COMPETING with cut-price hotels has been a tough battle for the owners of guesthouses and B&Bs in recent years, but Owen and Mary Patricia O'Sullivan have found there's nothing to beat the personal touch to keep visitors coming back.
Their Sea Shore Farm Guesthouse, outside Kenmare, scooped a coveted 2014 Georgina Campbell Food Award for the 'Q Guesthouse of the year' last week and Mary said that this was all down to meeting their customers' needs.
"People are so used to going to the big brand hotel where everything is the same and are often looking for a change," she said. "It's nice to see the ordinary strata standing up, like the dark horse in the Grand National."
"It's the owners' old-fashioned Irish hospitality that really makes it stand out," read the judges' final comments on Sea Shore Farm and this is something that Mary fully stands behind.
"When you have a nice guesthouse and give the customers a personal touch by interacting with them, it makes it a great experience for the client," she said.
Described by the Georgina Campbell judges as "a real Irish gem", the beautifully situated guesthouse overlooks the Beara peninsula, with field walks through farmland down to the shore.
Business in the last number of years has been "shocking", according to Mary, but, partly due to 'The Gathering', normality is returning and she believes they are now "over the slump".
"The majority of our client base has always been Americans and The Gathering this year has definitely brought a steady flow from the US," she said.
The Georgina Campbell Awards are Ireland's longest-running hospitality awards and are associated with her Ireland independent hospitality guides.