Hotel Hub: Dunadry Hotel, Antrim
Eugene McKeever MBE, Group managing director
One year on from the McKeever Hotel Group adding the Dunadry Hotel to its portfolio, “and to see what we have achieved in that short period of time is astounding,” says Eugene McKeever MBE, Group managing director. “It has been a poignant year of change, in our bid to refurbish and reignite the hotel.
“The Dunadry Hotel is iconic, and it is important to us that we continue to channel its stunning and rich history, whilst ensuring that we position it as a fantastic option to welcome a modern and new audience.
“As we launch phase one of our two-year refurbishment programme, Dunadry is standing in a league of its own compared to other hotels we have acquired throughout the years, we have stepped out of our typical remit and it is exciting to see what challenges will come of that.”
A long-term goal is to target the luxury market, offering high-end spa and leisure facilities. “The local people have a great love for the Dunadry Hotel and its history,” he says. “Our aim is to showcase this to the wider public and out-of-state visitors, demonstrating why the Dunadry Hotel is so special.”
For the McKeever Hotel Group, the key challenge currently facing Northern Ireland’s hospitality sector, meanwhile, is the lack of a skilled workforce.
“Although it’s an exciting time for the industry, this increased demand for staff puts a severe pressure on the industry as a whole,” says McKeever. “The Northern Ireland hospitality industry really is thriving at the minute but, if we don’t have the staff behind the scenes to drive this movement, then we lack the sustainability of this growth.”
HOTEL OPENED: 1966
OWNERSHIP & HISTORY: Built on the site of an ancient fort and once home to both paper and linen mills, the Dunadry was first launched as a hotel by the Falloon family in 1966, followed by the Mooney Group in 1986. Continuing its strong family ethos, in 2017 the McKeever Hotel group added the Dunadry Hotel to its portfolio, which totals five hotels throughout Ireland. The group has just renovated its Grand Ballroom, Linen Suite and Peacock Lounge.
EMPLOYEES: 200 full & 100 part-time
STAR RATING: Currently three-star, but on course for four stars.
STYLE: A true rarity; sitting alongside the Six Mile Water with extensive gardens, it has a unique feel. It is a luxury home away from home and, with the recent refurbishments, offers a contemporary twist whilst channelling its original features and rich history.
MARKET POSITIONING: Leisure, business, weddings, conferences, tourism and fishing community.
USPs: Iconic, and rich with stories from times gone by. With historical significance; it was the setting of the famous photo of John Hume, David Trimble and Tony Blair in 1998, post the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, where its famous Peace Tree still stands.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE: From its renowned Copper Bar to the newly-refurbished Peacock Lounge and Mill Race Restaurant with stunning views over the river, the Dunadry Hotel is the perfect setting for a special occasion or an evening out. Its talented chefs are committed to using fresh, locally sourced produce to create seasonal tasty menus, applying international influences to local favourites. It offers a bespoke blend of coffee, ground in-house and its very own Pecking Peacock Beer, a craft beer sold exclusively at all McKeever Hotels.
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