Making Hotel Rooms More Accessible

Hello Everyone!

I am an Area Director of Sales over many hotels throughout Texas. My Management Company also has many other hotels throughout the US. We are in the process of evaluating how we can better serve the accessible community at our hotels. Two hotels we are specifically targeting are in Houston, TX. These hotels are located in the heart of the Medical Center District. We are exploring the option of adding hospital beds or recliners to some of our rooms. Would this be an addition that would benefit a large population of travelers with accessible needs? Are there any other accommodation needs that you would like to see more of in hotels, specifically those hotels located near medical facilities?

Thank you everyone! We hope to make meaningful changes to make your travel more comfortable and less stressful.

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Recliners or even better powerlifting recliners would be an amazing addition.

I never have a comfortable place to sit and get pain relief.

Recently the hotels we have stayed in have soft pillow top bed which are impossible to sit up in, roll over when sleeping and get out of. If your purchasing bedding stiffer firm mattress choices woyld be best.

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Install Surehand lifts and/or hoyer lifts, the bedswould help too.

As a former hotel manager who is also in need of accommodation, I have a few suggestions. Make sure entry to the room is automatic. Have a refrigerator with freezer. Make sure a hoyer lift will fit under the bed. Have two beds in the room. One bed needs about 26” or more for turning radius for a wheelchair. Make sure roll in shower with controls are at chair height and easily accessible. When cleaning the shower, make sure shower head is in the lower position. Have hand rails on back and both sides of commode. Have shower chair available. Mirror over sink needs to be angled down. Have extra outlets near bed for medical equipment. Minimal is better. Remove excess furniture from room, ie: coffee tables, extra chairs. No carpet in room. Lower thermostat for wheelchair height. Lower closet rack for hanging clothes or a pull down system. Iron and iron board at chair level. Adjustable tv screen mounted on wall facing center. Emergency pull cord in bathroom all the way to to the floor. Non skid surface in the bathroom, especially the shower. Grab bars in the shower. Lower eye viewer in door. Bidet for cleaning oneself. Both audio and video display for fire. Doorbell for room door. Room closer to the lobby and on first floor. If you offer coffee and microwave in the room, place it at wheelchair height. Longer elevator door opening time. Automatic doors at entrance with cutouts in front of building. Wider aisle spacing in lobby and food area if offered. Wheelchair accessible tables. Lower towel racks in bathroom and towel hooks closer to shower. Lower check in station at front desk.
Above all else, sensitivity training and friendly staff that are trained.

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the reply by pehubby is perfect. I travel a bit and as a wheelchair user resent having to call the desk and request a lower bed because I cannot climb up there. also rooms with 16 inch high toilets I CANNOT GET OFF OF! So e consistent with calling your rooms accessible when clearly they are not.

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Yes, having an option for a recliner and/or hospital bed would be great. One major issue I have is with the reservation process. As a caregiver of an extremely disabled spouse we need the ability to have the room type we require guaranteed. A number of times we have arrived at hotels where we had been told we had a guaranteed accessible room with a roll-in shower, to find out that room type was not available and we got an accessible bathroom with a tub. Since my wife is confined to a wheelchair and cannot sit-up independently this is not satisfactory. We bring a rolling shower/commode with us just for the purpose of using a roll-in shower. Guaranteeing specific room types is extremely important.
I would agree with PEHUBBY’s comments but would prefer more flexibility. I think these items should be available on request but items that don’t require permanent installation should be by choice. For example, we typically need extra chairs in the room. Regarding grab bars at the toilet, adjustable grab bars, that raise out of the way when not needed, on either side of the toilet would be better. For some people need to be able to access the toilet from the side. Flexibility in design will accommodate the most people.

