Wednesday 21 February 2018

'Everybody is a VIP' - A day in the life of one of Ireland's top hotels

Nicky Logue (46) is the general manager of the InterContinental Hotel (formerly The Four Seasons) in Ballsbridge. Born in Ennis, Co Clare, he lives in Cabinteely with his partner, Cathal

Nicky Logue. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Nicky Logue. Photo: Justin Farrelly

Once I'm up at 6am, I'm out the door. I live in Cabinteely with my partner, Cathal. We're together 13 years. He is in the online business. I leave the apartment and head into the InterContinental Hotel in Ballsbridge. There is no traffic, so I fly into work. Three mornings a week, I meet a personal trainer in the gym of the hotel. I need to be pushed. It's a great start to the day. It feels like my first win.

When I finish, I change in a room here in the hotel. I'm the general manager. I wear a different suit every day. I have to personify the five-star presence and lead by example. I'm a bit of a neat freak, and I'd be the same at home. I'm on the floor by 8am. But my day has already started when I change in the room after the gym.

I try to change in a different room every morning. I look at how the bathroom is working, and so on. If I see that something isn't quite right, I go straight to the office and rectify the situation. It might be something small, like a plug socket that is not working perfectly. Or there might be a little mark on the corridor that needs touching up with paint. These are all minor things, but they could cause annoyance for a guest. These little things matter.

I grab a bowl of porridge, and then I'm on the floor. I like to spend the first hour meeting the team and checking on guests. Then I catch up with office work. I check the figures from the day before, and I go through the arrivals report about the people who are coming in that day.

Everybody is a VIP, but we have a lot of repeat customers who come back regularly, so I like to say hello to them, and also to greet people who haven't stayed with us before. We have a lot of conference clients. Our conference room can hold 500. We have revenue meetings, and we look at what is coming up for the next few months.

A lot of very well-known people stay here every week of the year. They could be pop stars or royalty. There is a big build-up internally to these people arriving and their expectations.

Of late, you get a lot of dietary requirements, something that the chef will have to source, but it's usually pretty straightforward. Once they are here, they are very easy to look after. A lot of them could be key band members playing at the 3Arena. But I can't tell you any names. We wouldn't allow the team to infringe on their privacy. So there would be no autographs or photos. We completely respect their privacy. Confidentiality is key, right across the board. Because we have that reputation, we keep winning this type of business every week.

I trained at Shannon College of Hotel Management, but a lot of what I have learnt comes from my Irish upbringing; the warmth of our welcome, the friendliness and the chat. I was fortunate that my late dad, Seamus, was in the business. He was a hotel manager for many years, and then he ended up buying a hotel in Lahinch - The Atlantic Hotel. My brother runs it now.

Unfortunately, my dad passed away at 54, and I was in the UK at the time. My brother was running the business. I feel that it's in the blood. Even though my dad worked really hard, he really enjoyed it. He was in The Shannon Shamrock for years. There were six boys in my family, and as youngsters, we'd go to work with him on a Saturday. We'd have a swim in the pool while he was working, and then he'd look after us with some lunch. I used to look at him in awe. He seemed so happy and fulfilled from looking after people.

I began working in a hotel in Ennis at 13 years of age. I started in the wash-up and progressed to the lobby and the bar and so on. From then on, I absolutely knew that I wanted a career in hotels, so I decided that I'd apply for hotel management. Hotels can be hard work, but starting off at a young age sets you up for life. It's no harm at all to be working and earning money at a young age.

I love my job, and, like my dad, I enjoy seeing people happy and hearing that they've had a wonderful time. The InterContinental is a gorgeous work environment.

My dad got lung cancer. He didn't smoke much, but he spent all his life working in smoky environments. I had lost a brother in an accident a number of years before, and that had an effect on my dad. He was broken-hearted. You never get over something like that. Because of my dad's death, I've always been conscious about my health. I've never smoked, and I have regular checks. The exercise ties in with that. Sometimes the diet could be better, but in this industry there is a lot of temptation. I love my food.

I work five days a week, but on Saturdays, if there is a wedding, I might come in. I try to take Sundays off. We have a house in Clare, and every third weekend, we try to head off there.

Weekends are about catching up with family and friends. My mum, Jean, lives in Ennis, and I'm really close to her. She is amazing. When I think of all she has been through - losing a son and husband at young ages. She is so full of love and kindness. We spend time with her, and then we visit Cathal's parents in Galway.

On a weekday, I have a quick bite to eat at home. In the summer, we head off for walks on Dun Laoghaire Pier. I catch the news, and then I'd be in bed around 11pm. I try to switch off from work. I'm usually tired after the gym, so I conk out straight away.

In conversation with Ciara Dwyer

intercontinentaldublin.ie

Sunday Independent

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