The Lodge at Ashford Castle enjoys the feel of a relaxed rural country house hotel whilst being an intrinsic part of the truly remarkable Ashford Castle estate. Once home to the Guinness family, the historic estate has won countless awards and covers 350 acres of formal, manicured gardens and wild, rambling woodland rich in wildlife – all right there on their doorstep. At Golden Ireland, we interviewed Peter Fergus, The Lodge’s Hotel Manager, to gain a greater insight into the success of this award-winning hotel.
Q.1 Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, e.g. where you’re from, how long have you worked at the hotel etc?
I started my hotel career in Westport Co Mayo as growing up just outside the town it was a brilliant job to get, having graduated from Shannon College of Hotel Management. I was ecstatic to become Hotel Manager at The Lodge at Ashford Castle in May 2018 and it is wonderful to be back in my home. There really is nowhere more beautiful than Ashford, with luxurious accommodation, exceptional dining, unique estate activities and warm, attentive, personal service. I look forward to sharing my love of the west of Ireland with you.
Q.2 If there is such a thing as a typical day, can you describe it?
A typical day in a hotel is always based around our guests and our great team.
Arrive in the morning and check in with the night team for any news of the night before!
Then visit the breakfast room to see our guests and breakfast team.
Review our arrival and in-house preparation lists for the day to ensure we are ready to welcome our guests.
We hold our morning meeting just after breakfast to catch up on handovers with all the managers and to plan for the day.
Then the fun starts and we meet and welcome our new arrivals and old friends and focus on making sure they have a relaxing and enjoyable experience!
Q.3 For more mature guests to the hotel, aside from great value packages, what else can they expect – e.g. great facilities, great location for exploring Mayo, recent refurbishments etc. Anything new in the area that might be of interest.
We are blessed to a part of the Ashford Estate with over 350 acres of woodland and nature trails for all of our guests to enjoy. The trails meander down by beautiful Lough Corrib and through the estate itself. There are beautiful benches doted along the walks for our more mature guests to sit and take the natural beauty around them. With over 20 different activities on the grounds of the estate there is plenty to keep one occupied like a cruise on the Lake with Corrib Cruises, a 9 hole golf course and Irelands first school of falconry which is an amazing experience to name just a few.
For those who wish to venture further afield Cong and the Ashford Estate lies on the periphery of Connemara, with its beautiful lakes and towering mountains, it is a wonderful way to spend a few hours of your day. Westport town is within a 40 minutes’ drive while Galway city is an hour away, we are so central to so much that it is difficult to pick and choose what one should do.
Q.4 What’s the best thing about your job? And the worst?!
The people, we have an amazing team here in The Lodge and I am honoured to be a part of that every day.
Our guests also play such an important part of everyday life here in The Lodge, we meet such wonderful people who have the most amazing stories to tell. Every day is different to the one before and that is what keeps the job exciting and dynamic.
While I know not every day will be perfect, it is long hours spent away from loved ones. I would not be able to do the job that I love without the support of my wife Kelly and my two young children Eoin and Aoibhin.
Q.5 Do you think the pandemic has changed hospitality in certain ways? e.g., ability to pivot, resilience, improved systems in place etc.
Absolutely, being able to adapt is always pivotal in the hospitality industry, as mentioned previously every day is a different day and with the recent pandemic this was no different. Moving in line with each Government restriction, changing direction at the drop of a hat, while this not easy by any means it shows how adaptable one must be. This was made all the less challenging by having the right team in place to deal with this constant movement.
Both The Lodge at Ashford and our sister hotel Ashford Castle were the first hotels in Ireland to be awarded the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR™ accreditation for the implementation of rigorous protocols in response to biorisk situations, such as Covid-19.
While the work of the accommodations team was always of a high standard, they have excelled in a world where people are more conscious of their surroundings and environment.
Thank you so much Peter for your time, and wishing you and the team continued success at The Lodge at Ashford Castle!
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