HOTELIER and publican, Peter Collins, was motivated towards his successful career path at a young age.
“One of my first summer jobs was collecting glasses in Rosie’s on Sunday mornings; I always looked forward to a free bottle of Coca-Cola!”
Peter, 51, a father of five, who was reared across the road from his hotel, the Carrigaline Court Hotel and who went to school just around the corner, has come a long way from his days as a ‘pot man’.
“We have Barrys pub in Douglas too,” says Peter who is married to Michelle.
“I work between the two places. But I’m mostly here.”
The Carrigaline Court Hotel and Leisure Centre, which employs 140 people, celebrates 20 years in business on Sunday, November 11.
Peter says the two businesses he runs are similar, connecting and re-connecting with new and old faces every day, building a strong network which turns into friendships.
“The license trade and the hotel trade are very alike,” says Peter. “You are meeting a variety of people every day and providing them with a top class friendly service in a vibrant sociable environment.
“The hotel is the hub of the community and the hub of the industry surrounding the town. People say the Carrigaline Court is a great asset to Carrigaline. The local support we receive has always been 100%.”
The hotel was built in 1998 on a site which used to belong to the internationally renowned Carrigaline Pottery.
First established as a 52 bedroom hotel in 1998, the Carrigaline Court has grown into a 91 bedroom, four star hotel in the intervening years, and become what has been described as ‘the heart of the village’ in Carrigaline.
Peter’s heart is embedded in the nitty-gritty of the hotel, and the ownership has remained within the Collins family.
It has hosted more than 1,000 weddings and more then 2,000 other events such as dinner dances and sports and charity functions
“The social aspect to the hotel is great,” says Peter. “It serves a great meeting place for a coffee or a bite of lunch. We cater for the busiest of functions. The bridge club meet here and the local GAA club avail of the leisure club facilities. We work with the local community, build relationships with them and reap the rewards.”
His heart is wedded to his work in a daily whirlwind of managing his team of 140 staff, budgeting, checking, re-checking and accessing all areas.
Did he always want to be an hotelier? “I’m a failed accountant!” says Peter, laughing. “But I started in this business young and I grew with it.
“I always look forward and not backwards.”
Currently, a major refurbishment is underway that will see 91 newly-renovated bedrooms come on stream in 2019, a new reception area and a revamped Leisure Centre.
He is full of praise for his loyal team; “We have picked our people well.”
He is a popular boss. Seven of the staff who started at Carrigaline Court Hotel in 1998 are still working there today, two decades on.
Among them is Marguerite Quinlan.
“I started work here on the 11th November,” says Marguerite. “That was my first night in the bar.”
She came with valuable assets of experience and people skills.
“I worked in other hostelries as a waitress in Minane Bridge and Roberts Cove. But I like the bar better,” says Marguerite, who knows each local person like her own family.
She has three grown-up children and three granddaughters.
“My children were young then,” says Marguerite.
“I used to go to work at 6.30pm when they were asleep in bed. I’m sure they never knew I went out to work!”
What does Marguerite like most about her job at Carrigaline Court Hotel spanning two decades?
“I like the people,” she says.”You’d never be lonely. The lads who come in after mass on Sunday for their coffee and scones are great pals. The scones are like gold dust, they go like hot cakes. The lads love them fresh from the oven.”
She knows them so well.
“One of them was ordering coffee one morning and he asked his companion black or white? ‘Ask Marguerite’ was his answer!”
She enjoys the perks of her job.
“I go for a swim here after work. I’m only 20 minutes from home. I like a game of bridge too.”
Kate Goulding, the head receptionist at front of house, likes to see everyone smiling.
“I try and keep everyone happy!” she says. “Every day is different. And over the years I got to know all the regulars.
“The weddings and corporate events are always exciting.
“We love to see families coming in to the hotel and enjoying a special lunch or dinner celebration.”
Is the customer always right?
“If a guest has a genuine complaint, you acknowledge it and try and deal with it, and not get flustered.”
Kate seems unflappable, well able to multi-task, managing her team and managing to be all things to all people.
“I like dealing with the public and I like working with my team. I have to keep them happy as well. Then I’m happy when I leave here at the end of the day.”
Orla McKenna, who five years ago moved to administration, likes to keep a balance.
“I deal with everyone across the whole spectrum,” she says. “From suppliers, to making sure the books are balanced. My job is different every day. It is never boring.”
Is she shuffling a lot of money around in the online world?
“I am,” says Orla, who admits to being a big spender herself on shoes and handbags.
“But there is great satisfaction when everything is balanced. When I check the bank reconciliation balances; I let out a little squeal of delight!”
Barry Duggan, accounts manager, who has worked at Carrigaline Court for 20 years, is delighted too.
“I share an office with Orla,” he says. “We work well together. We have a great relationship. Everyone is happy when we balance the books. Orla is my work wife!”
Does his wedded wife know this?
“Yes, she does. And Julie does the budgeting at home. She has the control and she is the boss.”
Keith Collins is the boss of the hotel’s leisure centre.
“I love my job as manager of the leisure centre,” he says,
Is that because he met his wife Ann at work?
“That too!” says Keith.
To mark the 20 year milestone, on Sunday November 11, Carrigaline Court Hotel will open its doors for a day-long celebration, 10am to 6pm, for a fun-filled day of music and family entertainment, with a live RED FM broadcast, with lots of giveaway prizes.