In the quarter-century since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), access has greatly improved for disabled travelers in the US. Nobody knows that better than Candy Harrington, author of Resting Easy in the US; Unique Lodging Options for Wheelers and Slow Walkers.
For the past 20 years Harrington has covered accessible travel exclusively, and she’s spent the last three years combing the country in search of properties for her newest book. Says Harrington, “I certainly have a larger selection of accessible properties today than I did when I first started out, and in a way that makes my job even more difficult. I had to make some hard choices when I edited Resting Easy, and unfortunately I couldn’t include some of my favorite properties. The main reason I had to drop them was because I had too many properties in the same location — it doesn’t mean that they aren’t good choices for wheelers and slow walkers ”.
With that in mind, here are a few of Harrington’s favorites, that didn’t survive the dreaded red pencil.
Eagles View Cabin
The one-bedroom Eagles View Cabin (www.awesomemountainvacations.com/eagles-view.htm) is located in Cove Mountain Ridge, near the Tennessee entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It features ramp access to the wrap-around porch from the adjacent parking area, and barrier-free access to all the first floor areas, including the spacious bedroom. The bathroom is equipped with a roll-in shower, shower grab bars, a hand-held showerhead, a fold-down shower bench and a roll-under sink. The living area is furnished with a sofa bed, an easy chair, a dining table and a washer and dryer; while the fully equipped kitchen features a refrigerator, stove and microwave. Truly there’s everything you need to make yourself at home, and you just can’t beat the view of Wears Valley from the front deck.
Perched on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, the El Tovar Hotel (www.grandcanyonlodges.com/lodging/el-tovar/) dates back to 1905, when it operated as a Harvey House. And although it’s a National Historic Landmark, access upgrades have been added over the years. The main entrance (which faces Hopi House) has steps, but a ramped accessible entrance is located on the canyon side. Room 6439 and Room 6441 have wide doorways and good pathway access. The bathrooms in each room are equipped with a tub/shower combination, with grab bars and a hand-held showerhead, a pedestal sink, and a toilet with grab bars. Room 6441 is the larger of the two rooms, and it’s furnished with two queen-sized beds; while Room 6439 has a king-sized bed. You just can’t beat the location of this property, as it’s just steps from the canyon rim.
Old Town Guest House
Located in Colorado Springs, the Old Town Guest House (www.oldtown-guesthouse.com) stands on the site of the Old Colorado City Hall. There’s accessible parking near the three-story building, with ramp access to the front door. The accessible African Orchid Room is located on the third floor, which can be accessed by an elevator. There’s plenty of room navigate around the bed draped with mosquito netting, and the bathroom has a large roll-in shower with a hand-held showerhead and grab bars. Other access features include toilet grab bars, a large roll-under sink and a portable shower chair. There’s also good access out on the balcony, where you’ll get a great Rocky Mountain view. It’s nice to see such good access in a small property.
Inn at Furnace Creek
The historic Inn at Furnace Creek (www.furnacecreekresort.com) is located 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas, in the middle of Death Valley National Park. This opulent property first opened its doors in 1927, and although it still exudes a definite charm of yesteryear, modern access features have also been added. The most accessible room is Room 323, which includes wide doorways, a lowered peephole, and good pathway access. It’s furnished with a queen-sized bed, and it has a spacious bathroom that’s equipped with a tub/shower combination with grab bars, a hand-held showerhead and a portable shower chair. There are grab bars next to the raised toilet, and there’s also a roll-under sink in this well designed bathroom. Top it off with a beautiful view of the desert, and you’ve got the perfect place to stay in this California national park.
For a true five-star spa experience, plan a visit to Ojo Caliente (www.ojocalientesprings.com). Located two hours north of Albuquerque, this high end resort started out as a rustic retreat in 1868; and over the years it’s seen many changes, including the addition of accessible rooms during the 2006 remodel. The most luxurious accessible room is room 53, one of the coveted Cliffside Suites. The spacious suite is furnished with two queen-sized beds and a kiva fireplace, and includes a very private patio with a gorgeous view of the surrounding cliffs. The bathroom has a wide door and is equipped with a roll-in shower with grab bars, a hand-held showerhead and a portable shower chair. Other access features include an accessible toilet with grab bars and a roll-under sink. Over in the spa area, there’s level access around all of the pools; and both locker rooms have an accessible roll-in shower with a fold-down shower bench. There’s also a pool lift available for the large pool. All in all, it’s a great place to relax and unwind, and it also makes the perfect romantic getaway.
Resting Easy in the US; Unique Lodging Options for Wheelers and Slow Walkers includes accurate access descriptions and detailed photographs of over 90 properties across the US. From B&Bs, guest ranches and lakeside cottages, to boutique hotels, rustic cabins and deluxe yurts, you’ll discover access in some very unconventional places. Available at www.RestingEz.com, it’s a good choice for seniors, parents with stroller-aged children, Baby Boomers, folks who need to take things a little slower, and anybody who uses a cane, walker, wheelchair or scooter.
Candy also blogs about accessible travel at www.barrierfreetravels.com.