This article was originally published in the Spring 2022 issue of Hospitality Ireland Magazine, in March of 2022.
Tell us about the new venture.
We’re opening South at the K Club this March, a fresh new bar and restaurant with an expansive terrace overlooking the Palmer South course at the resort. Our new bar and restaurant is south of the estate’s private mile-long stretch of the River Liffey, thus the simple, descriptive name: South.
We are looking at South as the bigger, bolder sister of our other dining offerings on the resort: the Barton restaurant and the Palmer. South is designed to be casual, cool, and a feast of flavour and colour. It will have an impressive bar for drinks and cocktails, relaxed open-plan seating, and a beautiful outdoor terrace with views across the Palmer South course. We see South bar and restaurant as perfect for big get-togethers, a Saturday night family treat, a long lazy breakfast, or a beer and burger post-golf.
We’re also creating 30 new jobs with this opening, and we’re currently actively recruiting for a variety of roles in South, including at both front and back of house. We’re keen to find an exceptional F&B operations manager, as well as waitstaff and bartenders, among other opportunities at front of house, and chefs de partie, sous-chefs and kitchen porters at back of house. Then, from March, we’re very excited to invite our guests and neighbours to what we hope will be the backdrop to great days and nights out, and to venture ‘South’.
What will South provide to guests and locals that the K Club doesn’t already have?
We hope and expect that South will be popular with our local community, attracting families while also providing an improved offering for our members and golfers. It’s going to be a new, third dining space for our guests to experience when they come to stay at the resort, too, offering a more casual and relaxed environment.
How has business been since reopening after the last restrictions?
Obviously, we’re still very much relying on the domestic market, and we’re delighted to have had a very successful Christmas period and a healthy new year of local and national business. We are very happy to see the start of a return of international travellers, too, with bookings for the summer period looking good. We really look forward to welcoming international travellers back to the resort this year. We are also starting to see group business enquiries coming in quite strongly again, as meetings and events start back across multiple industries.
Do you feel positive about the next nine to 12 months in hospitality?
Yes. What we’ve seen so far is very encouraging. As long as everything converts and comes through and we have no further Covid setbacks – which we don’t foresee – 2022 and 2023 are looking very promising, with upcoming events set to take place at the K Club. We are hosting Engage! – a four-day event welcoming global wedding industry professionals from around the world – in October of this year, and a few more exciting initiatives coming to the fairways, which are to be announced very soon.
What are the major challenges right now for you and your team?
Covid is, of course, still a challenge – in particular with international travellers, who are still cautious to set travel plans. Recruitment has also been challenging over the past number of months, and, specifically, getting people back into the industry who may have previously left it.
How are you finding customers, e.g. are they still apprehensive?
Customers don’t seem to be apprehensive at all, and appear to be very much enjoying the experience and finally being able to get out. We have been giving our guests different offerings, and they’re responding to all of them really positively. For example, on Valentine’s Weekend, we hosted a very successful outdoor cinema event for the first time, which received incredibly positive feedback. We certainly look forward to offering more fun and unusual events like that again over the coming months.
Do you think Covid has fundamentally altered the hospitality industry?
We have learned a lot over the course of the pandemic, but, at the end of the day, what it all comes down to is that the guest experience is still number one with us – that our employees are still engaging with the guests, looking after them, having fun, and delivering on service – because that is what hospitality is all about.
On the other side, our internal practices have certainly changed. For example, the introduction and use of Teams throughout the pandemic has highlighted, in a very real and immediate way, the importance of genuine and effective internal communication and helped improve resort-wide communications across all departments.
Any other plans on the horizon about which you can tell us?
We are carrying out some work on our golf courses this spring. Palmer North course work will begin at the end of March, so we will be closing the course to begin a massive project that will see the fairways being stripped and reseeded. This is an ambitious undertaking that will take up to nine weeks to complete, but it will certainly be well worth it, as our members and visiting golfers will see.
THE K CLUB AT A GLANCE
How many staff members in total? 285
Front/back of house?
Front of House: 179
Back of House: 106
How many dining venues?
Two, and looking forward to our third!
How many covers?
The Barton: 80
The Palmer: 90 without the terrace, 150 with the terrace