Jack Quann
Jack Quann

18.25 14 Jul 2020


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The Metropole Hotel in Cork city has re-opened its doors, after closing in mid-March as coronavirus began to rise across the country.

Ahead of its re-opening on Monday, concierge John Coleman told Newstalk's Barry Whyte: "The hotel is 123-years-old actually, and it's never been closed.

"The doors have always been open and now it's just a case of lights are off.

"There's managers here, there's maybe nine of us altogether.

"We have to be here 24/7, you have to have someone onsite [for] maintenance issues, security, answering e-mails, connecting with guests and updating really all the time".

Metropole Hotel Concierge John Coleman. Picture by: LinkedIn

"One of the things that I would always joke when I go to tour buses and I'd go on welcoming them to the hotel; and I'd always say to them 'without ye, the hotel is only a warehouse'.

"And I can see now what I meant by that".

"It's a little bit strange - there's always two of us in the hotel.

"But because of the size of the hotel, the other person could be down in the basement and you're here on the fourth floor.

"What you take for granted before like is the opening and closing of bedroom doors".

"You'd be kind of thinking 'God, I haven't heard that before'".

He says while the hotel is not haunted, one of the lifts "opens every 15, 20 minutes - but that's OK too".

Metropole Hotel Guest Austin Coughlan is welcomed by general manager Roger Russell and front office manager Catriona Power. Picture by Facebook/The Metropole Hotel Cork

For guests coming back to the hotel, he said: "It'll be a different experience, but I suppose the positive side of it is it will be a great experience.

"Once people realise that all the rules and regulations and stipulations are in place to protect the guest, as always, they will see that it's actually very, very simple".

But the hotel will not be at its full capacity of 108 rooms.

John explains: "Basically if you stay tonight and you check out, your room can't be used then.

"There's different guidelines on 48 hours for it to be cleaned, sanitised, deep-cleaned".

Catriona Power is front office manager at the Metropole.

"Working on the front desk, we're the frontline for when people come in the door.

"We'll be meeting and greeting all kinds of people; not even people that are staying in the hotel, people that come in to dine.

"We have a very hands-on approach with our customers as well, so we have the personal touch there - which is something that we're looking at at the moment.

"When everything comes back and we open on the 13th of July it's going to be very different.

"We're going to have to get our customer service levels at the same level and maintain them, but we will have to take away the personal aspect as well because of the social distancing".

Chef Trevor O'Keefe says: "We really gotta look at our menu first of all - it's got to be cost-effective, it's going to be down to the best-sellers.

"We'll probably put on four starters, four mains, three desserts with two specials - and try to work out the rosters.

"[There are] going to be less chefs working because of social distancing.

"For me it's a challenge, I want to get the best possible menu I can do with.

"With our new menu we're thinking touching every base: so we have a vegan dish, we have a fish dish, all our courses have one vegan dish, we'll have a steak on".

Breakfast supervisor Michelle Neary says: "Down in breakfast we'd be chit-chatting with everyone, finding out about their stay, everything like that.

"So it's going to be hard now to pull back and keep that little bit of a distance - it's harder to talk with a space between you, you know".

Metropole Hotel General manager Roger Russell. Picture by: LinkedIn

General manager Roger Russell says: "It is empty, it is quiet, it's dark, it's lonely.

"We miss our guests, we miss seeing the faces of our team everyday, we miss the interactions, the busy noises in the hotel, the dinging of the elevators.

"What's it going to look like? We're going to re-organise the hotel front-of-house and back-of-house so that it's as safe a place as possible for our guests when they return and for our staff when they return to work.

"You're going to see sanitation points, where when you walk in the door you'll be able to sanitise your hands.

"You're going to see social distancing markers... you're going to see regulation of trips in elevators where you will only be able to have a certain amount of people in elevators at one time.

"You're going to see slots for breakfast where you'll have to reserve your time.

"What you won't see is your breakfast buffet, they're a thing of the past unfortunately."

Main image: Cork's Metropole Hotel is seen in 2017. Picture by: Facebook/The Metropole Hotel Cork

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Breakfast Buffet Catriona Power Cork Coronavirus Covid-19 Guests John Coleman Metropole Hotel Michelle Neary Roger Russell Social Distancing Front Desk Trevor O'Keefe

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