New owners take over and refurbish popular Co Tyrone hotel
It has been a culture shock for New Yorker Colette Mahoney, the daughter of a US property magnate now running a hotel in Northern Ireland.
The 26-year-old was drafted in to Omagh as the operations manager for the Mellon Country Hotel — the business her family took over after it was shut when the firm previously running it went into administration.
Her father, Michael, and uncle Timmy run SSC High Rise — a multimillion-dollar business that builds skyscrapers in New York.
The family spotted the hotel for sale online and decided to take it on.
They bought it in September last year, and after months of work the hotel has reopened following a major revamp.
“My dad saw it on Facebook... it must have just crossed his path and then there was a lightbulb moment,” Colette said.
Her father and uncle were born and bred in Augher, Co Tyrone.
“This is our first one (hotel), but I don’t think it will be the last,” Colette said. “I think they wanted a connection to home.
“We still have relatives in Augher — this is a permanent tie to the area. Me and my sister, Gemma, came over to get the show going.”
The hotel shut in September last year after the company running it went into administration, with 30 jobs lost.
The hotel now has a workforce of around 50 people, including some who worked for the previous owners.
“People are very curious about it,” Colette said. “Business has been very good. Our summer was surprisingly very busy.
“We didn’t do anything structural. The hotel was so dated, so (the revamp) was head-to-toe, including bedrooms and the event hall, which is huge for country music. We didn’t want to change the name.”
While country music nights will remain a fixture under the new owners, they are also looking to expand and make their mark in the wedding market.
“It (country music) will always be part of it,” Colette explained. “But it won’t be how it was before, like every weekend.
“Since we have opened it... we are on a very busy road and we get lots of businesspeople and there are lots of big companies here.
“It is a bit of culture shock. I’m used to Omagh, but working here has a different way about it.”
While the new operations manager has a background in the hospitality industry, it is her first time working in Northern Ireland.
“It’s definitely no New York city,” she said. “It’s a nice change — it just takes some time to get used to it.”