There is a book on the shelf of Kee’s Hotel in Stranorlar that is entitled ‘The Way Back.’ Beside it, a book called ‘Eden’.
Eden for Kee’s Hotel began in 1892 when the, then coaching inn, was bought by the Kee’s family and transformed into a hotel with family at its heart.
Four generations later and brother and sister team Vicky and Richard Kee find themselves facing their first Father’s Day celebrations without their ‘friendly, fair and fun’ father, Arthur Kee.
Now entering its fourth generation the way back and the way ahead for the hotel without Arthur is sure to flourish with his lasting legacy as its driving force.
On Father’s Day, Kee’s hotel, regarded as a home away from home by so many will welcome all kinds of dads, who like Arthur, love their food, love their family and love to have a good time.
Reflecting, Vicky and Richard, said: “Dad’s advice was ‘be fair, work hard, be honest, enjoy your work, enjoy your guests and respect everybody.’ There are so few family hotels left in Ireland and it is such a gift for us to be able to continue on the real family hotel.
“For my father, it was all about family and providing a home away from home to his guests.”
Vicky explains: “Since dad’s death there has been time to reflect on his legacy.
“Although his death was so sudden, he had been in failing health over the last year and decided to hand the responsibility of the business to myself and Richard,” she added.
“We have both been working in the hotel for some years and are both fully aware of the love daddy had for the history and reputation of Kee’s. We are meeting the challenge with insight and enthusiasm.”
“To this end we have enlisted the services of HMS UK & Ireland, a management company (known within the hotel, and to dad as Ann and Kathleen) to put the working structures of the business on a more formal basis, to update working practices, and to help implement the many plans dad had for the further development of the hotel he loved so much. “
Vicky continues: “Dad welcomed Ann and Kathleen’s input and ideas. He enjoyed working with “the ladies” as he affectionately called them. He was especially excited by hotel development plans and enjoyed taking part in discussions about these.”
“We are determined to make dad proud by ensuring that, regardless of change, the hotel will retain the service, civility, and pride in product synonymous with his unique hotel. We are determined to retain these qualities at a time when they, all too often, seem to be lost.”
Contemplating the first Father’s Day without her dad Vicky gains strength by easily calling to mind her favourite memory of her dad, his ‘big hearty laugh.’
Vicky said: “When I think of dad I think of his big smiley face. He was the only man I knew that laughed at his own jokes first. He absolutely loved his work, every day of it. He adored meeting people from all over the world and yet he was in love with Donegal. He thought there was nowhere to beat Donegal in the whole world.”
An emotional Vicky manages to joke when asked whether her daddy would want her to work on Father’s Day this year, “aww daddy would want me to work, no doubt about it!”