It was difficult for New York hotelier John Fitzpatrick to navigate the pandemic and ensure his two hotels – the Fitzpatrick Manhattan and Fitzpatrick Grand Central – emerged intact, but he did and the Fitzpatrick brand continues to be the Irish standard in the US.

Fitzpatrick was recognized by the Irish Times last week with its Distinguished Leader in Business award at the fifth annual Irish Times Business Awards at the Mansion House in Dublin.

John Fitzpatrick of Fitzpatrick Hotels (@FitzpatrickNYC ), is named The Irish Times Distinguished Leader in Business award winner 2022. Congratulations John . #ITBusinessAwards

— Irish Times Business (@IrishTimesBiz) February 2, 2023

In its report on the event, the Irish Times noted how Fitzpatrick talked about starting out in New York after several years of training at his family’s hotels in Ireland. 

Manhattan, at first, was a “hard slog, knocking on doors and competing with big, well-known brands such as the Hilton and Sheraton. Business was really slow and we weren’t hitting our targets,” he said. 

The Times report added, “Fitzpatrick changed strategy by focusing on nearby offices blocks and the companies that occupied them to drum up business. The strategy paid off and the hotel’s occupancy soon exceeded 90 percent.

“It became such a success that the family decided to open a second hotel in 1998, the Fitzpatrick Grand Central on 44th Street. They expanded into Chicago in 2001 but ‘got the timing wrong,’ opening shortly before 9/11, which devastated the hospitality trade. Business picked up but the hotel was sold five years later.”

Fitzpatrick is the sole owner of his two New York hotels. And he told the Dublin audience that New York is “buzzing again” after the pandemic.

“Thankfully we are on the other side of things and life is getting back to normal,” he added.

*This column first appeared in the February 8 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.