Tag Archives: Accessible travel


Everything that is wrong about “accessible travel” in one small exchange

Accessible travel, whether for leisure or business, remains a frustrating mix of impressive common sense approaches with top notch facilities and abysmal attitudes and couldn’t care less lack of access that is discriminatory and short sighted.

How about this for a classic example of the above all in just one hotel in Orlando that I haven’t, and won’t now, been to visit !

The AVANTI PALMS HOTEL RESORT AND CONFERENCE CENTRE ORLANDO is a mid range hotel that is well located for any with access needs because you can walk or wheel right onto the famous International Drive in Orlando. It’s more affordable than one might expect and on the “impressive” side is a list of good access features that includes, amazingly I thought, not one but two poolside hoists for the superb pool AND Jacuzzi !! Pretty much unheard of that for UK visitors as you rarely see poolside hoists here in mid range hotels, or five star venues for that matter.


So, it’s initially an attractive option but then you get to the “attitude” nonsense and it all collapses in a hard to understand mess. Like many needing accessible bedrooms and wetrooms we find that there is a total lack of understanding about what really makes a wetroom, “accessible”.  We’ve turned up to find an open room with no fixed or even mobile shower seating. We have arrived to find that there is no proper “drop down railing” in sight or that you can’t transfer from your wheelchair and move it away and close curtains because they are out of reach. Oh and then there’s the poor design that floods your entire wetroom and bedroom for good measure. Finally there’s the real classic. A wetroom which is actually a shower with a step up and again, no railing in sight.

So, it matters you see, that the hotel can explain the layout of the wetroom. It can make the difference between a great stay and no stay at all.

Heres where attitude impacts. The website has pictures of everything on its site. Except the accessible rooms wetroom. There are shots of empty wine glasses near a pool, palm trees, beds, ceilings, towels, decor, reception desks, cupboards, food, lots of food, and more palm trees. But nothing about something that often makes the difference between being able to travel thousands of miles with confidence that you can actually stay in what is, after all, an “accessible” room ? We asked, begged, waited, for the hotel to send us a couple of images of the fixed shower seating or mobilecdhower chair that actually emerged as the only option. Just do we could rest assured that for two weeks I could transfer safely and comfortably.

The superb Accessible Travel Forum, see link below, was a wonderful surprise to us and members there worked hard to give us introductions to the hotel to do the simple thing and get us the images we needed. A specialist disability travel agency in the UK (Disabled Holidays.com) tried by emailing the hotel, one they do business with. All of this produced nothing and that includes my seven emails.

Two months on and we gave up. Frustrated we’ve cancelled the plans for a four week stay in the USA because surprisingly, given its the entertainment capital of the world, well close to it, the alternatives if you are not driving, are actually hard to source. We knew if we persevered we could come up with something but frankly got angry and tired of seeing how a massive hotel like the AVANTI treats disabled people. We were ready to spend a lot of money there. But nobody cared enough to pop upstairs and for sixty seconds take two images of the wetroom and the mobile shower chair being used there. That’s all we asked. In return, two weeks business. But no, nothing doing at the AVANTI PALMS.

If this had been a corporate customer wanting extra room layout images I suspect they would have been sent a whole albums worth of extra pictures. There is no understanding of why it matters to some guests to have this information. It should surely be no trouble to a hotel which boasts about its “accessibility”.

The hotel did answer easier questions about external access, the poolhoists and shuttle buses. But it was only ever answers that were close to hand, on their desktop PC’s. Going the extra mile….well, a few feet really, no chance. It’s sad and pathetic and frankly this kind of attitude is as big and disabling as a flight of steps and no lift.

So, we are off to Europe instead on a rail adventure to a Paris, Rome and Barcelona and EVERY hotel we have approached is prepared to show us the layout of the bedroom, wetroom and facilities. Nothing has been too much trouble and where we feel we need reassurance we are using John Sage Travel as their expertise, tho frankly expensive, is second to none when it comes to accessible travel in Europe.

A sad tale I think. It’s 2018 and here’s a massive USA hotel resort centre with staff who just couldn’t be bothered to take a couple of pictures to help disabled guests ensure they could stay there. There was business almost confirmed. The interest was very serious. But nada. Zilch response when it mattered most. And another accessible trip bites the dust because of a lack of interest, a kind of “this is a nuisance” feel about the place when it comes to disabled visitors. More 1718 than 2018.

