Steve Joyce, president and CEO, Choice Hotels International; Frankie Whelehan, from Rochfortbridge, Claire Messapi and Paul Passos, both Choice Hotels International.
A Rochfortbridge-born hotelier has won a top prize from international hotel franchise group Choice Hotels International.
Hotelier, Frankie Whelehan, who operates the Irish franchise for the brand, has been named Premium Alliance Award winner in the annual hotel Oscars in the United States.
Frankie is a native of Rochfortbridge, where many of his family still reside.
Mr Whelehan, who set up the Irish franchise of Choice Hotels International in Ireland in 1998, was only one of a handful of hoteliers among the 6,000-plus hotel outlets to secure a premium award.
It was presented in recognition of the work of Choice Hotels Ireland in continuing to develop and expand the brand in a market which has faced increasing challenges in the last four years.
Mr Whelehan said: "It was a great honour to receive the award and is as much a recognition of the work of the hotel staff and management as of any efforts on my part."
Mr Whelehan said: "The hotel business in Ireland has been very difficult in the last four years. In 2009 there was a dramatic 20% drop in revenues and we had to introduce significant restructuring and let some really good people go. But there has been an improvement in the last year to 18 months with a 2% to 4% growth since last year."
"The hotel business, particularly in Ireland, has gone through some tough times. At one stage it was all about survival but thanks to the hard work of management and staff we are continuing to prosper and grow our business. The Choice Hotels International award was recognition of what we have come through and a vote of confidence in our future."
Mr Whelehan trained at Shannon College of Hotel Management, where he met his wife Josephine, originally from Bandon. He currently lives in Cork with his wife and three daughters.