Friday 15 December 2017

We work all year round, but it's a tough game

SIMON Haden's (pictured above) parents Peter and Moira bought Gregan's Castle Hotel in Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, in the 1970s and invested money into transforming it from a jaded hotel into a four-star haven.

He worked there before catering college and then left Ireland to work in hotels in Switzerland, France and Germany before returning home to the family business.

The 1980s:

"My parents ran the hotel in the 1980s when 75pc of the business was from America, and Americans had money in those days.

"You could always tell by January how your season would go. My parents worked six months on around the clock, and six months off.

"We always tried to be different, which was much easier back then because there was very little competition.

"Proper phones that didn't require an operator only came into rural Ireland at the start of the 1980s and if there was a phone strike, and there often was, we'd have to rely on a telex machine or else we'd be completely cut off from our market."

Today

"Today, we work much more intensively. There's much more competition and it's harder to keep our vital difference.

"We can't tell you this month what business will be for the next, never mind the season. We've had to invest in redecoration even though it's crucifying us.

"Today we work all year round and try to take days off. Now 45pc of our business is Irish and it comes all through the year.

"We had to slash our rates in 2008 and 2009 but at least our reinvestment has allowed us to edge them back to where they were in 2007. There's much more doom and gloom in the country."

Verdict: This recession is worse.

Indo Business

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