Tag Archives: Accessible tourism


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.


Chester, the most accessible city in Europe !!

Accessible Chester

Chester THE most accessible city in Europe, really, it is !!

Yes, Chester is the most accessible city in Europe !!

Well I’ve been to Chester lots, and have to be brutally honest, didn’t really expect to see it awarded this accolade but then maybe I was so immersed in just getting around I failed to notice that I was having hardly any problems, you know, getting around !!

I will probably wander around a bit more next time after reading the following excellent bit of reporting from the superb DisabledGo.com and will certainly try out some bits of historic Chester which I suspect I stupidly ignored because it is historic and we all know what that can mean for accessibility. But it seems Chester has got it spot on.

Find out more about how Chester has managed to become so amazingly accessible via a planned, careful, and visionary bit of evolution.


Cheers, Mark, Rustyman

Uber Access ? If your a wheelchair user, seriously, what’s not to like ?

Uber Access

Uber Access , what’s not to like ?

I first tried Uber Access or Uber WAV as it called in the States during trips to New York City, & Washington DC. It was a bit mixed to be honest. Loved the concept. Once I got the Uber App sorted in a foreign country I was away, booking cabs with aplomb and loving the great ramped access, the always interesting and friendly drivers and, well, the sheer “ease and normality” of it all.

I was aware that UBER WAV as it started out being called was up and running in London. So having tried in the USA it seemed rude not to give it a go in Blighty !!

Well I have and it is fantastic. High praise I know but that’s how it makes me feel. There are now more UBER ACCESS cabs (new name) on their system and wait times are coming down from the start when it was 45 minutes to a much more reasonable 15-20 mins, tho like anyone else, try getting an Uber Access in a thunderstorm at rush hour and your likely to face a bit of a wait.

Its just, so darned easy….. there you are in central London or I think farther out these days, and you call up the Uber App, enter the location you want to go to, select Uber Access from the options, confirm you really do want the accessible vehicle with ramp, and off it goes searching for your ride. You must have an Uber Account of course, which in turn means you pay by PayPal or a registered credit card. It’s safe, it’s easy, it’s quick.

Uber have a very edgy rep dont they. They are hated by many black cab drivers in London and elsewhere I suspect. But Uber seems to be cheaper and I’d have more sympathy with the black cab community if they had embraced accessibility with enthusiasm, instead of being forced into it by Ken Livingstones legislation etc. Even then, a side entry ramp on a black cab can be a precarious thing and definitely not great for a power chair user. The angle is often dangerously, impossibly, steep from cab to pavement. Frankly I’ve rarely been made to feel welcome in a London cab and unlike Uber who will not charge you whilst you are being secured in the cab, the meter can run from when a black cab stops to pick you up, if they do stop ofcourse, which is far from guaranteed. Not so Uber whose drivers MUST accept your app booking.

Maybe I’m being a bit harsh on the black cab fraternity. I have got a certain accessible E7 black cab in Hinckley Leicestershire and been treated like a king. But most places, particularly London, not so much.

In London the Uber drivers I’ve met have all been really good. Friendly, chatty, interesting and clearly knowledgable as to the Chair restraint systems. I’ve never felt rushed. Always felt safe. And so far never had to wait beyond 30 mins even in rush hour, mostly I’ve been picked up in 15/20 mins. The Uber Access drivers tell me they don’t get stick from the Black Cab community, it’s as if there is a tacit acknowledgement that Uber Access has stepped up and met a desperate need to provide choice for disabled people, at fair prices which are the same as Uber X and the company incentivise drivers to become Access drivers, and to get the accessible cars with rear ramps, like a Berlingo or Horizon.

Uber Access is spreading across the UK ! See their website for details but hopefully it’s on its way to most large cities and lots more places where the location may not be that large but the need remains the same.

So, Uber Access, what’s not to like ? Actually it’s all good as far as I’m concerned, a power chair user who now can access more Underground stations than ever before, the red buses, and even cabs using an App. That has to be all about “choice” as this impressive young guy from Whiz Kids says in a video review of Uber WAV, now Uber Access. Just scroll to the bottom of the website piece from a third party and there’s the vid.


Cheers, Rustyman

Cottages and cabins can be accessible !! Here’s how !!

Accessible cottages and cabins

Cottages and cabins CAN be accessible !!

Finding quality accessible holiday accommodation is not easy but here’s 10 of the best cabins and cottages.

Love this piece from Srin at Disability Horizons writing for the Guardian in which he reports on 10 of the very best Cabin and cottage style places to stay. You just cannot beat first hand access experience and Srin knows his stuff as one of the founders of the new accomable.com website. More of that in future blogs but for now why not pick a cosy cottage or cute cabin for a holiday or weekend break?


Cheers, Mark