Three hotels that have been transformed to welcome blind guests are under threat of closure.
Action for Blind People said the properties, which it operates under its Vision Hotels brand, are no longer financially viable and require a subsidy of approximately £350,000 to continue operating, as well as “extensive repair and improvement work”. The three three-AA-star hotels – the 47-bedroom Cliffden hotel in Teignmouth, Devon, the 37-bedroom Lauriston hotel in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, and the 35-bedroom Windermere Manor hotel in Cumbria – will close unless new management is found, affecting 71 employees between them.
The group closed its Russell Hotel in Aldwick, West Sussex, in 2013.
The organisation said: “As a charity, we have to make sure that every penny we spend is in the best interests of blind and partially sighted people throughout the UK. We have to weigh up this financial cost against the low number of blind and partially sighted people who use the hotels. Despite our best efforts to attract more guests with sight loss, the hotels are increasingly more popular amongst sighted guests.
“In order to keep the hotels open, we would have to divert funds away from other services. After careful consideration, we have decided that this would not be in the best interest of blind and partially-sighted people or the most effective use of the limited resources available to us. However, we are doing everything we can to ensure the hotels stay open under new management.”
Action for Blind People set up the non-profit hotel group to offer accommodation for the blind and partially sighted, as well as guests with other disabilities. Each hotel has undergone simple adjustments – such as the addition of wet rooms, textured surfaces, talking alarm clocks and large button phones – to improve accessibility. However, the charity has said that while around 2,000 blind and partially sighted guests stayed at the hotels last year, the hotels have also become increasingly popular among sighted guests.
The charity said that the hotels’ bookings for 2016 will not be affected, while and customers with 2017 reservations will be contacted. Deposits for rooms after December are no longer being accepted, and the charity said it would be able to provide a further update by the end of October.
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