For sun-starved holidaymakers, this is the time of year many of us get excited about booking the ideal summer getaway. The process of choosing somewhere to escape to later in the year is a great way to spend a dreary January weekend and seems to help bring spring just that little bit closer. However, for families who are travelling with a disabled loved-one, their search for the perfect holiday may prove frustrating with many families struggling to identify suitable accommodation due to a lack of detail.
Given the nature of timeshare, you would imagine that an exchange holiday would help solve these problems and ensure guests with special requirements can be sure of what to expect. Well, it is certainly fair to say that many of the resorts in the USA surpass themselves when it comes to the facilities, accessibility, information and assistance they offer disabled guests although unfortunately the same can not be said about many of the European resorts. Even if a resort is particularly well suited, a shortage of information, guarantees or specific unit details when exchanging into a particular resort may not suitably address a family’s needs. So, to help timeshare owners with these all-important requirements we recently set out to see for ourselves what resorts deserve a special mention.
Below is our list of RCI Gold Crown and Interval International Premier Resorts we have researched and believe to be suitably accessible for families with a disabled traveller although may not be suitable for independent disabled travellers. Each of the resorts highlighted have either a pool hoist or ramped access so their guests can enjoy the leisure facilities whilst grab rails and wet rooms are also a welcome feature in some of their units.
When it comes to resorts in Europe, we have to applaud Diamond Resorts for their efforts. Not only are do their resorts provide a level of adapted accommodation to rival that of the U.S., the information available on their website for each resort shows real thought and endeavour. A PDF for each resort is available to download providing detailed information on the accessibility of communal areas, parking, how many units each resort are adapted, beach access and much more.
Two resorts which we’ll highlight are Woodford Bridge in Devon and Royal Sunset Beach Club in Tenerife although for more information please visit www.diamondresorts.com
Offering visitors a choice of 1 & 2 bedroom ground floor lodges each with their own parking bay the disabled units here have spacious patios so guests can take in the astounding natural landscape and resident peacocks!
Dine til your heart’s content at the Coach House Restaurant, situated on a level access, which delivers a sumptuous menu all to be washed down with casual drinks for afters. Relax in the heated indoor swimming pool and then swing on by to the leisure centre where all inclusive entertainment is held!
The award-winning Eden Project can be found to the South of Woodford Bridge and has easy access for all the family. A visit to the Big Sheep Theme Park is a wonderful day out for all and offers a year-round programme of adventure for the whole family.
In the South-West of Tenerife in the Canary Islands is the Royal Sunset Beach Club which offers adapted 1 & 2 bedroom apartments to its visitors. You’ll arrive at this oasis in around 15 minutes from Tenerife South Airport with the resort able to organise wheelchair accessible taxis or bus transfers on request.
Indulge upon the delectable menu at the Little Italy Restaurant which serves up a diverse choice of Italian delicacies that are sure to treat your taste buds. The pleasant climate of the Canary Islands is best enjoyed from within the large free-form swimming pool perfect for all members of the family to take a dip within.
The magnificent Bahia Del Duque beach has great wheelchair access and makes a day at the beach one of the top highlights of your holiday. The markets of Los Cristianos are easy to navigate whilst a host of restaurants and bars are within a short walk and reception can help point you towards those with easy access.
Another group that deserve a special mention here is the revered Q Hotels who create an in-depth access statement for each of their hotels to ensure that their disabled guests enjoy the highest levels of quality and satisfaction. Having recently taken over such resorts as: Cameron House, Slaley Hall and Belton Woods from De Vere they offer a comprehensive service to disabled visitors and at the time of writing are creating the access statements for the aforementioned resorts. Q Hotels were awarded the AA Hotel Group of the Year award for 2014-2015 as well as being highly recommended by Which?.
Each access statement for the resorts clearly outlines what the company does to ensure a comfortable stay throughout the hotel as well as detailing individual amenities within the purpose built rooms. A typical accessible room may include: accessible showers, widened doors frames, portable induction loops, and grab rails for guests convenience and safety.
