SHANNON Springs four-star hotel has successfully navigated a turbulent 18 months by emerging with a larger staff-base along with a completed €2.5million refurbishment, for which they have received a national award nomination.
The renovation, which was led by interior design studio Millimetre Design, sees a complete refurbished reception area, 17 new guest bedrooms, along with the addition of a small fitness room. Every guest room now has air conditioning, a feature which is unique to any hotel in the area. It continues a trend of continued evolution at Shannon Springs since co-owners Dermot Kelly and John Gavin took over six years ago, graduating the establishment from a two-star to the renowned four-star rating it now holds – and the pair now have their eyes on growing their higher-end corporate clientele following this latest refurbishment. The hotel’s Old Lodge Gastro Pub has also retained its AA Rosette national award for the fourth year running.
John told The Clare Echo, “The feedback on the rooms and reception area has been really, really positive. Even from returning guests who would have known the hotel pre-upgrade, they are blown away by the level of detail in the upgrade. I only found out this morning that we’ve been shortlisted in the ‘fit-out of the year’ category in the hospitality sector so that’s been really positive.”
It’s a unique situation that Shannon Springs find themselves in having grown their operation over the last two years where others are trying to cut costs. Dermot added that Shannon Springs now employs in the region of 74 people, which signifies a 20 per cent increase from pre-Covid levels.
While acknowledging that future projections are dependent on developments in global trends, they are hopeful that a continued strong domestic market paired with an increase in international visitor will stabilise the industry in 2022. John explains, “The summer was very strong from the domestic market. There’s more tourists travelling now, we see people from the UK, a few from Europe. Business is quite strong but it wouldn’t be at 2019 levels yet. It’s very dependent on what happens in Europe and in the US in particular, next summer should tell.”
The pair are also very optimistic for the future of the region’s key economic driver, Shannon Airport, following the appointment of its new chairman Pádraig Ó Céidigh. Dermot explains, “Ryanair have a good number of flights out of Shannon each week so there is a certain amount that we are seeing from ‘stay, park and fly’ packages. There are Irish people taking that opportunity to go abroad and we’re seeing some benefit from that as are other hotels here in the region.”
He expands that while there have been challenges across the industry with attracting skilled labour in recent months, they are encouraged by this week’s announcement of the easing of restrictions which will see a return to normal trading hours, along with supports that will continue into next year such as the EWSS. While John is a former student of the Shannon College of Hotel Management, a continuation of strong relationships here may help Shannon Springs remain ahead of the curve on attracting skilled talent. For now though, the pair are just excited for what lays ahead.
“We’re very happy with where we’re at,” says John. “Obviously if we could take away Covid, we would be a lot happier but we’re very happy and thankful to those people who have supported us both in our local community and further afield.”