Sunday, June 16, 2024


THERE have been celebrations galore in Castlewellan after one of the town’s newer businesses saw off stiff competition to win a leading award.

Hillyard House Hotel was crowned the Tourism and Hospitality Company of the Year at the Belfast Telegraph Awards, last Thursday night.

It was later described as “a true David versus Goliath moment” for the relative newcomer, in a category which featured some of the country’s leading tourism and hospitality venues.

This wonderful, family-friendly boutique hotel, located next to the entrance gates to the stunning Castlewellan Forest Park in the historic market town of Castlewellan, boasts 20 cosy, modern en suite rooms.

With an emphasis on creating memorable guest experiences, Hillyard House Hotel, The Yard Restaurant and Mrs Coleman’s Bar have everything to make guest stays cosy and great craic!

Hillyard House Hotel only opened less than four years ago – and was forced to close for almost 12 months during that time due to the Covid-19 pandemic – making last week’s awards success even more remarkable.

Just to have been shortlisted, along with Hastings Hotels and Titanic Distillers, was a big coup for the local venue, but to go on and win the Tourism and Hospitality Company of the Year category at this year’s business awards was a magnificent achievement.

Hillyard’s General Manager Chris Lockhart said he and his colleagues, along with proprietors, Castlewellan men Martin O’Higgins and Seamus Devlin, remain “on cloud nine”.

He paid tribute to everyone who works at the local hotel.

Chris said although guests “deal with 25 per cent of the team, front of house and with day-to-day operations,” everyone employed at the Castlewellan hotel deserves credit for their hard work, passion and dedication.

This collective effort, he emphasises, played a central role in last week’s triumph.

“We are thrilled to win the Tourism and Hospitality Company of the Year award. Given that we were shortlisted alongside some of the very best in the Northern Ireland hospitality industry, we felt like it was our David versus Goliath moment,” he said.

“We are extremely proud of the achievement and equally proud of our amazing hard-working Hillyard team.”

Continued Chris: “It has been a challenging few years for the hospitality industry in general so I would also like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all our wonderful guests, who have been with us every step of the way since we opened almost four years ago.

“This achievement is just the beginning and we are excited about the future and continuing to create memorable Hillyard experiences for all our guests, whether they are staying overnight or coming to visit our Yard Restaurant or Mrs Coleman’s Bar”.

Chris said the hotel is in the process of working its way towards four-star accreditation from Tourism NI.

Acknowledging the hotel’s relative ‘newness’, he said last week’s award, and the earlier shortlisting, was a reflection of the high standard of service everyone receives once they step through the doors of Hillyard House.

“We are proud to be a new business and winning such an award, at this time in our journey, is fantastic. It’s only the start of our future,” he added.

The Yard Restaurant offers a wide selection of locally sourced foods to suit the most discerning of diners.

With a Himalayan salt meat aging chamber proudly sitting in the restaurant, displaying an amazing array of local produce, this ensures guests are served only the finest cuts of beef, aged for the optimum timeframe.

Hillyard’s chefs ensure each cut of beef is cooked to absolute perfection on a broiler. An excellent value Steak Night takes place on Fridays and is proving popular.

The venue offers an extensive range of fine wines and other beverages, along with a delicious range of fresh desserts, all of which have been prepared on site, and visitors can also enjoy after dinner cocktails, Irish coffees and Espresso Martinis.

The fully licensed Yard Restaurant has a rustic yet modern feel and can sit up to 100 people, with delicious breakfasts, lunches and evening dinners served seven days a week.

Guests can also enjoy a wide range of delicious beverages, including locally-sourced craft beers, gins and a selection of cocktails expertly mixed by an awesome bar team, in the comfort of Mrs Coleman’s Bar.

It is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a game of golf, a hike in the Mournes or after completing some family activities in Castlewellan Forest Park.

So, whether you are celebrating a hole in one, conquering a mountain or winning family bragging rights, you can be certain that the amazing bar staff will look after you. Why not check out the mezzanine area and the signature cocktail, the rather tasty Mrs Coleman’s Bramble?

Mrs Coleman’s Bar opens at 12 midday, seven days a week.

Whether booking in, or stopping off for a delicious meal or unwinding in the bar, there is something to suit everyone, and an award-winning warm welcome most certainly awaits.

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