Welcome to the Killarney Park Hotel
Kerry native Allan has welcomed many corporate groups to the stunning Killarney Park Hotel over the years. And while he knows that delegates will be enchanted by the county’s wild, idyllic beauty (the nearby Gap of Dunloe is his top recommendation) he likes to go the extra mile in ensuring visitors get to really experience an authentic slice of Irish culture.
“A visit shouldn’t just consist of driving around on a bus, taking photos”, Allan begins. “It’s about experiencing Irish culture, and meeting Irish people.”
It can be challenging to come up with fresh, creative ideas, particularly for the likes of this particular client; an American investment company, who, as Allan explains, bring along their spouses, children and even grandparents to Kerry each year!
As well as a bespoke kids’ club to keep little ones entertained, Allan and his team decided to set up a ‘GAA Experience’ in the hotel’s pretty gardens. GAA refers to our national sports; Gaelic football and hurling; fast-paced games that really have to be seen to be believed! “It’s great fun”, explains Allan. “We get in some local, young GAA players from different clubs around Killarney. They wear their club colours and explain to the kids and parents how unique our Gaelic games are, that hurling is the fastest field sport in the world and dates back to ancient times. The hurl is the real novelty – everyone wants to have a go and take a swing!”
Killarney Park Hotel
However, for one lucky group in 2015, Allan really went above and beyond the call of duty! “A group of buyers were visiting the Gap, and then stopping with us for 45 mins before heading on to their next destination”, he recalls. “We really wanted to wow them, but knew the usual stuff had been done before. I suddenly had an idea; Kerry had won the All-Ireland [our annual nation-wide GAA championships] the year before, and I knew one of the team’s players. I picked up the phone and asked was there any chance I could borrow Sam [the Sam Maguire cup] for 45 minutes? I got a call back that yes, I could pick him up from Tralee at 1pm!
“So, we held a special GAA Experience, and brought the delegates straight out onto our terrace, where I had a screen set up with pictures of every Kerry captain since 1903 holding Sam – 37 in all. We gave them a brief history of the Gaelic games, and then unveiled the trophy!
They were thrilled, explains Allan. "They knew that this was the Irish equivalent of the Stanley Cup or Vince Lombardi Trophy. We had medals done up for them too, with ‘Killarney Park Champions’ on them, and got some lovely photos. There was a reception held later in another venue, and I was told they all arrived wearing their medals!"