William Watson Lodge – Kananaskis, Alberta

We have stayed at William Watson Lodge several times over the years. This is a really special place, nestled in the heart of Kananaskis Country, which provides year-round, barrier-free lodging for persons with disabilities, seniors and their families.

William Watson Lodge is located in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, on the edge of Lower Kananaskis Lake. It is about 25 minutes south of the Kananaskis Village on Highway 40.

THE GOOD

William Watson Lodge has 22 fully accessible cabins of varying sizes. Some are one and two bedroom units ($30 per night) and some are three bedroom units ($40 per night).  Every unit has a wheel-in shower, full kitchen, kitchen supplies, living room with pull-out sofa bed and dining table with chairs.

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Dining Table

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View of the Living Area and Dining Space

Each unit also has tracks on the ceiling for moving people from the bedroom to the bathroom. Some of the cabins are pet friendly.

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Ceiling Tracks

They are slowly replacing the older cabins with beautiful new cabins. We recently stayed in one of the new cabins for the first time and it was modern, clean and really nicely decorated. They put a lot of thought into the design of these cabins in order to make the space as easy as possible for those with mobility challenges. The ambience is very homey and it makes for a perfectly relaxing stay.

Our unit had three bedrooms. Each bedroom had two beds in it, a dresser and a window.

Our unit had two bathrooms. The first bathroom had a full bathtub, a raised toilet seat and a pedestal sink. One cool thing about this bathroom was that the shower rod holding the curtain could swing completely out of the way and then swing back to be tension fit on the wall. 

The second bathroom had a huge wheel-in shower with a built-in shower bench.

The flooring throughout the unit was laminate, making it very easy to wheel around on.

The main lodge, where guests check in and check out, also has a number of amenities. There is a large fireplace, a big deck out back, books, magazines, board games, bikes, sleds, and snowshoes for borrowing and coin-operated laundry machines.

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William Watson also has RV camp sites, an accessible comfort camping trailer and an accessible comfort camping hut. It is worth investigating all of the options if you are looking for a real wilderness experience.

Around the cabins are a number of barrier-free paved pathways and over 20km of accessible trails. In the summertime, they are completely clear and easy to traverse. In the winter, due to the volume of snow in the mountains, the pathways around the cabins are kept clear but the trails accumulate snow. People enjoy snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on the network of trails that surround the lodge. There is a sit-ski available for borrowing as well as a sled for pulling those with mobility challenges through the snow. It attaches to a harness that an able-bodied person can wear in order to pull the sled behind them.

There is an accessible playground about 2 minutes down one of the main trails. In the summer, it is completely clear and easy to get to. In the winter, that particular trail is impassable in a wheelchair but relatively easy to get to on a sled or on skis.

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There are accessible picnic sites and campfire sites, so if you come with a group of people there are lots of outdoor spaces to use for gatherings. 

THE BAD

One bad thing about William Watson Lodge is that it is completely outside of cellphone range and there is no internet availability. The lodges also have no TVs, so you can feel very isolated. Once you get used to the lack of connectivity, it actually feels nice to have the time to focus on other things. We usually read lots of books when we are there and we enjoy the family time.

The cabins do not come equipped with any bedding, so you do need to bring your pillows and blankets with you. This can make for a number of trips to and from the car when you are loading and unloading. You also need to bring your own towels.

When you check in to your room, you are given a cleaning list. The cleaning tasks are less onerous than they used to be but they do expect you to help out to cut down on costs (i.e. you have to vacuum, clean all the dishes, wipe all surfaces, empty garbages, etc.). After I have finished packing, cleaning and hauling all of our stuff out to the car, I am usually pretty exhausted, but the price reflects the amount of work you have to put into your stay here.

One other thing to keep in mind is that reservations must be made pretty far in advance and there is a priority listing for bookings:

  • People with disabilities living in the province of Alberta get first priority and can make reservations up to 4 months in advance for the severely disabled (non-ambulatory, legally blind, profoundly deaf, dependently cognitively disabled). Those with less severe disabilities can make reservations 3 months in advance (semi-ambulatory, medically fragile). 
  • Alberta seniors (65 years and older) can make reservations up to 2 months in advance, space permitting.

