Sunday 22 September 2019

How Isaac opened the door to Antonio's heart

Newlyweds Isaac Macias and Antonio Delgado enjoy working together at the InterContinental Dublin hotel in Ballsbridge

Isaac Macias and Antonio Delgado work at the InterContinental Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren
Isaac Macias and Antonio Delgado work at the InterContinental Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren

Andrea Smith

Antonio Delgado says Isaac Macias's eyes are what he loves most about him physically, and he enjoys gazing into them. "I fall in love with him a thousand times a day," he says. "But when I first met him, I felt he was too handsome for me and I didn't like him at all. I thought he was very annoying as he's very spontaneous and talks to everyone."

Antonio (35) and Isaac (36) first met in 2001 at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Isaac was studying social work there, and Antonio was checking the place out with a view to enrolling. They met regularly through a mutual friend over the next six months, and Antonio's view of Isaac changed. "He was able to make me laugh," he says. "I wanted that because I had always seen my mum and dad laughing together. I wasn't sure about my sexuality then because I'm not the kind of person who feels attracted to someone physically. I'm more attracted to their personality."

Isaac thought Antonio was a lovely, very handsome guy, and felt there was an innocence about him. "I wasn't that innocent myself," he laughs. "Antonio is really emotional and sensitive, and he's sensible and intelligent too. I love him so much because he is such a sweetheart and he keeps me grounded."

There was a festival on in Gran Canaria the night Isaac asked Antonio out. As he did so, fireworks began launching in the sky, which was very romantic. Spain achieved marriage equality in 2005, but this was before that. Slightly nervous, Antonio waited a year before telling his mum Baca, dad Antonio and three sisters about the relationship. "They were fantastic about it," he says. "My father said that the only thing that they were disappointed with was that I hadn't trusted them. The day I told them was the best day of my life, because I felt I finally knew my place in the world."

Isaac was also supported by his dad Manolo, mum Lole and younger brother and sister in Las Palmas. Over the next few years, he and Antonio studied and worked in various social work and hospitality positions. They first came to Ireland in 2003 to work at Mount Juliet, encouraged by their teacher friend Janet Blanchfield, from Kilkenny. They absolutely loved it here, and went back and forth between Ireland and Gran Canaria between 2003 an 2008, partly because Antonio's dad had cancer - he sadly passed away in 2008.

They returned to Ireland in 2012 when they received an invitation to work at the Conrad hotel, Isaac in room service and Antonio as a waiter. After two years, Antonio moved to the Four Seasons Hotel in Ballsbridge, now known as the InterContinental Dublin. Isaac followed shortly afterwards and they love working at the five-star hotel. Antonio is a waiter who would love to progress to management, while Isaac progressed from room service to being a doorman, or guest assistant. He's perfect for the role, with his great charm and lovely mannerly demeanour. Antonio is also an absolute dote, and together they're a warm, welcoming duo, perfectly suited to the hospitality industry.

The standards are very high at the hotel, and the guys say they enjoy going the extra mile for guests. They also like that the hotel encourages staff to be themselves and they can be funny and friendly on duty. "We are such an international team here at the hotel, and everyone is so open," says Isaac. "There is no problem with having different religions and backgrounds or sexualities. When we proposed to one another, we felt so much love from the hotel and our colleagues and we feel valued as workers here. The hotel has a five-star philosophy of really supporting its staff."

While Antonio and Isaac originally felt they wouldn't get married, they both had a change of heart last year after 15 years together. They were walking home after being out for drinks on their anniversary when Antonio proposed to Isaac. "He started to laugh at first and I thought, 'Kill me right now'," says Antonio. "Then he said yes, but when we reached home, it turned out that he had everything set up to propose to me that same night."

Isaac says that he was nervous on the way home as he had made a video asking Antonio to marry him, and couldn't believe that his boyfriend pipped him at the post. They decided to tie the knot in Dublin as it was easier to arrange than back home, and were married four months ago with seven friends present at the Civil Registration Service in Lower Grand Canal Street. They went to the Trinity Hotel for food and drinks afterwards and had a wonderful day. They plan to have a second celebration with their families in Gran Canaria next year.

The newlyweds live in the Docklands area of Dublin and love going off travelling. The advantage of working in the hospitality industry is that they have friends they can stay with all over the world. Isaac is "crazy" in a good way, says Antonio, and life is never dull around him. "I can be completely myself with him and he's my best friend," says Antonio. "If it wasn't for Isaac, I don't think I'd be here right now. You have moments in life where you feel you don't want to keep going, but Isaac has always supported me. He brings out the best in me and pushes me to be the best person I can be. He's just amazing."

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