Macdonald hires ex-Jamie Oliver director as CEO

Tara O’Neill at the Holyrood Hotel in Edinburgh

Macdonald Hotels & Resorts has appointed Tara O’Neill, a chartered accountant and former director with TV chef Jamie Oliver’s company, as chief executive.

She will assume responsibility for Macdonald’s 30 hotels and five holiday resorts in Britain, as well as four 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 remained in position to guide the business through the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic and to secure an additional Covid-19 finance facility with Lloyd’s Banking Group.

Ms O’Neill has been working in Ireland as CEO of Avoca, one of the country’s top retail and hospitality brands.


She also has experience at KPMG, Luminar Leisure and Jamie Oliver Group, where she served on the board for several years.

Mr Fraser will work alongside Ms O’Neill for several months to ensure a smooth handover, whilst retaining 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.”

Ms 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.”

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