Travel Tips - Accessible accommodation
It’s that time again when I review some properties that I have visited within the scope of my work and activities. Please note that not all are up to National Building Regulations or Universal Access (UA) Principals, but in order to build up a database of places who are offering at least some facilities for persons with disabilities, it is worth reporting this information. Most of the places discussed here have already started to make alterations and they are open to our input and suggestions, which is promising.
The Holiday Inn Sandton, Gauteng
In the heart of the business district of Sandton this hotel has three accessible rooms. There is access into the hotel via automated doors, but there is only one uncovered accessible bay near the entrance. While there is undercover parking in the basement, there are no accessible bays allocated and access to the hotel is via a step. The hotel does boast an access ramp from the entrance area to the reception and although the gradient is a bit too steep, there are staff who will assist. Conference facilities are on either the first, or the ninth floors, and both have accessible toilet facilities, although the layout is not compliant with building regulations. The ninth floor, which is accessed via glass lifts, also houses the Skye Bar, which opens in the evenings to the public as well as to hotel residents, and the pool area and gym. At the moment, only the pool is not accessible to wheelchair users. The hotel is currently being assessed and they are aiming to make it UA compliant.
The accessible rooms are 221, 223 and 225. Room numbers 221 and 223 each have queen-size beds and room number 225 has two single beds. The emergency chords are not accessible nor are they compliant. The wet room layouts are not according to building regulations and the one room has a shower with a glass partitian which makes entry into the shower area difficult.
Mongena Game Lodge, 4* Dinokeng Reserve, Hammanskraal
Situated just 40kms north of Pretoria, this lodge is within the Dinokeng Game (Big Five) conservancy. It is an ex Protea Hotels property, and is currently being used as a wedding venue on weekends over the summer months. This means that other guests are not able to visit if there is a wedding booked, but game viewing is better in winter anyway. The property has ramps and pathways to various areas within the camp, but not all of them are compliant. For example, the pathway to the restaurant stops 10 meters from the stairs. Obviously, these stairs make the restaurant inaccessible to wheelchair users, but the staff are very accommodating and when I was there, they moved a table to the lower level and served me on the grass under the stars! The breakfast dining room is accessible as well as the bar area, but the access ramps are, once again, not compliant. The only wheelchair friendly room is number 26 and it has reasonable access, unfortunately, one cannot access the cupboard in the room. The management have asked for an access report which has been presented so, hopefully they will be making some changes soon. Please note that there is an access to the conservancy cost of R25 per day per vehicle.
The Angel’s Place, Moreletta Park, Pretoria
This boutique hotel has 15 themed suites, a restaurant and a tea garden which is famous for its classic High Teas. Rosemary, the owner, had decided to make the environment universally accessible, but with more facilities for the visually and hearing impaired than the mobility imparied. Having said this, there is one room that has all the various aids for the visually and hearing impaired, as well as some facilities for the mobility impaired, although the ramp into the shower is a bit steep.
Whales Way Lodge, Blue Water Bay, Port Elizabeth
Owneres, Sashee and Sid have a couple of properties that they are developing for this lovely Bed & Breakfast. The property I visited has a couple of rooms on the ground floor that could be used by persons with mobility impairments. They are in the process of finishing this building, and they are willing to make changes to get it done right upfront. At the moment the ramp up to the front door is not compliant, but the rooms are large with roll-in showers, but they do not have seats, or hand shower units on adjustable rails as yet. Their breakfast is sumptuous and you can arrange dinner at an extra cost.
Should you come across any establishments that offer decent facilities for people with disabilities, please send me details and I will attempt to check them out!