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Saturday Mail 27th Nov 2004

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STEPHEN LATHAM has a complaint that sadly sums up what many others have said: 'AS A quadraplegic, I have travelled extensively during the last three years, and have experienced problems as soon as I arrived at some hotels.For example, despite having a faxed confirmation that an accessible room had been allocated, on arrival in California, the receptionist informed us that they do not have these rooms in their hotel! Two months ago, I travelled to Cape Town and, despite having my accessible room request printed on our booking invoice, again experienced problems."

"The hotels were specifically booked via travel agents rather than the internet to avoid mix-ups, and the hotels were not cheap.But this is still no guarantee of a problem-free holiday. What do you have to do?

Russell says:

Almost all travel organizations with the possible exception of some more enlightened airlines, are not good enough when it comes to meeting the needs of disabled travelers.  In my opinion, more comprehensive training is badly needed for hotel staff to enable them to confidently manage the issues you describe. As you well know, planning is key to travelling abroad. It's always worth ‘reminding' your travel and accommodation providers and agents of your requirements a couple of days before you actually travel. You may find the following websites helpful when thinking about your future trips: allgohere(endorsed by ABTA) has an excellent airline section which lists all the major airlines and their facilities for disabled travellers. It also has a very good accommodation section of more than 2,000 mainstream group and independently-owned hotels which are suitable for those with special requirements.

The best site I've found for helping disabled travellers to put together holidays and itineraries is www.canbedone.co.uk (tel: 020 8907 2400). All the accommodation on their books has basic wheelchair access and many of the rooms have en suite adaptations such as grab rails and wheel-in showers.

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