I first interviewed author Candy Harrington here. This year is the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and not only has the law opened up doors for disabled travelers, so has Candy. She’s become the leading expert in making sure that disabled travelers know where the best places are and what accommodations they have.
Today, according to her recent release, chain hotels offer good wheelchair access, and smaller properties, or properties that are exempt from the regulations, are stepping up to the plate.
“Many small property owners are voluntarily adding access features, or even going above and beyond the minimum access requirements, because they see a growing market with the aging Baby Boomer population,” says Candy Harrington, author or Resting Easy in the US; Unique Lodging Options for Wheelchair-Users and Slow Walkers, I was amazed at the variety I found when I researched my latest accessible lodging book. Today — because of the ADA — disabled travelers really have a wide selection of accessible lodging options.”
With that in mind, here are some of Harrington’s unique accessible lodging finds.
- Located in Northern California, Safari West (www.safariwest.com) is a wildlife sanctuary with a twist. Not only does it offer overnight lodging in wheelchair-accessible tent cabins, but visitors can also take a safari tour through the wildlife compound in a lift-equipped bus.
- If you’d like to enjoy the great outdoors, but still enjoy a few creature comforts, then check out the wheelchair-accessible yurt at Snow Mountain Ranch (www.snowmountainranch.org) in Granby, Colorado. This round domed structure includes a kitchenette and can sleep up to six people. Wheelchair-accessible shower facilities are located nearby.
- Over in upstate New York, John Dillon Park (www.johndillonpark.org) features wheelchair-accessible lean-tos, trails, fishing docks and even a barrier-free pontoon boat. This fully accessible Adirondack wilderness facility is made possible by a unique partnership between International Paper and Paul Smith’s College.
- For four-season fun on Lake Namakagon, check out Susan and Mark Overson’s accessible cabin (www.vrbo.com/430179/). This Northern Wisconsin lakeside retreat features a wheelchair-accessible suite with a roll-in shower, and comes complete with a variety of water toys – an adapted Fish Cat for the summer, and a wheelchair-accessible ice fishing house for the winter.
- Although it’s located on tribal land and not required to be wheelchair-accessible, Hualapai Ranch (www.hualapaitourism.com) offers visitors a barrier-free cabin near the Grand Canyon Skywalk. The remote cabin sleeps three and features a roll-in shower; while the wheelchair-accessible Grand Canyon Skywalk offers unparalleled views of the canyon, from the less touristed West Rim of the Grand Canyon.
- If you think quaint B&Bs are out of the question for wheelchair-users and slow walkers, then think again. Located in Lenox, Massachusetts, the Brook Farm Inn (www.brookfarm.com) includes not one, but two, fully accessible luxury suites. Motivated by personal experience rather than access requirements, innkeeper Phil Halpern went above and beyond the minimum access regulations when he upgraded his property. Says Halpern, “I wanted to make sure that everyone could enjoy this lovely old inn.”
- Last but not least, the historic Lake Yellowstone Hotel (www.
yellowstonenationalparklodges. com) recently underwent a $28.5 million restoration project that included the addition of elevators and accessible guest rooms. And although the renovation wasn’t an easy task, today visitors can enjoy modern access features — including accessible rooms with roll-in showers — in this 1889 colonial revival property.
Resting Easy in the US; Unique Lodging Options for Wheelers and Slow Walkers ($15.95, 395 pages, 6 X 9 paperback, ISBN 978-0692430576; $15.95) is available at www.RestingEZ.com. Visit CandyHarrington’s Barrier Free Travels blog atwww.BarrierFreeTravels.com for more helpful access tips, news, resources and information for disabled travelers.