A woman who stayed in the Slieve Russell Hotel in Co Cavan during a recent norovirus outbreak at the venue has described how her family got sick as a result of the highly contagious virus.
Joanne Quinn, her partner Neil Brown and their two children, Cian (8) and Molly (3), attended Santa's Magical Kingdom experience at the hotel at the weekend, despite being informed in advance of the norovirus outbreak.
The Slieve Russell Hotel was closed on Monday afternoon because of the virus and is unlikely to open again until the new year.
The four-star hotel, once owned by businessman Seán Quinn’s family, informed the HSE on December 12th after its residents, staff and customers began suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea.
The hotel was advised to take precautions and to warn guests of the outbreak.
However, when the outbreak persisted, the decision was taken to shut the hotel to allow for a deep cleaning.
Ms Quinn said the hotel had informed her that she could cancel her booking if she wished, as the family were only staying overnight, but they decided to go anyway on Sunday.
She said both of her children became violently ill on returning home on Monday, with her son Cian vomiting all night. Mr Brown also got sick on Tuesday night.
Ms Quinn said that, despite their experiences, the couple do not blame the hotel and that they will continue with plans for their wedding, which is due to take place at the hotel in August.
She said: “The Slieve Russell, in my opinion, did everything in their power to let people know.
“There was plenty of posters around the hotel and [they were] giving out bottles of hand sanitiser to every guest.
“My kids could have gone to school and caught the same thing, so I do not regret going at all.
“This is an amazing hotel with the best staff and it’s just very unfortunate that they have got caught up in all this. It could have happened anywhere. It has not put us off at all.”
Other guests have left comments on the hotel's Facebook page complaining about getting sick.
Some have suggested the hotel should have shut as soon as they knew about the virus.
The Slieve Russell is owned by Avid Asset Management in Co Cavan, which manages all the Quinn properties on behalf of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).
General manager Tony Walker said it was in touch with hotels in the Cavan, Monaghan and Leitrim areas to find alternative venues for five couples whose weddings were due to take place at the hotel over the Christmas period.
Mr Walker said the outbreak was a “huge inconvenience” for those affected, “but at the end of the day we are being pro-active and responsible [by closing] the business.
“We have to take into consideration the health and safety of all our guests.”
He anticipated the hotel will be shut until early January, with a specialist cleaning contractor on site from Wednesday.