Katie Farrell has been working in the industry for years and here in Ovation, we were delighted to hear when she had been appointed to Director of Sales of The Westbury Hotel located in the heart of Dublin. To celebrate, we caught up with Katie to find out about her new role, her ideal day off and her favourite destinations and venues in Ireland!
How did you get into the business/the role you’re in today.
Growing up I was lucky to spend a number of summers in my uncle’s restaurant in Manhattan, the Kings’ Carriage House on East 82nd Street. I loved the buzz that came with restaurant life and how every day was different. So the hospitality bug bit me then. From there I went on to study Hospitality Management in Cathal Brugha in Dublin for four years, followed by a management trainee programme at The Breakers in Palm Beach Florida and that was it, I was hooked on hotels.
Walk us through your “typical” day…
Not sure I can say there is a typical day in hotels! This is one the main reasons I like it, but I am extremely fortunate that I travel with the job. When I think about it though, my days are all about people. Interacting with people in the hotel and business; fellow staff members, suppliers. And people who come to the hotel; agents and our customers and clients. It always excites me to meet new people, building relationships and telling them all about Ireland, and of course The Westbury.
What have you learnt about tourism in Ireland in the past ten years?
The big lesson for all of us generally has been how to maintain standards and quality while in survival mode. It has now been proven that only the very bottom and very top of the market are able to weather an economic storm like the one which hit the globe during the last decade. The reason why The Westbury remained strong is that we chose to maintain premium standards.
What are the challenges facing hoteliers today?
The changing nature of guest expectations. Clients and guests are seeking something exceptional for their stay in a hotel. They are looking for their hotel to unlock access to local and authentic experiences; something they may not find if they Googled it. This can be challenging but also exciting when developing new ideas to win business and it also drive collaboration and communication amongst the businesses of the locality.
What is your ideal day off in Ireland?
A perfect day would mean not getting up too early!
I live in the city centre so everything is in within walking distance and I am spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out. A bit of tradition now is that I meet my Dad and sister once a week for drink in The Old Stand pub followed by dinner M&L restaurant, without doubt the best Asian food I have experienced, oops, the secret is out!
Favourite holiday spot in Ireland?
It would have to be Galway!
Brilliant memories with my Grandparents who brought us every year with our cousins for race week. We stayed in the Ardilaun Hotel and thought there was nothing like it. I still love going to the city with friends for a weekend.
Other than Ireland, what’s your favourite holiday destination?
Very easy, Thailand! First visit was in 2006 and it truly was my first experience of tropical paradise and also where I met my boyfriend 🙂
TV series you are hooked on?
I was hooked on Mad Men, the characters, the style, and complex story arc was amazing. Currently it’s all about Narcos.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Growing up I really liked the thought of owning my own restaurant. But it probably would be just a little more work than the teddy bears’ picnic I had in mind back then!
Ireland’s best kept secret/hidden gem?
It may not be a total secret but Castletown House in Celbridge, Co. Kildare is definitely underappreciated. It is one of the grandest Palladian houses in Ireland and only 30 minutes outside Dublin city. The parklands and fields of the estate are open to the public and have been recently renovated. Follow river walks and find hidden waterfalls and Georgian follies like temples and Gazebo’s dotted about the landscape. You can’t stay in the house overnight but there has been a high profile wedding or two held there and there’s a great café. Small bit of trivia; Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull were known to party there in the day and it has the same number of windows as Buckingham Palace.
Number one thing that makes you proud of Ireland?
100% it is the people! I think everyone says it but that’s because it really is true and accurate. No matter where I am in the world people will always comment of on our friendliness, warmth and sense of fun – this is our USP, full stop!
For more info on staying in the Westbury Hotel contact Arthur for more info!