The conference business is big – but how do the establishments shape up for people with disabilities?
Here are some of the establishments that have good conference facilities, and also offer accessible accommodation. The list is growing of places that would like me to visit, but due to work pressures I’ve not been able to take the time out!
THE PARK HOTEL, MOKOPANE, LIMPOPO 3*
Mokopane was formally known as Potgietersrus and is not a place that you may think of as a destination to visit, but you may need to stop over on business, or for a function, and this hotel is your best choice. Situated at the southern entrance to the town this hotel has 129 rooms and some accessible features. There are two accessible parking bays at the entrance. There is a dropped section within the reception counter and access to the main section of the hotel is via long ramps. The public area toilets do not have accessible cubicles. Room # 20 has been adapted with an access ramp and lower door handle. There are two double beds and the tea/coffee station has a small fridge below. There are two sets of cupboards, with one having a lower clothes rail. However, the safe is situated on the top shelf of the main cupboard, way out of reach. The bathroom has a roll-in shower with a built-in seat, but the mixer is a bit far from the seat! The vanity surrounding the basin is quite close to the toilet to careful transfers are required. The angled grab rail at the toilet is positioned upside down. The restaurant offers buffet style food and the staff are very attentive and helpful. The main function rooms are off the reception area, but there are smaller breakaway rooms which are only accessed via a very steep ramp.
SIERRA BURGERSPARK HOTEL, TSWANE, 3*
This Tswane hotel is used regularly by various Government departments for conferencing. There are 237 standard rooms, 6 suites, 5 executive studios, 2 Presidential suites and one accessible room. So while I was there for a day conference I asked if I could see the accessible room that they offer. It is room 815, which is situated on the top floor, and the inner lift buttons have not been renovated, so the button is at the top of my reach range! The room door has a lower handle as well as two peep holes. There is no emergency escape plan on the back of the door. There is sufficient space around the bed, but the bedside lamps have a small toggle switch. The cupboard has the clothes rail at the standard height and the safe is situated too low down. The desk has drawers which makes knee clearance difficult, however there is a plug point on the wall at the desk height. The bathroom has a roll-in shower, but no fixed shower seat – rather a plastic shower chair on castors. There are also adjustable, removable arm rails at the toilet. There is a wall-mounted air-conditioning unit which is manually operated. Access to the restaurant is via the sliding doors onto the patio and then back inside and up a ramp that has been fitted over the set of stairs making it quite steep. The buffet style food is laid out on tables that make it a bit difficult to serve yourself, but the staff are sensitised and very good at assisting. The conference venues are all on the ground level and the hotel has recently installed a new accessible WC bank, which has an automatic sliding door that opens onto a short passage leading to two accessible toilet cubicles.
For more info, please visit the websites or send me an e-mail. Should you come across any establishments that offer accessible facilities, please send me the names and contact details and we will attempt to get there to check them out!
Mandy Latimore is a consultant in the disability sector in the fields of travel and access. email: firstname.lastname@example.org