Update Feb 2021: Kerala, Neelambari Eco Resort & Pastis Hotel, St. Tropez
We featured Neelambari resort below and since we’ve learnt of their history and it was so inspiring we had to add……They also have a good understanding of ‘Accessibility’………..
“Neelambari is a small boutique property with eight rooms. We started three years back. The property is directly managed by my wife Meera and I. The main idea behind Neelambari was to do something meaningful for my village. It was with this idea that I quit my corporate career in 2015 and spent the next two years setting up Neelambari and eventually opening it in 2015. The entire Neelambari team belongs to my village, many of them being my childhood friends. None of us have a professional hospitality background, possibly adding to the familiar atmosphere of the resort.Ensuring Neelambari is accessible to everyone is very important for me. I created ramps for three of our rooms. And also added railings to the bathrooms. We did have a couple of physically challenged people stay with us. I was especially happy when we hosted the wedding of a wheelchair bound bride in Neelambari in May 2019. While our guests were happy, I realised that the adaptations we had done were inadequate mainly due to our lack of experience. We were in the process of another iteration when Covid stuck.So to summarise on our accessibility status and aspirations:1. All our rooms are on the ground floor and have walk in showers.2. Though three of our rooms have ramps, presently the incline is a bit steep for comfortable wheelchair use. I am correcting this and plan to have two fully accessible guest rooms in a month or two.3. Our theater presently does not have a ramp. However it is on the ground floor and rises by just one step. So a portable ramp would easily meet the need of a physically challenged person and this is something we can arrange right away.4. We have paved pathways across most of the property, so wheelchair bound persons should be able to take in much of the scenery available on their ownMost important, as per my guests, is our attitude. Meera and I are absolutely happy to take a few extra steps to ensure that a disabled person would be perfectly at home in Neelambari. We presently have a wheelchair bound lady and her family staying with us for a week and I believe she is quite happy”.
Pastis Boutique Hotel in the South of France, is also featured below and they have updated their accessibility as follows,
“We made all the access alterations required throughout the hotel by the French program except for one. We have not extended the handrails on staircases to protrude onto the landings. A. Because we have no more funds available and B. They will cause more of a hazard to staff and guests due to the spiral nature of our staircase.We were not required to install a lift or hoist for the swimming pool so unfortunately access is still limited.We have only 10 rooms. Room 6 has been refurbished to accommodate wheelchair access. It is on the ground floor. No steps – no stairs. Access is by way of a gentle sloping pathway. All doors are wide enough for wheelchairs and the bathroom has been remodelled to include a drive-in shower. Low bath and drive under sink.All doors in the common parts of the hotel have been widened or repositioned to suit. We have new entry phone systems with cameras and screen in reception. BUT we still go to the gates to greet all guests personally on arrival.We have also opened a restaurant in the garden. This operates from May until November usually… But it will depend on when restaurants are allowed to re-open.PASTIS KITCHEN has been popular with wheelchair users and families with prams and pushchairs. Access is via the main gate which is left open during service hours. The tables are well spaced both for social distancing and for wheelchair access.The handicap access WC is in the hotel lobby … no obstacles, no steps or stairs.And our biggest asset is still that our staff are really helpful, friendly and go out of their way to make everybody feel at home.”
Psychologists are saying that having plans for the future is a way of getting through lockdown. Having something to look forward to is a very human trait and with this in mind we’ve come up with a some places to dream about that are also accessible to disabled people……
1ST The Munakkal Beach in Azhikode, Thrissur District in Kerala State, India & An Eco-Tourist Resort,
It was the first beach to be nominated for a Blue Badge Access Award, in 2019. It’s the largest beach in Thrissur District and lies on the coast of the Arabian Sea. Situated 7 kilometers from Kodungallur town, this video shows how clean it is and there’s fresh fish to be caught (I think that’s what the poles are for)…….
It was developed under the tsunami rehabilitation programme by their Harbour Engineering Department and features a 400-metre open-air auditorium, 1300 metres of accessible walkway, toilets, food courts, ‘skateboarding grip for children’ and a rain shelter.
The reason for Award nomination was
“It is completely made accessible and inclusive for differently-abled persons to move freely in the beach premises without any external help. It was because of the intervention of a civil society organization called Evangelical Social Action Forum (ESAF), ……… that the State Tourism Promotion Council had taken taken steps to make it inclusive. The project created safe and inclusive spaces of recreation ………. The advocacy effort with the government was to incorporate elements like; inclusiveness and accessibility in the design of parks and public spaces. “
Since then the pandemic has prohibited air travel so in the hope it re-opens in 2021, Kerala is Covid ready, see their statement. They’ve been open since November 2020 so we’ve researched some places to stay, in the hope they too are inclusive. If you’re interested in other beaches in kerala a selection can be found here, courtesy of Kerala Tourism.
But where to stay……….??
Neelambari Eco Tourism Resort Looks Interesting & Authentic,
It’s a ‘premium boutique resort in the heart of Kerala, Thrissur’. A haven of ‘eco tourism’ and an authentic Indian experience using the traditional architecture of Kerala, ‘All our cottages, while housing modern living amenities inside reflect the traditional Kerala style in their exterior’.
It has an Ayurvedic spa, Yoga centre and an ‘ethnic space’ which is a tree house?? They also have a theatre showcasing Indian culture. Sounds amazing and would definitely be my preference if ambulant disabled or in a wheelchair.
It certainly appears accessible as everything is at ground level, although there are 3/4 steps to enter some of the buildings. We’ve asked for details and will update when we get them. They get a provisional 2.5 BBS Ticks as it definitely has style and some accessibility.
There’s also the Hyatt Regency, Thrissur which has an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant shower in one room but no photos re the grab bars etc. This article shows what an ADA shower can look like and the grab rails can vary widely!! We are awaiting further information from Hyatt.
Joys Palace is another highly rated hotel in Thrissur and again we are awaiting confirmation of their accessibility (or not!). Their website tells us nothing!
2ND H Resort, Beau Vallon Beach, Seychelles,
Is another ‘Eco friendly’ resort that’s first and foremost accessible, according to their receptionist and a recent visitor who said ‘all areas have stairs and ramps so all guests are fully catered for and needs looked after.’ It won Seychelles’ Leading Green Resort at the 2020 World Travel Awards and they actually sent images of the accessible bathroom.
Located on Beau Vallon beach which lays northwest on the island of Mahé, the H Resort is a contemporary, luxurious & chic property featuring 100 rooms comprising of villas and suites, an award winning spa and 7 eclectic dining experiences. Designed to represent a blend between creole and colonial architecture – the resort is an epitome of a lush paradise all overlooking the tropical gardens that surround it and lead to the beach.
This is definitely an escape from the troubles of 2020 to a safe and unparalleled paradise,
“The H Resort Seychelles welcomes you to reconnect with nature as your paradise home away from home. The islands are synonymous with stunning natural beauty, the wonderful harmony enjoyed by the multi-ethnic society and a near perfect climate where the temperature is always somewhere between 24 and 33 degrees Celsius, earning the islands a reputation as ‘land of perpetual summer‘.
The 115 islands have remained sanctuaries for some of the rarest species of flora and fauna on earth. So rare, that the Vallée de Mai which nurtures the legendary coco-de-mer, was once thought to be the original site of the biblical Garden of Eden.
H Resort offers you the opportunity to enjoy all the modern comforts in this beautiful tropical paradise entwined with chic décor, sumptuous food and beverages and spacious luxury to relax in.”
Seychelles are also concerned about COVID and have stringent measures in place. See the Seychelles Visitor Travel Advisory for full information on entry, stay and departures. Seychelles has recorded a very low number of cases and there has been no community transmission, deaths nor any infection amongst health care workers. The authorities in Seychelles have decided to provide ‘Special Status’ to a group of 7 countries. These are the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and the United Arab Emirates.
You can book direct with a 10 % discount on the best available rates, use the code PROMO for booking period from now until March 2021, with free cancellation 7 days before arrival.
“The H Resort Seychelles is very proud to be the leading resort in best practice, standards and values sustainable and environmental tourism to the islands. With its consistent and ground-breaking initiatives which has seen everything from dedicated ecological areas, education and local projects within and outside of the property it has earned them the award for the ‘Leading Green Resort Seychelles 2020’ for the third year running. H Resort continually looks for ways to preserve and protect natural resources by reducing waste and energy, while providing experiences and service to their guests, without compromising on the beauty of the guest experience.”
Until we visit, the H Resort gets a provisional, maximum 3 BBS Ticks for style and accessibility.
3RD La Réserve à la Plage, South of France
Closer to home, this is a modern, chic restaurant on the beach at Pampelonne just outside St. Tropez. Created by my design hero Philippe Starck, (he of the lemon squeezer and ghost chair, see below).
We’ve checked and the restaurant and bar are fully accessible with a disabled toilet. It’s the ultimate in ‘cool’ style and you can stay on the beach by hiring one of their deck chairs, €60/day or beds, €150/day. Not cheap but you will be mixing with the glitterati of the region. Alternatively you can simply pop in for a drink at the bar……..Can’t wait for the summer!! They get 3 BBS Ticks for stylish design & accessibility.
They have rigorous COVID measures, see here, and food is served all day from Monday to Sunday Noon-5pm. It’s closed at the moment and should be opening for summer 2021. If you’re looking for a boutique place to stay nearby why not try Pastis Hotel. We reviewed previously and we gave 2 BBS Ticks as they had limited access in 2015/16 but French law means they had to improve?? Not sure if they have but will let you know.
Hopefully this quick tour of some stylish ‘hotspots’ will make you feel warmer and hopeful this cold January. Let us know if you’d like to add comments on these or other places by contacting us.