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The K Club Wins AA Ireland Hotel of the Year The K Club Wins AA Ireland Hotel of the Year


The K Club Wins AA Ireland Hotel of the Year

Published 28th October 2010Read Time 11 min

Hotel awardsAwards also for Dunraven Arms, Ballymaloe House, Gregan’s Castle. Mary Buckley of Sandyhills B&B in Rush Co Dublin is AA Bean an Ti of the year. Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin today presented the awards to the winners of the most prestigious accolades in the Irish Hotel industry.
See photos on AA Flickr:

Minister for Tourism Culture and Sport, Mary Hanafin, today presented Michael Davern CEO and General Manager of The Kildare Hotel and Country Club, affectionately known as The K Club, with the ‘AA Ireland’s Hotel of the Year’ for 2010/2011, the most prestigious award in the Irish Hospitality Industry.  The AA has been inspecting and grading hotels in Ireland since the early years of the last century and is delighted to bestow this award on the iconic K Club resort during this the AA’s centenary year. 
Speaking at the ceremony today Minister Hanafin said “congratulations to the K Club and all the other winners in this year’s AA Hospitality Awards. Each of the award winners joins a very special group of hoteliers and guesthouse owners who have not only attained the highest levels of operational standards, but have also consistently delivered exceptional and memorable experiences to their guests. Irish hotels are world class and the AA grading scheme has played a significant role over many years in recognizing quality and encouraging high standards of accommodation and service. The AA accolade is a great recognition and will provide a huge boost to the winning establishments. The AA is celebrating its centenary this year and I want to thank them for their continued organization of the awards and their commitment to helping tourists – both in the motoring and hospitality sector.”
The K Club has been at the forefront in setting standards in the Irish Hospitality Industry in Ireland for close to 20 years.  It was the first and only hotel up until 2002 in Ireland to receive the coveted AA 5 Red Star Rating, an accolade which is reserved for the finest hotels within their classification.  Its Byerley Turk restaurant is one of only three 3 restaurants in Ireland to hold 3 AA Rosettes, a standard it has maintained since 1993. 
To claim this year’s title of ‘AA Ireland Hotel of the Year’ The K Club faced the dual task of demonstrating both excellence and improvement within the 18 months leading up to the awards.
“I was with The K Club when it first achieved an AA 5 Red Star Rating in the early ‘90s and I couldn’t be prouder of our achievement today,” says Michael Davern, CEO and General Manager of The K Club.  “Despite the current challenges within the Irish hospitality & tourism industry as a whole, The K Club is still proving to be the ultimate destination for both international and domestic visitors.  We take enormous pride in not only meeting but exceeding guest’s expectations each time.”
“This is a special year for AA Ireland as we ring in our 100th birthday and we’re thrilled to name The K Club as ‘Hotel of the Year’, says Pat Kiely, Managing Director of AA Ireland.  “The K Club is rightly world famous and it’s to their enormous credit that they maintain their first class service, whilst also seamlessly adjusting to emergent trends in the Irish hospitality market.”
One of the key trends observed by AA Ireland inspectors within the Irish Hospitality Industry in 2010 is a wider choice of leisure and entertainment activities most of which do not incur a charge.  Inspectors commend this new “thinking outside the box” approach which is particularly noticeable among family-run properties.  Among the activities noted are nature trails, cycling trips, hiking, film nights, outdoor theatre, fishing, photography classes, cookery classes, art classes, ballroom dancing, health and beauty classes and wine appreciation.
In keeping with this, AA Ireland’s inspectors were impressed by The K Club’s new leisure initiatives including “Five Star for Families” which offers activities including fishing, clay pigeon shooting, horse riding, walking and cycling for all members of the family to enjoy.  The K Club succeeds in introducing new services to guests without comprise to their core principle of world class hospitality.
The 2006 Ryder Cup further brought The K Club to the attention of the world and whilst still   synonymous with golf and luxury, a greater emphasis has been placed on the corporate, wedding and family celebrations market in recent times. 
In addition to the ‘Hotel of Year Awards’ the AA today announces the winners of the AA Courtesy & Care Award’, ‘Guest Accommodation Award’ and ‘Bean an Tí of the Year Award’.
The much-loved ‘Dunraven Arms Hotel’ of Adare, Co. Limerick is awarded the AA’s Courtesy Care Award for 2010/2011. The Award, linked to the AA’s motto of Courtesy and Care, is awarded annually to the AA hotel, which offers nothing short of excellent Irish Hospitality.  The loyal following of guests who return to the Dunraven Arms, a 1792 Country Inn, year on year speaks volumes.
 The family business, run by the second generation of the Murphy family, also boasts a tremendously loyal work force, many of whom have worked with them for years.  Remarkably, their senior restaurant staffs combined, have been with the Dunraven Arms for more than a century!
One of the key criteria of this award is that staff are true and genuine ambassadors for the hotel.  “This is very true of the Dunraven Arms,” says Kiely “Feedback from our hotel inspectors in this regard was extremely positive.  Staff were credited as working as a team, anticipating guest’s needs in advance, being kind and courteous at all times and displaying a wonderfully natural “can do” attitude.”
Its traditional service techniques, comfortable bedrooms with many thoughtful extras and lovely old-fashioned garden also make it a firm favourite among its patrons.  The Murphy family continue to invest in the property with the recent addition of the ‘White House’, a multipurpose conference venue.  To read more about the Dunraven arms visit:
Ballymaloe House of Shanagarry, Co. Cork is awarded the ‘AA Guest Accommodation of the Year Award’, an award which is given to the best in the AA’s Bed & Breakfast, Guesthouse and Farmhouse category. 
Myrtle Allen first opened her farmhouse, Ballymaloe House, to guests back in 1964. Today it is a thriving business which includes a cookery school, craft shop and café and recent ‘Grainstore’, a refurbished 17th Century building available for art events, musical evenings, family celebrations and business gatherings.
The AA Ireland Guest Accommodation Award, now in its 16th year, is awarded annually to the best of Bed & Breakfast, Guesthouse and Farmhouse category as determined by the AA Inspectors.   Despite strong competition from other excellent AA rated Guest Accommodations within this category, the Ballymaloe House stands apart with its elegant drawing rooms, lounges, individually decorated dining rooms, professional service, stylist bedrooms, 400 acre estate, use of local ingredients and produce from its own gardens and 2 AA rosette quality restaurant cuisine. 
“Ballymaloe and the Allen family is a household name in Ireland and this hasn’t come without a lot of hard work and commitment to quality,” says
 Kiely.  “Bed and Breakfasts, Guesthouses and Farmhouses have a hugely important role in Irish Tourism for both the domestic and foreign travel market and it’s vital that standards remain consistently high.  A huge congratulations goes to Ballymaloe House and all its staff.”
Mary Buckley of Sandyhills B&B, Rush, Co. Dublin wins the AA Ireland ‘Bean an Tí of the Year Award’ for 2010/2011.  This special award, unique to Ireland, celebrates exceptional commitment and hardwork by an individual proprietor to first-rate hospitality.
Following the sad passing of her husband Jim, Mary a housewife and mother of four, made the decision to extend her home and open her B&B 5 years ago.  Despite being a relative newcomer, her warmth of personality, industrious nature and above and beyond attitude makes Sandyhills B&B enormously popular with guests.  Her guest book is awash with complements from her visitors.  Guests, who are treated like a member of the family, are served homemade baking and preserves with their breakfasts and in her endeavors to enhance her offerings, Mary has attended various courses in Kevin Street and a chocolate making course in Germany in recent times.
B&B operators like Mary are a huge asset to tourism in this country”, says Pat Kiely, Managing Director of AA Ireland.  “It’s a fantastic opportunity to really acknowledge someone who represents what is the very best in Irish Hospitality.  Our warm congratulations to Mary.”
Note to editors:

  1. The following images are available for free download at: from 3pm on 28/10/10.

–       Pictures of Minister Mary Hanafin and Pat Kiely, Managing Director of AA Ireland presenting the ‘AA Hotel of the Year Award to Michael Davern, CEO of The K Club.  Also featured are Executive Chef, Finbarr Higgins and Hotel Manager, Audrey Brophy.
–       Pictures of Hugh Murphy from the Dunraven Arms, Hazel Allen from Ballymaloe House and Mary Buckley of Sandyhills B&B being award the ‘AA Ireland Courtesty & Care Award’, ‘AA Ireland Guest Accommodation of the Year Award’ and ‘Bean an Ti of the Year Award’ respectively by Minister Hanafin and Pat Kiely, Managing Director of AA Ireland.
–       AA Ireland hotel of the year logo
–       A selection of high resolution photographs of The K Club, Dunraven Arms, Ballymaloe House and Sandyhills B&B.

  1. Origins of the AA Star rating system

AA Hotel Services had its beginning in 1908 in the UK when it was discovered that motorists were having difficulty finding reasonable meals and accommodation.  It was then decided at the annual AGM to introduce a new scheme to include selected hotels in the AA member’s handbook and distinguish these hotels with a specially commissioned AA sign.  In 1912, the then AA secretary, Stenson Cooke, who had once been a wine and spirit salesman, proposed a star rating system, not dissimilar to that used for brandy.  And so the hotel star rating system was born, with three star classification being adopted as the standard.  It was at this time that the first AA hotel inspectors were introduced. 

  1. About the AA Hospitality Awards

The AA Hospitality Awards are amongst the most prestigious awards of their kind and draw on the unrivalled knowledge and expertise of the AA inspectorate and other industry professionals involved in the judging process. Winners are selected in recognition of excellence and success within their chosen category, having shown a significant improvement in the preceding 12 to 18 months and proving their dedication to raising industry standards and enhancing both their guest and diner experiences.

  1. Further information on the AA Ireland Hotel of the Year, the K Club, Straffan, Co. Kildare is available at  For press enquiries relating to the K Club please contact:  Aileen O’ Brien, or 045 446422/086 8403624

 For further information on other awards winners listed please contact: Mairead Browne, AA Hotel Services, 01 617 9375,

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