THE UGLY

Some of the older cabins are getting a bit ugly. They are definitely cozy and rustic but the carpets, kitchens and bathrooms are showing their age. If any are available, I would recommend requesting a new cabin. 

OVERALL

Overall, William Watson Lodge is an absolute treasure. The fact that we have this amazing place right here in Alberta is really special. Everyone can enjoy the mountain parks and everything that the great outdoors has to offer and William Watson makes that possible for so many who would otherwise have difficulty finding a comfortable place to stay.   

 

Holiday Inn & Suites – Osoyoos, British Columbia

We stayed at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Osoyoos, BC for 5 nights in April of 2017. This was our first trip to Osoyoos as a family and we picked this hotel largely because all of the other hotels I called in Osoyoos were booked solid. They all told me the same thing – Osoyoos gets a number of snowbirds that rent out the hotel rooms on a monthly basis through the winter and they don’t go home until the end of April. Apparently the wheelchair accessible rooms get booked up by people looking to escape the winter weather elsewhere in Canada. This isn’t too surprising given that the daytime average temperatures are higher in Osoyoos than anywhere else in Canada. The winters are shorter and milder and spring arrives earlier than in other parts of the Okanagan. If I could afford it, I would spend my winters in Osoyoos too!

THE GOOD

The Holiday Inn & Suites is located in one of the best spots in Osoyoos. It is right on a peninsula in the middle of Osoyoos Lake. There is a small private beach area in the back of the hotel and it is an easy walk to the larger public beach (Gyro Beach) and the downtown area. 

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Our room rate for the accessible room with a wheel-in shower was $158.95 per night. The room was really well-appointed for a family. It came with two queen-sized beds in a separate bedroom, a large accessible bathroom with wheel-under sink, wheel-in shower (with built-in bench) and a toilet with grab bars.

Bedroom

The rest of the room had a very large living space with a full-sized kitchen, dining area and living room with couches and a TV.

There was a large balcony off of the living room which made for a nice spot to sit at the end of the day. 

There was free laundry available at the end of one of the hallways. The hotel also had a restaurant with a beautiful view overlooking the water. 

There was a pool, hot tub and fitness room located on the main floor. There was a large, accessible washroom located in the pool area. 

Our nightly rate included free, underground parking. 

THE BAD

This hotel is clearly not one of the finer properties in Osoyoos. It served its purpose, however, it is outdated, dirty and looks run down. It was probably in its prime 30 years ago. 

The wheel-in shower in our room had a built-in plastic shower bench. However, the bench was really far from the taps and it would be a challenge to stay on the slippery bench while trying to reach the taps. If you have mobility challenges, you may require help with this shower. 

The hotel had a pool and hot tub, however the pool wasn’t functioning for the first 3 days of our stay due to an issue with the pump. Also, every time I went to the pool area with the kids I had to go to the front desk to ask for towels as they weren’t stocked on the racks near the pool. They would often give me 2 towels for the three of us, which I found strange. 

When we checked in, they gave us “kids eat free” coupons for the restaurant. Apparently these coupons can only be used to order food off of the kids’ menu and when we ate at the hotel’s restaurant, we were told that they didn’t have a kids’ menu. 

THE UGLY

The hallways and common areas in the hotel smelled very strongly of curry and other combinations of food and grease. 

OVERALL 

Although the hotel itself wasn’t amazing, the location of this hotel was great. The view from the balcony was really beautiful and it was a very short walk to the public beach area and downtown. We were able to walk everywhere once we arrived. 

Some highlights of our stay in Osoyoos included the Desert Model Railroad (www.osoyoosrailroad.com) and the Rattlesnake Canyon Theme Park (www.rattlesnakecanyon.ca). The town also did an amazing family oriented celebration for Easter, complete with an Easter Egg Hunt, live music, petting zoo, face painting, games, bouncy castles, etc.

