If you are the owner or operator of a bed and breakfast-style accommodation or small hotel, you may be considering improving the accessibility of your public spaces and rooms for disabled or elderly guests. Whether you are required to do so by local regulations, or are just eager to expand your clientele, making some modifications to the common areas, as well as modifying the rooms themselves, will ensure that a wide variety of guests may come and enjoy your hotel.
Tips for improving accessibility
Complete modification of your B&B or hotel may be outside your budget, but even with a small amount of money, you can make practical changes in selected rooms and in the common areas that will make staying at your destination more practical for some individuals and generally more appealing.
Begin at the front door. Wheelchairs and stability tools such as walkers and canes can make using even a few stairs difficult and dangerous. Installing a simple ramp leading to the most convenient access door will give any of your visitors who need to use standard or powered wheelchairs, walkers, or canes the ability to safely enter your B&B or hotel.
In the lobby area, ensuring accessibility is simple. Arranging the furniture to provide clear and easy access to all areas of the lobby is the key. Choose a tile or wood-type floor rather than plush carpeting to allow for smooth movement of wheelchairs and walkers, and make sure that any area rugs are well anchored and of a low pile.
If your B&B or hotel does not already have a lift, you will probably want to install one to improve accessibility to the rooms. However, this could be a bit more expensive than you can handle. A more economical solution may be to modify rooms on the ground floor or build on a small addition of rooms to accommodate those guests with mobility problems.
Modifying the guest rooms, like the lobby, will begin with furniture arrangement. Plenty of space needs to be allowed in the room so that wheelchairs and walkers can move around with ease. Though most modern buildings have wide enough doorways to allow a wheelchair to pass through, you may need to widen the doorways into the guest rooms and bathrooms of some rooms if your building is older.
Making the bathroom accessible for guests is very important, but the extensive remodeling of the bathroom may not be needed. Consider eliminating the bath and instead installing an accessible shower with fold-down seating. This will also open floor space in the bathroom. Safety bars for the shower and toilet areas are necessary and inexpensive to buy and install.
Finally, we move back outdoors. One of the easiest and least expensive ways to make your B&B or hotel more accessible is to give your guests a convenient and accessible place to park. Make sure you have spaces marked out for their exclusive use near the front of the building, preferably close to the ramp.
Today, more and more disabled and elderly people are enjoying travel opportunities. By making your accommodation accessible and inviting to them, you will ensure that these valuable groups of visitors keep coming back year after year.