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Room With A View…John Burke, MD of The Armada Hotel, Spanish Point, in front of the sea view which will be seen from the hotel’s new restaurant. Photograph by John Kelly.

Recruitment ongoing at Armada amid numerous challenges

THE Armada Hotel has already filled half of the 100 new roles it advertised in a high profile campaign started at the beginning of winter and the process continues.

It plans to have a €3 million expansion and renovation completed early next month, with a new 90-seater restaurant, bar, private dining area and dedicated space for wedding arrivals with panoramic views.

Speaking about the progress of the redevelopment, hotel owner John Burke said Covid has made things difficult, but it is on schedule.

“After dealing with pre-Christmas challenges caused by restriction changes and issues around staffing due to close Covid contacts, we began the New Year facing into our renovation and expansion programme.

“On day one, we were down to 8 staff out of a team of 24 due to Covid. We now have up to 90 people a day on site at different times and the contractors are constantly making arrangements and juggling schedules based on resources available.

“It has been very challenging for all but despite everything, we are on track and on schedule for phased reopening from the start of February.”

Its recruitment campaign which launched last October is now 50% complete and has seen the hotel try to address the challenges that sometimes restrict the sector from attracting talent.

It says that some of the benefits it is offering include above industry-norm rates of pay, flexible working hours, private healthcare packages, night shift premiums, wellbeing programmes, education support, career progression opportunities, paid days off for community charity work, and maternity leave bonuses to help cover new baby costs.

Mr Burke said: “As an industry we can continue doing the same thing and wonder why we aren’t getting applicants. We can look at/point the finger at the PUP, the impact of restrictions and more, but here at The Armada, we have chosen to take a proactive approach.

“We want to attract and retain the best talent within the sector to work and live here in County Clare. We’re building a world-class extension to give our guests the most authentic experience of life by the coast. That’s what we have to offer as a career too: the chance to work in one of Ireland’s most innovative hotels, offering something few other establishments are facilitating: a healthier approach to working hours, pay and conditions that means our team and their families get to truly enjoy life by the sea.”

Commenting on the impact the pandemic has had on the hospitality industry and the outlook for the year ahead, Mr Burke said, “We look to 2022 with great optimism. The pandemic has triggered a newfound appreciation for holidaying at home.

“As an industry we now have an amazing product and there is huge pent up demand for hospitality in the months ahead because people have been unable to celebrate special occasions and enjoy get togethers for so long and all indications are that this could be the year to make up for that.”

As Covid regulations ease, Mr Burke said that recruitment could potentially be the new ‘restriction’ to affect the sector, but he hopes the proactive approach The Armada has taken will help his business overcome the challenge.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.