A Day in the Life… Micheál Farrell Bishop’s Gate Hotel, Derry-Londonderry
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
I have enjoyed my role in front of house at Bishop’s Gate Hotel since joining the team in August 2018. Being positioned in the lobby, guests arriving through the iconic revolving door look towards the reception and concierge team for information and assistance within the hotel, the city and beyond. There is a real opportunity here to elevate a guest’s experience from an enjoyable stay to a truly memorable experience.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
My hospitality adventure started in September 2010 as concierge at the AA five-star Merchant Hotel in Belfast, where I worked in front office as concierge and receptionist and also completed a trainee manager programme. This role not only provided valuable insights into each department but showed how intrinsic it is to support each other to reach a bigger goal. Working under the watchful eyes of Bill Wolsey at the Merchant Hotel and Ciaran O’Neill at Bishop’s Gate Hotel, I have been inspired by how a dream and ambition can be realised.
WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB?
I absolutely love getting to know my guests. We have the support of the local community and we also welcome guests from many countries. It is so rewarding to see visitors choosing Bishop’s Gate as a destination. I enjoy listening and suggesting ideas to ensure every trip is tailor made to the guest’s satisfaction. There are no negative parts to the role, just areas for self-development and learning. It’s important to remember that each member of the team has different strengths. We work as one team and ask for help when needed.
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT
Travel and tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors and there is a demand for discerning, authentic experience-led tourism. Properties can be compared online in seconds. This is one of the challenges for the hospitality sector. I have been fortunate to work with colleagues who genuinely love their roles, push themselves to be the best that they can be, learn through travel and exceed customer expectations. The moment you stand still, you will be overtaken. The sector presents an opportunity to shine through a focus on authenticity, which often creates return visits.
OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY
A day at Bishop’s Gate Hotel is anything but typical. Planning can be in place and details of arriving and departing guests can be studied but there is always room for surprises. Guests will arrive to enjoy afternoon tea, celebrate a wedding in the beautiful ballroom or dine in the award-winning Gown restaurant and each will have their own specific requirements.
PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE
Being presented with the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation award for Receptionist of the Year 2019 is high on my list of proudest achievements. This is the result of guidance, education and mentoring from the two managers I have been lucky to work with. Sharmaine Meldrum at the Merchant Hotel and Laura Davies at Bishop’s Gate Hotel are inspirational in their leadership style and support for their teams. Each property owes so much to their drive.
BEST THING ABOUT BEING INVOLVED
IN THE SECTOR
This is an exciting time to be involved in hospitality in Northern Ireland. The choice of attractions for visitors is rich and still improving. The hotel scene is booming and is being influenced internationally more than ever. The best thing about Northern Irish hospitality, especially at Bishop’s Gate Hotel, is the warmth and authenticity of the welcome every guest receives. It is a beautiful thing to see the guest smile on arrival, knowing they have made the right decision in their choice of hotel.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND
AWAY FROM WORK?
Travel is an enjoyable goal to work towards. Most recently I have explored east coast Australia with my partner Dónall. Any trip to a major city eventually gravitates back to visiting hotels. There is an energy to a hotel lobby that is exciting and addictive.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF NOT
MANY PEOPLE MAY KNOW
Driving is integral to my leisure time, perhaps because I’m a bad passenger. I love taking the four-wheel drive out in snowy conditions or down to Benone Strand, always with a shovel in the boot just in case I get stuck. Enjoyable drives whilst travelling include a 14-hour drive from San Francisco to Las Vegas and a blast from Milan to Portofino in a Fiat 500; very Italian!