Dromoland’s Mark Nolan on travel

My name is Mark Nolan and I’m 51 and I’ve been in the Hotel industry since I was 17, believe it or not. I got into it initially in Ashford Castle in Co. Mayo, then I did my diploma in hotel management in Galway regional technical college, I then went on to work in Germany for a year in the New York Stanford. And when I came back I was junior assistant manager in Ashford castle for six years. Then finally I was promoted to general manager at Dromoland castle and I’ve been here ever since.


I am also a share holder so I have a real personal interest in it. It also allowed me set up my own design company called mark management so I have done some work for big construction companies in terms of layouts and designs for bedrooms etc.


My main travel is business. I just came back last week from a business trip to North America this year. I much prefer to travel by plane over ferry any day.


One of the more recent holidays that stood out for me was when I was away for a conference in Mexico and one of our investors had bought into a hotel that was literally situated on a cliff edge. So I spent two or three days there consulting, as he wanted structural advice on what he would do. I also made a holiday out of it staying in the hotel which was literally in the jungle in a place called Puerto Vallarta. We climbed up into the jungle with a guide and it was the most spiritual place I ever was in, in all my life. It was all candle lit and it was just a striking place and a very different holiday.


Recently we introduced a new VIP standard to the rooms which is something I saw in The Imperial in Dew deli in India last year. New Deli is probably one of the most amazing destinations I have ever been. We travelled Mumbai, Bangalore and New Deli for a golfing promotion. We hosted golf events the whole way along India; starting in Mumbai, we worked out way down through Bangalore then finished in the DLF in New Deli. It was St. Patrick’s week and we were dressed up on St. Patrick’s day in green blazers, pants and shoes on a golf course which was all part of promotions of hotels.


A memorable trip I took once was when I went to the closing of a restaurant in north of Spain called El Bulli. It was a place where people had been waiting for years to get into this restaurant. I finally got in and it was number one restaurant in the world for years and it is closed now.


I think travel has got so tense and pressurised nowadays with security at the airport these days. One of the things that I always see when travelling that creates an awful lot of unnecessary friction is people carrying too much luggage. If I had to give some advice I would simply say ‘weight your luggage’ and as well as that know the rules of the airline you are travelling with.


Another tip for food and restaurants I would swear by is the Zaget guide. It is a husband and wife team who research restaurants and I have never had a bad experience using Zaget, it is always proven. Another thing I would say as a hotel manager myself is to try and get an upgrade in a hotel if it is a special occasion.