Thursday, December 1, 2011

TRAVEL TALES - Getting a Room That Will Work With Your Wheelchair

Traveling with a wheelchair poses many logistical barriers to overcome. One of the biggest is getting a proper room to sleep in.  The needs can be different for every traveler.  Some absolutely need a roll-in shower, for instance. We can get by with a tub and a shower chair as long as there's enough space to lift Tim through.

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In the U.S. and developed countries such as you'd find in Europe, this is getting easier. Third World countries are still quite an adventure...the boundaries of the ADA have long since been crossed.

Before we get into the actual report of our trip to the Dominican Republic, I'd like to share this little room adventure with you.

First, out of around 20 resorts contacted, only one...the Riu Palace Punta Cana...would guarantee an accessible room for us. Others would just say "make the reservation and we'll see what's available when you get here." 

Next, we give our travel agent our specifications. While a roll-in shower would be nice, it is not absolutely necessary for us. More important is step-free access to, and within the room with doors wide enough to fit a standard wheelchair through.  It's this second part that many people we contact just don't get and can cause problems.

We don't want a roll-in shower if it's the worst room in the hotel.

The maid left this for us on our bed. Yeah, I know what it looks like but I think she was going for a heart.

On arrival, the hotel did indeed have a room with a roll-in reserved for us.  The room itself was actually pretty nice, two double beds pushed together to make a super-sized king bed, a sitting area with a sofa (not a sofabed as we'd learn to our dismay), a nice little patio, great mini bar with four bottle liquor dispenser.

There were a few minor problems right place for Tim to sleep, no remote for the TV, a barely hanging shower curtain, and a very loose toilet seat.

Complaints to the management secured us an extra bed (not a rollaway, an actual third bed), and a new TV and remote. The toilet seat and curtain were not fixed.

Major problems arose the first night. The location of our room was way, way in the back of the hotel...about as far away from the beach and pool as you could get. It was also right next door to another room that the staff were using as storage and right around the corner from the main work room of housekeeping.  It was noisy all night long but they did quiet down a bit after I went outside and asked them to keep it down.

The next morning, I took my bloodshot eyes along with Tim and Letty to the front desk to complain. We were moved to a much nicer room, albeit without the roll-in shower, with step free access in a quieter, nicer location.

To their credit, management at the Riu were very accommodating in making us happy and after the move we had a very, very good time.

Looking back, if we had needed to keep the roll-in room, I'm sure that they would have taken care of all our concerns but on the first day when we didn't know how well they respond to complaints, we had no idea if they would or wouldn't.  Since we could do without it, it was time to make that move.

Just one of the many adventures that await you as a wheelchair traveler...remember to always pack your sense of humor and be willing to roll with the punches.  You'll have a great time.

Copyright 2011 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

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