We sat down with General Manager, Jonny Bailie to discuss his 10 years at McKeever Hotels, which seen him go from Part Time Bar Tender to General Manager of Corr’s Corner Hotel.
Here’s what Jonny had to say about his time spent in the hospitality industry…
“Having started in the hotel industry at the tender age of 13, it is safe to say that I owe a lot of my development to my roots… Initially, I was a ‘glass washer’ who moved through all the ranks, training across the various departments with the result being a role in Hotel Management!
In my initial role in Hotel Management as a Bar Manager/Duty Manager in the family Hotel business; I had gained a sound understanding of ‘hotel life’ and the ‘ups & downs’ of the Industry – experience that will stand by me forever…
At this time it was time to complete my studies and I had a dissertation to write for my Masters Degree in Business Development in Innovation. Due to my past experiences of over 11years in the family hotel business I continued my focus on the Hotel industry here in Northern Ireland & in particular, ‘creativity and innovation in Hotel contexts’.
In pursuit of part-time employment, I came across ‘Corrs Corner Hotel’ which was part of the McKeever Hotel Group. On the 29th February 2012 I secured this position of part-time bar tender – one I would certainly not regret…
I grew attached to Corrs almost instantly – the buzz of the Hotel really is quite something; the culture & environment, the long serving team, the level of business; it had everything! However, my aspiration was to return to Hotel Management.
Progression, team development & evolution is a big part of the McKeever Hotel Group philosophy in relation to our ‘People’ so after only 5months in Corrs, there was a management opening within our company in the sister hotel, Dunsilly.
I was back doing what I loved and within this there were new challenges, new people & with any place & business model, new experiences – ones that would again stand by me as I moved forward. Dunsilly had & has a great reputation for conferencing & banqueting and this was an area that was relatively new to me at the time; as were large wedding receptions – it was always a pleasure to be part of someones big day!
I will always have a soft spot for Dunsilly as it was my first management role within the company.
2years had flown by & whilst I was very much settled in Dunsilly at this time, I was presented with an opportunity that I simply could not refuse!
The prospect of opening and launching a Hotel from scratch, inputting the operational systems, helping to oversee the refurb, developing a team from the ground up and also a promotion to Deputy GM was too good to miss! This however, was not on my doorstep (as such) as I was en route to Donegal and what became my new home for the next 5+ years in Dillons Hotel, Letterkenny.
In October 2014 I went completely into the unknown! It had superb potential and that motivated me as did the prospect of turning “what was at the time nothing into something!”
Don’t get me wrong, the start wasn’t easy but I instantly fell in love with Dillons. The fact I was there before the windows and doors were even in made me really part of the place & it was time to put Dillons on the map!
Over time the Hotel moved from strength to strength. The outlook on the Hotel had changed for the better with a great new image of quality product/service and high standards, a new diversified customer base and a great team who were now at the forefront to take Dillons forward.
In May 2017 the opportunity was presented to me to undertake my first GM role for the company in Dillons – a fantastic opportunity in what was now my home from home & in work terms I felt Dillons was ‘my baby’ so it was a no brainer to stay and embrace this challenge!
I loved every second of this role and what was great to experience was further growth and developments, increased sales volume, further improved standards and the development of a full in-house home-grown management team!
Towards the end of the Autumn of 2019 I was honoured to be asked to return home to take over where it all began for me in the McKeever Hotel Group as GM of Corrs Corner. A flattering offer but a decision that was not easy for me to make with my love for Dillons…
I finally made my decision. The offer of a return home & the opportunity to take over the biggest and busiest hotel in the group was too good to refuse.
On the 27th January 2020 my Dillons journey had come to an end and I can honestly say that this was one of the best experiences of my life!
On the 6th February 2020 I returned to Corrs Corner. Initially I was very honoured to be welcomed by such a fantastic team and this was a team that fuelled this ‘well-oiled machine’. The first few weeks went great (I think!) and I had started to settle in; then the world was rocked by Covid-19 and within 6weeks of starting here, hospitality was forced to close.
Despite a disruptive first two years as GM here at Corrs with the global pandemic, there have been many positive moments and achievements and there are great foundations to further build upon…
I look forward to operating & further growing Corrs Corner Hotel alongside our great team. There are many exciting projects and developments that lie ahead…
I believe that the Hotel, the McKeever Hotel Group and ultimately hospitality has a bright future…
On celebrating 10 years with the company I would like to take the opportunity to thank the McKeever family, my many colleagues, guests, customers, suppliers and all stakeholders who have guided, helped and supported me over the years…
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