At that time of year, the town felt a bit sleepy, but it was a great place to unwind, relax and enjoy the beautiful Okanagan air. 

Regal Princess, Princess Cruise Line

We went on a 7-day Eastern Caribbean Cruise on the Regal Princess in February of 2015. The boat left the port in Fort Lauderdale and sailed first to Princess Cays (Princess Cruise Line private port), then to St. Thomas and lastly to St. Maarten before returning back to Florida. We had three full days at sea.

We stayed in a wheelchair accessible balcony room (room B303) on the starboard side of the boat, close to one of the banks of elevators. This was very convenient for going to and from our room.

THE GOOD

The room was tastefully decorated with modern, neutral colours. I am not sure why but our room only came with two twin beds. I had requested a queen instead of two twins but there must only be one configuration for this room. It worked out okay because we had to have two cribs in our room as well, so we put one of them in between our beds and one over by the balcony.

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Two Twin Beds

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View of Room Facing Balcony

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TV, Desk and Storage Closet

Although the room was not huge, there was lots of storage space in the room for luggage and clothes. Just to give you an idea, we had two strollers, four pieces of luggage, two playpen-type cribs, the wheelchair and all of us in the room. Having the balcony definitely helped as we were able to see the natural light and get fresh air into our room.

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Large Storage Closet

The bathroom in our room was great for accessibility. There was a wheel-under sink, a shower with a fold-down bench and a toilet with grab bars. There was even an alarm next to the toilet for someone to push if they were in distress in the bathroom. Unfortunately this alarm was well within reach of our little people and there was no way to disable it 🙂 We had the front desk calling us several times some days when our kids couldn’t keep their hands off of the buttons.

The balcony was fully accessible. There was a metal piece that dropped down to cover the threshold after the sliding door was fully opened.

The ship itself was very accessible. There were plenty of elevators, albeit slow ones. Several of the common areas had nice, smooth tile on the floors, making it easier for a wheelchair to get around. 

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Atrium in the Middle of the Ship

The back of the boat had a few different levels, which you could access via a lift. The very top level of the ship had a mini-golf course and you could access that level using a stair lift. 

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Lift To Get to Exercise Track Level

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Mini-Golf Course on Very Top Level

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Stair Lift to Get Up to Mini-Golf Level

As with most cruise ships, this one had something for everyone. The Regal Princess had a casino, theatre, spa, adults-only pool area, a gym, a walking/running track, movies under the stars and a night-time water show. The kids particularly enjoyed the Seawalk, which is a glass floor walkway that extends out over the edge of the boat so that you can look down into the ocean.

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Seawalk

ITINERARIES

Our first stop was at Princess Cays. This is a private island owned by the Princess Cruise Line and they use it as a port of call on their Caribbean cruises. This was a tender port and the cruise representatives said that my husband would only be able to get to the island if he could get onto the tender boat without assistance. Given that he can’t walk, this is impossible. We took our chances and headed down to the gangway and the people loading passengers on and off the tender boat had no issue carrying him on. I often find this to be the case. People are more than willing to help you when you are right in front of them but the official position often is that they aren’t supposed to do it. The boat ride to the island was about 5 minutes long. There was not much there other than the beach and a buffet-style lunch place, but the sand was soft and it was nice to get off of the boat for an afternoon. The island itself had some paved pathways that were easy to wheel on.

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Princess Cays

Our next stop was St Thomas. Last time we were there, we realized that there wasn’t much to do if you didn’t have some form of accessible transportation. This time we got pro-active and booked an accessible excursion to the Magic Ice Bar. The vehicle that picked us up was an open air bus, but they had a lift at the back and it all went pretty smoothly. They were even able to fit two people in wheelchairs on the bus.

The Magic Ice Bar was actually pretty cool (no pun intended!). When we walked in, they gave us big winter parkas to put on and, from then on, we felt right at home! There were ice sculptures everywhere and even ice slides for the kids. There was a long ice bar inside and they let us sample various flavours of rum (i.e. coconut, pineapple, cherry, etc.). 

