Michele Shirlow Hospitality Review for April 2018

Food NI is currently working with Mid and East Antrim Council in the development of a new Food and Drink Network. The objective of this is to harness the potential of this important region’s food and drink and hospitality sectors for the economic wellbeing of the community there.

An audit has been completed of all the region’s extensive food and drink and hospitality assets and the network is developing a strategy and measures which pull all these together to achieve agreed objectives.

Mid and East Antrim certainly has much to promote, great food producers and excellent hospitality facilities. All can help the region as it seeks to reap the benefits of growing agri Food and food tourism. It’s a great pleasure to be working with this ambitious council on the development of a progressive strategy.

One of the key outputs may be the creation of a food tourism trail along the coast road that enables visitors to experience the spectacular scenery, enjoy its superb hospitality and sample the wide range of food and drink from smaller companies. There are already a number of independent operators doing this but it has the potential to be boosted, We have worked with several local councils to support initiatives like this to enhance the performance of food and drink companies.

Food NI has specific expertise in marketing our food and drink. We are already working with producers in Mid and East Antrim to help win more business particularly with leading retailers and through participation in major trade shows in Britain such as Speciality and Fine Food in London and, of course, our pavilion at Balmoral.

At Speciality Food in London, we organise a Northern Ireland showcase and will include Mid and East Antrim Council in this initiative. It would also make business sense for other councils to support this and become an integral part of a single and much larger showcase for the entire Northern Ireland food and drink, one which would really make a significant impact.

There’s a great deal that we can do to assist smaller food and drink companies to increase their competitiveness and win worthwhile business, especially in Great Britain. This will mean active promotion of the companies and the wider region.

We have all been greatly encouraged in the work to promote the area by the success, for instance, of the Galgorm Resort and Spa, Ballymena, in winning two prestigious awards including the Global Spa of the year at the World Luxury Hotel Awards in St Moritz.

The luxurious Co. Antrim Resort pipped stiff international competition to be recognised by this global organization for its world class facilities and service excellence provided to guests.

Each year a new destination and luxury property is sourced and selected to host the gala celebration, which will take place on the 14th July 2018. This is an extra special achievement for the resort as it is the first time the awards will have been held in the UK or Ireland having previously been hosted in destinations such as Qatar, Vietnam, South Africa and Thailand.

Galgorm Resort & Spa is partnering with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to bring this high profile event to the region, which will offer the opportunity to showcase the Borough and its excellent food and drink to a discerning international gathering of media, VIP’s and luxury spa and restaurant owners. It’s a golden opportunity to show the very best of what the region has to offer.

The awards offer a fantastic international networking and food showcasing opportunity. We are keen to work with the hotel and council to maximize this marvellous business opportunity.