Macdonald Hotels & Resorts has announced the appointment of Tara O'Neill as chief executive.
She will assume responsibility for the group's 30 hotels and five holiday resorts in Britain, as well as four resorts in Spain.
The appointment follows group managing director Gordon Fraser's decision at the start of the year to retire from an executive role. He has remained in position to guide the business through the Covid-19 pandemic and will work alongside O'Neill for several months to ensure a smooth handover. He retains his board position as group deputy chairman.
Company founder Donald Macdonald said: "This is a pivotal appointment at an extremely important time for the group. I am very confident that, in Tara, we have recruited someone who can provide the necessary leadership and ambition to help us build upon the very solid foundations which Gordon has helped to create over many years.
"During the recruitment process, Tara impressed everyone involved with her vision for the group, and her track record gives us real confidence that the business will continue to prosper and grow, despite the obvious current challenges which Covid-19 has brought to our industry."
A qualified chartered accountant, O'Neill worked in professional practice in both Ireland and the UK with Arthur Andersen and KPMG before moving into the hospitality sector, with senior roles at Luminar Leisure and the Jamie Oliver Group, where she served on the board for several years. She was also previously chief executive of Irish hospitality and retail brand Avoca.
O'Neill said: "The enormous impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality sector underlines the challenges which face us in the months and years ahead, but I believe the Macdonald portfolio of assets represents a unique and exciting opportunity to capitalise on the changing face of the hospitality sector and the evolving needs of our customers.
"I look forward to working with the wider board in securing the long-term stability of the business to ensure that we strengthen our position as one of the country's leading hospitality groups. A key element of that strategy will be to provide a platform that will enable the many talented people working within the business as well as our suppliers and other partners to satisfy their own ambitions and thrive."
Macdonald added: "This is a very significant moment for our business, not only because we have appointed Tara to lead the business in the years ahead, but as it also marks the end of a hugely successful era under Gordon's leadership.
"He has been one of the most influential figures in our company for almost three decades and his integrity, drive and judgement have been absolutely central to the achievements of the entire group. I have been fortunate to have him at my side for so many years, and even more fortunate to have his ongoing friendship.
"I am very pleased that Tara will have access to Gordon in the months ahead to facilitate a smooth exchange of knowledge about the business and that Gordon will thereafter assume a formal role as non-executive deputy chairman."