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I have read through previous comments and concur with the idea of lift recliners. I just returned ftom a trip where I spent 4 nights in hitel. One night on the road going up and dame place voming back. Two nights were spent at my destination. In all. I had reserved accessible room with roll-in shower only to arrive at my final destination to find none available; thry had onky tub available. I told front desk staff I cannot get over the side of a tub. They had another showef option wuth a dmall lip at the entrance if tfe shower. Was checked into that riom but when I saw it I said no because there was 1 tiny grab bar towards back of shower stall then I turned around and saw no grab bars around commode and a standard commode and told them no way. I ended up wiyh tub that night because one roll-in shower room was vacating the next day so they were going to move me i to it. I had an event to attend later thst next day abd told the stafc I needed to be moved asap because I had to have a shower before getting ready to go out. It wasn’t until after 3:30 and it made me run late to my 5:30 event. I have had that same issue happen more than once ovee the years.eben after maiing reservations months in advance. Also I have an issue with the tall beds because I cannot sit on the side of the bed nor can I get into the bed. I ended up buying a wooden step and adding non skid strips on top. I also note that often the only chair in the room or suite is a rolling chair which is dangerous for soneone who is physically disabled because if they are trying to get up the chaur can roll away and cause a fall and therefore an injury.
I questioned one hotel manager about the weight of the hotel room door. They are so heavy I often have to back up and against door in order to open it. I have an even worse time when I am in my power chair. I cannot get a door open from either side of the door. He explained the door was to meet fire code requirenents. I told him then rhere needed to be accommodations made for handicapped individuals such as electric eye. If you wiuld like to see marvelous handicapped accommodations go look at one of Holland America 's public handicapped bathrooms that are set up on indibidual decks. There is a large push pad outside the bathroom door. You push it and it slowly opens the bathroom door. It then stays open for a long period of time to allow you to enter the bathroom without a struggle. Once insure there is ample room to turn around whether in a chair or on a mobility scooter. The commode is the proper height and there are pull down grab bars on both sides of the commode. You can pull down both sides or whichever side you might need. When not needed the bars can be returned to the wall out of the way. After seeing and using these on a couple cruises I recommended the design to my OT who was in the throes of building a new office location.
Consistency would be mice. I have suggested on seceral occasions that on any renovation project there should be a handicapped person. Something might sound good on paper but not work on tte real world. Use someone who has walked the walk to tell you what works and what doesn’t.

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I was busy yesterday so I am late to replying to you. I am both an architect and the parent of an adult child with cognitive and physical disabilities. Hotels are both our saviors and the Bain of our existence when traveling so I thank you for reaching out. That you are from the sales office is even better as most hotels don’t realize we are a real market for sales and that if a hotel chain would give it serious consideration, they could own the market in this area. There are hotel chains we avoid and others we like because of consistency in providing reliable service.

I am assuming you are looking at bringing you already designed ADA rooms up to a better level without completely gutting them and starting over so I will concentrate on furniture and easy fixes (though not necessarily cheap)! You mentioned a hospital bed which may be needed near medical facilities but in general I would suggest an adjustable bed which moves up and down in height. The ones we all get offered at the furniture store generally raise the head and feet but not the middle. These beds also allow a lift to be used as it can go beneath the bed. If your rooms generally have queen size, I would recommend staying with that. A hoyer lift at the hotel would be nice but only if you are willing to maintain it. If not, make an arrangement with a local medical supply rental store to have it delivered when needed. Those of us who need it generally will be willing to pay the cost. A reclining lift chair would be great. I find a table where we can eat a meal with my son in his chair a bonus as at the end of a day facing a restaurant is not always desired. I was in a room a few years ago that removed drawers for cloths and it was a disaster but I don’t think it needs to be anything special. We travel with more cloths, not less. A refrigerator is also usually needed. We don’t need a freezer though I see someone else does so one in the hotel that could be brought to the room would be nice. To place food openers on the hall and bathroom doors would be great. Juggling a wheelchair and a door is difficult. These can be turned off when not needed by a guest. Lately we have stayed in hotels that have barn doors on the bathrooms which have been great. In the bathroom, a fold up bench in the shower is great.

One last thing is thinking about amenities you hotel provides other guests and make sure they are available to all guests. Door openers on fitness, laundry,pool rooms are all needed. Front loading washer and dryers are needed. Finally, pool lifts are now required in all hotels though few maintain them so that they work at all times. It should be a part of the daily schedule for you faculty manager. If it is not working every day, it won’t be working when it is needed. I can not tell you how many free nights I have gotten because of the pool lift not functioning. When I plan a trip and am staying more than a couple of days I call a manager and tell them I don’t want a free night, I want a functioning pool lift and the sad news is that I usually get a free night.

I hope this helps. Thanks again for asking.

Pat

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That’s door openers to the hallway not food openers.