Our last port on this cruise before heading back to Fort Lauderdale was St. Maarten. We had been here before and walked through the downtown shopping area that time. This time we decided to head to the beach and spend a day hanging out by the ocean. The water taxis to get to the downtown/beach area are not accessible per se, but the operators have always been extremely helpful and we have never had an issue getting on or off. We had to pay to rent a big beach umbrella to provide some shade on the beach but it worked out okay and the kids had a blast playing in the sand and water. 

THE BAD

All cruise lines operate differently in terms of dining, reservations, gratuities, etc. We found Princess somewhat more challenging with kids because if you wanted to eat anywhere other than the buffet, you had to book a reservation or wait in line for a long time. Because of this, we ended up eating at the buffet for every meal. The buffet food was good but the buffet area always felt very busy and it was sometimes tough to find a table. 

Getting through the hallways on cruise ships in a wheelchair can be a challenge, especially when luggage is left in the hallways on embarkation and disembarkation. It can also be a challenge getting to your room during the day when the housekeeping carts are in the halls. The best strategy is to book a room very close to the elevators so you don’t have to traverse a long hallway to get in and out of your room.  

This boat did not have an accessible pool or any accessible hot tubs and did not have any pool lifts. 

This cruise ship was definitely better-suited to adults or families with older kids. The boat had a mini-golf area, sports court and a shallow pool area but not a lot for younger kids.  

THE UGLY

This was a very classy ship and it was practically new when we were on it. There was nothing ugly about it. 

OVERALL

The Regal Princess was a beautiful boat with some very cool features. I enjoyed the Seawalk and the water shows at night. I appreciated that they had room service and we had a very lovely room steward for the week who took good care of us. Although we didn’t suffer in the food department, I would have liked it if the specialty restaurants had more flexible dining options.

In terms of accessibility, this specific itinerary is a bit of a challenge for wheelchair users as two of the three stops require being hoisted onto a tender boat or water taxi. If you cannot walk at all, you may be better off selecting an itinerary with no tenders. If you have some mobility, however, you may find it to be more manageable than we did. 

 

Banff Park Lodge – Banff, Alberta

We have stayed at this hotel twice in the last 2 years, once for a Christmas party (November 2015) and again in October, 2016 for a conference. The Banff Park Lodge is located on Lynx Street, making it one of the more centrally located hotels in Banff. You can walk down Caribou Street to get to Banff Avenue (main shopping area) in less than 5 minutes. 

THE GOOD

The Banff Park Lodge has underground parking for its registered guests, which is nice in the mountains as you don’t have to scrape snow off of your car if you are staying in the winter. You can take the elevator in the parkade straight up to the lobby level or up to your room if you are staying on one of the higher floors. 

The wheelchair accessible room we stayed in (room 102) was very average. It had a king-sized bed and a small pull-out sofa. The room was located on the main floor of the hotel, just off the elevator to the parkade. The patio doors opened up onto a nice little outdoor area that would be a good place to sit in the summertime (or convenient if you were travelling with a dog).

The bathroom was large and had a wheel-under sink, toilet with grab-bars and a wheel-in shower. The shower was upgraded to include several different controls and the heated towel bar was a nice touch. The hotel supplied a portable shower bench.

There were two eating establishments in the hotel, one lounge area on the main level and a restaurant on the second floor. We ate at the restaurant on the second floor twice and, although overpriced, the food was good. A much better option is the famous Melissa’s Missteak restaurant across the street, which serves the best breakfasts known to man (yes, I think this has been scientifically proven). See below for photographic evidence:

There were a few shops and a hair salon located on the main floor of the hotel. The gift shop offered quite a few things, so if you forgot something, you could probably just pick it up there. 

The main floor and lobby of this hotel was completely wheelchair friendly. The sidewalks outside of the Banff Park Lodge were easy to navigate, although immediately across the street, some of the sidewalks were missing curb-cuts. 

THE BAD

The pool area was quite pretty, complete with a swimming pool, hot tub and a cooler hot tub. They also had a steam room and a very small fitness room. Unfortunately, the accessibility for this area was extremely poor. There were three steps down into the pool area from the entrance door and there were no pool lifts. The fitness room (if you can even call it that) was accessible but there was no room to manoeuver in there and no accessible machines or equipment. 

