Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Disabled Travel Guide - Tenerife

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Why do people go away for some winter sun? For some rest, to lift their mood, for enjoyment... Well, my reason is much more important. Since Christmas my health has been deteriorating, both physically and mentally, to the point where just before going away I was lucky to be awake for more than an hour a day and I'd once again lost my swallowing function. So, we knew that going away was both vital and risky. We've done this before and I have spent the full week in bed, or, the day before we had to cancel because I've been too ill to fly. But, I've also managed to reboot my system that little bit to set me on the right track again and that's why we chose to go away. 

With the UK being -8 when we left for the airport, we were so glad we chose to go to Tenerife which was in the mid 20's all week. We always go to the Canaries as it's as far as I can manage on a plane at the moment  but I still get the warmth! This year, we chose to go to Las Americas which my Mum had visited before. This is because it's flat (which is important for my wheelchair!) and has shops/beach close by. We booked through TML but we were under Jet2's care.



So, the flight. It's the first time I have flown with Jet2 before. The good points are that it was such a clean plane and the staff were very friendly. The bad points, even though we had assistance booked we were sat in row 11 and were boarded at the front of the plane at the same time that the non-assistance people were coming in from the back. Chaos. Also, this seat was really quite far from the toilet and when I did go on the flight out I had to sit on someone else's seat so I didn't collapse waiting. Apparently, you now can't have the front row/extra legroom seats if you have any kind of mobility issue as part of the law but we never had this issue with TUI. So who knows! The plane was also extremely hot which wasn't ideal for my asthma and dizziness. But, overall it was a good flight, we even had the row to ourselves on the flight out so I could lie across the seats. Our transfers were easy and as I took my manual chair we opted to keep the bus transfer. We had no problems with the airport or bus transfers - it all went smoothly!


We stayed at the H10 Conquistador. So, we had a major problem when we got there. Our travel company (TML as it turns out) didn't tell them I was in a wheelchair so there was no accessible room booked. But even so, for us to have an accessible room we would have to pay 60 euros a night extra because the hotel only made 4 rooms accessible and they were suites. This means we would have to fork out an extra 420 euro's before our holiday began, because I was in a wheelchair. I contacted the hotel and the manager was lovely saying she understood our frustration (but didn't do anything about it) and I will be following up with H10 about the slightly ridiculous policy. They have less than 1% rooms which are accessible yet at the hotel there was so many disabled guests, they're missing a trick (and it's just plain unfair). So, we went through 3 standard rooms until we could find one which would fit my wheelchair in. It wasn't totally suitable for me (the bathroom wasn't accessible) but it was the best of the standard rooms. 

(Photo from website)

Moving on from the rooms, the hotel is really good for wheelchair access otherwise. The lifts are a little small for larger chairs but all the ramps are fantastic. A staff member even offered to help push me when I was struggling with my manual chair. The lifeguard helped me by the pool and in the restaurant they were also happy to help. The (large) pool itself has a pool lift in so you can transfer into the water. The restaurant has a dedicated zone for people with mobility issues too so you don't have to walk as far to the ice cream stand which was my own, personal highlight. 



The food was spectacular there and was one of the reasons I think I improved by the end of the week. Unfortunately, the food wasn't allergy labelled which was a bit of a minefield for me but we spoke to Jet2 after and they are going to suggest to the hotel that they improve their labelling. Because of this, I got my food freshly cooked in the kitchen by the chef each night to make sure there wasn't any cross contamination. They were fabulous providing everything from gluten-free pasta to doughnuts and even allowed my mum to bring it up to my room when I was unwell. The restaurant was my personal highlight (god, that makes me sound sad!) because I got to know the chef and the waiters really well so enjoyed seeing them everyday. 


The entertainment team were also a team which worked incredibly hard and were such good fun. My mum took part in the stretching classes and I managed to join in the occasional game of bingo. There was something for everyone though, from sport to evening entertainment. The hotels facilities looked to be fantastic too; with a spa, pool tables, ping pong, tennis, pilates near by... I just wasn't well enough to make use of any of it this time!


The location of the hotel was absolutely amazing, it was literally across the road from the beach and the shops. We found an accessible beach about 15 mins walk away which was incredible and featured decking on the sand so you could wheel across, disabled toilet/shower/changing, crutches for you use, extra lifeguards and even a beach wheelchair. There were lots of disabled people who used this which was fantastic to see and it was one of the best days we had. A lot of people hire scooters whilst they're there to take them to the beach which are really easy to find, but we didn't because I was in bed so much!

So, what do I rate it overall? The location, facilities, entertainment and food (although they really need to label it!) was fabulous. What wasn't so good? Not having standard accessible rooms or having to pay a premium for a room because you're in a wheelchair - that's not ok. I would go back to that destination, and hotel, but would want a big chain like H10 to drop the excessive charge for disabled customers or look at adapting some of their existing rooms, even if it meant losing a few 'standard' rooms. I also wouldn't book with TML again as none of our access information was passed on making it more difficult for us, so would go back to a standard travel agent, even if it cost us a bit more. And in terms of Jet2, they were really good with us but I think could improve on their boarding procedure and could at least put people with mobility problems in rows 2-3. 

Kate x