Hotel Hub: The Lodge Hotel, Coleraine
Carol Knox, general manager
Leading up to its 25th year in business, The Lodge Hotel has embarked on a refurbishment programme, redesigned its hotel entrance area with automated doors, a coach bay to accommodate groups, and landscaping and paved areas.
Other developments included extending its garden area, and refurbishing the conservatory, bridal suite, guest rooms, function and reception toilets, as well as installing a new wi-fi system to cope with increased demand from both leisure and corporate guests.
“As part of the celebration of our 25-year anniversary, we have various marketing initiatives and ideas to show appreciation to our large number of extremely loyal customers,” says Carol Knox, general manager. “Some of these customers have been coming to us for our entire 25 years in business, which in itself speaks volumes of the customer service we are so proud of.
“Our past year of trading has been challenging but it has been reassuring that we are holding our own in an ever-more competitive market. We have seen an increase in our food and beverage and, unlike a lot of local businesses in our sector, we have not had to compromise our pricing structure, which has maintained our turnover.”
Knox is keen to combat negative perceptions of the hospitality industry, and highlight the opportunities for part-time, supportive work for students and transferable skills. “For graduates like me (from a psychology and linguistics background), it can provide a stop gap job that turns into a challenging, varied and ultimately rewarding career,” she says. “With the increase in tourism, we need a positive, happy, rewarded workforce, and we need to change our image and encourage diversity.”
Meanwhile, the redevelopment programme is set to continue over the coming year, with a redesign of the hotel’s bistro/bar area and an upgrade of a number of en-suite bathrooms by replacing baths with walk in showers.This month, The Lodge will be upgrading its PMS system along with a new accounts package, website and online booking system and investment in its digital presence.
HOTEL OPENED: 1994 (current ownership)
OWNERSHIP/REFURBISHMENT HISTORY: Built in 1974 by the Colliers, it was purchased in 1994 and has operated under proprietors Ivor Boyd, Norma Wilkinson and Brian Stockman for the past 25 years with investments of over £5m to date.
EMPLOYEES: 66 full time and 33 part time. Some staff members have been there for over 20 years, with an average staff turnover of 5%; rare in the sector.
ROOM NUMBERS: 56 en-suite
STAR RATING: 3
STYLE: Traditional, authentic and local with a modern twist.
MARKET POSITIONING: Continuing to grow its brand of 25 years and staying ahead of competitors by acknowledging and adapting to ever-changing customer needs.
GUEST PROFILE: Leisure, corporate, events, weddings, activity groups and tour groups.
USPs: Renowned for excellent food, up-to-date facilities and exceptional customer service which in turn generates repeat business.
FOOD & BEVERAGE: The hotel has two restaurants – Elliot’s Bistro and Romanoff’s Restaurant. The popular Sunday carvery served in its Allen Suite attracts diners from all corners of the province. The hotel boasts six conference & banqueting suites accommodating 10 to 450 guests, a conservatory and coffee bar. The hotel has a good selection of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes on offer.
The team of chefs showcases local produce in both traditional and new exciting ways and offers a quality selection of whiskey, gins, cocktails and an array of craft and draft beers alongside a wide selection of wines.