“It was a bit of a tough decision to make, but the pandemic convinced us,” said Niall Hughes. “In 2021, our new motels are really successful, but bed and breakfasts are falling behind. So we decided to move the bed and breakfast to an upscale motel, and that’s what we did over the winter. “
iall and his wife, Darra, have run Sea View House, an award-winning bed and breakfast in the picturesque village of Doolin, Co Clare, for 25 years. They have welcomed a steady stream of guests from around the world to their home, where picture windows offer breathtaking views of the Ailie River and the Atlantic Ocean.
But change is coming. Starting this month, the traditional bed and breakfast business side will end and all couples accommodation will transition to premium, self-catering options, with customers able to rent one of three on-site luxury motels or even the Sea View House. no.
The beautiful three-story home has now been transformed into a four-bed luxury motel, which features three king-size rooms and a double bed for eight people to sleep in, and a newly installed hot tub on the deck. widely private.
It is not simply a case of ‘out with old’. Guests have their own kitchen and dining room, but can still opt for the freshly prepared Burren Food Trail Breakfast Buffet, where bread, jams, granola, locally produced yogurt and even breakfast items are available. Niall’s fame can be transported gently to the door of the motel, with no dressing room required.
“In a way, it’s the same business model; it’s just different,” Niall said. “It was certainly a difficult decision, but given the success of the motels over the past two years with the domestic market, it is unquestionable for us.”
‘Pivot’ is a word we’ve heard a lot in times of pandemic, as businesses creatively adapt to rapidly changing rules and restrictions. For some accommodation providers, that continued as we emerged from Covid. Whether it’s changing the business model or expanding the guest experience, many hospitality businesses across Ireland are looking for new ways to transform it by 2022.
Some are moving to a more self-contained, self-service model. At Longueville House, a Blue Book property in Co Cork, for example, there’s a move toward exclusive rentals – groups of 13-30 guests can now choose to rent a stunning 301-year Georgian mansion age for three nights or more. Inch House in Co Tipperary has taken a similar step. After running a restaurant for 25 years, the owners have now offered it to tourists to rent exclusively.
Old Convent’s Christine Gannon, another said: “We have guests who have been with us for the past 16 years, are now coming and staying with us for the last time, and I have tears in my eyes when they pay. room. Country house in Copper Tipperary. “I was very emotional when I had to let go.”
Located at the foot of the Knockmealdown Mountains at Old Convent Country House, Christine and her husband Dermot are preparing to complete the overnight side of their hugely successful bed and breakfast business.
Lockdown played a part in their decision, but it was not a change based on Covid-related concerns.
Christine explains: “Our lives took a different turn when our child was diagnosed with a rare syndrome. “During the course last spring, we had time to step away from our routine and think about what works for our family, what doesn’t, and where our priorities lie. We just realized we couldn’t do it all anymore.”
She continued: “I think a lot of people certainly assume it’s due to rising commodity costs, rising energy prices or staff shortages, but the real story behind that is a family decision.”
Old Convent will continue with Dermot’s famous eight-course Irish Artisan Tasting Dinner, and Christine, a trained yoga teacher, will launch yoga classes. They plan to turn the building into a yoga space and transform the formerly luxurious drawing room into a splendid new dining room. The Sunday ‘Yoga and Brunch’ event is happening.
Many vendors have found that a wider offering has a better chance of success. For example, after 17 years running a bed and breakfast in Co Cork, Siobhán O’Leary has no plans to stay overnight. But she is passionate about the need to develop ‘La Cita’, a 5-bed property built to her request.
During the shutdown, Siobhán’s online cooking videos have grown in popularity, prompting her to consider how she can maximize the cooking school aspect of her business model. “I sat down while locking the door – and I don’t tend to sit down too much – and I decided the wall separating the kitchen and dining room had to go.”
The open plan space is now the perfect place to host cooking demonstrations. Siobhán also worked with a business advisor to see if she could partner with tour operators as a cooking stop where international guests can learn how to make locally sourced dishes. like Beamish bread – on the way to and from Blarney Castle.
