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Cream of the Crop Reaps Due Rewards
At the Georgina Campbell Awards
The cream of the hospitality world gathered at Bord Bia in Dublin today, for the announcement of the 2010 Georgina Campbell Awards, associated with the respected Georgina Campbell’s Ireland independent hospitality guides, and Ireland’s most popular independent hospitality and travel website www.ireland-guide.com. Unlike most other award schemes, the Georgina Campbell Awards are completely independent, and in no way affiliated with trade associations or marketing groups; it is this independence which has earned them special respect in the industry, and public trust. The event was anticipated even more keenly than usual in this annus horribilis for the hospitality sector, as accolades from a respected independent guide are not only a source of encouragement, but very good for business too.
Every year Georgina Campbell and her team of experienced assessors comb the country’s hotels, country houses, guesthouses, restaurants, pubs and cafés, seeking out the best consumer experiences for readers of The Guide – and, increasingly, for followers of the very successful website, www.ireland-guide.com. The Guide is now published biennially (this is the first year without a printed ‘glovebox bible’ Ireland guide since the company’s inception in 1998); but, said Ms Campbell, “We have maintained our rigorous programme of anonymous assessment visits throughout the season as usual, and the reports are gradually go through directly to the website, Ireland-guide.com. As always, we’ve kept a sharp eye out for those exceptional establishments which are right on top of their game and going the extra mile for customers.”
Commenting on the Awards, Georgina Campbell said, “Less is definitely not more in this difficult time for Irish hospitality so – knowing that encouragement is needed now more than ever for those who are focused on maintaining quality no matter how difficult the market – we’ve added three new awards this year: a Green Ireland Hospitality Award, in recognition of outstanding environmental efforts in Irish hospitality.”
In what has been the toughest year ever for the Irish hospitality sector, Ms Campbell warns against unreasonable consumer pressure regarding prices. “Many fine establishments have cut costs to the bone and their businesses are now literally hanging by a thread,” she said; “Prices have often been reduced to an unsustainable level and yet there is constant pressure from the public, to make even further cuts. Lack of government action to reduce costs that are outside the control of businesses (VAT, for example, and local charges such as rates) means that fixed costs remain too high for further negotiation; therefore, if for no other reason than enlightened self-interest – we will no longer be able to enjoy the favourite places where we eat and stay if they can’t remain in business – consumers need to think twice before pressing for even better bargains.”
Award Winner Citation:
Bush Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim
The question of ecological damage caused by tourism has been taxing many a mind of late, and we are no exceptions. When requesting factual data from recommended establishments over the last few years, we’ve asked about environmental accreditation and any initiatives being undertaken by individual properties. Until recently the response has been minimal, but there’s now been a noticeable change, with many establishments taking active measures to reduce environmental damage, some achieving national recognition with the Green Hospitality Awards scheme, and some receiving official EU recognition of standards being met. By way of further encouragement, we have decided to give an annual GCGuides Green Ireland Hospitality Award, which is open to all categories in The Guide.
It is interesting that one of Ireland’s oldest hotels, The Bush Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon, should be the first hotel in Ireland to receive the EU Eco-label ‘Flower’ award in recognition of its commitment to sustainable tourism and protection of the local environment: The Bush may be best known for its old-fashioned hospitality and exceptionally pleasant and helpful staff, but it’s clear that there’s nothing backward-looking about the management.
The ‘Flower’ comprises 84 very specific and technical criteria in energy, water and waste management – with much emphasis on environmental awareness & innovation. Initiatives undertaken include installing over 1300 Class A Low Energy bulbs which provide 97% of lighting in the hotel, contracting Airtricity as its electricity provider, and emphasising locally sourced products. The hotel also does not accept pallets, shrink wrap, bubble wraps or polystyrene, all deliveries now come in returnable and reusable plastic crates and all excess packaging is removed by suppliers.
The Greenbox eco-tourism area is close by, taking in parts of Donegal, parts of Sligo, West Cavan, Fermanagh and Leitrim, but – along with Enniskillen – Carrick-on-Shannon is excluded from the project due to its size of population; however, interest in eco-tourism in the general area may drive well-earned extra business to the hotel. MD Joseph Dolan commented that, “From a business perspective, our environmental management approach has delivered significant cost reductions which we have been able to pass on to our loyal customers.” It’s good to know that what’s good for the environment is also good for our pockets – well done to all at The Bush.
Georgina Campbell is one of Ireland’s leading food and hospitality writers. Her practical and down-to-earth approach has earned many fans for her cookery columns and cookbooks, and the same honesty has applied to her comprehensive and critically acclaimed, independently assessed guides to Ireland’s best places to eat, drink and stay.