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We understand that disabilities vary widely. For reference, my husband cannot walk or stand and has limited upper body strength. The below suggestions are from our point of view…

The toilets are too low. Most times my husband has to go down to the lobby bathroom and use the handicap stall which is the right height toilet. Why do the handicap rooms not have the same height toilet as those in the lobby handicap stall?
The beds are too high. To lower them, the hotel usually takes the bed frame out which then makes it too low in our case. An adjustable bed which moves up and down in height would be ideal to try and address the differing needs people have. Outside of that, for us, a bed around 25 inches high will work with some assistance from me for my husband to transfer.
Please have automatic doors to the hotel rooms. We have been to several hotels where the door to the room is so heavy, my husband never would be able to open it on his own.
There needs to be space in the bathroom next to the toilet so that the wheelchair can pull up next to it for transferring.
There needs to be pictures of the actual handicap room and bathroom available on the hotel booking site, and the room’s bed and toilet height specifications should be listed.

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Adjustable bed frames would be wonderful. I have difficulty breathing at night but not due to sleep apnea. I sleep at home at an elevated angle. A hospital type bed frame where I could adjust the back height instead of using pillows.
Also one thing I am not sure I read was an easier access to close the drapes at night. Many times you have to reach up and pull the drapes while leaning over a table or a couch. Or you have to find the string to pull it up or down. A push button at chair height would be more practical.

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The photo of the shower shows multiple violations of the ADA code. The bench is nowhere near the shower head, neither are the shower controls unless they are hidden behind the curtain. Why aim the shower out into the bathroom? I won’t use a shower without a seat bolted to the wall. There is nothing more dangerous than trying to transfer your wet body from a wet plastic chair sitting on a wet floor to a wheelchair sitting on a wet floor.

The Best Accessible Hotel Room
I have been in a wheelchair for almost 50 years and during that time have used hundreds of hotel rooms. While the environment has improved for wheelchair users and other with disabilities, I am always stunned and disappointed that many “ADA” or “Accessible” hotel rooms are anything but usable by persons with disabilities. This is not always a violation of a building code but is always evidence of a lack of any common-sense by the designer. Let’s “walk” through an accessible hotel.
First impressions of any hotel are formed by the first contact with the staff. Accessibility starts with having hotel staff who are sensitive or trained to know when to offer to help and what assistance may be needed.
Next is the front desk. Why do some front desks top out at the standing persons armpits? It is most comfortable for someone in a wheelchair to have a lowered area with a credit card reader that can be lowered to their height. Many lowered counters are used as display spaces for brochures and do not have lowered scanners for credit cards.
At the hotel room door, the most accessible key for a range of disabilities is a proximity key that does not require accurate vision or manual dexterity. The other “key” factor is the height of the locking mechanism. The tension of the door closing mechanism is adjustable and should be set to allow the door to be opened without a great effort and close with enough delay to allow a wheelchair user to push through. In one Chicago hotel, I had to call housekeeping to have someone come to my room to let me out because I could not pull the door open due to the tension. There are online videos of adjusting door closing mechanisms if the maintenance staff does not know how.
The reason anyone gets a hotel room is the bed. When it comes to an “accessible” bed start with the dimensions of a wheelchair. The height of the seat of the average wheelchair is between 19 to 22 inches from the floor, depending on the depth of the cushion used. The question for designers of wheelchair accessible rooms is, “How high do you think a wheelchair user can lift their butt vertically to move it onto a mattress?” I have booked wheelchair accessible rooms where the height of the mattress was 30 to 40 inches high. The hotel with the highest mattress provided a strong employee to lift me into the bed, but I am sure someone in risk management would go crazy. The height of the mattress should be between 22 and 24 inches. (See attached article on bed design)
Light switches should be convenient not just from the standpoint of reach but of use by persons that have hands with crippled or missing fingers. The best (read only) switch is a toggle switch mounted on the base of every lamp. Lights that are controlled by wall switches should have switches located by the door and by the bed so that they can be turned on when entering and turned off when you are in bed. Wall mounted light sconces are terrible for access and should never be used in ADA rooms.
Electrical outlets for chargers or computers are best located on the bases of lamps. Thermostats should not only be located so that a person in a wheelchair can reach them but at eye level of a person seated in a wheelchair so they can be read. Further furniture should not be located so as to block access to the thermostat, wall switches or the controls to window shades or curtains.
Closets should not only have lowered hanging racks but lower shelves. Closet doors should not interfere with someone placing items or removing them.
Bathrooms should be the easiest room to design since all you have to do is follow the ADA building codes which are written specifically for hotel bathrooms. Unfortunately, almost no designer even knows of much less complies with the ADA code and no idea of the physical limitations of someone in a wheelchair.
First the top of the sink, basin, vanity or what you want to call it should be a low as the code permits. I have pulled up to a hotel bathroom sink which is level with my armpits. The mirror is then mounted so high as to be useless.
I request rooms with roll-in showers which are often difficult to reserve because there are so few of them and they are in demand. I would suggest the construction of more than are required by the ADA. The standards for a roll-in shower are specified by the ADA. The problem comes with those requirements that are left to commonsense. The controls and shower wand should be within reach of a person seated on the bench in the shower; not seated in their wheelchair before they get in the shower. Soap dishes and soap and shampoo dispensers should be within reach of someone seated on the shower bench. Do not install glass doors or walls on a roll-in shower. Not only does this involve the ADA requirements for door widths but it makes it impossible for someone to transfer onto the shower bench and close the door because the wheelchair will be in the way.

