New Delhi: A critical requirement for travel by people with disabilities is a place to stay. Hotels are now making changes to be able to welcome guests of all categories.
Amit Manga, an entrepreneur and independent business traveler, accompanies us to the Lemon Tree Hotel Company in Delhi that is redefining the term accessibility.
A young and award winning hotel chain, the company has upscale, midscale and economy hotels.
Amit is checking out an accessible room in their economy brand, Red Fox Hotels.
Amit says he is satisfied by the hotel’s accessibility standards. “The first thing I noticed was the flooring and that is fantastic. It has to be wooden, non-carpeted flooring or marble flooring. That’s very essential for the wheelchair to move around conveniently and smoothly. The bed height is perfect and the most essential part is the washroom. It was large, it has grab rails all around. Even the shower is a roll in shower. Many hotels overlook these little things.”
Amit suggests that the chairs in the room be traditional ones with armrests as guests like him would feel more secure when seated in them.
He says he is familiar with experiencing disappointment with so called accessible hotels.
“These are the big names in the hotel industry like the ITC Maurya Sheraton at the heart of Delhi. It’s a very old hotel and I go there very often, I love the food there, but they don’t have something as basic as an accessible toilet on the lobby level. They do have an accessible room which is again not up to the mark. Hotels do have guidelines but they don’t have compliance,” he said.
Accessibility is an integral part of the Lemon Tree business model. About 13 per cent of the employees, that is nearly 400 of the 3,000, are people with disabilities. Most of them are hearing and speech impaired, and general managers in the chain are expected to learn sign language to communicate with them. The company has now started taking people who are orthopedically impaired and those with Down’s syndrome. The inclusive work policy has sensitized the staff to the needs of guests with disabilities.
Accessible tourism is seen as the fastest growing business opportunity in the tourism industry. In North America alone, people with disabilities spend more than $13 billion each year on travel.
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