Accessible Durban is put to the test


Two hotels from the Tsogo Sun group and the Pro-Mobility accessible transport company are reviewed for their accessibility standard

I made a few business trips to Durban recently and was able to experience a couple of hotels as well as “test drive” a new transfer company in the city. Clinton Van Den Berg of Pro-Mobility had set up an airport shuttle and transfer service using a wheelchair-accessible vehicle with a platform hoist. I was most impressed by his professionalism; even when he was caught in traffic, I was kept informed of his estimated arrival time.

This is only one section of his business. He also offers the supply and fitting of various hoists and transfer systems, servicing and repairs to hand controls, and sourcing, supplying and installing unique adaptions and aids. Pro-Mobility is also planning to design and manufacture mobility aids. The company will soon be opening a branch in Cape Town.

For more info, contact Clinton 083 775 0611/031 266 6421 or Clinton@pro-mobility.co.za/ www.pro-mobility.co.za

Tsogo Sun Elangeni Hotel

The Southern Sun Elangeni and Maharani complex lies on the Snell Parade in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. The Elangeni has an access way for drop-off, which leads to a small steep ramp onto the pavement. From here there is a steep ramp to the front entrance. (This was too steep for me to travel up on my own.) The reception counter is at the standard height of 1 300 mm, but the staff do offer a clipboard for an arriving guest to complete the forms.

From this area there is a second ramp (again too steep) to the level of the restaurant and lifts. The breakfast room is on the first floor and again has a ramp too steep to navigate independently. There is one accessible room, number 414. The key slot of the room is too high. There is a second peephole. The room is sea-facing and has an interleading door to the adjoining room. The bed height is at 550 mm and there is space on both sides of the bed.

The cupboard has a sliding door and two low shelves, with the rail and safe at an acceptable height. The desk has a cut-out for knee clearance, but this may not be enough for some wheelchairs. The wall-mounted plug is too low, which means it is difficult to put a plug into the point. There are sliding windows, however, and there is a double lock with the upper one above the reach-height parameters. The bathroom has a sliding door with a bath, toilet basin and separate shower. There is no shower seat and the grab rails are set too high.

Holiday Inn Garden Court Hotel

Another Tsogo Sun group hotel situated opposite the pools on the Durban North beach is the Holiday Inn Garden Court Hotel. The front door is accessed via a ramp and level access from the rear of the building, where the hotel parking entrance is situated. Again, the reception desk is at the standard height, but the lounge, bar and small shop are all on the same level.

The dining room is accessed via a ramp and has an upper level where the buffet counters and a few tables are located. The balance of the tables is on a lower level. The ground floor conference room and WCs are located up another tiled ramp that is quite steep. The main conference facilities are on the first floor and the heated pool is on the rooftop.

The accessible room, number 408, has good access, with easy access to the key control. The room is sea-facing and has access to the room next door via an interleading door. There is good space on both sides of the bed with the bed height at
550 mm; however, the bedside lights have small toggle switches that are too high to be reached when you’re lying on the bed.

The cupboard has an accessible rail and safe, but the tea and coffee station is on the counter above the fridge, which is too high. The sliding windows open and are easy to reach. The wet room has an outward-opening door and includes a basin, toilet and shower area. The mirror behind the basin is too high and the drying line is above reach. There is a nice heavy material shower curtain that reaches the floor so that water doesn’t splash outside the shower area.

I really enjoyed staying in this hotel as I had such wonderful views of the sea and was able to open the windows to hear it. Of course, there is the lovely promenade that offers access to the piers, which put you right where the waves break – and you can walk many kilometres along the entire beachfront.

For more info, please visit the website,
www.tsogosun.com, 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!

Happy Travels!

 


Mandy Latimore is a consultant in the disability sector in the fields of travel and access. email: mandy@noveltravel.co.za

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