Our 4 Star Story
Official Press Release
€1m investment delivers four-star results for Fitzgeralds Woodlands House Hotel & Spa
Fáilte Ireland adds additional star to Adare hotel’s rating
A €1m refurbishment project has delivered four-star results for Adare’s Fitzgerald family as Fáilte Ireland has added an additional star to the rating of their County Limerick hotel, Fitzgeralds Woodlands House Hotel & Spa.
The family run property, which is a founding member of the Irish Country Hotels collection, began life 40 years ago as a four-bedroomed bed and breakfast (B&B) run by Mary and Dick Fitzgerald as a way to supplement their farming income. Today, it is an 89-room four-star hotel employing 200 people.
While Fáilte Ireland four-star status is something that the Fitzgerald family has been working towards for more than a year, four-star service has been part and parcel of the ‘Woodlands’ experience since it first opened its doors in 1976.
Proprietor of the Fitzgeralds Woodlands House Hotel & Spa Mary Fitzgerald said that being awarded a fourth star is an honour for the entire team. “Over the last 18 months, everyone at the hotel has got behind the ‘four star’ project. We have given the public areas of the hotel and a large number of the bedrooms a complete make-over and have also looked at ways in which we can offer an enhanced level of service to our guests such as introducing an ‘executive package’ for people staying with us on business,” she said.
“As a family, we have been part of the hospitality industry for 40 years. We have experienced many economic ups and downs and traded through two recessions. Throughout it all we have worked hard and remained true to our family values. We like to think we have a real sense of what people want from us and, thanks to our team, have been able to consistently deliver a high-quality product and service.”
Having already undergone two extensions creating an additional 16 bedrooms at a cost of IR£265,000, the B&B became Fitzgeralds Woodlands House Hotel in 1983. In 1991, the family decided to expand again and invested IR£1.8m in building an extra 20 bedrooms, the bar, reception area, banqueting space and all of the public areas still enjoyed by guests today. This was further added to in 1995 and 1997 when a further 26 bedrooms and Timmy Mac’s Bistro were added at a cost of IR£1m. In 1999, the family invested a further IR£3.3m adding the leisure centre and 37 more rooms followed by an additional €4.5 million investment in 2007 which built the award winning Revas Spa.
“Like every industry, the hospitality industry has evolved significantly over the years. There was a day when providing a nice room and a good breakfast was enough to see you through. The world has become a much smaller place and, as people travel, guests have quite rightly become increasingly demanding of hotel properties. Ireland has also increased in popularity as a destination for overseas visitors which means we compete in a global marketplace and have to operate to an international standard,” continued Mary Fitzgerald.
“Continuous investment is essential, not just in the large capital projects, but also in day to day maintenance. The most difficult investment decision for us was the first. Having decided in 1976 to spend IR£65,000 on an extension that would give us an extra four bedrooms, we found ourselves in the middle of a bank strike. We knew it was the right decision and so rather than let the bank strike stop us in our tracks, we decided to sell some of our farming land for sites to fund it and haven’t looked back since.”
While the hospitality industry is clearly in their blood, the land has remained important to the Fitzgerald family, not least as a source of produce for their busy restaurants, Timmy Mac’s Bistro and Fieldings of Adare. The hotel spends more than €2.5m each year with local suppliers, earning them the honour of being Limerick’s only Guaranteed Irish hotel.
As well as running a busy hotel, restaurant and spa, Mary Fitzgerald and her children (David, Elaina, Conor and Richard) are actively involved in the hospitality industry at a regional and national level. Mary is a founding member and Group Chair of the prominent Irish Country Hotels collection which, with its sister portfolio Manor House Hotels, is the largest group of independent, family owned hotels in the country. She was also the first woman president of the Irish Hotels Federation. Her children have followed in her footsteps with both David and Elaina serving as chairpersons of the Irish Hotels Federation Shannon Branch and holding positions of responsibility in a host of other tourism related groups and committees.