‘It’s just dinner for 10,’ says Lough Erne hotel manager

Resort all set for G8 leaders after months of fine-tuning

Ferghal Purcell: “Nothing will ever compare to it.”

Ferghal Purcell: “Nothing will ever compare to it.”

Mon, Jun 17, 2013, 01:00

There will be no pomp and no ceremony; it’s just dinner for 10.

Not every hotel manager could muster such a relaxed outlook on the eve of hosting eight of the most powerful leaders on the planet, not to mention Eurocrats Herman Van Rompuy and José Manuel Barroso.

But general manager Ferghal Purcell has had eight months to prepare for and fine-tune the G8 Summit at the Lough Erne Resort in Co Fermanagh event. The visiting elite arrive this morning and begin to file away tomorrow.

“It’s just a wonderful pressure,” muses Mr Purcell, in situ at the five-star resort for the last 18 months. “It’s at that stage where you are actually wondering if you have lost control. It’s pure good chaos. There are so many people working on so many different elements.

“If any one of these principals were to arrive here it would be a mammoth task. The fact that we have eight you could nearly become overwhelmed by it. As soon as you start to get into it you begin to see the level of detail involved. Nothing will ever compare to it for a manager or a hotel.”

Details in place
In recent months, additional employment, staff vetting, upgrading communication systems, setting up of meeting and interpreter rooms and, naturally, a mammoth security operation have all been under way.

“I have been dealing with [security] since November, since it was announced. The PSNI have been working with us literally daily,” says Mr Purcell.

Expressions of interest to buy the hotel – which entered administration last year – must conclude this week. The summit will do it no harm.

“It will position Lough Erne as one of the most-sought-after locations,” says Mr Purcell. “All of a sudden we will start to target the US market from a golfing perspective; we will start to target the European market and then you have the Japanese market. You couldn’t do that with all the [marketing] budget in the world.”

An indication of the impression it is making is in wedding bookings. Last year Lough Erne had 46, this year it is 90 and a “phenomenal” 75 have already been scheduled for 2014.

Mr Purcell will welcome each of his guests. Familiar territory – at the Lord Charles Hotel on the Cape in South Africa he hosted Nelson Mandela and his ANC party during talks with FW de Klerk ahead of the first open elections.

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