The Redcastle Hotel has been operating for many years and throughout this time has established itself as one of the leading hotels in the Inishowen area. In its 30th anniversary, it begins a new stage with a view to the future led by a new General Manager. Mr Donal Cox has extensive work experience in the tourism industry, including 5-star hotels. Today he talks about his new role at the Redcastle Oceanfront Golf & Spa and his plans and projects for the hotel.
The Redcastle Hotel has been open for over a hundred years and recently celebrated its 30th anniversary under Harcourt’s ownership. What ingredients do you think a business needs to be successful in time?
The Redcastle Hotel has been in business for a long time and a lot has changed in the way hotels are operated. Country hotels like this used to be very regional; now they are more modern to adapt to a new age, especially with the Internet and Social Media. A whole new world has opened for us in this region thanks to modern media, as well as many opportunities for tourism. Having Star Wars here, the Wild Atlantic Way
, being named Coolest Place on the Planet
… all those things have put Inishowen and Donegal on the map and have raised our profile.
What I think has kept the hotel successful for so long is the local people, the staff. The modern guest wants to see the locals and to experience the authentic Inishowen.
What do you expect to bring to the hotel? What would you like to accomplish?
Along with the group, we want to establish the Redcastle Hotel as the premier hotel in Inishowen and Donegal, providing guests with a quality service and a memorable experience.
First, we need to make money, get revenue. By being successful, we will reinvest in the property, to modernise it and to enhance the offering – throughout all areas of the hotel.
Also, to build the team in the short and long term and to offer opportunities to the staff members to develop and grow within the hotel and within the company.
Sounds like a plan. What challenges do you think the hospitality sector is facing and will be facing in the near future?
Now our biggest challenge is Brexit across the border, which has led to the devaluation of Sterling. This week it has improved slightly but everybody is constantly watching Sterling.
But I personally believe that every challenge brings an opportunity, it’s all about looking at a different way to deal with that problem.
That’s quite an optimistic approach.
Yes, and I suppose that came from working in the tourism industry in the 10 or 15 years, when we experienced a boom and then a recession. This forced us to make sure we offer the very best and become more efficient.
You have stayed in the hotel as a guest in the past; tell us, what impression did the hotel cause you on that occasion?
It was very friendly and homely. It is usually described as a seaside resort but, for me, it has the friendliness of country hotels. It’s very family orientated, with the pool and the golf course. I stayed here on two occasions, first with my wife and then with my kids, and it was always very welcoming. It is strikingly very clean and well maintained and, everybody will agree on this, it has an exceptional quality of food. The kitchen team have just been awarded the Hotel Restaurant of the Year Ulster Award by Yes Chef; this is the last of the countless honours that they have been granted. I sincerely believe that the Restaurant is one of the greatest value drivers that we have.
In your opinion, what characteristics should a General Manager have?
Of course, a General Manager should be focused on revenue and sales and, in my opinion, they should have an eye for detail. Staff uniforms, presentation, cleanliness, even the way we present documentation; all of this reflects on hotel’s image and guests’ first impression.
The modern General Manager should be the image and the projection of the hotel. The way they behave and interact with the guests should exemplary for all the team and they should be supportive, as a leader. I am looking forward to meeting our regular guests and new guests!