Patsy O’Kane nearly didn’t make it to the award ceremony in Dublin which saw the Beech Hill Hotel named as ‘Hotel of the Year’ in Ireland’s Hotel and Restaurant Awards.
One of the local legends of the hospitality business, Patsy has been recovering after an operation earlier this year.
“We got the call about attending the awards and I said I didn’t really feel up to it. We’ve been ‘nearly there’ in terms of some big awards and I didn’t fancy going through that again. Then we got a second call about sending someone senior in my place, and I thought, something’s up!”
But as award after award was announced at the Bord Bia headquarters in Dublin - Country House of the Year, Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year (won by Derek Creagh of Harry’s in Bridgend) - Patsy was wondering if she was going to leave empty-handed after all.
“When they announced Hotel of the Year 2015, the Beech Hill, I was really in shock. I was thrilled. These are Georgina Campbell’s awards and she produces the leading independent hospitality guide for the country. This award is a fantastic boost for the hotel and the wonderful team we have here, and also for the city and for the north-west.”
It’s turning out to be quite the year for Patsy, who owns the four star Beech Hill with her brother Seamus Donnelly. She also picked up an MBE at Buckingham Palace in May.
Staff at the Beech Hill, on the outskirts of Derry, were following last week’s awards ceremony ‘live’ on Twitter. Sales and marketing manager Conor Donnelly, Patsy’s nephew, said the award is a tremendous boost for everyone.
“We are a small family-run hotel and we wouldn’t have the resources of big hotels around the island, so to come out on top is a fantastic achievement. Everyone works very hard to exceed the expectations of our guests here and it’s great to get this acknowledgment.”
Patsy says she hopes the Hotel of the Year tag will encourage more people to try out the Beech Hill - and the signs are encouraging.
“These awards are big news in the Republic and we’ve already had a surge in enquiries from there. It’s all good.”
Georgina Campbell is a leading authority on the hospitality business in Ireland, and established her awards in 1997. Every year she and a team of assessors travel incognito to every county in Ireland (see http://www.ireland-guide.com).
Presenting the award to the Beech Hill, Georgina praised the quality food from its walled garden, the hotel’s marvellous setting in 32 acres with woodland trails, and its pet-friendly approach.
For more on the historic Beech Hill see www.beech-hill.com