The party will go on - just a bit later than planned!
by sue doherty
This year's Christmas holiday season may well extend long past New Year's Eve. Right across the county, hotels and restaurants are experiencing a surge in calls from people looking to re-schedule Christmas parties that had to be cancelled because of the snow and ice.
"Our phones have been hopping all week", Michal Naughton, of the Clanree Hotel in Letterkenny, said yesterday. "People are telling us that they are fed up after being stuck at home for most of the holidays and they are dying to get out now that the thaw has finally set in. There's huge interest in our New Year's Eve Gala and we've also had a lot of people re-scheduling parties they'd cancelled in December. They're now planning to celebrate later this month."
The late rush in business will no doubt be much appreciated. Although the Clanree managed to stay open throughout the holiday period, like many other businesses, they suffered a few setbacks caused by the extreme weather. "Our water tank burst during the first big freeze and then, on Monday and Tuesday of this week, we also had a number of pipes burst," Michal explains. "We were very fortunate in both instances, though. Only a small number of rooms were damaged and they were unoccupied at the time. If something like that had happened during a peak period, it could have been much worse, but we were able to cope and no one was affected. We had to clean and dry the carpets, and redecorate but the biggest difficulty was getting a plumber. They're all flat out at the moment!"
Deirdre McGlone, of Harvey's Point, said most of their parties have already re-scheduled for Saturday, January 29. "We do a big Burns Night Supper for charity every year, and we've encouraged people to book in that night. It's a great, fun Scottish-themed celebration, with proceeds going to the Donegal and North West Hospices. There's huge interest in it, with most of the parties already re-booking for that event. People don't want to miss their big night out."
Claire McGowan of The Beach House Restaurant, Buncrana, also believes that January will be a good month. "We only had to close for one day because of the weather, but we did have a number of cancellations, especially for Christmas parties. Each and every person who cancelled, though, told us that they would re-book sometime in January and most of them already have."
Philip McGlynn of the Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran, says a lot of their customers are planning their parties for February. "What we're finding is that people want to get January over them. It's an expensive enough month with the Christmas bills coming in and this year a lot of people have the extra expense of dealing with burst pipes, etc. So, quite a number of people have told us that they will have their parties in February, with the Valentine's Weekend proving the most popular time. It is encouraging that people aren't just giving up the idea of having their night out. And, of course, people are basically honourable. Companies don't want to let their staff down."
Patricia Doherty of the Ostan Gweedore says it's too early for her to know whether they'll be able to recoup their lost business. We only open at weekends at this time of year and were fully booked with parties for the 17th and 18th. With the snow and ice though, it would have been impossible for people to get here, so we couldn't open. At this stage, it's too early to say what's going to happen but we've got our fingers crossed that people will go ahead and have their party at some stage in the coming weeks."
The Highlands Hotel, Glenties, didn't lose any business at all. "We close for three days every year anyway, December 25-27," Patricia Boyle said. "We were lucky enough that we didn't have to close at any other time and we didn't have a single cancellation. It was a perfect Christmas season for us."