Grand Central's Stephen Meldrum poached for role at £16.5m Portrush resort

How design firm Maxwell & Company envision Dunluce Lodge will look when complete. Inset: Stephen Meldrum who is leaving his role at Grand Central Hotel
How design firm Maxwell & Company envision Dunluce Lodge will look when complete. Inset: Stephen Meldrum who is leaving his role at Grand Central Hotel

ONE of Northern Ireland's most experienced hotel managers has been hand-picked by US investors to run the north coast’s first five-star hotel and spa, which is due to open next summer.

Links Collection's Texan co-founders Jonathan Harper and Robert Covington have lured Stephen Meldrum away from Belfast's Grand Central Hotel.

Meldrum (46) confirmed to The Irish News that he will take up his new role in January running Dunluce Lodge, a 35-suite luxury complex overlooking the fourth fairway at Royal Portrush golf club.

He is the first appointment at the £16.5 million resort, which is now recruiting for a director of sales and then key culinary roles. It will ultimately employ more than 80 staff.

Meldrum, who hails from Kells and who still lives near his birthplace, has spent more than 21 years within the Hastings Hotels Group.

Read More

  • Hastings Hotels posts record group profit of £6.2m for 2022
  • Eating Out: Grand Central Hotel - a special place for a special occasion

He has the unique distinction of serving as general manager at five Hastings properties - Ballygally Castle (2002-2006), Everglades (2006-2010), Culloden Estate (2010-2013), Slieve Donard (2013-2018) and then at the 300-bedroom Grand Central, which is Ireland's largest five-star hotel.

Regarded as an inspirational and motivational leader, he paid a glowing tribute to his current employers, and says he is relishing the new challenge.

He said: “I've loved every minute of my time working for the Hastings family. It's been a privilege, and I've been given opportunities I would not have got elsewhere to progress my career.

“I've met some amazing people, from external customers and international visitors, to royalty, presidents and prime ministers, and I've worked at world class events like The Open and the MTV Awards.

“I loved doing those high profile events, but especially so because of the excellent team in whatever hotel I was in at the time. The staff work so hard, and to have a music star or a president or a king coming to their hotel gives them such a lift.

“Throughout my career I've worked alongside some incredible people. That's the beauty of Hastings. They're not just work colleagues but friends.”

The process has already begun at Hastings to find a successor to Meldrum, whose legacy will have been guiding the Grand Central to five-star status and retaining that marque (earlier this month it was endorsed for another year).

Building work has already begun at Dunluce Lodge, which will be just the sixth five-star hotel in Northern Ireland and which says it will offer its guests “exclusivity and a high degree of privacy”.

Owners the Links Collection, whose other high-end properties include the Scores Hotel and Dunvegan Hotel in St Andrews, say their mission is “to bring the greatest hospitality experiences to the premier golf courses on earth”.

Meldrum adds: “From my first interaction with them and with Valor Hospitality Partners, who have been appointed as hotel development and management company for the site, it was clear they share a vision similar to and have a natural affinity with Hastings, wanting to source locally and having a passion for sustainability.

“I've often felt that if I wanted a next big career move I'd have to look to the Republic or to London. But I've found Links totally engaging. There's not many hotels I'd ever leave Hastings or the Grand Central for.”