Macdonald Hotels and Resorts appointed Tara O’Neill as its new CEO, where she will assume responsibility for the group’s 30 hotels and five holiday resorts in Britain, as well as four resorts in Spain.
The appointment follows group managing director Gordon Fraser’s decision to retire from an executive role at the beginning of the year, though he has remained in position to guide the business through the pandemic and secure an additional finance facility with Lloyd’s Banking Group.
Fraser will work alongside O’Neill for several months to “ensure a smooth handover”, while retaining his board position as group deputy chairman.
Prior to her appointment, O’Neill worked in professional practice in both Ireland and the UK with Arthur Andersen and KPMG before moving into hospitality, where she held senior roles at Luminar Leisure and the Jamie Oliver Group.
She later became CEO of Avoca, Ireland’s premium retail and hospitality brand, in 2017, where she led all aspects of the food and retail business.
Company founder Donald Macdonald said: “This is a pivotal appointment at an extremely important time for the group. I am very confident that, in Tara, we have recruited someone who can provide the necessary leadership and ambition to help us build upon the very solid foundations which Gordon has helped to create over many years.
“During the recruitment process, Tara impressed everyone involved with her vision for the group, and her track record gives us real confidence that the business will continue to prosper and grow, despite the obvious current challenges which Covid-19 has brought to our industry.”
O’Neill said: “The enormous impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality sector underlines the challenges which face us in the months and years ahead, but I believe the Macdonald portfolio of assets represents a unique and exciting opportunity to capitalise on the changing face of the hospitality sector and the evolving needs of our customers.”