“I’m working on building it at the moment,” she said. “Breakfast only will be returning, but not in bulk, so I wanted to enhance the breakfast experience. You always have to think, ‘What can I offer my guests?’ “
An increase in intimate weddings has also prompted Hanna’s Close to change course, a complex of 10 traditional holiday homes nestled in the foothills of Mount Mournes near Kilkeel, Co Down, since the 17th century.
Lily Annett, administrator of Hanna’s Close Holiday Homes, explains: “I would never have seen us go the wedding route, but obviously because couples couldn’t have a big wedding they called. electricity to us. From the idyllic backdrop to the space for wine vendors and tepees, it’s becoming a sought-after ‘hidden gem’ wedding venue. Even if restrictions are lifted, she thinks demand will remain. “I think people have realized that they don’t have to spend a fortune or do big things that everyone is invited to in order for them to feel special.”
Covid support has allowed the hay barn to be converted into a multi-purpose event space – with wedding flower arranging classes now scheduled for April – and a painted wooden caravan Ornate decoration has been added to the site to serve as the basis for the storytelling sessions. This year, cooking demonstrations on how to make traditional potato bread and soda will be hands-on, with Lily leading not only the performances but also fireside baking classes.
“People don’t want to go on vacation anymore,” she explains. “They don’t just want to stay at Hanna’s Close, they want to experience it.”
That ‘E’ word pops up everywhere, whether talking to a luxury self-catering company like Unique Irish Homes, who report that even celebrity A-listers are looking for ‘cash. that little money’, or a family exploring a country farm. Guests want more, they want an authentic experience, and vendors are pivoting to deliver them.
“I think people have changed what they want from a family vacation,” reflects David Ross from Top of the Rock, a popular family ranch west of Cork. As well as two new floor heating systems pods (potentially for a family of six to sleep) and children’s playhouse built last month, there are also new walks on the farm to enjoy and extend the tour of the farm. them, where visitors can get up close to the action, whether it’s watching lambs being born or digging.
“People are realizing how special these things are and you don’t have to fly miles to do something memorable as a family,” says David.
The positives of the pivot feature have revealed themselves. In Doolin, for example, fewer registrations mean Sea View House no longer has to close for winter break. It is now a 12-month destination and that has a favorable impact on employee retention. The increase in room rates has increased its average room rate, but it also means that the average length of stay has increased.
“We’re seeing a lot of people booking three and four nights because we’re currently on base rather than overnight,” Niall said. “Our products are now more suitable for the domestic market and that makes this model more sustainable.
“It’s a future-proven business for us.”
Year holiday changes
Sea View House, Doolin, Co Clare
Explore the Cliffs of Moher and return to your luxury lodge to relax in your own private hot tub. Stay two nights from €245pps, with hearty breakfasts delivered to your door. seaview-doolin.ie
Hanna’s Close, Kilkeel, Co Down
Are from Game of Thrones tours to e-bike rentals, all the activities Mournes has to offer are right on your doorstep, but you still get a taste of vacation history. Two nights in 17th-century cottages start from £190. tangnecountrycottages.com
Ancient Monastery, Co Tipperary
Some overnight stays are offered until 31 July. After that, guests can enjoy the eight-course Irish Artisan Tasting Dinner, which is served on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday falls before a bank holiday, with prices from €75pp. theoldconvent.ie
La Cita, Co Cork
Enjoy a ‘complete Irish home experience’ with a cooking demonstration (bundles, Irish stew, boxed rice) before enjoying the fruits for lunch or dinner and overnight at home stay for breakfast only. From €100pp. lacitabb.ie
Top of the Rock, Drimoleague, Co Cork
After feeding the sheep and exploring the hay maze, retire to the cozy on-site family cabin at this family-run ranch. Self-catering, two-night stays for two adults and up to four children (bring your own blankets and pillows), including a farm tour, from €220. topoftherock.ie
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/staycations/changing-places-irish-b-and-bs-and-guest-houses-are-pivoting-to-create-a-new-experience-for-visitors-41403720.html Relocating: Irish B&Bs and guest houses are pivoting to create new experiences for visitors