A LISNASKEA man who has been managing one of Fermanagh’s most popular hotels for over 20 years believes his continuing success is down to two key attributes – motivation and determination.
David Morrison, General Manager at the Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Lodges, was named as ‘Hotelier of the Year’ at the 23rd Institute of Hospitality Awards for Professionalism, held at Titanic in Belfast.
The father-of-five, who enjoys farming in his spare time, said he was honoured to receive such a “prestigious accolade”.
Mr. Morrison has had a long association with the Killyhevlin and has worked there at various stages of his life, starting as a bar floor waiter during his school days, and as Deputy General Manager from 1989 – 1990.
Having served as the hotel’s General Manager since 1996, he says that the secret of his success is down to both his motivation, determination and his ability to deal with people. Having worked in the hospitality industry both here and in Great Britain over the last 30 years, Mr. Morrison said that being a “people person” is vitally important. “In this line of business, you have to enjoy dealing with people. If you’re not a people person, don’t go there. Ninety-nine per cent of my day is spent dealing with people, whether it is suppliers, staff or customers,” he said.
The manager also admits to still finding the variety in his role exciting. “No two days are ever the same. It gives you a real buzz, and the variety keeps you focused and driven” he revealed. Mr. Morrison added that, without organisational skills, running a busy hotel would be impossible. “You need the ability to organise yourself and other people. If you can’t do that, this is really not the job for you,” he said.
Looking back to his younger days, the Lisnaskea man said that he had considered three lines of work – veterinary medicine, teaching or hospitality. The final choice was hospitality and Mr. Morrison chose to enrol in a BA Degree in Hotel and Catering Management at Portsmouth University. After completing his studies, he embarked on a Graduate Management Programme with Swallow Hotels and worked at various locations in Scotland and England before taking up his first General Management post at the age of 27.
During the early 1990s, Mr. Morrison worked in hotels in Dundee, South Normanton, Waltham Abbey, Bristol, Ashford, Rochford and Epping Forest. Having started a family, he and his wife, Alison, decided to come back to Fermanagh for a more settled life for their children. They returned home to the family farm at Manorwaterhouse, that has been in Mr. Morrison’s family for four generations.
“We needed a base to settle for the children. I also wanted to farm, and help my father, who was becoming less able.”
In 1999, three years after taking over as the Killyhevlin’s General Manager, Mr. Morrison won the ‘Large Private Hotelier’ category at the Hotel and Catering International Management Association, Janus Awards.
Nearly two decades later, Mr. Morrison admits that he was “quite determined” to go for it again.After being a finalist in last year’s competition, he decided to give it “one more whirl” and was delighted to win the top award once again!
He said: “I am honoured to have received such a prestigious accolade and wish to recognise the high-quality reputation of Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel, and the strength of the team, as key factors in this achievement.” Whilst physical facilities play a major role in any hotel, our greatest asset is our staff. We are extremely fortunate to have a strong team who are dedicated and totally customer-focused. It is always great to celebrate success, and we have had a number of those over the years.
“As a family run hotel for over 40 years, excellence in customer service is always at the forefront of our decisions.” Working hours as required by the pressures of the job and depending on what’s happening at the hotel, Mr. Morrison uses farming as a “release mechanism”.
As time goes on, he has been making various improvements around the family farm and modernising buildings and working practices to make the running of the farm less labour intensive. He currently keeps a herd of around 70 animals and concedes that juggling the two roles can often be challenging.“It has its moments. Sometimes you need to find a way of being in two places at the one time. Calving season is always interesting!” Technology has come to his rescue. Digital cameras are invaluable.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Killyhevlin, and continue to do so. My aim is to continue to drive the hotel from strength to strength, whilst recognising success and efforts within the team. Recognition is a great motivator and it is in that ‘frame of mind’ that we move forward, in anticipation of continued success in the years ahead,” he said.