Access Statements for Guoman and Thistle Hotels, UK
15/04/2011 | 0 comments
Finding accessible hotel accommodation and facilities for disabled people in Britain has been made a little easier. Guoman and Thistle Hotels have been successfully engaging with Tourism for All during 2009 to 2010 months to enhance the information they provide to potential disabled guests.
Based on an Access Statement template developed by VisitEngland, Brian Seaman of Tourism for All Services Limited (the Consultancy arm of Tourism for All) has visited all the group's 38 properties in the UK in order to identify the facilities that may meet the needs of disabled clients.
Like other hotel companies, Guoman and Thistle Hotels vary considerably in style and design from property to property. The group prides itself on presenting individual, interesting properties within both brands; the international deluxe brand Guoman is an inspirational collection of London landmark properties, whereas Thistle's 33 well-located properties across the UK form a high-quality portfolio of contemporary, yet relaxed full service hotels.
For example, some have Grade II Listed facades through English Heritage and have been open for business for over 100 years. Others have been developed in more recent times in a modern style, but have difficult access to some facilities. Access to some properties is by a flight of steps straight up from the pavement, with no immediate way of overcoming these comfortably. However, by careful wording of the Access Statements this is identified at an early stage, and potential guests are referred to other properties where step free access is possible and their needs can be best served.
Of the London properties the most accessible by wheelchair are currently Thistle's Marble Arch, and Guoman's Charing Cross and The Cumberland hotel. Not only is this information likely to be of benefit to individual disabled people, but also to event organisers, it will also aid e-booking, central reservations, conference and banqueting staff and other front line staff at all of their hotels who are trying to identify what is available, either for their own benefit or that of potential guests.
The information contained in the reports includes relevant details of access to meeting and function spaces as well as leisure areas, the accessible public WCs, bedrooms and other public areas. The Access Statements contain both text and images in a PDF format, one report for each property. The images may help to identify facilities for those who do not use English as their first language or to help individuals visualise the layout.
There are links to external websites to highlight local accessible transport options, parking and Shopmobility schemes (Shopmobility offers local hire services for mobility equipment and are often based in larger shopping developments in town and city centres), so that disabled guests can organise any equipment they might need to hire for sightseeing or shopping.
The Access Statements also set out to indicate the facilities that are available at each property for guests with a hearing loss or a visual impairment; including the range of auxiliary support devices for example: Big Button telephones, Braille and large print menus, vibrating pillow pad or alarm clock, or doorbells with a flashing light in bedrooms.
There are other elements of accessibility that are also being addressed by Guoman and Thistle Hotels. The Access Statements form a part of their overall strategic review of services and facilities for disabled clients, as they strive to enhance the guest experience for all. Guoman and Thistle Hotels are not the only hotel company that have been reviewing information for disabled guests.
Magnus Bergland of Scandic Hotels recently commented that all investments in greater accessibility have repaid themselves within a year to two years - and the recent update of information that they make available for disabled guests has repaid itself in three months. With that in mind we are confident that this will work for Guoman and Thistle Hotels.
The charity Tourism for All continues to strive to improve the information and services provided by operators in the tourism, hospitality and leisure industry for all users.
Further information about the progress being made by Guoman and Thistle Hotels is available at:
More information about developing accessible facilities may be obtained from:
Tourism for All www.tourismforall.org.uk/Advice-for-Tourism-Businesses.html
Contact: Brian Seaman: brian [at] tourismforall [dot] org [dot] uk
A template for producing an Access Statement has been developed by VisitEngland.
Information about equipment provided for shopping and sightseeing is available from: National Federation of Shopmobility.
Tourism For All U.K., Scandic Hotels and VisitEngland are Associate Members of ENAT.