Hospitality & Tourism

Published: July 25, 2022 | Updated: July 26, 2022

Hotel scoops prestigious award for accessibility after trailblazing improvements costing £160k

Marsham Court Hotel’s James Dixon-Box, (left) Rosie Radwell and Russell Dixon-Box with Fiona Jarvis of category sponsor, Blue Badge Access Awards. Picture: Steve Dunlop.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

A family-run hotel in Bournemouth has beaten off competition from top London establishments to win the Cateys Accessibility Award 2022.

Now in their 39th year, the Cateys are the annual awards for the UK hospitality sector held by The Caterer magazine.

Celebrating excellence across the industry they are regarded as the ultimate accolade – the hospitality equivalent of an Oscar.

The Marsham Court Hotel, on Bournemouth’s East Cliff, was described by judges as a ‘trailblazer’ following its £160,000 investment in improvements to make it fully accessible for guests with additional needs.

The works, inspired by the owners’ personal experiences, included adaptations and additions to existing spaces.

They included creating level access across the ground floor and the addition of new facilities, including an accessible toilet and shower.

As reported on Dorset Biz News, Marsham Court was the first hotel in the UK to install a ‘Changing Places’ toilet, pictured left.

Another new addition was a sensory room with soft furnishings, an illuminated bubble tube, colour changing lights, and music.

So far it has four accessible bedrooms, two of which have profiling beds and removable ceiling hoists.

One has a connecting room for a carer or family members.

The hotel has also installed a wheelchair lift at the front of the building.

A ramp down to the swimming pool and a new pool hoist also make this area fully accessible.

Rosie Radwell, whose family have owned the Marsham Court for over 30 years, said: “We are incredibly proud of our new facilities which are already making a difference to our guests and the many local people who visit the hotel for work and social events.

“It feels absolutely fantastic to have been recognised with this prestigious national award.

“This project has been driven by our family’s passion to make our facilities truly accessible after we saw for ourselves how vital these adaptations are when our mother was in the final stages of her battle with cancer.

“We know that many people with additional needs are missing out on memorable holidays with their families – and we wanted to make it possible for them.

“They can come to us knowing their comfort and needs have been considered in every aspect of their stay.”

Marsham Court was shortlisted from among hundreds of entries alongside two hotels in the capital.

It was chosen as a category winner by a panel of expert judges and presented with the Catey Award at a special awards evening at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House London.

One of the judges, Michael McGrath, Founder and Chief Executive, Muscle Help Foundation, said it was “so good to see this independent family business with the resources it has, putting accessibility at the heart of its operations.”

Fellow judge Ross Calladine, from VisitEngland, said Marsham Court was set to become “a go-to holiday destination for people with accessibility requirements.”

Rosie said: “While we haven’t done any kind of big marketing campaign around this, the changes we’ve made have already been shared widely by word of mouth and are proving incredibly popular, which goes to show the level of unmet need.

“We’re determined to keep at it, and keep investing in further accessibility improvements to open up wonderful holiday experiences to many more people and families.”

The Marsham Court secured a £70,000 grant from BCP Council’s post-covid Bounce Back Fund which it more than doubled to create its raft of accessible facilities.

  • Additional pictures of the Marsham Court facilities by Paul Collins/PC Visuals.