To date 15 access audits have been completed across the South East region, including in Buckinghamshire, Kent, Plumpton Racecourse and Sevenoaks, where the Paralympic Cycle event is being hosted at Brands Hatch.
Tourism South East believes there is evidence that shows a major investment of £2.5m on improvements to the rail infrastructure in Buckinghamshire was heavily influenced by the Destination Zones access audit. There is also evidence that 27 key destination sites and 6 key transport hubs have been improved to for the benefit of disabled visitors, again following the audits.
‘Welcome All’ audits have helped organisations to:
In conjunction with ‘Welcome All’, Destination Zones has produced best practice guides on carrying out access audits including the importance of involving disabled people in the process. It is anticipated that these guides will be used in the South East and beyond.
Accentuate funding again helped connect national programmes to local people, by providing subsidised places for the National ‘Welcome All’ training. The training was led by disabled trainers and attended by over 600 people. Tourism South East is now exploring ways to maintain this training in conjunction with Tourism for All.
‘Visit Kent is committed to making the county more accessible to all its visitors. These Access Audits have proved a valuable tool with both transport operators and tourism providers'
Ruth Wood, Research and Development, Visit Kent
The disabled market is worth an estimated £40bn P.A. and research has shown that over 2.5m disabled people travel regularly. When you add their families and assistants, you see that the opportunity to increase occupancy or visitor numbers is immense.
Accentuate and Tourism South East often explore further ways we can work together to progress this project. We seek to promote best practice around making destinations more accessible and we aim to show where people get things right. We have jointly commissioned a Toolkit, produced by Kristina Veasey, an Our View member, to show how to most effectively involve deaf and disabled people in the access audit process. Recently a further Toolkit has been commissioned offering destinations advice and skills about how they can undertake their own access audits. Both of these toolkits will soon be available on the Resources section at the bottom of the menu bar under Accentuate projects.
Accentuate projects have been collecting examples of how their work is having an impact. Whether this is the personal experience of an individual, or the influence Accentuate projects have had on organisations. Click the link to view the case studies.
Accentuate also believes in promoting excellence and quality and therefore we started an investigation to see if true luxury alongside accessibility could be found. We were delighted to discover it is possible. Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons delivers the most wonderful experience on so many levels.
Raymond Blanc has devised Citronnelle (Enabling Room). Located on the ground floor, Citronnelle opens up onto its own private terrace overlooking the garden courtyard. This delicately furnished junior suite has a twist of modernity, furnished with fresh and vibrant fabrics. Subtle scenes of citrus fill the room. A beautiful wall canvas illustrating serene lemon trees enhances the theme. A king size bed (can be twinned) and a soft settee provide the most luxurious comfort. Citronnelle can also be tailored specifically to a guest’s individual access requirements. The facilities available include:
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons staff will also place ramps in the main house to assist their guests on the ground floor areas.
Accentuate Programme Director Esther Fox had the pleasure of staying in this room for one night as part of her honeymoon.
“My mission had been to see if I could find a room that was not only completely accessible to me as a wheelchair user, but one that would ensure I had the most memorable stay – for all the right reasons!
So often the accessible room is in the less desirable part of the hotel; or you are presented with something that may be accessible, but looks like you are staying in a hospital, where very little thought goes into the aesthetic. I wanted to see if at least on this one special occasion, I could find a beautiful yet accessible hotel. I certainly found this and more.
I can only speak of my experience as a wheelchair user so I am not sure how they would be able to meet other access requirements. However, what I can be certain of is the level of service and consideration that would be shown to you.
The reason that this room is so innovative is because all the facilities which are available to make this room accessible to wheelchair users or mobility impaired guests, can be removed. Therefore this room really can be tailored to individual requirements and if they are not needed, the room can be returned to its original status. This is a genuinely versatile approach which we feel has huge potential for making other high quality hotels more accessible.”
When Accentuate spoke with Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and asked if they would be happy to be featured as an example of best practice they were very pleased to provide information. It was clear that Monsieur Blanc personally attached much value to ensuring his fantastic venue was as accessible as possible and told Accentuate about his own experience.
“Last year I broke my leg, not just in one place but in five places; that is the curse of creativity.
Yes, it was painful. There were two operations in two weeks and when I came out of hospital I became a full-time resident at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons.
Where else, I thought, would I get the best service, best welcome and the best food? So I stayed in one of my favourite rooms - Citronnelle. As a partly enabled person it gave me the opportunity to trial and correct any imperfections (and I found some), so that guests with disabilities who followed me would profit from my stay. Citronnelle was a difficult room to design, as it had to combine total luxury with the ability to welcome our guests with disabilities. We had to use a lot of ingenuity in order to achieve both. I think we have succeeded.”
It is this personal approach and attention to detail which can really be felt when visiting Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and staying in Citronnelle.
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Church Road, Great Milton, Oxfordshire, OX44 7PD
* Michelin Guide, Two Stars for 27 Years *
* Front of House Team of the Year Award 2010 - Hotel Catey
Relais & Chateaux 2011 Innovation Award 'Lifetime Achievement Award - The Good Food Guide 2011 awarded to Raymond Blanc OBE* 'Lifetime Achievement Award' from AA Hospitality awarded to Raymond Blanc OBE * ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ from Caterer & Hotelkeeper awarded to Raymond Blanc OBE, AA Restaurant Guide 2010, Five Rosettes * AA Hotel Guide, 5 red stars * Condé Nast Traveller, UK 2009, Runner up – Favourite UK Leisure Hotel * Condé Nast Traveller, UK 2008, Selected “Best Food/Restaurant” in the UK Hotel (97.50) * Relais & Chateaux 2007, The Garden Trophy