A £200,000 investment will herald the first phase of a comprehensive refurbishing programme for one of the North Coast’s most popular hotels.
The announcement has been made by the National Trust owners of the Causeway Hotel at Bushmills and it has been stressed that the work - to be carried out over the winter months - will not affect the day to day running of the business.
The move coincides with the news that the management pairing of Darrell Stevenson and Stephanie Gray, who have successfully maintained the commitment and standards set by the previous owner, Mr. Stanley Armstrong and his team, are to focus on their other business ventures under the Millside banner - in Cloughmills, Ballymena and Ballintoy.
The change in the operational management at the Causeway was announced in a statement by the Trust who have paid tribute to Mr. Stevenson for his “years of dedication in serving the visitors to the Giant’s Causeway” and wishing him very continued success in the future.
Mr. Stevenson and Ms. Gray have been in charge of the Causeway since 2005 and built on the previous reputation set by the Armstrong family of excellent food served in comfortable surroundings.
The Trust said that from this month, the Causeway Hotel will be operated by the National Trust, and the provision of the food, beverage and accommodation offer at the World Heritage Site to local and international visitors will be continued.
An initial investment of £200,000 will commence the first phase of the refurbishment programme and this will occur over the winter months. The hotel will remain open during these works and staff working will transfer to the National Trust.
Mr Alastair Walker, Site Manager, Giant’s Causeway, National Trust, commented: “We wish to warmly thank Mr Stevenson for his years of dedication to the Giant’s Causeway visitors and wish him every success in the future. The new plans for the entire visitor experience at this World Heritage Site are part of the transformational opportunity for tourism in Northern Ireland in 2012.”
The National Trust will also be examining a number of options for the medium term in order to deliver the best visitor experience for our local and international visitors.
As part of the £18.5 million investment in the visitor experience at this iconic World Heritage Site, a stunning new visitor centre will open in July 2012. The Trust wishes for the Causeway Hotel to fully integrate into the wider site and the significantly improved visitor experience. The ambition will be that the hospitality offer at the World Heritage Site will celebrate local food and local stories, providing an authentic experience to all visitors.
Mr. Stevenson acknowledged the co-operation and assistance of the Armstrong family and said they had given his management team an excellent opportunity to run one of the most successful hotels in North Antrim. He also thanked the National Trust for the opportunity he described as “running one of the biggest catering operations along the North Coast.”
“Just as important, if not more important, we would like to thank our customers for the loyal support they have given us down the years. They have stood by us during periods of upheaval when the hotel’s seating capacity was reduced because of the work on the new visitors’ centre and we appreciate that very much,” Mr. Stevenson said.
He added: “When I took on the hotel, Stanley Armstrong was very helpful and I would like to think that both Stephanie and myself as well as our management team have carried on his good work,” he said.
Mr. Stevenson and Ms. Gray, who are both chefs, have generated a huge following for their reputation of providing good food and plenty of it! They help run two other very successful restaurants both under the Millside banner at Cloughmills and Gracehill just outside Ballymena.
The Millside brand is also in charge at the Fullerton Arms, Ballintoy and it is anticipated that new and innovative ventures are on the horizon.