The staff at this hotel wasn’t overly helpful. When I called the front desk to ask what time the pool opened they told me 7am but 9am for kids. So I entertained the kids for two hours until 9am only to go and see a sign on the door to the pool that said the pool was open to adults at 7am and everyone at 8am.

Another example of the below-average hospitality occurred at breakfast in the upstairs restaurant. They had a big buffet set out for the conference attendees and my husband grabbed a plate and came to sit with us in the restaurant. We ordered food from the restaurant menu for the kids and myself but the kids were picking some hashbrowns off of my husband’s plate. When we got the bill, we noticed that we were charged for the breakfasts we ordered and $10 extra for a “kids buffet.” I thought that was pretty bad. If we had intended to feed them from the buffet, we wouldn’t have ordered separate meals for them.

Lastly, because we were staying two nights, housekeeping came to clean our room after the first night. I’m not really picky about that kind of thing but the effort was noticeably lacking. The garbages were emptied and the main bed was hastily made but that was it. This was how they made up the sofa bed:

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Sofa Bed Untouched After Room Cleaned

THE UGLY

While the sprayers in the wheel-in shower were kind of cool (our kids called it the car wash shower), the shower itself could have used a really good cleaning and repair job. The caulking around the shower was in bad shape and looked like it could be harbouring all kinds of grime and mould. 

OVERALL

The Banff Park Lodge is a very average hotel in a great location. Its proximity to Banff Avenue and tons of eating establishments definitely puts it higher on my list than it would be otherwise.  If you are looking for a wheelchair-friendly hotel in Banff and proximity to shopping and food is your top priority, then this one is a good choice. 

Fairmont Palliser Hotel – Calgary, Alberta

We have stayed at this hotel a few times before, most recently in July of 2016. This historical hotel is located in the heart of the downtown, just down the street from the Calgary Tower. The Palliser is over 100 years old and is known locally as the hotel of choice for hosting elegant events.

THE GOOD

When you enter the lobby of the Palliser, you immediately get a sense that you are stepping back in time. The ballrooms are grand, the decor is elegant and you can see hints of times gone by everywhere you look. 

There have been several updates to the Palliser over the years, one of the recent ones being to the Gold Rooms. On our most recent stay, we were lucky enough to have a gift certificate to use for one of the newly renovated Gold Rooms!

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Along with a Gold Room comes a couple of pretty nice perks! You can check-in on the Penthouse level to avoid any lines, you get nicer towels and bathrobes, an upgraded coffee machine in your room, turn-down service, etc. But the best perk by far is access to the complimentary Gold Lounge where they serve breakfast every morning and snacks, cookies and appetizers every evening between 5-7 pm. They also have unlimited beverages available all day long (and an honour bar) and they have big jars of candy, which our kids were over the moon about!

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Fresh Juices Available at Breakfast in the Gold Lounge

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Gold Lounge

The room itself was comfortable. There was a king-sized bed, TV, a small desk and a small sitting area.

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The bathroom was very large and was fully wheelchair accessible. It had a wheel-under sink, toilet with a grab bar on the left and a wheel-in shower with built-in shower bench. The bathroom also had an electronic scale, upgraded amenities (mouth wash, cotton balls, Q-tips, etc.) and heated floors. 

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Huge Bathroom

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Wheel-Under Sink

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Wheel-In Shower With Built-In Shower Bench

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Toilet Only Had One Grab Bar

The hallways on the Gold floor looked to have been recently updated and this floor was completely non-smoking.

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One of the best things about the Palliser is their pool and spa area. The pool area is complete with pool, hot tub and steam room and it is very quiet and peaceful. This area can be accessed by anyone in a wheelchair (although there are no pool lifts). The spa is called RnR Wellness and it is one of my favourite spas in Calgary. I have had a good experience every single time I have been there.     

