Ari Seirlis, CEO of the QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA), recently visited two hotels under the Sun International umbrella. He shares what he thought of their accessibility.
Sibaya Lodge, Umhlanga Rocks
The Sibaya Lodge has a beautiful setting, just behind the main casino building. The 118-room, three-star hotel is really cosy. The wheelchair-accessible room is exactly that. (There are two rooms with an interleading facility, which proves useful for wheelchair users travelling with a family member or caregiver.) A spacious bathroom with roll-in shower, enough space to manoeuvre in the room and a beautiful view over the sea from the balcony all await you.
The bathroom does not conform fully with South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) Part S10400 in terms of its design requirements, but is adequate enough for any agile paraplegic and assisted quadriplegic. The interleading room has two double beds.
A small shortcoming, I must note, is that there is no assistance to help transfer from the car park to the reception, which could be problematic for a wheelchair user needing support when exiting their vehicle, with luggage, to reach the reception and on departure. But the Lodge can be proud of its friendly staff, reasonable rates, which can be negotiated, and lovely views.
Wild Coast Sun
The Wild Coast Sun hotel is just over a two-hour drive from Durban. A warm welcome at the entrance gate, a porter to greet you at the entrance of the hotel drop-off point and usefully located wheelchair parking facilities (five bays for hotel guests) in the undercover car park all await guests. It was good to see that the wheelchair parking facilities are restricted for wheelchair users – this is thanks to Johann Botha, the security manager.
The reception check-in facility is efficient and the wheelchair-accessible room that I stayed in, (room 411) is on the same level as reception and not far down the corridor. Room 409 is the interleading room, and there are five such wheelchair and interleading room combinations available at the hotel. The interleading room has a king-size bed.
The bathroom, although not exactly conforming with SABS standards, is accessible enough for any wheelchair user to be independent. The bathroom is spacious and the roll-in shower facility adequate. There is a lovely balcony, and adequate space to move around the bedroom.
All the staff in the facility are extremely helpful especially when one needs help up a particularly steep ramp to the breakfast area, Chico’s, and also between the reception and the casino area. Unfortunately, the movie theatre has steps and is therefore not accessible, even though the staff would willingly carry you up the steps.
The outside area, overlooking the sea, has a number of pathways that are relatively smooth and easy to navigate. The view of the wild coast is beautiful, and the expansive outside area provides the smell of the sea, a relaxing environment and, once again, great service.