Do you love to travel but procrastinate on planning your trip, or do you simply dread connecting all the dots? There are many reasons why people hire a travel agent or simply avoid getting out often.
Some people fear of leaving their house because they have food allergies / sensitivities and find it extremely hard or even stressful to find a menu item without asking a million questions while others may feel like their disabilities or age are highlighted when they face a roadblock while getting around in their environment. If you find you have the means in your budget, here is a hotel to consider when traveling to West Palm Beach, Florida.
The Hilton West Palm Beach is a 4-star hotel conveniently located downtown in the shopping district of City Place yet still close to the beach (1.5 miles). The hotel itself is easily accessed right off Okeechobee Blvd via I-95. While the hotel offers valet parking, there are car and van accessible parking spots available in the self-park facility. Otherwise, valet is offered at $27/day.
First, look around outside the hotel; there is a shopping center with a variety of restaurants across the street with pedestrian walkways and textured curb cuts. The shopping center also has stairs, escalators, and elevators to access the 2ndlevel. The pedestrian crossing lights flash and give you ample time to cross however, they do not beep. The area is very walkable for all ages and can be accessed by wheelchair, strollers, and walkers. While there was construction at the time in the shopping center, small, temporary curb cuts were installed to reduce the thresholds for crossing restricted areas. In fact, I witnessed several wheelchair users including a young girl in a power wheelchair who maneuvered even the tight corners between the barriers, but they required an assist to open doors into the stores and restaurant. The beach is also walkable however, there are railroad tracks to cross, a short steep climb over the bridge to get across the bay, and the sidewalks are not consistently maintained with areas that are narrow and sloped as well as high thresholds and broken concrete.
As you head inside the hotel, the drop off area is leveled with the entrance walkway and the doors are automatic. The check-in desks are at a standard height so not as friendly for people in wheelchairs. The lobby is spacious with views directly out to the lawn and pool area. For someone in a wheelchair, he will need an assist to open the doors to the pool / lawn area for they are not automatic or at least I couldn’t find an automatic door. The big bonus is that people of all ages and abilities can access the pool with the beach entry (walk-in) and even railings for those who may have difficulty with their balance, have an unstable gait, or just want the reassurance that a good grip on the rail will provide. Once they enter the water, the buoyancy allows them to be independent in the water. Most kids I’ve been around with cerebral palsy LOVE being in the water for this reason, and they can move freely!
My husband and I did not select an accessible room, not even the hearing accessible room. We didn’t even know that was an option! This wasn’t discovered until I saw the bathroom designs. The hotel integrated universal designs, and it was fairly obvious for someone who knows how to spot these features. By this time I was getting pretty excited! All of these accommodations prompted me to investigate for more information about this hotel.
According to the front desk, all rooms have these universal design features (lever door handles, lever faucets, grab bars, wide doorway), although, the person I talked to wasn’t aware what universal design meant. In addition, when asking about accessible rooms, he kindly shared the list of rooms with specific accessibility features where lots of surprises were revealed! Surprises that made me literally shout for joy hoping it could be heard all the way to the Hilton headquarters for their forward thinking and recognizing these needs! Now if other hotels could follow, we could expand our travel options and experiences.
As you plan your next trip and book a hotel, ask about the type of accessibility amenities they offer. Had I known that they included hearing impairment, I would’ve requested one of those rooms. I’ll probably start checking for hearing accessibility from here forward when we travel. Check out the extensive list of accessibility features the Hilton West Palm Beach offers. For a tour and more real experience, check out the video for highlights of Hilton West Palm and surrounding areas: Hilton West Palm Tour.
What have been some of your favorite vacation spots and why? Please list them in the comments.
Share some of your favorite accessibility features you’ve discovered when traveling!