The Cotswold Conference Centre in Worcestershire will mark its contribution to Indoor Allergy Week 2011 [14-20 November], by becoming the first venue of its kind in the world to qualify for an international allergy-friendly award.
One in four people in the UK suffers from an allergy and the Cotswold Conference Centre, on the Farncombe Estate near Broadway, has been accredited with an ECARF Seal of Quality for eight new allergy-free bedrooms and a range of allergy-friendly policies.
“We are delighted to give this award to Cotswold Conference Centre, the first dedicated conference venue in the world to earn the ECARF Seal,” says Professor Torsten Zuberbier, an allergy expert from the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation. “Conferences can be a headache for allergy sufferers, who are confined to meeting rooms and bedrooms with little chance to escape.
“Allergy at work and at school leads to lower levels of concentration and achievement. We want to find affordable ways to make people’s lives easier.”
This autumn, the centre completed a £3.5m bedroom courtyard of 32 bedrooms, of which eight are designated allergy-free. No smoking, pot plants or pets are permitted. Wooden floors replace carpet, there are blinds instead of curtains and a special vacuum cleaner gives 99.9 per cent filtration and helps eradicate dust mites.
The centre also reports its kitchen staff are dealing with a growing number of allergies: dairy, gluten, peanut, nuts - even celery. In the bedrooms, delegates allergic to perfume can request fragrance-free toiletries.
“The body of scientific evidence shows us that allergies are getting worse,” says Professor Zuberbier. “ECARF takes a pragmatic approach, we do not want to put allergy sufferers into a sterile box, but offer support for a better life.
“Over-insulated buildings can make things worse. It always helps to be able to open a window.”
Cotswold Conference Centre’s Operations Manager Richard Howdle has noticed a significant increase in allergic customers in the past 10 years. “We have many different reactions to deal with these days,” he says. “If you have lactose intolerance, we will offer you a lactose-free coffee to help you concentrate on your conference or training.
“If anyone comes to us with an allergy, we do our best to make their stay just as comfortable as at home.”
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