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It’s official! Donegal is now the Media’s Favourite Place in Ireland ...

It’s official! Donegal is now the ‘Media’s Favourite Place in Ireland’ and we even have the certificate to prove it.

Michael Collins, founder and Managing Director of TravelMedia.ie presented this prestigious award to Donegal County Council Chief Executive Seamus Neely and Cathaoirleach Cllr. Gerry McMonagle at the recent Donegal Tourism Seminar in Harvey’s Point Hotel.

“This is an excellent achievement for Donegal and a wonderful addition to our other recent accolades including being named ‘Coolest Place on the Planet 2017’ by National Geographic Traveller and ‘Ireland’s Hidden Gem’ by Independent Travel readers” says Cathaoirleach Cllr. McMonagle.

Michael Collins, TravelMedia.ie presenting Seamus Neely Chief Executive, Donegal County Council and Cllr. Gerry McMonagle Cathaoirleach with the prestigious Travel Media award where Donegal was named at the ‘Media’s Favourite Place in Ireland’ at the Connecting the Coolest Place’ Donegal Tourism Seminar on Thursday (26 October 2017) in Harvey’s Point Hotel.

Donegal received this prestigious award at the Travel Media Awards ceremony in Dublin last June but it was only at yesterday’s conference that the award was officially presented.   These Travel Media awards have grown to become one of the highlights of the annual travel industry calendar and calls on the media to vote and give their say on who they think stands out from the travel industry crowd – past winners include Aer Lingus, MSC Cruises and Crystal Ski Holidays. To be voted as the ‘Media’s Favourite Place in Ireland’ is testament to the increasing popularity of Donegal as the perfect holiday destination on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Michael Collins said “This was the first time we introduced this category. Instead of always asking the media about their favourite international places we thought, let’s bring it back home and ask them about Ireland. It was really interesting to see Donegal win, with the capital Dublin coming second.”

Speaking on Thursday, Seamus Neely said he was thrilled that Donegal has been recognised by the travel media sector and said that “we have been building positive relationships with the travel media in recent years through our work with Donegal Tourism and the Donegal County Council Communications Office in promoting the govisitdonegal.com platform and our Donegal brand. This award is a welcome sign that our communications and PR activities are reaching the right audience and our recognition as ‘Media’s Favourite Place in Ireland’ is very much appreciated”.

Participants attending the Donegal Tourism Seminar

Over 200 attendees participated in the Donegal Tourism Seminar which was hosted in the stunning setting of Harvey’s Point Hotel on the beautiful Lough Eske.   This seminar focused on how best to connect what is now the ‘Coolest Place’ and heard from a line up of tourism and travel experts who shared their expertise on emerging travel trends, tourism strategies and marketing techniques. 

This included Mathew Jackson Managing Director and Publisher of National GeographicTraveller (UK) who is credited with naming Donegal as the Coolest Place on the Planet in 2017.  Matthew visited Donegal for the first time earlier this year and became an instant fan. 

Speaking at the seminar he explained why Donegal received this accolade saying “Donegal is off the mainstream radar and not easy to access but on the cusp of a breakthrough. On the one hand you have the big pushes like the Wild Atlantic Way and the recent filming of Star Wars; on the other hand you only have to drive a few miles to have a beach or a road completely to yourself. It’s a warm hearted place, fantastic food and hospitality but wilderness always feels just a stone’s throw away.  And it is a world class wilderness.  So we thought it deserved a big year!”.

Speakers at the Connecting the Coolest Place’ Donegal Tourism Seminar on Thursday (26 October 2017) in Harvey’s Point Hotel from l to r:  Seamus Neely, Donegal County Council, Carolynne Harrison, The Shandon Hotel, Matthew Jackson, National Geographic Traveller UK, Joan Crawford, Failte Ireland, Cllr. Gerry McMonagle, Cathaoirleach, Greg Fry, Michael Collins, TravelMedia.ie and Liam Ward, Donegal County Council.

The seminar also heard from inspiration speakers including Carolynne Harrison, General Manager of the Shandon Hotel & Spa who wowed the audience with her remarkable story of how she tackled the ‘weaker months’ by being creative and driving up occupancy in the winter and maintaining the jobs of over 120 staff and managing costs to ensure profit margins were on target. 

Social media and digital experts Greg Fry, Co-Founder of Content Plan and Michael Collins enthused the audience with their practical tips and techniques of making social media and digital marketing work for tourism businesses in Donegal.  They believe that content remains king and having clear business goals and a clearly defined strategy producing measurable results is essential for success.

Wild Atlantic Way Client Services Manager for Fáilte Ireland Joan Crawford presented a profile of the Wild Atlantic Way visitor and why they are coming to the west coast of Ireland.  Market research shows that these visitors have no itinerary and they are ‘going where time took us’ drawing on their spontaneous side and looking forward to finding the hidden gems off the beaten track.  This provides a great opportunity for places such as Donegal which for many is still a place of discovery.

The seminar concluded with a strong message from each of the panellists which highlighted the need to continue to collaborate and network.  It is the Donegal experience that visitors want when they come to Donegal and there is a clear willingness among those in the Donegal tourism sector to work together to ensure that Donegal becomes the number one tourism destination in the country.

The Waterfront Hotel Dungloe - The Rosses' First Four Star Hotel

The Waterfront Hotel Dungloe, which opened its doors last year, are delighted to announce that they have received four star status from Fáilte Ireland. Although the hotel has been operating to a four star standard since its inception in August 2016, it was just this week that the hotel's grading became official. The award means the Waterfront Hotel, Dungloe becomes the first hotel in Co. Donegal to open as a four star for almost two decades.

