This week at the Independent Hotel Show, the Blue Badge Access Awards unveiled their new look and expanded scope.
Aimed at raising the profile of travellers with disabilities, the awards recognise venues and businesses with a stylish approach to accessibility, as well as praising innovative and forward-thinking solutions to the issues experienced by disabled guests when travelling.
Blue Badge Style, in association with Bespoke Access and Leonard Cheshire Disability, unveiled the newly named awards as part of their new merge between the pre-existing style and accessibility initiatives. At the show, where 6300 owners and operators from UK luxury, boutique and independent hotels attend, Paul Vaughan of the Bespoke Access team introduced the evening and set the scene. Robin Sheppard, Executive Chairman of Bespoke Hotels and guests then went on to discuss the awards but also current situations with insight from both Leonard Cheshire Disability and Blue Badge Style.
Fiona Jarvis, CEO of Blue Badge Style and Neil Heslop, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire provided fascinating insight from their lives and businesses and the panel discussion was chaired by awards ambassador Josh Llewellyn-Jones. A recent world record holder who lifted one million kilos in 24 hours, an incredible feat and even more impressive given Josh has cystic fibrosis.
Where did the awards begin?
Created in association with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and the Design Council, the Bespoke Access Awards was devised by Paul Vaughan of the Bespoke Access team and Bespoke Hotels with the intention of finding ways for all hotel guests to have a better experience, and to upgrade the status of the disabled guest from a ‘lack of empathy’ to one of ‘joy’.
Since 2016, two iterations of the Awards have been overseen. We have been fortunate enough to enjoy support from Her Majesty’s Government, peers in the House of Lords, a wide range of disability groups, the media, hospitality organisations, as well as sponsors and entrants from around the world.
Alongside this, the annual Blue Badge Style Awards have been held every October since 2015, with the aim of recognising and rewarding exceptional venues & organisations that possess both style and seamless accessibility for disabled people.
Together with Leonard Cheshire, the three organisations will engage with the design and architectural communities, as well as encourage those who wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves ‘creatives’ or ‘designers’ to participate in the process, thereby sharing their ideas and excellence in providing inclusive access. In this manner, they hope to expand the scope of the award categories, and to further reduce the barriers to entry.
Bespoke Access, Blue Badge Style and Leonard Cheshire Disability, each boast outstanding track records of championing accessible design and services, as well as affecting legislation, employment, and inclusion across all areas of society.
Continuing under the name “Blue Badge Access Awards”, the initiative will now be controlled in equal parts by the three above named organisations, with its scope broadening to extend beyond the hospitality industry and design communities alone.
The objective is to ensure all are welcome at venues and public buildings across the globe. Able-bodied or not, everyone should feel like a first-class citizen no matter where they are visiting, and no matter what disability, sight or hearing impairment, allergy or access requirement they may have
The aim is to inspire architects, designers, staff and proprietors to aspire to higher standards and have a desire to win one of the awards for ‘exceptional venues that have both accessibility and style’. The awards themselves range from most Inclusive Design (open to designers & architects) to Best Hotel, Best Employer, and even a People’s Choice Award.
Alongside technical solutions and forward-thinking design choices, the appropriate care and consideration from staff can make a hugely positive impact on the experience of anyone visiting a venue. The collective philosophy is that showing interest and commitment can be just as important as smart design.
The Award Categories
- Most Inclusive Building/Interior Design
- Best Hotel x 2 (Upmarket and Boutique, Bespoke Award)
- Best Bar x 2 (Upmarket and Budget)
- Best Restaurant x 2 (Upmarket – Conran award – and Budget)
- Best Accessible Toilet
- Ludicrous Loo
- Above & Beyond (Includes Hospitality & Corporates)
- People’s Choice Award
- Best Venue in a Listed Building (Historic England Award)
- Inclusive Employment Award (Leonard Cheshire)
- Employee of the Year