Cheers, Mark, Rustyman Wilson.

And here’s that link to the ATF whose members tried to help. It’s a new and great resource for those interested in accessible travel.


To everyone in the travel industry : read this now !!

Travel Industry

To everyone in the travel industry, this will explain a lot……

‘To everyone in the travel industry, read this now’, feels like a bit of a dramatic command, a bit OTT, a bit threatening even? Well as titles go it is in fact one of the most important I’ve penned in a long while. Every now and then you read something that makes you sit up and shout “yes !! Here’s someone who gets it, who understands what I’ve been saying for, well, ages and ages…..”

Here is someone whose been there, made, then printed, then sold the bloomin T shirt and TOTALLY gets why for disabled people travel is both a joy but sadly, can also be a nightmare of anxiety and panic…..yes panic.


Travel Agents, hotel staff, airline booking folk, entertainment venues, public buildings, concert arena’s etc etc etc. Read here why travel for many disabled people is still such a nerve wracking, anxious and honestly, quite scary thing. It shouldn’t be like this in 2017 but here’s the thing, IT STILL IS !!

Carrie Ann talks of being a planner, a list person, someone who is actually a hugely experienced traveler so it should all be a worry-free smooth and relaxed experience, yes ? Well no, accessible travel should be like that but all too often very avoidable mistakes and carelessness mix with mis-information and lack of knowledge, to produce a ruined travel experience and it’s knowing that can, and still does, happen, that is a cause of such disappointing stress. Planning accessible travel is in my experience not the fun thing it is for many when organizing their holiday.

Consider this, we have just (after a long set of email exchanges) recently had a refund off one of the alleged “best” quality hotel chains in the world. Why ? Because after exhaustive personal checks by our superb agent, we arrived to find my standard powerchair couldn’t get in the ‘accessible wet room’ properly. I couldn’t use the loo and shut the door, couldn’t turn the chair, couldn’t shower as there wasn’t a safe shower seat. Oh and the room was crammed with furniture and too small, despite our having explained what type of accessible room we needed. When faced with us quickly reappearing back at the reception desk the senior member of staff on the desk told us, twice, that “our accessible wet room bedrooms are really meant for disabled people who can get out of their chairs and walk…..” This in a hotel charging £700 for two nights in a suburb of one of the greatest cities on earth.

Just to further back up Carrie Ann’s wonderful honesty. My wife and I planned our honeymoon with meticulous detail. The villa in Portugal was, we were assured, repeatedly, “very private”. When we got there the pool was in the front garden next to a road ! Our airline, or rather the airport baggage handlers smashed one wheel up of my then specialist one-arm use wheelchair by we believe dropping it off the baggage conveyor. But they then placed it in the hold for us to find at Faro airport where a hugely upset aircraft captain personally explained to us how our honeymoon was off to a terrible start.

Is it any wonder Carrie Ann’s amazingly accurate description of the anxiety you can feel when traveling as a disabled person will chime with many many readers of Disability Horizons, her new website and hopefully this very new and not so shiny blog platform.

BUT……and this is such an important BUT……just like anyone, when things go as you pay for them to go, when agents get it right and go the extra mile to ensure all is right, when hotel and airline staff do something lovely and thoughtful to ease your journey and overcome a problem, when you see the sights that everyone else can see and experience that sunset, that amazing view, meal, or architecture that takes your breath away – well the joy is just the same, the smile exactly as it is for anyone, and all the planning and yes even the anxiety, is worth it for the excitement of traveling to new places and sharing that with those you love.

So please, to all those in the travel industry, read this description of how it can be for some of your customers, why so many of us identify at least in part with Carrie Ann’s searingly honest explanation of just how daunting travel can be for those who really need you to be spot on with your information, your research, your advice, your, well, everything actually. Why ? because the more you get it right, the less some of us will have to feel anxious or close to panic as we plan what should be a fun filled bit of travel to far flung places, or even just a local rail journey !

Thanks Carrie Ann, when you wrote this piece you spoke for so many who have experienced those same  feelings of anxiety and speaking up like this will help a lot of people face the challenges and not avoid travel, whilst hopefully also understanding that there’s lots you can do to minimize the worry and just focus on the joy of travel !

Cheers, Mark,


Disability and travel: face your fears head on