With the ever-increasing need for properly established accommodation facilities for travellers with disabilities who are looking for the cheaper end of the market (Bed and Breakfast options), some local NGO’s are stepping up to the plate and providing comfortable and friendly environments.
Free State APD have just opened a B&B situated on their premises in Bloemfontein. They have 5 en-suite double rooms - two with baths and three with roll-in showers. Each room has a colour theme and an imaginative name to go with it – from “Purple Turtle” to “Golden Retreat”! There are standard room features i.e. Bar-fridge, TV, Fan and tea / coffee making facilities. The general area consists of one large room, including a lounge with TV, a dining area and a kitchenette – where breakfast is served, as well as the Reception. This area also boasts an accessible loo.
The Department of Tourism donated twelve million rand towards building this B&B in order to promote integrated tourism. In addition to the conference facility there is also a coffee and craft shop where they sell articles made by creative persons with disabilities, many of whom live onsite at the Jean Webber Home.
I attended a three-day workshop here and was extremely impressed with the efficient management of the conference. The lucky few who were guests at the APD B&B were able to sleep late and still get to the conference on time! For the rest of the delegates, they were booked into rooms for persons with disabilities at hotels that are about a twenty-minute drive from the venue.
APD Free State has three converted transporters that have a wheelchair lift as well as ramps, and friendly drivers who ferried the delegates throughout the day. There is also a bank of three wheelchair friendly loos outside the conference centre which certainly assisted us during the comfort breaks, but with about 50 delegates, the majority in wheelchairs, we also made use of the facilities at the B&B.
The World Wildlife Fund has a B&B located in Protea Heights on the outskirts of Stellenbosch called Sugarbird Manor. The property was donated to the WWF by Frank and Ivy Batchelor. The manor has eight en-suite guest rooms, one of which has been tailor-made to suit persons with disabilities.
There is a lounge with a wellstocked bar and the Manor offers extras like a laundry service as well as the opportunity to eat either lunch or dinner there. These meals have to be arranged 24 hours in advance.
There is a boardroom that can facilitate 20 delegates boardroom style and 40 delegates in cinema style. They offer arrangements for special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays and also weddings.
The Manor has won various awards at the Imvelo Responsible Tourism Awards, which recognises SA Tourism businesses that implement sustainable environmental, social and economic programmes.
QASA has a property in Edenvale called the Dave Lewis Lodge. This house turned B&B originally belonged to psychologist, Dave Lewis, who had his practice at his home in order to ensure the accessibility needs of him and his client’s. QASA purchased the property and converted it into a B&B and QASA office.
Staying at this facility is like visiting friends, as there are 5 rooms and three bathroom facilities, with only one en-suite. It has a lovely lounge and dining area as well as an outdoor patio and pool.
Conrad Hoensen, a Pick ‘n Pay Franchisee, stays permanently on the premises and oversees the daily running of the facility, with his right hand man, Kenneth, managing it.
The Office and boardroom are used for various meetings such as the Rolling Inspiration Board meetings, and are available to guests for their own private meetings, again offering an in-house facility rather than finding accessible transport to other facilities.
So, if your travels take you to any of these regions, be sure to take advantage of these facilities knowing that your needs are catered for.
Please contact me if you know of other venues that are particularly geared to people with disabilities, so that we can add them to our database.
As always....... Happy travelling