Donegal hotelier hits the right blend of modern and traditional

Arnolds Hotel looking to the future

By Eamonn McFadden

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By Eamonn McFadden

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eamonn.mcfadden@donegaldemocrat.com

Arnolds

Aisling Arnold, General Manager of Arnolds Hotel in Dunfanaghy.

One of Donegal’s best known hotels is leading by example on how you can mix tradition with the modern in the hospitality sector to great effect.
A well-known name on the tourism landscape, Arnolds Hotel in Dunfanaghy has a long history as a mark of quality in the hotel sector in Donegal but now times are changing as they take on a new modern twist to their business.
Aisling Arnold has taken on the running of Arnold’s Hotel and is injecting new life, new ideas and new style into the popular hotel and is working hard to forge an even stronger reputation for the future.
She explains: “The main thing we are trying to achieve is getting the message out there that we still cater for our traditional visitor, the one who has been great supporters of our business over the years, but we also want something for the younger visitor and locals alike and that's why we are developing new parts of the business. It is a great challenge. Many may not know there has been a change of face in the business so it’s about trying to get the message out that we are here and we are open all year around.”
Aisling, 30, is a chartered accountant by profession and has worked with Deloitte Touche in Dublin for eight years.
She decided to return home to help her parents rejuvenate the hotel after the downturn hit and she opened a new café style bar and eatery called ‘Arnou’ that became a great success and important part of the business.
She initially only planned to stay for a short stint but she has now taken on the running of the business and she is back in Donegal full-time as the General Manager of Arnolds.
“It is a change of face for the hotel and I’m happy to help promote our brand and our business,” she added.
Aisling says it is important to have a healthy mix of the modern and traditional as it is not only important for the guests but for their staff.
“During the summer we employ a staff of 89 people. We have a very loyal staff and that is great and if we keep working to keep the place open all year round, that means we can keep more jobs in the locality, create employment and create investment in the area,” she added.
Her plans and hard work are paying off as she highlighted that just last Thursday they had 65 people dining in the hotel which is a good sign they are hitting the right formula in what is traditionally a quiet time of the year in the seaside village.
She says some of the challenges for all businesses in the tourism sector is the uncertainty caused by Brexit but she remains hopeful there will be a good year ahead with tourists from Northern Ireland.
She also plans to “take it step by step” and work through a number of new plans for the hotel, including a newly redesigned gastro-dining room and improved bedroom facilities.