LISTEN: 'I miss sitting at the bar and having a pint; being honest,' says hotelier

This week's Travel Tales with Fergal column in The Nationalist

Fergal O'Keeffe


Fergal O'Keeffe


Tipperary Tipperary Tipperary

Brendan Dwyer is the GM of the La Finca Resort in Alicante, Spain.

The Nationalist has teamed up with podcast host Fergal O’Keeffe and every week he aims to fuel readers’ wanderlust for day-dream worthy destinations while we all wait for post-pandemic travel to hopefully return next year.

Fergal is the host of Ireland’s No.1 Travel Podcast, Travel Tales with Fergal, which is listened to in over 60 countries.

You can listen to the latest episode by clicking here. 

The weekly interview series hosts a special guest who shares stories from their travels, adventures and experiences living abroad.

This season his guests include Paul Wallace, David McWilliams, Manchan Mangan and this week Irish hotelier, Brendan Dwyer.

Brendan is the GM of the La Finca Resort in Alicante, Spain.

He has worked for over 20 years in some of the world’s most iconic hotels and was Vice President of Global Sales for Hyatt Hotels.

Fergal O'Keeffe pictured above

Brendan really captures the manic world of the global hotel business as he gives an energetic, charismatic tour of working all over the world including London, New York, Cairo, Istanbul, Madrid and Murcia to name just a few.

He has been living in the Cartagena in Murcia since 2015.

“Murcia is Spain’s best secret with great places to visit like Cartagena, Murcia city, Caravaca de la Cruz, the vineyards of ‘Jumilla’ and the coast is dotted with long sandy beaches in La Manga.

Murcia is easily accessible by flying into Murcia or Alicante airport,” he says. In Ireland, all the talk is about not being able to go abroad but people forget about the expats that aren’t able to come back to Ireland. Brendan talks about having to close his hotel last March and how difficult it is not getting back to Ireland to visit family and friends in Clare and Kerry.

“Not being home in Ireland for a year is very weird. First of all, not being able to see my Dad. Not to come off that Ryanair flight say hello to the guard looking at your passport in customs. See the smile. I normally fly into Kerry Airport because my dad is living in Killarney for eight years now.”

“I miss Ireland a lot because for me it was great to go home to see people and great grounding. I miss the country, people, the food and the craic. I miss sitting at the bar and having a pint; being honest.”

When asked where he will travel first when things open, Brendan said: “For me it will be a trip to Ennis to see friends and Killarney to see my Dad. It is the longest time I have ever been away from Ireland.”

“We shut up the hotel on March 17, St Patrick’s Day, which was a bit bizarre for me. It is very eerie to go there now and see a beautiful 5 Star hotel closed. And sad to see 120 workers and families without work. I went to Alicante Airport twice and it is the most eerie place. The airport is a travel hub and the 4th biggest in Europe and it is dead. There is no one there now. I miss the freedom of travel.”

The top international hotelier says that “this is a very harsh and short term strategy by the Irish Government when looking at tourism” when compared to the attitude in Spain.

“The travel sector in Ireland and the UK is the forgotten industry. But this problem is short term. I understand as an island you need to protect your borders, but the travel industry has been forgotten about in Ireland.”

“The Spanish Government has listened to the cries for help over the last year from our industry. Spain is so dominant in the tourism industry but also so reliant on it. The Spanish economy can’t survive unless we go for it and it is deemed to be safe enough for that to happen in July. The lockdown restrictions have started to be removed in the last few days. Bars and restaurants can open again. There is a curfew from 10pm to 6am and 11pm in Madrid. So, there is slight relief in the country but there is strong optimism in Spain. Everything revolves around tourism because Spain is so reliant on tourism.”

“My two cents worth is that wherever you are and whatever you are doing, and we are talking about travel, then enjoy it. This thing called mindfulness works. Give yourself ten minutes on your own. Take time out and clear the mind and fill it with positive thoughts for the future. That is what travel gives. If you don’t travel, then you don’t see these things.

“That is what I always do, and I try to make the most of every moment when I’m away.”

Fergal O’Keeffe is the host of Ireland’s No. 1 Travel Podcast, Travel Tales with Fergal, which is a weekly interview series listened to in over 60 countries.

The Travel Tales is available on all podcast platforms.
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