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27 Jan 2022

Late Jody Gysling turned his own Donegal sanctuary into internationally renowned hotel

Tributes have been pouring in for the Swiss Entrepreneur who founded Harvey's Point Hotel

Late Jody Gysling turned his own Donegal sanctuary into internationally renowned hotel

The late Jody Gysling with one of his beloved horses at Harvey's Point. PHOTO Harvey's Point/Facebook

Tributes are continuing to pour in for hotelier Jody Gysling, 74, who died in Portugal on Thursday last following a short illness. 

Fellow hoteliers and restaurateurs,  former staff members and hotel guests are among those to add their condolences. Many are sharing  their memories of the visionary Swiss entrepreneur   who turned his own Donegal sanctuary into one of Ireland's best loved places to eat, stay or get married.

 Mr Gysling’s remains were brought home to Donegal on New Year’s Day. The family has asked for privacy as they come to terms with their sad loss.

His sister-in-law Deirdre McGlone said: “We are overwhelmed and deeply touched by the sheer volume of lovely messages that have been sent our way since the announcement of Jody's passing. 

“On behalf of the Gysling family, thank you for your support at this sorrowful time. It means the world to us.

“When circumstances allow, we will organise a memorial service in his honour and at his request, we will scatter his ashes in the sea, one of his favourite places to be. 

“There, his remains will drift gently in the wind and softly dissolve into the Atlantic Ocean.

“Meanwhile, his legacy will live on.”

Jody Gysling’s dedication to his vision saw a little corner of Lough Eske at the foot of the Bluestacks transformed into the multi award winning and hugely popular wedding venue,  Harveys Point Hotel.

Loved by visitors and locals alike, Harvey’s Point helped put Lough Eske on the map and it played a big part in developing tourism in Donegal Town.

From the Sunday lunch carvery to the fine dining restaurant and delicious bar food, Harvey’s Point always delivered the perfect balance between high quality food and service, and a warm, down to earth friendliness.

The Harvey’s Point story began back in 1983 when Switzerland native Jody Gysling bought a little slice of Donegal - the cottage belonging to the Harvey brothers on the shore of Lough Eske. 

This was a perfect sanctuary from his hectic life in Switzerland, and Mr Gysling worked hard to develop this boggy bit of land into his Donegal home. He was welcomed by the local community, and regularly entertained visitors from Switzerland and elsewhere. 

Mr Gysling decided to stay in Ireland and the seeds of Harvey’s Point were sown when he built a small, four-room guest house.

In 1989, Harvey’s Point opened as a ‘country hotel’ with 20 guest rooms and a restaurant. Mr Gysling’s brother Marc was an integral part of the team from the outset. So too was Marc’s future wife Deirdre who initially came to work in the hotel for a summer job, and who, over the years, played a huge part in cementing Harvey’s Point’s reputation of warmth and hospitality.

With ongoing investment in the hotel, it grew to its current 64 palatial suites in the main hotel, the Lodge which features 13 compact cabin style rooms for special interest groups, the ballroom which hosts Sunday lunch, weddings and the famous summer Cabaret; the Garden Suite; the Lakeside Restaurant; and Harvey’s Bar with its glass-covered terrace almost on the shores of Lough Eske.

Along with Marc and Deirdre, Jody Gysling always had a hands-on approach in the running of the family hotel of which he was extremely proud.

The business was sold in 2019, leaving the extended Gysling family with time to enjoy a well-earned rest while also exploring new ventures. 

Mr Gysling will be greatly missed by all who knew him, especially his wife Renate; his brother Marc, sister-in-law Deirdre, nephews and niece Carl, James and Christina; his sisters Gabi and Jezebel; and his extended family and friends in Donegal and Switzerland.

In paying tribute to her brother-in-law, Ms McGlone said: “Jody was my brother-in-law, mentor and very special friend. He gave me so many opportunities in life. 

“Jody knew me better than I know myself. We had a connection that was rare and beautiful.

“Even though Marc was Jody's baby brother, Jody always looked up to him. 

“As the 'Three Musketeers', we shared a most wonderful journey together in the creation of Harvey's Point.”

Ms McGlone cited a quote from famous hotelier Conrad Hilton, ‘Be big. Think big. Act big. Dream big.’

“Jody shared the same passion for hotelkeeping and hospitality as that legendary hotelier,” she said. 

“Nothing was done in small measures - from the biggest bedrooms to the biggest bathrooms to the biggest bottles of wine. 

“Jody loved big horses and big boats. 

“But above all, Jody had the biggest heart and a brilliant mind. A man with outstanding vision and an ongoing pursuit of perfection as well as impeccable taste. 

“Jody loved a good joke and a great story. No doubt that there are lots of stories to share about Jody's wisdom, entrepreneurial spirit and kindness. 

“These memories will help to ease our pain and remind us to enjoy every moment of life and to dream big.”

In a tribute on the hotel’s Facebook page, a Harvey’s Point spokesperson said: “It is with profound sadness that we learned of the death of Jody Gysling, Founder of Harvey’s Point.

“We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife Renate, his brother Marc and his wife Deirdre, their children Carl, James, Christina and Jody’s other immediate family.

“Harvey’s Point stands as a monument to the vision of a great man. 

“We his other family will remember Jody with affection, respect and gratitude. 

“Jody’s contribution to hospitality and tourism in Donegal  is immense. 

“His legacy is everlasting and Harvey’s Point continues to proudly carry on Jody’s dream.

“Our hearts are full of sadness but also great pride at the passing of such a wonderful man.”

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