Active older people could shore up a devastated tourism and hospitality sector in the off-season, provided hotels get their offerings right
You’ve heard of supermarkets and parks allotting priority hours for older people. But what about hotels?
Galway’s Hardiman Hotel, which reopens on July 17, is devoting an entire “Designated Bedroom Floor” to the over-65s.
It’s the second floor of the hotel, GM Patrick Murphy tells me, meaning guests can avoid taking lifts, and there’s a dedicated dining area, too... should guests wish to avail.
“Our thought process here was that the older generation will be much more meticulous in their approach,” he explains. “If you are surrounded by your peers, you will feel and are, in principle, safer.”
An over-65s package also includes valet parking and no room-service tray charges. Rates for two nights’ B&B with two dinners start from €198pps midweek from July to September, and €178pp thereafter.
There’s a single supplement of €50 a night, which solo travellers may roll their eyes at, but also flexible cancellation up to noon on arrival day, and all staff will be wearing face coverings.
Safety is key, but “we want this to feel like a holiday, a treat”, the hotel says.
Before Covid-19 upended the world, so-called “silver surfers” were a growing force in tourism. Tending to holiday off-season and midweek, older travellers could also help shore up a sector expecting few overseas visitors this year, according to Maureen Kavanagh, CEO of Active Retirement Ireland.
Last year, its 25,000 members alone were worth €13m to Irish hotels, she says.
But the pandemic hit this group hard. Fáilte Ireland research shows older people are now slower to book short breaks, suggesting a caution among cocooners.
“They will be looking to the hotels that can prove they are providing a safe haven,” Kavanagh says.
That means observing Fáilte Ireland’s Safety Charter, and being consistent on face coverings. “Our members feel quite strongly that face masks would be a must.”
“There’s certainly a desire there to travel, but also a desire to know that reassurance is being offered by hotels,” agrees Geraldine McGlynn of GoldenIreland.ie, an Irish travel website for the actively retired.
Attitudes towards holidays also depend on individual circumstances rather than sweeping demographics or age groups, she says. “There’s caution, but also an appetite to meet up with family.”
With nervousness around sharing transport and rooms (single supplements are an issue), and peak-season prices in play, many are taking a wait-and-see approach until autumn.
“We feel active older people certainly can shore up tourism and hospitality during the off-season,” Kavanagh says — provided more hotels get the offers right.
1. Kick back in Kilkenny
The Blue book's Butler House (above) has a 'Butler Active (55+)' package, bundling a two-night stay with breakfast and two passes to the Medieval Mile Museum from €280. 071 772-2828; butler.ie
2. Cocooners in West Cork
Seaview House Hotel in Ballylickey, West Cork, a member of Original Irish Hotels, has a special offer for cocooners "who can relax with like-minded explorers in the hotel's separate, eight-bedroom wing". The all-inclusive, two-night offer includes a welcome drink and meals from €499 (or €375 for single occupancy), in October and November. 01 295-8900; originalirishhotels.com
3. 'Golden Years' in Kildare
The Killashee Hotel has three nights' B&B with two evening meals (or in-room dining with no tray charge), plus afternoon tea and a 10pc discount card to Kildare Village from €480 per stay based on two sharing midweek. Transfers can also be arranged from the local train station. 043 879277; killasheehotel.com
4. Wonders of Wexford
Wexford's Ashdown Park Hotel has two nights' B&B, a 'Taste of Wexford' dinner menu on one night, a picnic to enjoy, a 'Royal Ashdown massage' and free room service from €227 per room for two people (no single supplement for the over-55s). 053 911-0539; ashdownparkhotel.com
5. A break in Ballyhoura Country
Co Cork's Charleville Hotel has an over-50s leisure special including B&B, tea, coffee and scones on arrival and a two-course dinner each evening from €140 per night, per couple. It can collect from the station. 063 33700; charlevilleparkhotel.com
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