THE BAD

It is a challenge to think of anything bad to say about this hotel, but I can say that the view from our room wasn’t amazing. It overlooked the train tracks and you could hear and feel the trains going by as they ran adjacent to the hotel. The kids enjoyed watching the trains go by, however, so it wasn’t all bad. 

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The windows in our room were older casement windows that cranked open at the bottom. The bottom half of the window opened out and there were no screens on the window. I was pretty sure that my kids would be able to fit through the opening. Given that we were on the 8th floor, these windows made me pretty nervous. 

The Palliser is really old and you can tell that the accessibility features came along many years after the hotel was designed. The main entrance to the hotel is all stairs and there is no wheelchair access right at the main entrance. There is a long ramp off to the side of the main entrance that takes you into a small room with a lift. The lift takes you down into the lower level of the hotel (spa level) and then you can access the main elevator bank to get up to the lobby or up to your room. The staff was very helpful and escorted us through the accessible entrance but the setup is certainly less than ideal. 

THE UGLY

There is nothing ugly about the Palliser. 

OVERALL

Its proximity to other downtown amenities makes the Palliser a very attractive choice. The staff was exceptionally pleasant and helpful and they really went out of their way to make us feel looked after. For the access to the Gold Lounge, I think the extra cost of a Gold Room would be well worth it. Overall, the Palliser is a very elegant, peaceful hotel, perfect for a relaxing weekend or overnight stay. 

Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort – Oxnard, California

We stayed in room 9301 at the Embassy Suites in March of 2016 for one week. We booked this hotel knowing nothing about Oxnard, California other than that the hotel was right on the beach with some accessible pathways alongside the beach. When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised by the overall accessibility of the hotel and surroundings.

THE GOOD

There were several different buildings at this hotel and our room was on the third floor of building number 9, which was just to the right side of the main lobby building.

View of Main Lobby

View of Main Lobby Area

All of the rooms at this hotel are suites. In our room, we had two queen beds in a separate bedroom, two bathrooms (one with a wheel-in shower and built-in shower bench, wheel-under sink and toilet with grab bars), living room with a pull-out sofa and small kitchenette (microwave, mini-fridge, coffee maker and sink).

Two Queen Beds

Two Queen Beds, Access to Deck Across From Far Bed

Main Area Bathroom - Not Accessible

Main Area Bathroom Located by the Front Door – Not Accessible

Accessible Bathroom

Accessible Bathroom Attached to the Bedroom

Wheel-In-Shower With Shower Bench

Wheel-In-Shower With Shower Bench

Accessible Toilet Area

Accessible Toilet Area

Pull-Out Sofa and Living Room Area

Pull-Out Sofa, Living Room Area and Access to Deck

Kitchenette

Kitchenette

Front Door And Desk

Front Door And Desk

Our room was a “resort view” room. We had a nice view of the pool and courtyard and could actually see the beach and ocean in the distance.

View From Our Room

View From Our Room

View of the Main Pool from Our Room

View of the Main Pool from Our Room

View of Waterfall Near One of the Two Hot Tubs

View of Waterfall Near One of the Two Hot Tubs

Our room was cleaned every day by the time we got back from our morning activity except for once. The staff seemed very efficient and happy to help.

This hotel served free breakfast every morning until 10 am and free drinks and snacks every night between 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm. Breakfast was buffet-style with eggs, potatoes, pancakes, waffles, sausages, bacon, cereal, fruit, toast, yogurt and a selection of beverages. There was also a made-to-order section where you could order eggs or omelettes. The happy hour snacks consisted of nachos, veggies and party mix and the drinks consisted of alcoholic selections from the bar, punch and pop. Although the food wasn’t the best quality, it was plentiful and it made for an easy alternative to going out.

There was one large swimming pool and two large hot tubs at the hotel. The pool and one of the hot tubs were equipped with battery-powered pool lifts. We had no issue with the lifts and they seemed to work smoothly using a handheld remote.

Main Pool Lift

Main Pool Lift

Hot Tub Lift

Hot Tub Lift

Turn On the Key and Use Remote to Operate Lift

Turn On the Key and Use Remote to Operate Lift

There was direct beach access at the hotel. There was a gate in the back that led right to the sand and a long accessible pathway along the edge of the beach. If you turned right, it led you to a beautiful park with a large playground.

