Business: Darren Harding checks into a ‘bright but different hotel future’

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts


Business: Darren Harding checks into a ‘bright but different hotel future’

Darren Harding

Tell us a bit about the Clayton Hotel Limerick

I am delighted to have been granted this opportunity to become General Manager of this beautiful hotel. Ireland’s tallest hotel overlooking the famous River Shannon in Limerick city centre. The hotel has Grill Bar & Restaurant, Waterfront Restaurant with views that are just breath-taking. We also have Club Vitae which is a fully equipped health and fitness centre. 

I was appointed to the role just eleven weeks ago and the hotel has been closed due to COVID -19 now eight weeks, so it has presented a very challenging time that so many of our industry colleagues are facing during this pandemic and one no one could have prepared for. I have a great team around me here in Clayton Hotel Limerick and a very strong support network from our colleagues in central office, Dalata Hotel Group where the resources are endless so I’m very fortunate in these unprecedented times with the support links and colleagues to I suppose share the concerns with as we are all in this together. Not forgetting the local Irish Hotel Federation Shannon branch who have been fantastic in their efforts around protecting the hospitality sector and it’s vital task of preserving employment in the region especially Shannon Airport which is the life blood of the region.  We are building towards a very bright but different future in hospitality within the industry over the coming months ahead. 


What does your own role entail?

There are no two days the same in the life of a hotel General Manager. Leading a team of 110 employees I am responsible for all aspects of the day-to-day hotel operation again in these current teams my days are now very different.  We are preparing to enhance our offering both from a marketing point of view but more so from a Health & Safety point of view to re assure our customers and clients that they are safe in our hands when they decide to stay with us.  We want to get back to looking after our customers it’s what we are all about “People”, we miss it.   We also want to continue to deliver on our excellent guest experience and making sure my team are happy and enjoy coming to work is equally important as the guest experience now more than ever. 


Where were you born and raised? Where do you live now?

A native of Cashel Co Tipperary, a proud Tipperary man yet delighted to be working in Limerick. I lived in Cork City for 10 years before settling back in my home town of Cashel and married to Michelle also from Cashel and we now have two kids Avery 6 & Harper 3 years old. 


What is your educational background?

I went to Cashel Community School before studying Security Operations & Business in Cork for 2 years, I wanted to join the Gardai before taking a total career change and studying Hospitality Management in CIT in Cork. 


How did you get to where you are today?

Hard work and dedication got me to where I am today becoming a hotel General Manager

-2003 Studied a hotel management development programme with Choice Hotels 

-2005- Quality Hotel & Leisure Centre Cork become F&B manager held role 7 years. 

-2007 oversaw the rebrand of Dalata first hotel in Cork City the 4-star hotel Maldron Hotel Shandon Cork. 

-2015 promoted to Rooms Division Manager and then after 2 years to Deputy general manager. 

-2017 Took up my first General Manager position in Maldron Hotel Portlaoise where  I spent 3 years and managed a full refurbishment programme worth €2.5 million, a really rewarding time in Portlaoise for me personally and my entire hotel team. 

-2018 won Best Hotel Manager in the Midlands Hospitality Awards 


Why did you decide to join the company?

To be honest working for a company like the Dalata Hotel Group, you are visible to many great opportunities and it is really up to you if you want to take them. Working hard, always being eager to learn and progress allows you to move within a dynamic company like the Dalata Hotel Group. 

Training and Development have been just fantastic along the way and I don’t think there is a hotel group out there that can stand up to what Dalata can offer people. Dalata Hotel Group literally took a chance on a bar man, that bar man being me and assisted me with training, development, support and mentorship and now I am a General Manager where the support from my peers is as important today as it was on my very first day. 


Who do you admire in hotel business?

Pat McCann, CEO of the Dalata Hotel Group is a very interesting character with many years’ experience. His ability to be able to lead people especially with his inspirational speech’s or presentations is magic. In a crisis like we find ourselves in with COVID-19, Pat is very reassuring and the confidence he relays to us as senior managers and the leaders of his properties is fantastic in times like this, it is exactly what we need positivity and forward thinking.


In business and life, are you guided by any particular motto?

Being respectful and appreciating good people you encounter in your career is very important to me.  You will always remember your leaders over the years that treated you well. Firm but fair is the only way for me. “Happy teams lead to happier customers” Simple yet effective.


Away from work, what are your pastimes and hobbies?

Spending quality time with my family is important as we don’t get enough time with our modern hectic lifestyles. I enjoy watching hurling and rugby. My favourite of all really is travelling and cruising around the world...