VRS113 – Accessible Vacation Rentals with Andy Renals

Today’s guest lives in one of my bucket list spots – the Mediterranean island of Cyprus – and it is one of my destinations for 2016. In fact, we are booked into his Villa Carpe Diem for a week in September, and can’t wait.

Apart from being beautifully located on the ancient island of Aphrodite, the property is completely accessible for people with disabilities and has a fully equipped and self-contained adapted apartment on the lower level.

Owners, Andy and Niki Renals custom built the villa with disabled guests in mind and the outcome is a niche accommodation option that is regularly booked by disabled guests and their carers. There is even a wheelchair adapted vehicle (WAV).

Andy talks about why he chose to create this adapted space and how he works with booking partners in the disability sector to fill the property. We also discuss the comprehensive access statement that Niki has developed to ensure guests know exactly what is available to them.

tweetTweet: Accessibility at your #VacationRental can really set your property apart. @VillaCarpeDiem shares his success

Finally, Andy shares a few tips for owners who might be thinking about making their vacation homes more accessible, and are thinking about renovation plans.

We talked about:

  • Why the Renal’s chose Cyprus to build their vacation home
  • The type of equipment that meets the needs of guests with disabilities
  • The importance of a thorough accessibility statement
  • Targeting niche groups through booking partners
  • How the changing nature of Home Away is affecting bookings at Villa Carpe Diem
  • Why a good website is so important
  • How owners could create more accessibility
  • Networking and the benefits of sharing experiences with other owners.

And more…..

Sites mentioned in this episode:

Villa Carpe Diem

Access Statement

Theraposture

Booking partner – Disabled Holidays.com

Vacation Rental Formula

Terri Fitch

Honestly, I never gave accessibility even a passing thought before I became dependent on a wheelchair. So, I can understand how such issues would not be on one’s radar. Now, traveling is complicated for me and – amazingly – getting answers to simple questions is frustrating. Luckily, I am fairly mobile in many ways and my needs are simple. But, often, I just cannot get the answer when I ask for the height of the toilet or the width of doorways. I have offered lodging accommodation for 20+ years and when we purpose-built our current home in 2002, we included as many features as possible in our design (somewhat limited by space and budget). In the end, no one can be all things to all people (although Villa Carpe Diem seems to have accomplished this – wow)! What truly frustrates me, however, is the seeming reluctance on the part of hosts to do very simple and inexpensive things that can make a visit more enjoyable and easier for people with minimal mobility issues. For example, older people or those with arthritis or walkers or canes. We are always willing to remove rugs or move furnishings for a guest’s comfort. Even if not undergoing an actual remodel, how hard is it to add a grab bar by the toilet or in the shower? Why is there resistance to the addition of a hand-held shower head or a shower chair? Why not switch the toilet to a “comfort-height model? Why not lower the bathroom mirror (or set it at a tilt) to that someone from a seated position can see themselves in the mirror? Or – even easier – place a table top mirror in the bathroom (extra points for one that flips to a magnifying mirror). Why such resistance? And finally, why not provide an access-guide to answer such questions for a traveler? It has been said that 19% or the US population is mobility-challenged. Given that such people travel with at least one traveling companion, the possibility exists that one is shutting out upwards of 38% of the traveling public by not being hospitable in this simple manner. Ville Carpe Diem is on my bucket list! What a great podcast! I hope it inspires others to make some simple changes.

Heather Bayer

Thank you for your comments Terri – you’ve made some great suggestions here. I think that most owners just don’t think about it or get into the shoes of their guests and imagine what it must be like to them. I like your suggestion of an access guide that describes what you do have, at least.

Patricia Jones

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