Beach Access at Back of Hotel

Beach Access at Back of Hotel

Paved Pathway Along the Beach

Paved Pathway Along the Beach

Amazing Playground for the Kids

Amazing Playground for the Kids

There was an accessible pathway through the sand so that wheelchair users could get closer to the ocean. The beaches were extremely large and there were lots of sand dunes, so one would not be able to get to the water in a wheelchair but you would be able to get close enough to see over all of the dunes and to watch the waves roll in. There were picnic tables up near the end of the accessible pathway where you could sit and have a nice lunch or dinner on the beach if you wanted.

Accessible Pathway Towards the Ocean

Accessible Pathway Towards the Ocean

Accessible Pathway Heading Towards Ocean

Accessible Pathway Heading Towards Ocean

View From the Top of the Accessible Path

View From the Top of the Accessible Path Facing Away From the Ocean

Looking Towards The Ocean - The Picnic Tables Mark the End of the Accessible Path

Looking Towards The Ocean – The Picnic Tables Mark the End of the Accessible Path

Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean – The Sand Was Extremely Soft Everywhere Except Right Along the Water’s Edge

In terms of its general location, this hotel was within walking distance of a number of beautiful harbours where you could look at fancy boats and beautiful homes. We also drove around and explored a number of shops, grocery stores and restaurants.  There was a family-friendly restaurant close to the resort called Toppers that served some of the best pizza we have ever had.

One of Many Beautiful Harbours

One of Many Beautiful Harbours

We learned when we were there that Oxnard is surrounded by fruit farms. It’s quite something when you are driving there to see the miles and miles of strawberries and other produce growing right there.

For entertainment purposes, you can drive from Oxnard to Ventura in 5 minutes, Camarillo (where there is a HUGE premium outlet mall) in 23 minutes, Santa Monica (where there is a really fun pier with rides and food, etc.) in one hour and Solvang (which is a very cool Danish tourist town) in one and a half hours. We thought Oxnard was ideally located for fun day trips with the kids.

Santa Monica Pier - View From the Top of the Ferris Wheel

Santa Monica Pier – View From the Top of the Ferris Wheel

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

For those flying in to California, this hotel was about one and a half hours away from LAX. Do not be afraid to rent a car as the shuttle buses for the major rental companies are accessible and they will pick you up at the terminal and take you to the rental company. Most all major car rental companies will install hand controls in a rental car for you for free. (Little tip we learned – don’t pay for anything fancy as chances are good that no matter what you rent, you will end up with a Chevy Impala (or similar) and they will not refund you the difference. Apparently most companies can only install the hand controls in mid-sized cars.)

THE BAD

I really had to think about something bad to say about this hotel. All I could come up with was that the food was not amazing and it would not be somewhere I would recommend to someone travelling without kids. We were there during spring break, mind you, but this is not a peaceful adults-only type hotel. It is definitely geared towards hosting families.

THE UGLY

The only thing that was ugly in my view was the bird poop on our deck. We were on the top floor and there were wooden slats above our deck that the birds sat on. Every morning, the deck, the deck chairs and the deck table were covered in fresh bird droppings, which made the deck unusable.

Our Deck

Our Deck

Bird Droppings on Our Deck

Bird Droppings on Our Deck

OVERALL

Overall, we thought this hotel was great and that Oxnard in general was a total hidden gem for those in wheelchairs and for families. We tend not to go to the same place more than once but we both agreed that we would definitely return here in the future. We left feeling like there was still a lot more to see.

Home2 Suites by Hilton – Edmonton, Alberta

We stayed in room 218 at the Home2 Suites by Hilton in January of 2016. We booked this hotel after reading good reviews about it online. It is advertised as an extended-stay hotel, but we were only there for two nights. It is just off 170th Street, so access to West Edmonton Mall from here would be very convenient.

