Armada Hotel Offers Maternity Leave And Private Health Insurance To Boost Recruitment

By Dave Simpson
Armada Hotel Offers Maternity Leave And Private Health Insurance To Boost Recruitment

As reported in The Business Post, the Armada Hotel in Spanish Point, Co. Clare, is set to offer maternity leave and private health insurance in a bid to boost recruitment.

According to John Burke, the owner and managing director of the Armada Hotel, many businesses had not prioritised staff conditions in the past, but should do so now.

Armada Hotel Prioritising Staff

Speaking to The Business Post, Burke said, “I think we – and so many others in the industry – were guilty of that, but, for the Armada right now, it’s the number-one item on our agenda. Every decision is with the employee in mind, and we’ve had to re-look at all our offering.” 
The Armada is in the process of hiring 100 additional workers, which would bring its workforce to 240, made up of 50 part-time/seasonal workers and 190 full-time staff, compared to a total workforce of 130 in 2019, prior to the pandemic. 
The industry, he added, couldn’t afford to keep doing what it had always done in terms of staff retention because it would end up with the same results. Focusing on the impact of COVID-19 restrictions or the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), which many business owners have said is encouraging people not to return to work, was not productive, Burke said. As part of its current recruitment drive, the Armada is offering more flexible working hours and better salaries and benefits, including maternity leave “bonuses” and private health insurance. 
“A hotel offering private healthcare [cover] is pretty much unheard of, but, yet, if other industries can do it, why can’t we?” Burke said. The West Clare hotelier said that the government had given his and other businesses “great support” throughout the pandemic, but called for wage supports to continue for the first half of the year, warning that hotels would be in a “pitiful place” by summer if they didn’t.

Calls To Continue EWSS

For hospitality businesses affected by restrictions in December, the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) will remain at the current level until the end of February, and then the subsidy will be gradually reduced out to the end of May.

Burke said that supports around payroll were crucial for the hospitality sector in the coming months.

“A lot of hotels are coming off the back foot of having a challenging couple of years, and I think the first six months will be critical to get good employment support.


“If we aren’t able to retain and attract and grow our teams, as the Armada is trying to do, well, then we’re going to be in a pitiful place come summertime, when business levels start to pick up. As an industry, we need to get back on our own feet without any more government supports, but there just can’t be that cliff edge – there needs to be a bit of support to bring us closer to the summer,” he said.

Burke added that businesses like his needed time to rebuild their midweek corporate business, as well as cater for overseas visitors.

The wage support schemes had helped keep all its staff employed throughout the last two years, as the business launched new offerings, including a pizzeria, a takeaway cafe, cocktails for home delivery, and other casual dining experiences.

Staff from across the business also helped with developing the grounds of the hotel during lockdown, and painting and decorating at times.

A wider €3 million renovation programme is now under way and due to be completed by early February.


Burke said that he was “very surprised” by how quickly practically all restrictions were removed earlier this month, adding that he was both “delighted” and a little “nervous”.

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