Cateys 2021: Accessibility Award: Hotel Brooklyn
Sponsored by Nescafé (Nestlé Professional)
The ethos of ‘accessibility for all' has been at the heart and centre of the operation at Hotel Brooklyn in Manchester, ever since the 189-bedroom property opened its doors on 14 February 2020. From the outset, the Bespoke Hotels-operated property has aimed to raise the bar by setting a consistently world-class experience for every guest, whether or not they have a special need or disability.
To this end, the hotel has created 18 Liberty suites and bedrooms, which provide the guest with all the features and amenities expected from a luxury stay, without the need to marginalise the journey or accommodation requirements of a guest requiring accessible features.
The hotel aimed to ensure all guests were catered for, whether they required minor adjustments to help overcome such challenges as hearing difficulties, sight deficiencies and physical ailments, or for those needing more comprehensive arrangements, including hoist provisions in bedrooms. Guests are able to manoeuvre seamlessly through the building, whether they are using a walking stick, Zimmer frame or wheelchair.
Just as important as a physically welcoming building is the need for staff to fully understand what they need to do to provide the best possible welcome. A training plan is in place to teach every member how to provide a great experience for every guest with an accessible need, even if that guest has not informed the hotel of that need. Staff are also provided with the understanding to recognise mental health issues and provide support when necessary.
The hotel works with many organisations – the Blue Badge Guide, the British Deaf Society and the Spinal Injuries Association among them – to ensure the staff are uniquely trained and aware of a diverse range of needs.
The inspiration for providing ‘accessibility for all' stems from the president of Bespoke Hotels, Robin Sheppard, who himself is disabled and has Guillain-Barré syndrome. His understanding of what is required to create a supportive hospitality environment for customers has resulted in exceptional reviews from guests and their families.
All this good will has enormous financial benefits, too. The return on investment is calculated on each of the Liberty rooms having an annual occupancy rate of 60% at an average rate of £120 per night, which is equal to £475,000 of revenue per annum during a year of fair trading (not during the pandemic).
Ultimately, Hotel Brooklyn is a business that fully embraces all guests to ensure that a disability or special need does not prevent anyone from enjoying its services. It has created a benchmark that is a powerful means of attracting business, from which many a hotel would benefit.
What the judges said
"Hotel Brooklyn is a business that gets accessibility. It demonstrates a holistic commitment to access for all, with unrivalled attractive and innovative accessible design, strong accessibility training provision for staff and excellent marketing that builds excitement and anticipation for guests with accessibility requirements." - Ross Calladine
"The hotel's ambition around setting a new industry-wide gold standard for accessibility is to be applauded." - Michael McGrath
- Hotel Brooklyn, Manchester
- Sea Containers London
- Peter Banks, managing director, Rudding Park
- Ross Calladine, head of business support, VisitEngland
- Helen Dolphin, consultant, Helen Dolphin Consultancy
- Carrie-Ann Lightley, head of marketing, AccessAble
- Mark Lewis, chief executive, Hospitality Action
- Michael McGrath, founder and chief executive, Muscle Help Foundation