A Day in the Life . . . Leontine Haines, owner & operator, Dufferin Coaching Inn & Hall
In this edition of HRNI, we speak to Leontine Haines, owner & operator of the Dufferin Coaching Inn & Hall
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
I am the owner/operator, manager, breakfast chef, waitress, chambermaid, bar person, wedding coordinator, and anything else I need to be, at Dufferin Coaching Inn & Hall in Killyleagh, Co Down. Dufferin is a quaint, historic guesthouse located in along the picturesque Strangford Lough in Killyleagh and has long been a pillar of life in the local community.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
I was a nurse in my previous life for 33 years and took a leap of faith into the hospitality industry. Over a decade later, I have helped Dufferin thrive and have learned so much. I have welcomed thousands of guests from Northern Ireland, mainland UK, down South, and much further abroad like New Zealand, America, and Germany.
WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST
PARTS OF YOUR JOB?
On a day-to-day basis I get to meet so many lovely people and have the joy of showing people around the amazing, historic guesthouse and surrounding town. I especially love helping couples share the biggest day of their lives as they celebrate their weddings in Dufferin Hall. I also love the thrill of a full diary and being my own boss. While the job is mostly great, there can be some long hours involved and some tedious jobs. I especially dislike doing my accounts!
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT THE SECTOR?
Keeping abreast of the latest trends is a constant learning curve. You always have to be one step ahead, with up to date local knowledge. I sometimes find the saying ‘The customer is always right’ a huge challenge but have realised that a big smile resolves a lot.
OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY
Typically I wake up at 7am to prepare breakfast for my guests. As soon as they are seated in the dining room, I prepare the hot elements of breakfast and work to cater to individual guests’ requirements. During breakfast, I mingle with guests and check that everyone has everything they need in their rooms and guests have slept well. Guests may need help organising their day, and, at this point, I put on my hat as a concierge and advise on the many things to see and do locally.
Following breakfast, I clear up and check what groceries are needed for the guesthouse and check out any guests who are departing.
My afternoon is typically spent doing office work including checking emails and bookings for the day and liaising with brides-to-be who are planning their receptions at Dufferin Hall. I like to take a breather during the afternoon to go on a quick walk with my dog, Tiggy, before cleaning and changing over the rooms in the guesthouse, doing the laundry, and cleaning service areas. By late afternoon, guests are usually arriving for check-in, and I make a point to greet each guest individually and discuss their needs for their stay, whether they are looking for things to see and do in Killyleagh and surrounding areas, or if they’re planning a relaxing weekend away. Guests typically check in between 4pm and 11pm and, following a long day, I’ll reward myself with a big glass of wine.
PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR
CAREER TO DATE
The first time all of the rooms were booked was such a great day, as was hosting the first wedding reception and seeing Dufferin Hall full of energy and people enjoying themselves. Both events made me so proud and I couldn’t quite believe that I owned this place.
BEST THING ABOUT BEING INVOLVED IN THE LOCAL SECTOR
Living in this stunning area and village. Where else would you go to be able to come out your front door look to the right at the picture perfect Killyleagh Castle and look to the left and see the sparkling waters of Strangford Lough? I also enjoy the thrill of never knowing what’s going to happen next or who is going to ring the doorbell. My hard work is rewarded when I get to reading fabulous reviews about guests’ experiences on our social media and TripAdvisor accounts.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK?
I love to play golf and going out to eat. With the beautiful surroundings nearby, I do lots of dog walking to enjoy as much of the outdoors as I can.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF NOT MANY PEOPLE
I love horses! I used to be a good rider and was a show jumper for many years.
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