Interview with Les Walsh - Member of Les Clefs d'Or Ireland

Following his recent induction to Les Clefs d'Or Ireland, Les Walsh talks about his passion for Irish hospitality, and his experiences at Cliff House Hotel.

Interview with Les Walsh

We at Cliff House Hotel are immensely proud of our Head Concierge, Les Walsh, on the recent ratification of his membership to the prestigious Les Clefs d’Or, Ireland. A truly impassioned advocate for Irish tourism and hospitality, Les speaks about his experiences in the space, his tenure at Cliff House Hotel, and gives us a unique insight into what inspires him on a daily basis.

1. What attracted you to the Irish tourism and hospitality space?

I worked in Cork Airport for 11 years. When I came across a job vacancy for a concierge position at the Fota Ireland Resort in County Cork, I decided to give it a go, since I always enjoyed interacting with the public, and engaging with people. I was lucky enough to get the job at the time. A few years later, I went to college as a mature student, and studied Business and Tourism for two years. After that, I re-joined Fota for five years. I worked four more years as concierge, and one as night manager.

2. When did you join Cliff House Hotel? Tell us about your journey thus far. 

I joined Cliff House Hotel in 2021 as a day porter. Then, Patrick Shields, our Joint Managing Director, saw some potential in me, and asked if I would like to go for Head Concierge. So, we had a chat about my new role, where I would also be assisting porters – but the main focus was to look after the guests – everything from their restaurant bookings, to their transport, and more.

3. How and when did you decide to become a member of the Les Clefs d’Or Ireland?

I always wanted to become a member of Les Clefs d’Or Ireland, but there were a few stumbling blocks along the way. I began the process while I was at Fota, and secured two sponsors. After I joined Cliff House Hotel, I told Patrick that I was in the process of becoming a member, and he was kind enough to write me a letter of recommendation. Once that was done, the rest, as they say, is history!

4. What is your favourite part of working at Cliff House Hotel and why?

The main part I enjoy, of course, is interacting with the guests. We meet so many people from different parts of the world. We come across various nationalities, and individuals from all walks of life. Whether you’re a millionaire or working class, my theory is that everybody is the same, and deserves to be treated with respect and kindness. When I look after a guest, I look after them the same way I’d like to be taken care of when I am in a hotel.

5. If you could describe one standout memory at Cliff House Hotel, what would that be?

There was an American couple that came here last year, and they were here for three nights. I looked after them throughout the length of their stay. I organised tours, restaurant bookings, and also showed them around Cliff Beach House, because they were curious about the property. They were so thankful that when I mentioned my desire to join the Les Clefs d’Or, they offered to write me a reference letter! That, I’d say, is one memory that will always be special.

6. What advice would you give someone looking to join Irish hospitality?

I would say, definitely try it! If you’re a people person, and like working as part of a team, it’s certainly for you. If you have ideas, and are innovative, it’s a great place to be. There are plenty of stepping stones that will help you work your way up, so yes, don’t hesitate to give it a go.

7. As a seasoned professional in the Irish travel, tourism, and hospitality space, what would you say is the most exciting aspect of the industry?

I would say that since COVID, a lot of people have been more appreciative of what we actually have in Ireland. I myself went and visited places that I didn’t even know existed in Ireland. I think that we’re now in a space where locals value what they have in their own countries a lot more than they did before. And there’s so much history here – that’s why people from other parts of the world like to visit Ireland. Also, the welcomes you get in Irish hotels are really special. I think these are the little and big things that really keep the industry going.

8. How was your very first day at Cliff House Hotel, and what do you like best about your team?

When you first start a new position, it can be very daunting. You don’t know anything, you don’t know anybody. But on my first day, that wasn’t the case. Everyone was very welcoming, they smiled a lot. They were more than happy to show me around – and so, it was incredibly easy to integrate into the team and become a part of the family.

9. How do you like spending your free time?

When I am not working, I am on the tennis court. I play tennis around three to five times a week. I enter into competitions too – as and when I can.

10. What is your most cherished holiday memory, and why?

My mother was born in Crosshaven, in Cork. She used to take me down there every year to visit my grandparents, since I was six weeks old. We used to spend our summers down there in the beach, and it was marvellous. I’d say, that’s my most cherished holiday memory.



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