Mary Mc Ginley (Hotel Director) and family: Michael, Bridgit, Tara and Conor
The Waterfront's General Manager, Joseph McColgan and director Mary McGinley invited staff to an impromptu champagne reception at the hotel this afternoon where the news was shared that all the hard work and dedication had paid off and that the hotel was now officially a four star property. Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher and Fáilte Ireland were also singled out for their dedication and support. Mr McColgan also paid tribute to the people of Dungloe and surrounding areas for their support of the hotel over the last year. The Waterfront's proprietor, Kevin Boyle also thanked the team and guests of the hotel from his home in Chicago.

Martina Rafferty (Sales & Marketing Manager) , Pat The Cope Gallagher, Mary Mc Ginley (Hotel Director) , Joseph Mc Colgan (GM) and Bengi Conmy (Executive Chef)
Situated at the site of the former Ostan Na Rossan hotel, overlooking the beautiful Dungloe Bay, the Waterfront Hotel has a brand new look and feel designed to demonstrate a contemporary and forward thinking position on the Wild Atlantic Way. Owner Kevin Boyle along with his cousin Patrick Boyle, have outlined ambitious plans for the very near future of the hotel, focusing on further development including the luxurious, eco-friendly Inis Spa and Health Club. Work is also due to begin very shortly on an extensive organic garden that will supply the hotel with probably the freshest local produce of any professional kitchen in the country.

The Waterfront Team Group Photo
Marketing Manager, Martina Rafferty joined the Waterfront Hotel team almost 6 months ago, offering vast knowledge in the hospitality sector and a wealth of experience from former 5 Star Luxury Leading Hotels of The World.  In a very short space of time Martina has developed a new web site, grown occupancy levels, set up direct target marketing campaigns for the property and steered the hotel in the right directed to achieve the 4 Star grading.  The 4 star property is leading the way and going from strength to strength!   

To celebrate this achievement the hotel has a special overnight package for further details call the Waterfront Hotel reservations team on + 353 (0) 74 95 22 444. Joseph wished to convey a sincere gratitude to the long hours and hard work of the entire Waterfront Hotel team and a special thank you to Bengi Conmy and his team on their achievement of Best Newcomer at the recent Irish Restaurant awards and best seafood chowder award at the Donegal Food Coast.   

For all things Donegal check out: www.govisitdonegal.com

Mary Mc Ginley (Director), Joseph McColgan (GM), Martina Rafferty (Sales & Marketing Manager) 

Donegal’s only 5 star hotel among the top ten hotels in Ireland

Lough Eske Castle, a Solís Hotel & Spa

“No. 3 in the Top Hotels in Ireland category”

October 17, 2017 – Condé Nast Traveler announced the results of its 30th annual Readers’ Choice Awards with Lough Eske Castle, a Solis Hotel & Spa recognized as the No. 3 in the Top Hotels in Ireland category.

Lough Eske Castle, a Solís Hotel & Spa
Image © Lough Eske Castle, a Solís Hotel & Spa

Managing Director of Lough Eske Castle, a Solis Hotel & Spa, Mr Seán Carney commented: “It is a great honour in this our tenth year of operating for Solís Lough Eske Castle to be recognised with such a prestigious industry leading award as this. It is a true testament to the daily hard work and dedication by our team of exceptional employees delivering reliable, genuinely caring and timely service superior to our competition. There has been incredible resilience and fortitude over the years by such a magnificent cadre of staff to weather the economic times that have passed but we look forward to a great and exciting 2018. This recognition just goes to reinforce our beliefs and service excellence model - to be truly a Global Leader in the service business.”

Over 300,000 readers submitted millions of ratings and tens of thousands of comments, voting on a record-breaking 7,320 hotels and resorts, 610 cities, 225 islands, 468 cruise ships, 158 airlines, and 195 airports

The Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry and are commonly known as “the best of the best of travel.” Under Editor in Chief Pilar Guzmán, the Readers’ Choice Awards have become more selective and specific to the passions that inspire today’s travelers. The Readers’ Choice Awards are announced in the November issue of Condé Nast Traveler, on newsstands nationwide on October 24, 2017. The full list is published exclusively online, at www.CNTraveler.com/rca

Lough Eske Castle a Solís Hotel and Spa, is Donegal’s only 5 star hotel, owned by Harcourt Developments based in Dublin, and property managed by Capella Hotel Group. The celebrations are set to continue as the hotel will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this November. It has been an exciting year for the hotel and is honoured to be accepting this prestigious award just in time for its birthday celebrations.

Despite opening at the beginning of the financial downturn, Lough Eske Castle has seen revenues double, operating at €9.5m today and has recently benefited from a €500k investment into the property.

Since 2007 occupancy has grown by 38% and the average room rate by 43%, with international guest stays increasing by 15%. Opened 365, the castle is one of the largest employers in county Donegal and over 70% of staff are from Donegal.

The five-star Lough Eske Castle, a Solis Hotel & Spa is located just outside Donegal Town, nestled within 43-acres of forest woodland hugging the shores of Lough Eske. Boasting 96 spacious guestrooms, Spa Solís and swimming pool, Cedars Restaurant and two bars, Lough Eske Castle, a Solís Hotel & Spa is redefining the meaning of luxury in the North-West of Ireland.

For all things Donegal check out: www.govisitdonegal.com