In our new Staycation Series, we’ll be interviewing Irish hotels and tourist attractions to see how they’ve been managing business during Covid, and to provide some staycation inspiration for upcoming trips! This week, travel writer Clodagh Dooley speaks to Rónán O’Halloran, General Manager at Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate in Galway
Recently, I caught up with Rónán O’Halloran, General Manager at the 5-Star Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate, to see how he has been feeling since the news of Level 3 restrictions was announced, “Galway, invariably due to its coastal location and its reputation nationally as a great place to take a break, had a successful summer trading period. Guests from all over the island visited the city and county.
“With the announcement of Level 3, and guests not being able to travel outside their county, we have had a number of guests moving their booking to a future date. Some, of course, have had to cancel due to the restrictions.”
However, Rónán says they have had a few ‘Galwegians’, who were looking at staycations in other areas, decide to make their booking at Glenlo. “They want to experience something new that they would never have experienced before.”
And indeed, a unique experience is what they will have at Glenlo!
Before the Level 3 restrictions came into place, I stayed in the luxurious Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate. The castle-like hotel, which is set on the banks of Lough Corrib, is like something from a fairytale, located near beautiful Connemara and within reaching distance of Galway city. I felt like a queen for a night, especially after dining in the gorgeous award-winning Pullman Restaurant which is based on the hotel’s grounds.
The restaurant consists of two original carriages of the Orient Express, beautifully restored. In 1974, the carriage played a starring role in the Agatha Christie film ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, and it was also used by Sir Winston Churchill and his family, as well as theatrical personages such as Sir Laurence Olivier. An incredible experience and delicious dishes featuring local produce. (I went for McGeough Smoked Irish Beef Fillet with Escargot, Rooster and Horseradish – washed down with a Pimm’s!)
Rónán agrees dining aboard the Pullman is an experience like no other. “There are two carriages each with their own unique history, back-round clickety-clack train sounds, as well as an interior finish dating back to when these carriages once travelled the routes from Paris to Istanbul. It really makes this fine dining restaurant one of the most authentic dining experiences in the country.”
Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate also has acres of lands to cycle or walk through, a nine-hole golf course, falconry and fishing, as well as a cinema.
Part of the MHL Hotel Collection, the hotel took a responsible group focus on ensuring both guests and staff’s safety remained paramount during the pandemic. “All staff underwent the Fáilte Ireland training, which in turn awarded us with the Fáilte Ireland Safety charter.
“Additional steps taken were the installation of numerous hand sanitisers throughout the hotel and estate, all staff wear face coverings, and inline with most recent Government advisory, our hotel guests now wear a face covering too.
“Overall feedback has been very positive, with guests reporting that they feel at ease, realising that the team at Glenlo have implemented measures with their safety at the forefront.”
And the future looks bright for Glenlo, with many new developments happening despite these challenging times. The hotel and estate is constantly evolving and this month, they have just opened their new Superior Rooms to hotel guests. “This means we have gone from having 50 guest rooms to 73 guest rooms and suites.
“We are currently adding a new Spa called Glo Spa that will have an elevated view of the entire estate and Lough Corrib. Simultaneously, we are adding a new bar and restaurant, Palmers Bar and Kitchen. Both of these are set to open in December. We hope to give people even more reasons to come to Galway and stay with us.”
Well, I for one, will definitely have to return to check out the new spa – I’m excited already!
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