Ardtara Country House has just celebrated a landmark anniversary.
Guests gathered last week at the sprawling Victorian mansion – which hosts two award winning restaurants – to mark 25 years of first class hospitality.
The Michelin recommended establishment situated in Upperlands, first opened as a country house hotel in 1994.
Sitting proudly at the foothills of the Sperrin mountains, just a short drive from Lough Neagh, Ardtara was built around 1896 as a romantic and lively family home by linen baron, Harry Clark.
Harry’s family operated a successful linen business, which was already 150 years old at the time and was famous for producing fine linens from flax using the ancient process of beetling.
Following the death of Harry and his wife Alice, Ardtara lay empty for a period of 15 years, in 1990 Ardtara was rescued by Maebeth Fenton MBE, who restored the house before opening it as a country house hotel in 1994.
The current custodians, Marcus Roulston and Ian Orr, purchased Ardtara in 2014 and have restored the house, turning it into a truly unique property with a reputation as a culinary gem, having achieved a two-rosette standard restaurant whilst being recommended by the Michelin Guide annually.
Prior to purchasing Ardtara, Marcus and Ian had established themselves as successful restaurateurs in the Northwest, opening Derry’s first fine dining establishment, Browns Bonds Hill in 2009, this was soon followed by the opening of a more casual, trendy restaurant in the heart of the city, Browns in Town, plans are now underway to expand the Browns Bonds Hill Collection.
To celebrate 25 years of hospitality, the team at Ardtara played host to an intimate celebration, with entertainment, a drinks reception and canapes.
Amongst the guests were supporters of the hotel past and present, long reigning staff and regular guests, as well as Bruce, grandson of the late Harry Clark.
A special tribute was made to Mrs Valerie Ferson who has worked at Ardtara from the very first day of its opening 25 years ago.
Valerie was presented gifts from her employers in recognition of her commitment to the hotel over the past 25 years.
General Manager Seán McEvoy said: “Ardtara is a special place in the heart of Ulster. We strive to provide outstanding service, wonderful food and a genuinely warm welcome to every guest that walks through the door, Valerie has been greeting our customers with a bona-fide welcome for 25 years, that’s something we are all proud of”.
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