Wheelchair Accessible Hotels. Reservation tips

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Getting accurate information about the accessibility of a hotel can be a little tricky and sometimes frustrating. Most hotel employees don't intentionally give you bad information. It happens because they don't understand what it is you are asking or they don't understand the importance of their answers.

Hotels offering accessible accommodation must understand that every guest has different needs and they should be committed to ensure that their hotel facilities are accessible to all guests equally. Accessibility is not standardized in the hotel industry and can be easily interpreted in different ways by hotel employees. We suggest that rather than looking for “wheelchair friendly” hotels in the internet, always talk directly to the hotel property. Contacting the hotel directly is must. When contacting the hotel tell them that you need to talk to someone who can give you some details about their rooms equipped for guests with disabilities. Ask them to tell you about the bathrooms. This will give you a real good idea how familiar they are with the rooms.

This is a checklist of things to ask the hotel:

Common areas:
1. designated handicap parking with a priority location in the parking lot.
2. step free access (level or ramped) and/or lift access to main entrance.
3. automated door opening.
4. ground level/lobby level accessible washroom.
5. elevator to above ground accessible accommodation.
6. level or ramped access to public areas.

Rooms:
1. wider entry and bathroom doorways – external 80 cm, internal 75 cm. Easy to open?
2. mid-height light switches and power outlets
3. lever type door handles
4. maneuvering space on each side of the bed – 90 cm
5. roll in shower
6. wheeled shower chair and/or wall mounted shower seat
7. grab bars in bathroom
8. raised toilet
9. lower hanging space in closet

Neighbourhood:
1. proximity to markets, pubs, restaurants ... up to 500 m distant.
2. proximity to health services.

Tips:
1. Call hotel directly.
2. Keep notes: names, dates, times, topics, what’s agreed and confirmation numbers. Take these notes and print outs with you on your vacation.
3. Ask to talk to someone who is familiar with handicap rooms because they have been in them.
4. Ask questions that will elicit information rather than a yes or a no. Always adk them to describe in detail
5. Check that you have a credit card GUARANTEE for an accessible room and a confirmation number. Not just a REQUEST for an accessible room if available at the time of check in.
6. Reconfirm your reservation for a guaranteed accessible room a couple of days ahead.
7. When you arrive, check out the room before you check in.
8. Again, take your notes and print outs with you on your vacation.

More tips:
Be prepared, in the unlikely event that:
1. the hotel does not have the accessible room available for you when you arrive. The hotel will need to find you an accessible room, even in another hotel. (See #6 just above) “Where will you put us up for the night?”
2. the complimentary hotel shuttle may not be accessible. The hotel will need to accommodate the service in some other way. “How will you provide alternate shuttle service for us?”

Be cool, be persistent, use a sense of humour and your vacation will be much more a pleasure than a nightmare.

We thank MuftiVancouver Canada for sharing all this relevant and useful information to disabled travelers.