Special hotel for disabled guests closes suddenly as boss says ‘we couldn’t keep pushing it uphill’

A Blackpool hotel that provided respite care holidays for disabled people for more than a decade has closed its doors.

Monday, 18th November 2019, 6:25 am
Simon Rigby and Gary Farrer of Safe Hands outsidethe New Mayfair Hotel
Simon Rigby and Gary Farrer of Safe Hands outsidethe New Mayfair Hotel

The New Mayfair Hotel, on New South Promenade, boasted 43 wheelchair accessible rooms with public areas specially adapted for the comfort of disabled, ill and elderly guests.

But it closed down last week as owner Simon Rigby MBE, who used to own the famous Guild Hall in Preston, said it had become unprofitable following a long battle to save it.

He said: “What I can say is that anybody who has put in a deposit will be getting their deposit refunded to them, so no guests are losing money.

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The New Mayfair Hotel

“Unfortunately, unless somebody picks the hotel up quite quickly, I fully expect the staff will be made redundant.

“The hotel has not been able to make the returns which it has done in the past as a result of the state of the economy in general. We have soldiered on, but it has become increasingly difficult and at the end of the day the bank either realises the value of the property or it allows us to carry on trading.

“We had no confidence that we could carry on trading, and if we didn’t believe we could make a profit we would have to cease trading, and that’s what we have done.”

The hotel, he said, did not have any guests booked in for last week, when it closed unexpectedly.

People who have holidays arranged in the future will have their deposits refunded as a gesture of goodwill.

Mr Rigby, who purchased the New Mayfair in 2011 with Safe Hands care company, said: “The admissions are now doing nothing else but contacting guests with holidays booked in the next few weeks.

“From my point of view, we are acting responsibly. It’s bad enough you lose your holiday without losing your money as well.

“The last thing Blackpool needs is another hotel shut, so it’s just unfortunate. We have battled and battled, and at the end of the day we couldn’t keep pushing it uphill.”

Karen Atkinson, who owns the Bond Hotel on Bond Street, which also caters to disabled guests, said she had been ‘inundated’ with requests for bookings following the closure.

She said: “We have had an influx of guests with disabilities who have lost their holidays. We have bookings for more than 40 people at the moment going into next year.

“We don’t want to see anybody without a family holiday so we’re trying to offer discounts where we can.

“We can’t sit back and watch it happen so we’re doing our best to try and make things as smooth as possible for people who have lost their holidays.

“We have had to turn some people away because we have our own bookings, and the rooms we can offer might not be exactly what they are hoping for, but we are doing our best.

“It’s not like they can go anywhere else because many of them need specialist mobility equipment; they need wheelchair access right through the building.

“It’s just heartbreaking to see. There’s no happy ending to this.

“I’ve had a few very upset phonecalls from friends who work at the New Mayfair.”

Preston Guild Hall

Simon Rigby bought a 999-year lease for the iconic Preston Guild Hall for just £1 in 2014, and had big plans to transform the Guild Tower into a luxry hotel with more than 100 rooms.

He spent millions on transforming the venue - but in May his operating company, Preston Guild Hall Ltd, went into administration.

The company was in debt to the tune of £4.5m when it folded.

Preston City Council has now taken back control of the building, on which it owns the lease - but it remains closed.

It is expected to reopen in 2020 for the Lancashire Business Expo.

The New Mayfair Hotel

The New Mayfair Hotel, on New South Promenade, was ranked ‘good’ in all areas by the Care Quality Commission.

In an inspection carried out in May 2018, inspectors found it was safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

They said: “Staff were kind, caring and respectful to people in their care and when they interacted with individuals who stayed at the hotel. People and their relatives told us staff always maintained their dignity and privacy. People who stayed at the hotel and relatives lived told us they enjoyed food provided by the chefs and had plenty of choice.

“People’s care and support had been planned with them. They told us they had been consulted and listened to about how their care would be delivered whilst staying at The New Mayfair.

“People who stayed at the hotel and relatives told us they enjoyed a variety of activities and entertainers nightly.”