Donegal hotel owners and staff took a well-earned night off on Tuesday to enjoy the Donegal branch of the Irish Hotels Federation Ball.
The annual event is a glamourous celebration of the local hospitality industry and a chance for friends, colleagues and industry figures to catch up and look forward to the year ahead.
This year’s dinner dance was held in the Shandon Hotel & Spa, and it was the perfect occasion for the four star coastal hotel to mark three years since it opened on 25th March 2016.
A glitzy night of outstanding food, drink and entertainment was in store for the 120 guests in the dazzling McCarthy suite.
Derek Arnold of Arnold’s Hotel Dunfanaghy received a special honour from the Donegal IHF for his contribution to local tourism.
A highly-respected and influential hotelier, Mr Arnold was praised as a father figure to many in the industry.
Mr Arnold was ‘gobsmacked’ to be presented with the award and paid a warm-hearted tribute to his family, staff and colleagues.
“It’s a complete honour. Tourism has been very important to my whole family. It was tourism all my life,” he said.
“Without the support of my wife, my daughter, and my brother, I don’t think I would have been able to do the things I did, to them, thank you.”
He added: “Arnold’s wouldn’t be here without our staff. Over the years we’ve had a great team who are always behind us, from my grandfather’s day, up to the present day. To them, thank you for keeping Arnold’s going. And that is what keeps the tourism industry going.”
Michael Lennon, President of the IHF said that the ball is “an opportunity to celebrate all that is special about Donegal tourism, its unique and unspoilt beauty and the warmth and humour of all the people.”
Mr Lennon acknowledged challenges faced by the Irish hospitality sector due to the VAT increase and encouraged hoteliers to make their voices heard.
He said: “Tourism is one of the largest employers in Donegal, it touches every town and village, and we need to keep the pressure on our government. We need to let them know that we need their support, especially in light of the recent VAT increase. With this additional money we need to make sure it is put into tourism infrastructure, whether it’s roads, access, visitor attraction centres.”
In light of the VAT increase and Brexit, Chairman of the IHF in Donegal Paul Diver announced that the proceeds of the 2019 ball would be used for marketing Donegal as a destination.
“With the uncertainty of Brexit it’s going to be a difficult tourism season we thought it would be prudent to build up a fund to market the county,” Mr Diver said.
A surprise was in store for guests at the end of the banquet, as a stern ‘garda’ interrupted proceedings. However, it soon emerged that he was a singer, who was joined by a hidden waiter for a rousing performance of fun musical numbers and opera. The duo was followed by the Housem8s band, who soon had everyone on their feet to dance the night away.
See more photos from the Donegal IHF Ball below:Tags: