A Donegal hotelier who is enjoying one of his best tourism seasons to date has given great credit to the behaviour of the Irish fans in Europe for the exceptional growth in European visitors to Donegal this year.
Paul Diver of the Sandhouse Hotel in Rossnowlagh captured the imagination of the country when he bought out the hotel that he managed at a time when most hoteliers were divesting themselves of their properties.
Paul said, “I am not taking away credit from Failte Ireland’s innovative marketing and the whole concept of the Wild Atlantic Way, but it is no coincidence that we are seeing a strong growth from countries like France, Belgium, Italy and even Sweden. I have spoken to many here in the hotel and man remarked that they came because of “Zee football”.
“There is no doubt that the football fans were great ambassadors for Ireland and portrayed us as a nation of song, dance, great craic as well as been good humoured even in defeat.”
In spite of the very mixed weather this year the Sandhouse has enjoyed a very good season with figures ahead of last year.
Paul would be the first to admit that we haven’t seen thousands of people strolling up and down the beach on a daily basis but we had a lot of our homework done from a marketing perspective. We have strengthened our relationships with our existing providers while developing new contacts in emerging markets.
“There has been a change in the marketplace, we have less dependence on the Northern Irish market which has given us a much larger market spread. It can be very unwise to have all your eggs in one basket.”
Once a seasonal hotel that opened at Easter and closed in September, Paul now operates the hotel on a twelve month basis.
“We put a lot of emphasis on food and developed a whole new restaurant concept which is probably one of our strongest marketing tools. We enjoy a great local business which even increases in the off season which augurs well.
“I know I am biased but the view from the restaurant is probably one of the best in the country. Even on one of the wettest and windiest days in the year you can just sit there and gaze at the towering Atlantic crashing on the rocks in front of the hotel. It's just spellbinding.”
With one of the best surfing beaches on its doorstep, the Sandhouse enjoys a local leisure and international market in the Surfer’s Bar. It is perceived as a home from home for surfers from all over the world and in season you will find some great music ringing through the rafters.