Hey there, my name is Calem Meehan and this is my first blog post. I’m currently working up North in The Slieve Donard Resort and Spa. The Slieve is part of a larger group called the Hastings Hotels.
Hastings Hotels is the largest independent hotel group in Northern Ireland with seven luxurious properties across the province including The Slieve Donard, The Europa, The Culloden, Stormont, Ballygally, Grand Central and the Everglades. This family owned company was established in the late 1960's.
Over my three blog posts I plan to break them down for your convenience to read and take what you need from this:
1 The first (this one) will be able Hastings, The Slieve Donard and Newcastle itself.
2 The second which will follow shortly will be a run through of my time in the kitchen, the stations I grew into and what I did from July to January.
3 Finally the last which will come when I finish up north will be a reflection, speaking about the busy Christmas period, Polar Express and New Years and any advice I have for you who may look to go.
The Slieve Donard
The Slieve Donard is nestled at the feet of the Mountains of Mourne, the Slieve stands in six acres of immaculate private grounds and boasts 180 bed rooms. A golden strand of beach borders one side while the mighty Royal County Down Golf Links frames the other. This lovingly maintained Victorian hotel is now home to one of Europe’s finest resort Spas and is equally suited to a short break, residential conference or even grander events (So many bloody events!).
Hastings Hotels purchased the Slieve Donard, an old railway hotel at the time back in 1972. After much investment over the years, many now regard the Slieve Donard as the “Gleneagles” of Northern Ireland.
It was originally built by the Belfast and County Down Railway, as an ‘end of line’ luxury holiday destination. Construction started in 1896 and was completed and officially opened on 24th June 1898. It was one of the most majestic hotels of its time and was almost self-sufficient with its own bakery, vegetable gardens, pigs, laundry and innovatively a power plant, which also provided electricity for the railway station.
Being just 30 miles (45 minutes) south of Belfast and 90 miles north of Dublin (90 minutes), the Slieve Donard is nicely situated for any adventures you may plan on your days off.
Newcastle is a small seaside resort town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It lies by the Irish Sea and is known for its sandy beach, forests (Donard Forest and Tollymore Forest Park), mountains, and the Royal County Down Golf Club. The town lies within the Newry, Mourne and Down District.
The town aims to promote itself as the "activity resort" for Northern Ireland and its most special attribute is its location. The town has benefited from a multi-million upgrade which makes it a high quality seaside attraction. The town is supposedly twinned with New Ross, Co. Wexford, but being a Waterford man I view it as another version of Tramore.
Newcastle seems to be at its peak during the summer as a getaway for family’s to come and enjoy for the day. But outside of the sun filled days and off peak hours it has little to offer, few and far between places to go for food or drinks and offers minimal entertainment outside of its few arcades. It’s ideal to drive so you can venture away on days off but not essential.
At times you may become bored of your surroundings but I didn’t move there for the location, I went there for the work which I’ll speak in depth about in my next post which will be coming very shortly!