Marsham Court hotel in Bournemouth wins the Accessibility Award, sponsored by Blue Badge Access Awards
The judges described our winner as a "trailblazer" and were struck by how much care had been put into providing the very best facilities to support people with additional needs.
The family-owned and operated Marsham Court hotel in Bournemouth has placed accessibility at the heart of its offering, having had first-hand experience of how difficult it can be for people with additional needs to enjoy time away from home.
It is the first hotel in the UK to have installed a Changing Places toilet and shower, which includes a hoist and changing bench, meaning everyone can have their needs met in a dignified and hygienic way. The hotel has also added a sensory room, a specially designed environment for guests, young and old, who have a wide variety of different needs. It can be used for relaxation and de-escalation for those with processing difficulties.
It has four accessible bedrooms, two of which have profiling beds and removable ceiling hoists, and in one case a connecting room for a carer or additional family members. Just this year a swimming pool hoist and wheelchair lift at the front of the property were also added, with work ongoing to level-up all outdoor sea-facing terraces to ensure access for all.
Judges were impressed with the level of detail included in the hotel's accessibility statement, which is published on its website, including precise measurements of doors, transfer spaces and walkways, as well as details on flooring types, colour schemes and lighting.
The family embarked on the project not with their sights on the financial opportunities it offered, but because they felt there was a shortage of accessible places and wanted to help. As well as investing in equipment it won a £70,000 match-funded grant from Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council.
The hotel has not launched a funded marketing scheme, but has instead met with local support groups, which has seen word spread organically, prompting an "overwhelming" response. A recent post shared by a disability awareness Facebook group attracted 483 comments and 2,100 shares.
What the judges said
"So good to see this independent family business with the resources it has, putting accessibility at the heart of its operations. The accessibility statement enables people with disabilities to make informed decisions – they want information and this gives it to them in a comprehensive way." – Michael McGrath
"A focus on access for all is driving enquiries and is set to position this family-run hotel as a go-to holiday destination for people with accessibility requirements." – Ross Calladine
"It was pleasing to know that a Changing Places toilet had been installed and a sensory room provided as some people and their families needing such facilities are often doubly excluded within society." – David Croft
- Kimpton Fitzroy, London
- Marsham Court hotel, Bournemouth
- Victory Services Club, London
- Paul Bayliss, general manager, Hotel Brooklyn
- Peter Banks, general manager, Rudding Park
- Ross Calladine, head of business support, VisitEngland
- David Croft, Haven for Others
- Mark Lewis,chief executive, Hospitality Action
- Michael McGrath, founder and chief executive, Muscle Help Foundation