As I wrote about in my Hamilton Island Achievement I had the opportunity to accompany Gaz on a work conference to tropical far North Queensland. Of course, I jumped at the chance and The Reef View Hotel was the accommodation of choice. I hadn’t stayed in many accessible hotel rooms since I have been wheeling and I recall this hotel being reviewed by one of my favourite accessible travel bloggers – Have Wheelchair Will Travel. I was very impressed by what I saw as a truly accessible room.
Date of Stay – May 2018
12 Resort Dr, Hamilton Island QLD 4803
I called to ensure that this accessible room was available and booked us in via phone, as like so many hotels there is no mention at all of accessible rooms or features of the hotel on their website. I knew I was to be on my own for the most part of our stay and would have much preferred to take my power chair as I have much more autonomy and independence as my upper body strength is not enough to wheel myself too far on flat surfaces and definitely impossible to wheel on any elevation. Unfortunately, as we were flying onto the Island on a smaller aircraft we weren’t able to fit my power chair in the hold – even with full tilt.
Hamilton Island’s geography is quite hilly and not naturally accessible to everyone and the Reef View Hotel has worked well in most areas to fit in with their geographic limitations and make their hotel as accessible as possible. The foyer is accessed by a handy curved ramp cut out at the side of the staired front entrance.
Once inside there is a sloped floor to the open reception area, another to both the alfresco and inside restaurants and off to the right are the lifts. The glass-walled lifts have a button panel on which many of the buttons cannot be reached by a seated person but the view is pretty special once you are on your way!
From the foyer and past the lifts is the popular and large bar room that is unfortunately only accessible by stairs at both public entry points and the one staff door. I was happy to be able to overcome this shocking development as I write about here but would not have been able to if I was in a powerchair.
All the rooms are accessed by outside undercover walkways with the accessible room being closest to the lifts. This proximity to the lifts is handy but also means that the sound of their operations is like a constant rumbling of trams from a not too far distance. As this occurs mostly during the day it didn’t worry us too much.
The external door to the accessible room is brilliantly opened electronically from the outside and also activated from inside by a low height press button – such a great step towards independent room use.
As I can only stand supported I required a standing hoist (not the lift hoist provided) and was able to hire that from the mainland along with a wheeled shower/commode. The Hotels’ concierge team were happy to liaise with the barge company and offered complimentary transport of my hire equipment to the Island which was terrific as the hire cost was significant.
The main room and bathroom are very spacious with room for extra equipment and power points available for recharging mobility equipment. The large cupboard sports not only the standard inclusions such as an iron and ironing board but a safe, a lift hoist and sling too.
Hoist transfers are easy with under bed height allowance and the flush entrance from the room to the balcony made for easy rolling. The outside sliding door was not as heavy as some to manually open. The main living area has a roll under-table as well as, ease of self-propelling, carpet tiles.
A wonderfully large bathroom was easy to use with the option of a pull-down shower seat and handrails, a large space for a shower/commode and the accessible “must-have” – a handheld hose. The toilet had great fold-away handles for support but also had enough space around it to wheel a commode chair over the bowl.
The roll-under basin was ideal with swing-away extra shelving for your toiletries. A bit of bench space for make-up application would have been a handy inclusion but the table in the main room suited very well. The carpet tiles are the best type for self-propelling too.
Overall this room was happily the most accessible room I had seen and has the option of a connecting room for carers or other family members. I was very appreciative of the willingness of the concierge team and General Manager to ensure I was as catered for as much as possible. The hotel purchased 5 rollators/walking frames for future guests as a result of our discussions.
I still cannot wait for the time that these sort of trips do not have to involve multiple challenges in organising but we are definitely on the right path towards normalising disabled travel with progressive thinking places like the Reef View Hotel and the East Hotel in Canberra.