Changes are afoot at Aimsir, the two-star Michelin restaurant at Cliff at Lyons, writes Denise Maguire

Back in the summer of 2019, I chatted to Aimsir Chef Jordan Bailey to find out how he and his wife Majken Bech-Bailey were settling into their new roles at the much-celebrated restaurant. At the time, the hype around Aimsir was considerable; how would a restaurant that relied solely on native Irish ingredients fare in a regional setting, removed from the city dwellers keen to discover what the fuss was about? The fact the restaurant was booking out three months at a time put paid to those type of questions and today, Majken and Jordan are getting ready to reopen the restaurant, albeit with a few tweaks here and there. Majken has taken over as Operations Manager at the hotel while retaining her General Manager role at Aimsir, all the bedrooms have been refurbished and the Mill restaurant has moved from the orangery into the newly refurbished banqueting room. “I think my new role as Operations Manager happened very organically. When Jordan and I came to Ireland three and a half years ago and started Aimsir, we fell in love with every aspect of the place. We slowly grew into doing overnight experiences and bit by bit, got more involved in the hotel. In December I began to work in the reservations and operations side of the business. Our dream has been to make Cliff unique and it means the world to get the opportunity to make an impact on a guest’s journey from the moment they arrive at the property,” said Majken.

The Pantry, which opened during Covid, has proved very successful, another arm of the business that will be retained when the industry is allowed to reopen fully. “It’s gone really well for us and we’ve had great support from locals. I think it’s a really positive thing for people to see that you can change direction but still be successful. We’ll definitely keep going with the Pantry; it means that if the industry were to be hit by another crisis like Covid, we’d be ready to continue trading. We have a bit of retail in there as well which is a nice add-on to the property.”

That vision of making Aimsir a unique experience for every single diner has expanded into ensuring a singular experience for each guest at Cliff at Lyons. “I think Covid has made the world smaller and for Jordan and I, it has certainly made us cherish the people around us. We’re creating something really positive here, for the staff, for the guests and for us. The pandemic has reinforced that.”

Last January, Majken worked closely with the owners to redesign all 22 bedrooms at Cliff at Lyons. “The hotel has always had an old school classic feel to it so we didn’t want to stray too much from that. We’ve retained all our old furniture but upholstered it and opted for wallpaper in shades of light pink and green. It’s very much a romantic style and it was great to have so much input into it.” All guest rooms have been individually designed and are spread out between a selection of historic buildings while pet-friendly rooms mean you can bring your best friend along. Irish firm Airmid has also created a range of products for guests including Burren lavender body lotion, citrus chamomile shampoo bars and Atlantic seaweed soap. Sustainability is at the heart of Aimsir and that focus is now being spread throughout the property. “Jordan found a bit of land at the back of the property and has turned it into a little farm. We’re also focusing more on what’s grown on site and using that produce in our kitchens. Tom Downes, former Aimsir chef de partie and now gardener, along with his partner Stina, are overseeing that.” A new orchard, a wild meadow and additional vegetable beds are also planned for the property. “On top of that, we’re adding chicken coups, pigs and beehives in an effort to be as self-sustainable as possible.”