Spabreaks.com founder, Abi Wright, is particularly passionate about the issue, saying: “with almost half (49%) of those with accessibility issues saying that they go on holiday to improve their health and wellbeing, the fact that the spa venues across the UK and further afield have recently made significant investments in facilities that cater to disabled travellers and education amongst staff has evidently had a huge impact.”
“Over the past year at Spabreaks.com, we have seen a 17% increase in searches for accessible spas, which shows not only a growing demand in the sector, but also a growing awareness that spas are able to cater for all kinds of specific needs. Looking after our health and wellbeing is vitally important but when we started Spabreaks.com in 2008, we found that many spa venues refused to serve those with physical disabilities or medical problems.
“spa venues across the UK have made significant investments in facilities that cater to disabled travellers”
“Since then, we have made it our mission to offer ‘Spa for All’, regardless of physical or medical requirements and have worked tirelessly to introduce the concept to our spa partners. It is so exciting to see that the fruits of this labour are now being recognised by spa-goers themselves.”
The question of what makes a spa or hotel accessible covers an enormous range of possibilities and facilities because abilities and disabilities are as individual as the people who have them. However as far as we can see, it all starts with the attitude and the customer service.
“not only a growing demand in the sector, but also a growing awareness”
I for one recently had the experience of taking my partner, who has recently had a stroke resulting in a loss of vision, to one venue in Hertfordshire. There was nothing that we were doing in particular that leant itself to the need for particular facilities – as it happened we were visiting for lunch rather than treatments – but the staff were wonderful.
They realised that I was guiding him, and without fuss or question they helped me to find a beautiful place to sit and made things more comfortable and accessible for us. They adapted their service seamlessly to meet his, and indeed our, requirements. It was neither patronising nor obvious, it wasn’t forced or awkward.
The nuances of the change were subtle, but they put me at ease and made sure he felt comfortable and safe – everything you want from a trip that’s intended to simply be about taking time out and enjoying yourselves. The details of what made this experience more accessible for us were not anything to do with facilities, and everything to do with human care and observation.
The beauty of that particular experience, is that it forms one of the central pillars of good customer service; it’s not about putting anyone in a box, but treating everyone as individuals.
*Statistics based on research from Helping Hands Home Care, which shows 58% of those affected believe travel companies have become more understanding of those with accessibility issues, and 49% go on holiday to improve their health and wellbeing.
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