Hall carpeting should be of a quality that does not interfere with the operation of a wheelchair.

I agree with all of these suggestions.
I use a walker or mobility scooter. I have trouble standing from sitting. I need a raised toilet with grab bars. Many times I have found the toilet paper holder is mounted where it interferes with the use of the grab bars.
The second issue I have is with low, soft beds. They are very hard to get in and out of. An adjustable height bed would be a good solution.
Doors are another issue. All doors need to open automatically, and stay open long enough for a person to get in or out. U have actually had to call for help when I could not get a bathroom door open and I was stuck on the inside.
And showers. Why do some accessible rooms have tubs? I cannot step over the side of a tub, even with grab bars.
2 beds in a room are essential. Not everyone travelling together wants to sleep together!
Finally let me address the outside of the motel. Please make sure there are curb cuts in enough places to allow direct access to the parking lot and grounds. Use smooth sidewalks. The fancy textured sidewalks are hard to navigate with a walker and other mobility devices.
As for Ada compliance. Many older facilities are grandfathered in and are not truly accessible. I think ADA rules are not specific enough, and can be interpreted many ways. Most are written by people who will not have to use the features. All construction of motels should include a disabled person who actually has to use the facility.

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Another thought on dealing with toilet height. I bring a sit to stand walker which helps in getting up from the toilet. I can only use it a few times before my legs give out.
Some motels have raised tiolet seats that you can borrow, or even commodes which can be placed over the toilet. It never hurts to ask!

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A hospital bed plus a queen would be AWESOME!
The most difficult for us is that hotel beds very rarely allow a Hoyer lift to go under the bed.
A hospital bed would be ideal.

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Hi Cgerman, I’m Pinky :fairy:; one of the Forum Moderator’s :crystal_ball:. I wanted to welcome you to our AccessibleGo Forum community and thank you so much for your post about seeking input about hotel needs :partying_face:. We truly appreciate that you came to our community to get our actual input on what we need most when traveling, especially near medical centers.

I wanted to let you know that I often get people asking on our Forum about Hotels with hospital beds. Sometimes to be near a medical center and other times just to make it easier with their health conditions when traveling. Most of the time I have to find them hotels that will first remove the regular bed in the room; and then a rental company that delivers to hotels.

Another common thing that we hear about hotel needs is that “hotels sometimes make the bare minimum effort to “just” meet ADA codes; and don’t take into mind other needs we may have in a standard hotel room.” For those of us in wheelchairs, we need to everything in the room is within reach to us in the chair, whether that be clothes storage, the TV, the desk, the seating area, etc.

Lastly, I just wanted to speak up for some of our other members of the community that struggle to find rooms that meet their specific needs. For instance, having rooms for guests with auditory challenges is just as important to meeting the needs for a wheelchair guest. Also having a member of the staff who can communicate in sign language is just as important as having multilingual employees to help guests who may not speak English.

Or for our members who are Neurodiverse, having rooms that are sensitive to their needs would open up the world of travel to so many who struggle to find hotels who suit their special needs travelers. Maybe rooms that are in the quietest places of the hotel or rooms that can be extra dark for those with sensitivity to light? Just small touches like that can make the world of difference in making someone stay the difference between bliss and a living hell. (To be honest).

Thank you again for coming to our community members to get input help with your hotels. It makes us all feel just a bit better about how the world accepts us and our opportunities to participate in the world.
If I can be of any other assistance, please feel free to let me know? It’s my pleasure to be of assistance and I can’t wait to learn more about your hotels and their rooms for every guest.

Seriously…Thank you,
Pinky :fairy:

*****AND…

Thank you to all of our members who have been posting in this Forum. We are so grateful for your participation in this thread and on the Forum. It’s members like you who are helping to make a difference for our community, and I wanted you to know we appreciate you and your responses, just as much as we appreciate the initial posts/questions. Keep it up everyone! You make us all so proud to be members of this community. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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