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Tourism in Fermanagh: Hotels expecting a busy summer after reopening


AS THE majority of the hospitality sector get ready for reopening next Monday week, May 24, it may feel like a bit of déjà vu for Joanne Walsh at the Lough Erne Resort.

When the time comes, it will be almost a year since she took on the role of General Manager, and much like last year, this year is focused on getting the resort ready for an influx of guests throughout the summer months.

Joanne admitted it has been a challenging first year in the role, but she and the rest of the staff won’t have much time to reflect on the past as they are virtually booked out for the entire summer.

It shows that Fermanagh will be in high demand throughout the coming months as people escape for a break after lockdown.

The imminent reopening has seen the Shore Road resort holding a recruitment drive to employ staff to meet demand, and Joanne is delighted with the response. She said: “It’s been a terrific response, it’s been excellent. I’m pleased!

“We’ve already employed 10 to 15 staff. Normally, we find it hard under normal conditions, because you know it’s a very small pool [of available staff], and we’re all looking for staff, but it’s been the most successful recruitment drive we’ve done.”

With weddings planned for almost every day for the foreseeable future at Lough Erne, alongside the casual bookings, work to get the hotel open is continuing at pace.

Guests are limited to 120 people for weddings at the hotel, which had to carry out its own risk assessment analysis, with a further easing of restrictions expected closer to May 24.

Added activities such as paddle boarding, yoga and a new woodland fairy trail will be available for guests and Joanne knows that hotels across Fermanagh are in the same position in getting ready for reopening.

“The one thing I think this pandemic has done, you know, it’s brought all hotels together,” Joanne said. “We all talk regularly. We’re a united front – we’re all in the same boat.”

With Fermanagh seeing a high influx of tourists last summer when Covid restrictions were eased, Joanne expects the same thing to happen again.

“We’re all friends, so I know from obviously listening to the guys chat about that demand, this is what people want.

“They want Fermanagh, they want the legs, they want the countryside, they want to go out on the boat, they want to do the activities, and we can all offer that in some manner, all of us.

“Our area, Fermanagh, was the highest-populated with holiday makers [last year], and I’m hoping that will happen again,” Joanne added.

Also speaking to The Impartial Reporter, and echoing Joanne’s outlook, Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel and Lodges’s General Manager, David Morrison, was upbeat about the hotel’s business since the dates were announced for the imminent full reopening of hospitality.

David said: “I have to say, since the announcement came out, the phones have been particularly busy – activity reservations, rebookings of reservations that didn’t happen during the lockdown, lots of activity, and business is looking very strong.

“We’ve opened our lodges, our Lakeside Lodges are reopening, our health club has reopened, and our spa has reopened. And so there’s a bit, there’s a bit of blood back [in the business], and back in the veins.”

With April 30 seeing the partial reopening of hospitality, David saw steady business for the parts of the hotel that could reopen, and said it is good to see people back through the doors, and it will continue for the coming summer months.

“Our lodges are totally booked up for July and August, which is a good sign. In fact, I would actually say June as well, which is great to be in that position.

“And I do think staycations will be a very big part of the summer as well. People will not be travelling abroad very much; they’ll be staying within the province.”

The hotel has new Woodland Lodges, part of a £1.5 million investment, in the process of construction, and David says that when they are completed in July, they will be completely booked up.

Along with some refurbishment work to the hotel, the picturesque venue is well on its way to welcoming guests back at the end of the month.

“We’re getting ready to get back up and running again on May 24, and we can’t wait! And we are looking forward to welcoming our customers back,” added David.


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