I always welcome the chance for extra down-time, so when my boyfriend suggested a relaxing weekend away, I jumped at the idea.
He's not usually one for quiet weekends -- if he's not mixing records on his decks he's busy attending gigs or watching football. I was excited by the thoughts of our first peaceful getaway together and some time to recharge after a busy week.
He organised it. A cheap January deal in a hotel not too far from Dublin was the objective. We arrived at our Wexford destination just in time for a pre-dinner drink. The hotel was vast, with at least 100 rooms, but I'd hazard a guess that just 10 of them were in use. We met the same few couples in the bar, at breakfast, in the restaurant. Quiet indeed we thought, but the receptionist informed us that the weekend before had actually been empty -- every hotelier's worst nightmare.
Our package of €129pp included two nights' bed and breakfast along with one dinner, with full use of the swimming pool, Jacuzzi and other leisure facilities -- a fantastic offer by any means. Set on magnificent grounds and with no expense spared on the hotel's interior, it was sad to see it so quiet. We didn't mind, we made our own fun, and enjoyed the attentive service and peaceful surroundings.
However, having worked in the hospitality industry, I found myself thinking hard about how the business has changed. While January has typically been slow, I've no doubt this spa destination had seen busier months during the Celtic Tiger years.
Living in the city centre, it is easy to forget how it's the smaller towns that are really suffering the brunt of the recession. Hailing from Skerries, I know all too well the reality of its impact on small town businesses, as our family restaurant was one of the early casualties.
We enjoyed our weekend together and returned home refreshed, rested and without much damage to our bank accounts. For me, though, it was a stark reminder of a struggling industry.
It really was the quietest weekend ever.