22 October 2015

Local Hospitality Hotspots battle it out to be named the toast of the trade

The search to find Northern Ireland’s best hospitality venues steps up a notch this week, as the shortlist for Hospitality Ulster’s prestigious Pub of the Year Awards 2015 is revealed.


This year’s Awards will be the mostly hotly contested to date. Following a record number of entries from pubs, hotels and restaurants, a total of 44 shortlisted premises and individuals from right across Northern Ireland will now go head to head to be named the toast of the trade at the top industry Awards next month.




Winners of a record fourteen Awards will be revealed at a special gala awards night hosted by Cool FM breakfast show host, Pete Snodden, at La Mon Hotel and Country Club on Wednesday 11th November 2015.


Commenting on the announcement of the shortlist, Olga Walls, Chair of Hospitality Ulster said: “Hospitality Ulster’s new look Pub of the Year Awards provide a valuable opportunity to recognise the significant contribution Northern Ireland’s hospitality venues make, not only within their own communities, but to the hospitality sector as a whole.


“We are lucky to have world class hospitality venues on our doorstep and these Awards will recognise and reward those businesses that are setting industry standards with their customer offering, service and innovations.


“The competition for this year’s Awards is very high, which is a real indication of the standards being set across the sector. I would like to congratulate all of the shortlisted individuals, pubs, restaurants and hotels and wish them the very best of luck at next month’s Pub of the Year Awards.”


In recognition of the widening scope of the hospitality industry in Northern Ireland, a record fourteen Awards are up for grabs, each designed to highlight the very best that the sector has to offer.


With the introduction of three Pub of the Year Awards, recognising the best pubs and bars in rural, urban and city locations, this year’s Awards are set to be the most inclusive ever.


Also new for 2015, three Commitment to Local Food Awards (in partnership with FoodNI/Taste of Ulster) will recognise the growing importance of locally sourced food within Northern Ireland’s best pubs, hotels and restaurants.


With community involvement continuing to be an important focus for the local hospitality industry, 2015 also welcomes the introduction of three Commitment to the Community Awards for pubs, hotels and restaurants.


This year’s Best Hotel Bar category features two accolades with Awards for the Best 1, 2 & 3 star Hotel Bar and Best 4 & 5 star Hotel Bar.


One Award category also invited nominations from the general public, with people nominating their favourite barperson by writing to The Sunday Life, which is joining forces with Hospitality Ulster once again to find out who the public feel should clinch the coveted title of Best Barperson.


The Awards will also recognise the industry’s rising stars and those that have played a vital role in shaping the sector with two new Awards: Hospitality Ulster’s Rising Star (in partnership with Ulster University) and the Industry Legend Award (in partnership with Hospitality Review), the winners of which will be announced at the Gala Awards night next month.


All submitted Award entries, along with public nominations from the Best Barperson and the Industry Legend Awards are vetted and judged by an independent judging panel comprised of industry experts, before being mystery shopped to ensure they meet industry standards and best practice guidelines.


The Pub of the Year’s expert judging panel consists of mentalist and hospitality expert, David Meade; Hugh Black, president of the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce; Beannchor Group managing director, Bill Wolsey; Worldwide drinks industry veterans, Maire Campbell (former Coca-Cola); Padraig Gribben (CEO, Vintners Federation Ireland; Terry Loughins (former Diageo) and Brigid Simmons (CEO, British Beer & Pub Association); Martin Breen, editor, Sunday Life; Alyson Magee, editor, Hospitality Review; Jordan Moates, Downtown/Cool FM; Gary McDonald, business editor, The Irish News; John Mulgrew, business journalist, The Belfast Telegraph; Richard Sherriff, business editor, The News Letter and Nathan Hanna, Belfast Live.


After rigorous judging by the panel, hospitality venues from across Northern Ireland are put through their paces further, with mystery shoppers visiting their premises to ensure they adhere to best industry standards.


The prestigious Awards aren’t all that’s up for grabs; the winners of each Award will be offered an exclusive place at an interactive Masterclass, with one of the UK’s most sought after speakers and trainers, David Meade.


David will guide the chosen few through a host of practical techniques that focus on driving sales by developing their customer experience.  In this unique session, exclusively for award winners, David will reveal the real secrets behind motivating staff and driving sales. Combining his personal interests of popular psychology, consumer behaviour and choice, this innovative workshop will encourage participants to think critically about the challenges around them and how to strive for success in a challenging marketplace.


Hospitality Ulster’s Pub of the Year Awards are the only industry recognised awards. This year’s Awards are supported by Britvic, Coca-Cola, Diageo, Dillon Bass, Drinks Inc, Heineken Northern Ireland, Henderson Foods, Molson Coors, Richmond Marketing, Tennent’s NI, and media partners, Sunday Life, Downtown/Cool FM and Hospitality Review NI.


Tickets to the Hospitality Ulster Pub of the Year Gala Awards night cost £85 per person or £850 for a table of 10 and can be booked by emailing Caroline Dunlop on


Follow the Pub of the Year Awards on twitter: @NIPubAwards and Facebook using the hashtag, #NIPubAwards