Offering a choice of 1 & 2 bedroom adapted apartments in the Capital City of Funchal is the Porto Mare Residence around 25 minutes West from Madeira Airport. Centrally located this award-winning coastal resort is one of the most highly sought after on the island and its 13,000m2 lush landscaped gardens create a paradise in the sun.
Soak up the easy going atmosphere from the largest of the outdoor swimming pools and cast your eyes out over the Atlantic Ocean lapping against the cliff face in front of you. There’s not pool hoist although the pool does have ramped access. Set your sights on a tapas lunch at the Il Basilico Restaurant or indulge upon true Portuguese cuisine at the Alfama Restaurant.
Funchal Cable Car has full disabled access meaning a short ride up the hillside takes you to the beautiful Botanical Gardens of Madeira. Funchal Marina is fully accessible too and there are many bars and restaurants nearby which serve the famed Caldeirada (Monster Fish Stew), a must try! The footpath between Pico das Pedras and Queimadas in Santana is accessible for people with disabilities and is wheelchair friendly too so all visitors can now appreciate the incredible beauty of the Laurissilva Forest!
Nestled on the sunny shores of the Costa Del Sol is Marriott’s Playa Andaluza which has five x 2 bedroom apartments with adapted bathrooms featuring roll in showers whilst all apartments have extra wide doors. Located to the West of Malaga airport this gorgeous resort provides a wonderfully relaxing break for its visitors to bask under the warming sunshine.
Fine dining can be enjoyed at the Solera Restaurant and Bar which provides a mouth-watering menu of international dishes with a sprinkling of Andalusian mains to give you a real taste of the Costa Del Sol. Marvel at the stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea from the poolside and cool off in the refreshing swimming pool or just sit back and laze on the terrace with a chilled drink in hand. Both indoor and main outdoor pools have hoists.
The local area is flat and well-suited to wheelchair access and the beach-front location of the resort means you are never more than a few minutes from the coastline. Explore the nearby glamour of Puerto Banus or rub shoulders with the rich and famous on Marbella’s Golden Mile just along the coast to the East of Marriott’s Playa Andaluza!
The glamorous area of Vilamoura is home to the RCI Gold Crown resort of Hilton Cascatas Golf Resort & Spa which has a number of fully converted units for disabled guests. Whilst there are no pool hoists the resort is relatively new and so has been designed with accessibility in mind. Indeed, despite it’s European location the resorts is fully compliant to the “Americans with Disabilities Act”.
With five restaurants and bars there’s plenty of options from which to choose whilst a visit to the magnificent marina with it luxurious yachts has plenty of easily accessible al fresco restaurants, perfect for an afternoon snack or evening meal. Praia da Marina (Vilamoura Beach) has ramped access and has plenty of facilities whilst Falesia Beach even has beach buggies to make manoeuvring in the sand that much easier.
U.S resorts set the bar when it comes to disabled accessible holidays and always seem to outshine their European counterparts. Therefore, we couldn’t really write an accessible holiday blog without giving them a mention, so here they are:
This Interval International Premier Resort accommodates admirably for guests with disabilities offering them the choice between 1 & 2 bedroom villas. ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) villas are available here and come fitted with roll in showers and portable tub seats as well as grab rails as part of the many adaptations made to the villas. Many of the 7 swimming pools are easily accessible for disabled guests whilst a selection of top-quality restaurants will leave you spoiled for choice when deciding where to stop for lunch or dinner.
This RCI Gold Crown resort in Kissimmee, Florida is a top location to holiday in the U.S for any disabled traveller and the unique single story villas here make for a perfectly accessible holiday. This is another resort that boasts 7 swimming pools with many very accessible as well as a great selection of restaurants for visitors to indulge upon. This 1,450 acre resort is nestled on the edge of Disney World and puts you a mere stones throw from all the major attractions of Orlando!