Robert McHugh talks to Louise Boland Maguire, general manager of The Club At Goffs, 'a premium, boutique destination.'
Despite only opening in March of this year, The Club at Goffs is already gaining a reputation as a trendy and must-visit destination in Kildare.
It is located 15 minutes from the M50 and The Red Cow roundabout, less than 40 minutes from Dublin Airport, and under two hours from Limerick, Cork and Waterford by motorway.
On a visit to the boutique hotel recently, I was struck by how far the establishment has come in the past eight months. The chic bedrooms are very elegantly designed with spacious balconies overlooking the paddock nearby.
The hotel offers an award-winning brasserie style restaurant hosted by Derry and Sallyanne Clarke who formerly owned famous Dublin restaurant L’Ecrivain. Sallyanne herself welcomed me to the table and gave an excellent and thorough rundown of the cocktail list when I arrived.
The Club at Goffs is just a couple of kilometres away from major horse racing venues such as Punchestown Racecourse, Naas Racecourse and The Curragh Race Course. For those who love retail therapy, Kildare Village is also nearby.
Overall, the one night stay at The Club at Goffs felt like a great country escape despite being so close to the city.
This week, Louise Boland Maguire, general manager of The Club At Goffs, spoke exclusively to Hospitality Ireland about her 25 year journey in the hospitality industry and her exciting plans for the venue.
The Club at Goffs is currently offering a 'Shop, Sip & Stay' offer over Christmas. Guests can have a pre-dinner cocktail in the hotel bar before enjoying dinner in the award winning bistro-style restaurant, breakfast is also included. As an added treat, guests will receive a pre-Christmas shopping experience with 10% off at Kildare Village.
Prices for this package start at €285 per night.
What was your first job in the hospitality industry, and how did that experience shape your passion and commitment to the field?
I first started in Food & Beverage in the Skylon Hotel many moons ago during school holidays and at weekends where I fell in love with dealing with the public.
I really looked up to the front office team there, I loved watching them welcome guests to the hotel and learned a lot from them – this helped me progress to my first front office role in Waltons Hotel.
Who was your first mentor in hospitality, and how did their guidance influence your growth and development as a hospitality professional?
Strangely enough, the main person who saw my potential and promoted me to my first senior management role was Ray Byrne back in 2008. I feel like he allowed me to progress hugely not only in business, but in my confidence of running a successful premises, and large team at quite a young age.
Ray continued to stay in touch with me over the years and now life has come full circle. I am really enjoying being back working for Ray again along with his business partner Eoin Doyle.
The last year has been an absolute pleasure.
Can you elaborate on the factors that led you to decide on your career direction? Were there any influential individuals or experiences that encouraged you to take the route you have taken?
It was always going to be hospitality for me.
No matter which positions I have held over the years, I just thoroughly enjoyed it. I love creating a great experience for my guests, a culture where your colleagues become like family, and striving every day to do better, and be better is what it’s all about.
Theres just so much to learn. I was always inquisitive about other departments I hadn’t worked in, and learned everything I needed to keep progressing within the industry.
My ambition was always to go as far as I could within the hospitality industry.
Throughout your journey, could you walk us through the various roles you have held in your career and the significant lessons you have learned from each experience?
From F&B, front office, nightclub manager, sales & events, marketing, procurement and into hotel operations, I just absolutely loved every single role I held.
Having worked my way up through most departments I have a very broad knowledge on the complete workings of a hotel. I really feel this makes the role I have now quite easy to navigate in the day to day running of the hotel.
Although I have many hats most days, I see all sides of issues and problems that my team may have and feel I can really support them.
Operations is where I learned the most, as being a support for every team in the hotel pushes you to learn skills that may not have been relevant in other roles.
Where I couldn’t learn on the job, I undertook education outside of my role with a Digital Marketing course with Fitzwilliam Institute and Revenue Management with HOSPA, which really gave me all aspects that are needed to progress to a general management position.
Which industry networks have you been a part of that have provided vital support and contributed to your career progression?
As mentioned, I undertook the Revenue Management course with Hospa which led me to speaking at a Northern Ireland Hotel Federation event in Belfast, totally out of my comfort zone, but I was really passionate about revenue management.
I feel in those moments you take note of how far you can go within the industry, and partaking in events like this are also great networking events.
The Club Hotel is a member of Into Kildare and Thoroughbred Country which offer fantastic networking opportunities. Not only with hoteliers but with experience owners in Kildare and further afield.
I couldn’t not mention Failte Ireland, who are excelling at creating courses that not only support the industry, but also support individuals who are looking to progress.
In your experience, what are the most significant challenges you have faced while working in the hospitality industry, and how did you navigate through them?
Losing fantastic hospitality individuals to other sectors/countries has and will always be the biggest challenge in the industry.
This was heightened during and after Covid of course. I am extremely lucky that I have great relationships with amazing hospitality professionals who work with me to this day.
I think you need to offer people the chance to progress and support them so that they stay within this industry. If they have an end career goal, it is our job to help them get there.
Working in hospitality can be unsociable, with still very few perks to the job. That needs to be reflected in the renumeration that we offer as an industry.
Having the understanding that people have lives outside of their job, they want a work/life balance, so having a culture that is professional but fun and making sure your team feel appreciated is huge.
Looking ahead, what are your career goals and aspirations, and how do you envision making a lasting impact in the hospitality sector?
Firstly, I want to make a huge success of The Club Hotel. It’s been a complete labour of love so far, and until it’s where I want it to be, I won’t rest.
I completed a refurbishment project in a different property prior to taking on the pre-opening of this new build hotel and I must admit I really enjoyed the pre-opening, project management side of both properties.
So, who knows, maybe there will be a second Club Hotel or an opportunity to open another hotel somewhere down the road, but for now I am enjoying building an incredible team in a beautiful hotel for owners who love everything about Irish hospitality just as much as I do.