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Relatively Speaking: Gareth and Cara Macklin

Gareth and Cara Macklin are the brother and sister team at the helm of the family-owned Malone Lodge Hotel which has recently been relaunched and refurbished. They live in Belfast with their respective partners; Rose and Shane

Name: Gareth Macklin

Age: 33

Occupation: Managing director of the Malone Lodge Hotel

Relationship: Brother of Cara

I'm older than Cara by one year, one week and two days. We've always been very close for as far back as I can remember.

People have always been surprised at how well we get on. Many have told me it's okay to see their brothers or sisters at Christmas but by the time they get to New Year's Eve, they're ready to kill them.

There has always been a big overlap in our social circles too – we certainly hung around in the same crowds. When we were teenagers my role was to be the protective older brother.

We always worked together too. We started off scraping dishes at the Malone Lodge Hotel when we were nine. When we were teenagers we booked club nights and ran buses down to concerts at Slane Castle. We both worked to our strengths – I would book coaches while she would put up posters and let people know about it.

Cara and I both went to the University of Ulster at Jordanstown. I studied business development while Cara did consumer affairs a year later. Then after I graduated I went to London for a business development scheme with Marks & Spencer for a year. When that ended I started looking for a new job – all I wanted to do was spend all of my time working. Cara asked me to go travelling with her and her best friend but I always said no.

Then Cara's best friend pulled out of the trip and I had both Cara and my mum on the phone asking me to go – not least so that Cara would have someone to go with her. I gave in with my arm twisted right up my back.

It took about three days into the trip to realise my earlier mistake. We had arrived in Fiji and I went for a walk along a beach with crystal clear water and pure white sand. I was all by myself. I realised what a brilliant opportunity it was and wondered why it had taken me so long to agree to go along. We travelled from Fiji to New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and South Africa. We were away for six months and didn't row once.

Ten years later, Cara and I are firmly part of the family business. Our parents told us it was always there for us if we wanted. We have desks side-by-side in our own office but we're still friends and still very close. Cara is even going to be one of the bridesmaids at my wedding next year.

Name: Cara Macklin

Age: 32

Occupation: Director of the Malone Lodge Hotel

Relationship: Sister of Gareth

Gareth has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember and we've always been really close. We went to school together, we shared a house when we were at university and we spent six months travelling the world together.

Gareth really didn't want to go travelling at the time. I think it was mum who talked him into it after my friend couldn't come with me. In the end, I think Gareth enjoyed the trip more than I did.

We've always had the same groups of friends. At school there was a group of about 10 of us that always hung around together. We made the same friends at university too.

I've always said that Gareth and I are very similar – and very different – and we get on so well because there is no competition between us. Things might have been different if we were two boys or two girls. I think our differences let each of us play to our strengths which is why we work so well.

I never planned to go and work with my family but when I look back, I think I was aiming for it subconsciously. It was our own choice for both Gareth and me as our parents never pushed us to go into the business.

These days it's just a whirlwind of wedding planning and the christenings of friends' babies. Gareth is getting married in Italy next year and I can't wait for that.

I'm very lucky to be so close to Gareth. I don't know if it's because of our age or personalities but I know we wouldn't have been able to achieve half of what we've done without each other.

 

* The Malone Lodge Hotel is located on Eglantine Avenue, a tree-lined street off the Malone Road in Belfast

* The hotel was established in 1991, offering 33 bedrooms. Following a major refurbishment, the hotel now boasts 119 rooms, including two presidential suites

* It is a family-run establishment, founded by Mary and Brian Macklin, with Gareth and Cara now at the helm

* This year the hotel introduced a brand new grill and deli restaurant, named 'The Knife and Fork'

* Two of the hotel's new suites have been named after the establishment's longest-standing customers

* Bookings can be made, tel: 028 9038 8060

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