Hallways

Hallways

THE GOOD

This hotel was very clean and appeared new. Our room was fully-wheelchair accessible and was very spacious. There was a queen-sized bed and pull-out couch and ample room for two playpens. There was a curtain that could be pulled across the room to separate the bed from the couch, which would be really nice if you were sharing the room with a friend or an attendant.

Queen-Sized Bed

Queen-Sized Bed

Pull-Out Couch (Not Overly Comfortable But Okay for One or Two Nights)

Pull-Out Couch (Not Overly Comfortable But Okay for One or Two Nights)

Curtain Separating Queen-Sized Bed and Couch

Curtain Separating Queen-Sized Bed and Couch

The bathroom was complete with a wheel-under sink, a wheel-in shower with fold-down shower bench, and one grab bar by the toilet. There was even a phone by the toilet for emergencies. The wheel-in shower had two shower heads, one handheld and one mounted on the wall like a normal shower.

Accessible Bathroom

Accessible Bathroom

Vanit

Vanity

Wheel-Under Sink

Wheel-Under Sink

Fold-Down Shower Bench

Fold-Down Shower Bench and Hand-Held Shower Head

Wheel-In Shower

Wheel-In Shower

Toilet With Grab Bar and Phone

Toilet With Grab Bar and Phone

There was a kitchenette in the room which was stocked with dishes, cooking utensils and eating utensils. There was a full-sized fridge, microwave, dishwasher, toaster and a Keurig coffee machine. The sink in the kitchenette was also wheel-under.

Kitchenette

Kitchenette

There was a desk with a table underneath that could be wheeled out if you were hosting company or if you preferred to eat dinner at a table. There was also a TV, in-room safe, iron, ironing board, and a small closet.

Desk Area

Desk Area

Closet Area

Closet Area

The hotel had a pool, which I understand will be accessible. They advised that they have a pool lift coming but that it had not yet arrived. There was a large sign in the pool area that said “Pool Lift” so I suspect this will be installed shortly. There was a large, accessible bathroom in the pool area.

Pool Area

Pool Area

There was a fitness facility on the main floor of the hotel, which could be accessed by someone in a wheelchair.

The hotel had a free breakfast every morning and free parking. There was also a coffee and hot chocolate station beside the front desk that was stocked 24 hours a day.

The staff here was pleasant and helpful. They were very nice upon check-in and the people helping during breakfast were very friendly.

Area of Refuge Assistance Sign at Every Exit Stairwell

Area of Refuge Assistance Sign at Every Exit Stairwell

THE BAD

Upon check-in we were told that cleaning on the weekends was only done upon request. They kindly asked if we would like to have our room cleaned on the Saturday morning and we said yes. After we returned to our hotel room on Saturday night, it had not been cleaned, which was a minor inconvenience.

The shampoo and body wash dispensers in the wheel-in shower are mounted on the wall. Unfortunately, they are mounted on the wall opposite the shower bench and no one sitting on the shower bench would be capable of reaching them.

Wheel-In Shower

Wheel-In Shower – Note the Location of the Shampoo (the Bench is Behind the Curtain)

The breakfast, while okay, was nothing special. They had cereal, toast, waffle makers, milk and yogurt. They also had some cold hard-boiled eggs and some other egg products that could be microwaved. It wasn’t terrible for a free breakfast, but don’t expect a breakfast buffet.

Breakfast Sitting Area (Not Overly Large)

Breakfast Sitting Area (Not Overly Large)

This is Where the Breakfast Food is Served

This is Where the Breakfast Food Was Served

The pool area was quite nice with lots of chairs for sitting, a bathroom, showers and a nice, big pool. The unfortunate part was that there was no hot tub! I can never understand hotels that have pools but no hot tubs. On the plus side, the temperature wasn’t too bad and no one was ever in there! Both times that we went swimming, we had the entire pool to ourselves.

THE UGLY

There was nothing ugly about this hotel.

OVERALL

This was a clean, reasonably-priced option (about $130 a night) on the west side of Edmonton. Given its affiliation with the Hilton brand, you can see that they have complied with the requirements of the ADA when designing the accessibility features of this hotel.