Lillian Gaitho’s weekend contribution

Ahead of the weekend has Lillian put pen to paper again, or rather fingers to the keyboard and here are her thoughts about ‘Friendly Hotels

Six Aspects of Accessible And Friendly Hotels

This year, we celebrate the World Tourism Day (marked every 27th September) by pushing for inclusion and equality for travelers and tourists with special needs such as those with difficulties in mobility and visibility, children and senior citizens who may require special support and all other forms of physical and mental challenges. The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that about fifteen per cent of the travelling population is in need of special support though both services and facilities, therefore calls sector players to implement strategies and structures that are both friendly and conducive to such needs. As a leading online platform for hotels, Lillian Gaitho, the PR Manager of Jumia Travel has compiled a list of amenities that should be in a tourism facility as well as a few tell-signs to help travelers identify an accessible property.

Sarova Panafric - 1 - Nairobi City Centre Hotels

Sarova Panafric – Nairobi, the entrance is smooth and free of bumps.

Provision of ramps and support rails

Entry points to hotels as well as partitions and secluded areas can spell trouble for anyone with challenged mobility. Apart from the usual strain in tackling inclining walk ways, stairs or unleveled ground may pose serious health risks to the user. It’s therefore important for hotels to ensure that their facilities are all connected through friendly paths that do not increase risk of tripping over, are well finished to provide grip and the right amount friction and do not have unnecessary turns and corners. Where such is necessitated by the architectural design or landscaping, then, it would be considerate to provide alternate means of access. Senior guests may also require support up the stairs, which calls in for the inclusion of support hard rails along the staircase.

Ground Floor Accommodation

This makes it super convenient for guests and even hotel staff who prefer less strenuous movements. As a matter of exemplary customer service, hotel reservation, concierge and even travel agents should kindly inquire on any special needs for their guests during booking or at check in.

Accessible rest rooms

While some countries have made it a legal requirement for hotels and other public buildings to include accessible restrooms in their structural plan; others are yet to pass it as law. However, for anyone trading in hospitality and expecting to attract guests from all walks of life, it is vital that you create a conducive atmosphere, keeping in mind all special needs. An accessible bathroom for instance demands more floor space to allow for free movement of a wheelchair and maybe for a second person, must have supporting grab bars and an alarm system in case of any emergencies.

Reserved parking for wheelchair users

The simple need to create off-loading space for a wheelchair well enough to position appropriately for the user calls for wider parking space than for other cars. This parking should also lead to the main entrance and reception area, ideally serviced with ramps. It’s the duty of the hotel maintenance to ensure that reserved parking for the physically challenged is clearly marked to avoid any unpalatable situations between guests.

Voice announcement and braille literature

For guests with sight difficulties, braille in-room literature is vital, while voice announcements will work best for public lounges and areas. Some hotels have also invested in technology that can detect and decode guest voice messages, therefore heightening the in-room experience for such users.

Provision of equipments

On top of a considerate structural plan, hotels should equip their lobby with mobility aids and equipment as well as adaptive fittings to ease the task of movement, ablution, reading, eating and other basic necessities. Another important aspect under the same guideline is the need to factor in activities and events that may take place during the guest’s stay and ensure that all tourists, disability not counting are fully included in the same by working out adaptive measures, or suitable options to the laid out itinerary.

Friendly fitness center

Physical fitness is a basic need for the human race. While it’s almost an acceptable vice for vacationers to slack on their fitness routine, people with physical challenges may not afford this indolence. Again, living by the rule of inclusion and equality demands that whoever wants to use the gym or sauna is able to do such without any impediments. It’s therefore the hotel’s duty to provide the equipment, as well as trainers and physiotherapists who are well versed with the mechanism.