Winner of the East Sussex Women in Business Awards - 2017

Award-Winning Hotel Transformation!

On Friday 15 September 2017, The Cooden Beach Hotel was awarded 3 prestigious awards at the East Sussex Women in Business Awards ceremony.

The awards recognised the incredible growth, success, dedication and determination of Lesley and all the team at The Cooden Beach Hotel in transforming the hotel in the last year.

(former owner, Lesley Kimber, pictured far left above with sponsors Arlington Aesthetics Clinic)

There were many great entries from businesses across the county, but The Cooden Beach Hotel dominated the event winning:

  • Business Woman of the Year
  • Large Business of the Year (50+ employees)
  • Overall Business/Business Woman of the Year – the ultimate award for the most outstanding business in 2017 as chosen by the judges (this award cannot be entered).

Some of the key elements of the transformation of the hotel are shown in this short video:


So what makes The Cooden Beach Hotel such worthy winners?

James and Lesley Kimber - co-owners of The Cooden Beach Hotel

James and Lesley Kimber – owners of The Cooden Beach Hotel

Here is a summary of Lesley and her team’s achievements that so impressed the judges:

  • Significant investment in a vision for growth – creating a contemporary hotel and unique dining experiences that are directly on the beach and would appeal to a far wider audience than the hotel had traditionally had
    • major building expansion to create new ‘destinations’ within the hotel (Brasserie on the Beach, Gin Palace and Beach Terrace to name a few), full refit of the kitchen, new modern reception, gutting and creating 41 stylish bedrooms,  refurbishing the Leisure Club, improved technical infrastructure and more
    • major re-branding project that impacted all areas of the organisation from signage (inside and out) to all aspects of stationery, menus, brochures, website, social media and more
    • fully adopting digital marketing techniques – and combine these with traditional marketing activities within an on-going, measurable marketing plan
  • Leadership and Teamwork
    • Lesley’s dedication to managing and driving the development project forward on budget and on time. This included being fully involved in all tasks from design concepts, to co-ordinating suppliers, menu planning, buying cutlery, unpacking furniture and serving customers when the business took off even faster than expected!
    • Leading a team of 104 staff that are now delighted and proud of the new look, service offerings and busy growing business that now appeals to a wide audience every day of the week. (The judges also read many tributes from staff about Lesley’s courage, conviction, passion and hard work in delivering her vision and such a large scale development project.)
  • Commitment to providing excellent customer service
    • Using new technology and mystery shopper reports
    • Maintaining the highest level of food hygiene rating (5) for all our kitchens
  • Evidence of business success/ROI
    • Following the opening of the new Brasserie on the Beach, the turnover from the restaurant has increased ten-fold
  • Employing more local people
    • 30 new staff were employed in February and March 2017 – interviewing continues for more!
    • 56% women with many in senior management roles including:
      • General Manager, Reception Manager, Advertising, Housekeeping and Bar Managers
  • Focus on using local suppliers
    • As well as using local architects and builders for the development work. All produce for the kitchen is purchased from within East Sussex and Brighton – for example:
      • 1 mile (Little Common) for all our meat from a local Butcher
      • 4 miles (Sidley) for all fruit and vegetables
      • 3 miles (Hastings fishing port) for all fish and shellfish
    • Other business-critical support from local organisations includes:
      • 1 mile for IT Support
      • 6 miles for Marketing Support from Pearce Marketing for our rebrand, all associated brand roll-out requirements, marketing planning and digital marketing delivery
  • Ability to be part of and add to existing activities to support the development of our town and community
    • The new hotel developments enable us to more actively participate in town events such as the Festival of the Sea, as well as joining up with other business to help develop and celebrate the success of the town as a destination for visitors and a great place to live for local residents
  • Efforts to be a ‘green’ organisation
    • For example, recycling significant quantities of glass and cardboard, as well as oil from the kitchens and compacting cardboard into bales for collection.

And finally…

East Sussex Women In Business Awards Winner - The Cooden Beach Hotel

You may be interested to know a little background information – The Cooden Beach Hotel was built in 1928 and is situated directly on the beach at Cooden, in Bexhill-on-Sea in East Sussex. It was purchased by the former owners, James and Lesley Kimber in 2005. It was previously owned by large companies.

Lesley said “Our vision has always been to create a stunning independent hotel, with a unique position overlooking the sea, which is a place we would love to dine and stay in.

The hotel now offers:

Lesley added “It has been a very exciting time and we are absolutely thrilled to receive so many awards.Amazing! I’d like to say a big thank you to all our customers for your support, kind words and loyalty. We are so glad that you share our delight in the new Brasserie on the Beach – it’s such a world apart from our previous hotel dining room!

  1. Congratulations you certainly deserve it. We moved to Cooden some 18 months ago and are regulars to the Brasserie and Tavern Kitchen and have witnessed the fantastic transformation.

    We consider ourselves very lucky to have moved to wonderful location with the Cooden Hotel within walking distance.

    Once again congratulations to you, James and all the staff. We are already booked for New Years eve after last years enjoyable night.


    Pat and John Barker

    • Thank you so much for you very kind words. We are delighted that you have enjoyed visiting the hotel so much and yes, we do all live in a wonderful location don’t we?! Many thanks again.

  2. We were very pleased to spend the day enjoying your hotel and restaurant today. We were particularly delighted to take a perfect table for two by the folding doors for lunch overlooking the beach and kindly welcomed by Mr Kimber.
    Our meal was superb and Andre looked after us perfectly.
    When we left I personally thanked you and your wife who were dining for a late lunch and complimented you on a superb day, thank you.

    Michael and Sue King

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