Friday 25 May 2018

Great Southern in Killarney going back to its roots


Ettienne van Vrede, ceo of the Hayfield Family Collection hotel group, said research showed the hotel’s name-change would be a positive move
Ettienne van Vrede, ceo of the Hayfield Family Collection hotel group, said research showed the hotel’s name-change would be a positive move
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

The owners of one of Ireland's oldest hotels, the Malton in Killarney, Co Kerry, are to re-brand the property and revert to its original name, the Great Southern. The Scally family, which also owns the five-star Hayfield Manor Hotel in Cork, has owned the Malton since 2014.

Ettienne van Vrede, ceo of the Hayfield Family Collection, said that many people continued to informally call the hotel the Great Southern in any case. "I have this thing that once you are explaining you are losing, so that is one of the main reasons we are going back to the roots of the Great Southern."

Van Vrede, who is from South Africa, is the son-in-law of the founders of the company, Joe and Margaret Scally.

He said that there was some discussion in the family as to whether returning to the original name would be a step backwards, but this concern was discounted. "We did some market research and we found that the name change would be a positive thing," he said. The hotel will close for a short period in January and re-open under the new Great Southern Killarney branding.

Van Vrede said that the company had to acquire the Great Southern trademark in order to rebrand the property.

Staff were informed of the name-change on Friday, while couples who had booked weddings there have been personally informed. The hotel, which describes itself as four-star deluxe, hosts between 75 and 85 weddings a years.

Over the past two years, the family-run company has invested in a major restoration programme, representing an investment in excess of €2m. The Grand Foyer has been restored to the original Victorian design, the public areas have been redecorated in classical style, an extensive bedroom refurbishment programme has been undertaken and the facilities around the Grand Ballroom have been upgraded.

Although van Vrede said he was watching the impact of Brexit very closely, he said that the Killarney hotel was heavily dependent on the North American market, which continued to perform strongly. He also noted that the golf market had strengthened in recent months.

"We have also seen a massive increase in developing markets, such as Australia," he said.

The hotel was built by the Great Southern and Western Road Railway in 1854 and guests have included Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Kennedy.

The group's best-known property is Hayfield House in Cork, the former home of the Musgrave family, which was bought by the Scallys in 1993. The house was developed into the Hayfield Manor Hotel with 44 rooms, with a further 44 rooms added two years later. "The size its at the moment gives some intimacy, a home away from home, and if you get too big, you lose that. But there is definitely demand for new rooms."

The original property in the group was Killarney Royal, a 32-room property which had been owned by Margaret Scally's mother.

Van Vrede said that group would be open to acquiring new hotels.

Sunday Indo Business

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business