“IT’S not like an ordinary hotel. Complaints are very, very rare. They are just so pleased that something has been done for them.”

Macmillan Caring Locally is opening what it thinks is a unique hotel – one for people who have cancer or life-threatening illnesses.

The Grove on East Cliff takes its first guests today.

The 30-room hotel has 25 staff and is run on a not-for-profit basis - so the standard two person rooms only cost £350 during the height of the season.

Special adaptations include an on-site nurse for emergencies and panic buttons. There is also a private garden and complimentary coach trips, both especially valued by guests.

Project manager Roger Church decided the hotel was ideal and approached the owners with an offer that was taken up last June.

Senior staff declined to give the cost, but said the sale of its smaller forerunner, the 21-bedroom Albany Lodge in Southbourne, had paid for the work.

One year later, the launch party has been held, and the first three weeks are fully booked with a trial run of 40 guests per week.

Mr Church said: “We try to keep it as normal as possible. People want to be treated as normal holidaymakers.

“It allows them to relax and gives them time away from the hospital appointments. Most importantly it gives space to the carers. They are unsung heroes.”

He added: “What never ceases to amaze me is the strength of people who are going through the most difficult period of their lives, who still find time to laugh and enjoy life to the full.”

The guests can also include the families of sufferers.

Visitors have to be referred by a medical professional, but there is no hands on nursing care. In emergencies, the staff from Macmillan’s specialist unit in Christchurch can provide expert care.

Neal Williams, the trust secretary, said: “We think this is the only hotel of its kind in the country.”