Is your local gym or leisure centre up to standard? White Flag Excellence Awards give consumers peace of mind

Is your local gym or leisure centre up to standard? White Flag Excellence Awards give consumers peace of mind

In 2013, 92 Irish leisure facilities received the White Flag Excellence Award, the only Irish leisure and spa industry specific quality award programme in the country. The White Flag Excellence Award, which grades swimming pool and health and safety standards, and is similar to the Blue Flag award which classifies Ireland’s beaches, is fast becoming the most sought after accolade in the health and fitness sector.

The Award is based on the 3 essential areas; safety, hygiene and maintenance, and customer care; and is an essential quality mark that every swimming pool, sports hall, fitness studio, spa and gym facility in Ireland must strive to achieve and its presence is critical, in the absence of any government legislation.

The White Flag Excellence Award has been successfully running for over 12 years, and is designed to encourage continuous improvement and is categorised into three levels, gold, silver and bronze. Leisure facilities in 20 counties were presented with White Flags for 2013/ 2014. 4 facilities received the flag for the first time, while 13 facilities have achieved the White Flag for the 12th consecutive year. Disappointingly, however there were no flags were presented to leisure facilities in Tipperary, Carlow, Longford, Louth, Leitrim, Roscommon, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Armagh, Down, Antrim and Derry.

The White Flag Excellence Award is run by Ireland Active. Ireland Active is a not for profit company limited by guarantee to provide support and service to create the platforms to professionalise the industry through standards and best practice, whilst simultaneously developing the synergies to engage more people to be more active more often. Formerly ILAM (Irish Leisure Amenity Management), Ireland Active was launched earlier this year as a refreshing new brand which aims to get more people more active, more often.

Christine Moloney, Executive Chairperson of Ireland Active said “The White Flag Excellence Awards promote and acknowledge the high standards facility operators implement for the consumer to ensure their experience is pleasant and safe. These awards are a vital part in providing our many customers with the best possible quality service, in what is an unlegislated industry.” 

Commenting on what White Flag accreditation has meant for his business, Hugh O Neill, Manager at Club Vitae Health and Fitness Club, Oranmore, Co. Galway, who are White Flag Silver Award holders, said “The White Flag for us, as a leisure provider, means we know that everything we do for our customers is of the highest standard achievable in Ireland. It lets our members know that we care about their wellbeing and that we are determined to offer the best service possible. Maintaining White Flag standards is vitally important for us, as what it stands for is what we stand for: service excellence, customer care and safety standards that are second to none.

”The White Flag audit process is open to all Ireland Active members, and involves one announced and one unannounced audit by a trained Auditor during the year. The findings of the Auditor are brought before a jury of industry professionals including Water Quality Experts, Environmental Health Officers, Water Safety Experts and representatives from the Irish Hotels Federation, The Irish Water Safety and the Local Authorities, where the scoring and the grade recommendation of the Auditor is scrutinised, and if appropriate ratified. Approved facilities will receive a written report, and the White Flag Excellence Award which is awarded at a White Flag Gala Dinner in October of each year.

In encouraging leisure facilities around the country to consider getting involved, Christine said “The White Flag Award highlights to your customers, staff and the general public that your organisation is committed to achieving the highest standards of quality in the leisure industry.

”Christine added “To prepare for audit, applicants should have a project team in place, practice and be prepared by having files of evidence up to date, and making sure that every day processes and procedures are met to the appropriate standard.

”For more information on the White Flag Excellence Award, visit 

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