The Irish Independent has revealed the winners of its Reader Travel Awards 2017, its first ever reader-driven travel prizes.
The newspaper's readers named the Cliffs of Moher as Ireland's Top Tourist Attraction, beating the likes of the Guinness Storehouse and the Ring of Kerry, describing it as "just stunning", "nature at its finest" and "really symbolic of the Wild Atlantic Way". The attraction, which has cliffs 214 metres high at the highest point and range for 8 kilometres over the Atlantic Ocean, welcomed a record 1,427,166 visitors in 2016, however it has faced capacity issues during peak times throughout the season.
The Cliff House Hotel in Co Waterford was voted Ireland's Favourite Place to Stay. The five-star hotel, which is also home to a Michelin-starred restaurant, has "amazing views" and is "in tune with nature and its environs" said readers. It was a successful year for Wexford as Kelly's Resort Hotel & Spa was named Ireland's Favourite Family-Friendly Stay and the Monart Spa named Ireland's Favourite Spa. The former was described by readers as "a jewel of thesunny South East
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Aer Lingus was named Ireland's Favourite Airline, getting more than twice as many nominations as Ryanair. Described as being "warm" and "personal" and its staff as "professional" and "polite", readers commented that the higher cost in comparison to Ryanair as "value" that was repaid in regards to service and comfort. Although Ryanair drew criticism from readers over its service and food, they did acknowledge its website and customer service as improving and that the low-cost airline has "changed the entire airline business".
Martin Corbett, co-owner and former maître d' of Michelin-starred Chapter One, has been named The Face of Irish Hospitality. Described by renowned Sunday Times restaurant critic AA Gill as being, "so effusive and charming he could have given a Christmas tree diabetes" and by readers as "the best welcome in Dublin", Corbett who describes himself as "actually a very shy person" said that despite his numerous awards for service over a 45-year hospitality career, "the only reward I ever wanted was customers coming back to the restaurant".
"Every day of the 30-odd years I worked with Ross Lewis was a happy day. Now don’t get me wrong, every good marriage has the occasional barney. But looking back on it, he made my life very, very easy with the food and the consistency of the product," added Corbett. As for his advice for the next generation of maître d's, "Don’t drink too much of that coffee, watch the alcohol intake, and keep yourself right, both physically and mentally. Do your swimming in the sea, do your running. Because you have to manage this business or it will manage you very quickly."
Other winners included Donegal being named Ireland's Hidden Gem, good news for Donegal's head of tourism who said he wants to "put Donegal firmly on the map as one of the top tourist destinations in the world"