work. They arranged all the staff to be involved and spent hours upon hours perfecting it to be something we are very proud of.
What changes have you made to enhance guests’ experience?
We have a sensory room for children that need a little quiet time with their parents. Our 4th floor is now “adults only” and has balcony suites; four of which have hot tubs.
The Newpark Hotel has a reputation for being family friendly, what entertainment do you have for children?
Our Kids Club is suitable for children aged four to 12 years, it is fully supervised by experienced childcare staff. It’s available to all our kid residents.
Where do your guests come from mainly?
Most of our guests are Irish, Northern Ireland or UK. Pre-Covid, we would have had a lot of overseas guests and hopefully we will get back to that in 2022.
How are bookings going, what is the autumn looking like?
We have launched our Autumn Sale and bookings are coming in thick and fast. We have had to close out some dates already due to full bookings. See here for Autumn sale offers.