Okay, we’re still on our holidays with this weeks blog article. A few weeks ago, we had a holiday at the Cliffden Hotel in Teignmouth Devon. Run by Vision Hotels, part of Action for Blind People here in the UK. The hotel, set within around 6 Acres of its own grounds, has been in existence since the early 1990’s; specifically tailoring holidays for visually Impaired people. It was initially run by The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, but since the early 2000’s, Action for Blind People have taken over its running and operation.

As financial times have become tighter and needs have changed, the hotel, which was only allowed Guide Dog owners and then visually impaired people to book and use it, has opened itself up more to the general public. It has, however, endeavoured to maintain its core business serving the needs of visually imapired holidays makers (by providing excurtions and specific facilities).

However, as prices have risen and the hotel has had to adjust and rstructure, the core element seemed to deminish.

It was with great trepidation that we travelled down to Devon for our annual holiday. As a sidenote, we would love to go to many other places through out the UK to try them out for holidays, but it is far easier and less stressful to base ourselves in somewhere we know rather than spending most of the break trying to orientate and learn brand new locations; sad but a reality of life.

It is difficult to comment on specific situations during our first week at the hotel, as events did affect the way support could be delivered. Safe to say, we initially found it extremely difficult to get the best out of our holiday and this was very frustrating. However, this does not mean that the hotel did not come up trumps. It has just been through a period of change and has a very forward looking, supportive and understanding new manager. During our holiday, frustration changed to delight as new systems were clearly being put in place to take the hotel forward and to attract more visually impaired people to the hotel again.

They have, for instance, a new activities co-ordiantor who has already put programmes in place that provide weekly excurtions; not just to old familiar places but to new and not so well known locations. The hotel, has traditionally, run a programme of themed breaks throughout the year; such as walking and music breaks. These are being enhanced and plans are afoot for more and varied activity weeks.

From going there in trepadation, we left with hope and are looking forward to going back to see how things have developed. They have recruited a number of new volunteer guides who will not only help support the excurtions and activity breaks, but will be avaialble to support requested trips.

Time will tell how things develop, but our experience this year has left us with hope for the future.