Hotel Hub: Portaferry Hotel
Cahal and Mary Arthurs
Cahal and Mary Arthurs’ third summer at the helm of the Portaferry Hotel has been their most successful to date. “We feel that this is due to a lot of factors,” says Mary. “Firstly, the weather of course. We are in such a beautiful spot on the shores of Strangford Lough.”
Repeat business is already strong “which is very encouraging for our future,” she says. “We also feel that tourists from across the shores have increased; especially Canadian and Australian and RoI. We are more attractive now, with the current exchange rate, for staycations.
“We have had a busy two years developing our business, receiving recognition in the McKenna Guide – featuring in the Top 10 seaside places to stay in Ireland and the Top 100 places to stay in Ireland.
“We were also nominated in 2017 as one of the Top 5 Hotels in Northern Ireland at the UIster Tatler Awards, feature in the Good Food Guide and have received Taste of Ulster Awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018.”
Having already completed a refurbishment of the bar, restaurant and rooms before reopening in 2016, Cathal and Mary have plans to further upgrade the rooms and social space over the coming year.
Enhancing their food and drink offer has also been a big focus for the couple, with the hotel’s menus highlighting local produce such as Marlfield Farm poultry, Just Live a Little Granola and seafood from the Lough. “We are lucky to have the best produce literally on our doorstep,” says Mary. “We love organising events here in Portaferry, such as Afternoons of Gin, Afternoons of Fine Spirits and Sailaway Saturdays.”
Cahal and Mary also own Northern Ireland’s smallest bar, Dumigans, and The Ferry Grill Chip Shop, both in Portaferry. “We are very invested in the local economy, and thrilled that Portaferry is on the up, with many new businesses flourishing,” she says.
HOTEL OPENED: Re-opened in 2016.
OWNERSHIP & HISTORY: Portaferry Hotel has been the heart of Portaferry community since the 1700s. After a downturn in the economy, the hotel closed its doors in 2015. Under new management, local couple Cahal and Mary Arthurs, the hotel reopened in 2016 after a refurb of the bar, restaurant and rooms, adding a more casual modern feel to the hotel, without losing the soul of the building.
EMPLOYEES: 23 full-time, 18 part-time
ROOM NUMBERS: 14
STAR RATING: 3-star
STYLE: Country boutique hotel – family run
MARKET POSITIONING: The hotel is developing a niche in the corporate market, specialising in bonding and away days. It has become very popular for special family events, christening, private parties and intimate bespoke weddings.
GUEST PROFILE: It attracts a wide range of customers; the location makes the hotel attractive to self-drive European guests, families, leisure breaks, golf groups, walking groups, cyclists and, mid-week, is a popular destination for local retirees from RoI and NI.
USPs: Portaferry Hotel’s location on the shores of Strangford Lough is its finest attribute.
FOOD & BEVERAGE: Food served daily 12-8pm (to 9pm at weekends). Breakfast is served from 8am daily and the hotel recently added its Coffee Dock, serving daily. The bar is open daily to the public and hotel guests alike.
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