Adapting your vacation rental property for guests with disabilities is a good idea for many reasons. First, it opens up your vacation rental to an entirely new market; over 15% of the world’s population lives with some type of disability. And since disability-friendly properties are low in supply, making your vacation rental more accessible can even increase your profits if you market it well.
Plus, everyone deserves to have a nice vacation and an amazing guest experience, and it’s wonderful to adapt your vacation rental in order to allow more people to enjoy it. Keep in mind that every vacation rental property will require slightly different modifications to become more accessible. Here are 11 ways to adapt your vacation rental for guests with disabilities.
- 1. Optimize your entrance
- 2. Eliminate stairs if possible
- 3. Keep hallways clear
- 4. Offer handicap-accessible parking
- 5. Adjust your doors
- 6. Adapt the bathroom
- 7. Modify the kitchen
- 8. Consider lighting glare and height
- 9. Provide accommodations for service animals
- 10. Invest in accessible gadgets
- 11. Answer common questions in your listing
- Main Takeaways
1. Optimize your entrance
If it’s difficult to enter and exit your vacation rental, that will set your guests up for a negative experience from the start. Take a good look at your vacation rental property’s entrance and consider whether it’s accessible for people with disabilities.
A handicap ramp is a great way to make your property much more accessible for people in wheelchairs and others with limited mobility. If you want to build a handicap ramp yourself, remember to keep the slope ratio at 1:12, or one inch of height per 12 inches of ramp. You can also buy portable or permanent ramps to use at your vacation rental.
Be sure to take care of any divots or dips that might impede a wheelchair or cause people to trip. The door’s threshold should be half an inch or less so that wheelchair users don’t have to do a wheelie to enter your vacation rental property. It’s also a nice touch to add a lower peephole to the door so that people who use wheelchairs can easily see who’s at the door.
2. Eliminate stairs if possible
If you can, replace all of your stairs with ramps. Stairs aren’t just a hazard for people who use wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility aids; the elderly and people with limited mobility can also struggle to go up and down steps. Note any areas of your vacation rental property that are only accessible by stairs in your listing so that guests know what to expect when they arrive.
3. Keep hallways clear
You might want to include small, decorative tables and knickknacks in the hallway, but it’s better to keep the hallway entirely clear instead. These items can act as obstructions for people using wheelchairs or walkers. By keeping spaces clear, you won’t run the risk of breaking any decorations, and everyone can easily move around the space.
4. Offer handicap-accessible parking
If it’s possible, offer handicap-accessible parking close to your vacation rental property. Look into expanding the space so that there’s plenty of space for a lift or ramp to function properly. You’ll also need to have the parking spot painted to indicate that the space is reserved for people with disabilities.
If you don’t have an available parking spot, be sure to make that clear in your listing so that guests know they’ll have to find an alternative place to park and make transportation plans. It’s a good idea to offer your guests suggestions on the best dropoff locations and potential transportation arrangements.
5. Adjust your doors
The average wheelchair is 25 inches across, so doorways need to be at least 35 inches wide to comfortably fit a person using a wheelchair. You’ll also want to lower the door handles to make them easier to reach.
6. Adapt the bathroom
If you want to make your vacation rental property truly disability-friendly, then you’ll need to make some changes to the bathroom. There are multiple ways to adapt the bathroom to make it more functional for everyone. First, a walk-in tub with bath seats or a handicap-accessible shower is a valuable amenity. Be sure to add hand grips and grab bars as well. Avoid slippery floors and shower surfaces. Roll-under sinks, easy-transfer toilets, and easy-to-reach outlets are also great features to have in an accessible bathroom.
7. Modify the kitchen
Using the kitchen is often an integral part of staying at a vacation rental property. Many guests enjoy cooking for themselves and sitting down for a meal together. It’s up to you to ensure that your kitchen is accessible and offers everyone the same opportunity to cook and take part in the fun.
There are a few things to note. Look at the height of the surfaces in your kitchen and consider lowering them if possible so that people in wheelchairs can comfortably access them. Also, consider whether everything is easy to reach from a wheelchair. If you can, use the lower cupboards and drawers rather than ones that are higher up. You’ll also want to look out for any jagged edges or other obstructions that could make moving around the kitchen area difficult.
Another clever way to make the kitchen more accessible is to purchase a side-by-side refrigerator and freezer, rather than a refrigerator with a freezer on top.
8. Consider lighting glare and height
One issue that people in wheelchairs sometimes run into is a glare from various types of lighting. Recessed lighting and lights under countertops can cause issues. You can use reduced glare bulbs or lower the lighting position to address this problem.
Another way to adjust the lighting in your vacation rental property to make it more accessible for those with disabilities is to move the light switches to a height of 36 inches. You could also provide a remote that controls the lights if you can’t undertake the project of moving the light switches.
9. Provide accommodations for service animals
Another way to make your vacation rental property more accessible for people with disabilities is to provide plenty of extra amenities for service animals. Choose pet-friendly floors and furniture that are durable and easy to clean. Be sure to provide plenty of extra cleaning supplies in case any accidents take place. You can even go the extra mile and purchase dog food, bowls for food and water, pet beds, a leash, and other accessories. Dog waste bags are also handy for guests to have and encourage them to clean up after their furry friends.
10. Invest in accessible gadgets
Self check-in using a smart lock, keypad, or lockbox is a simple way to automate the process and make it more accessible. Gadgets like light sensors that turn lights on and off when people enter and exit the room can also be helpful for people with disabilities. A smart thermostat is also practical since thermostat controls can often be located too high up on the wall for everyone to easily view and adjust. Smart thermostats are simple to control because you can access them from your smartphone.
11. Answer common questions in your listing
If you want to adapt your vacation rental property for guests with disabilities, you need to familiarize yourself with what they’re looking for and their most common questions. Be sure to address the following in your listing:
- When entering the vacation rental, are there stairs? Is there a ramp or elevator? Are there any parts of the vacation rental that are only accessible by stairs?
- Is there an accessible parking space on site?
- How wide are the doorways throughout the vacation rental property?
- If there is a balcony, how wide is it?
- Are there grab bars in the shower?
- Is there a roll-in shower with a shower bench or a walk-in tub with bath seats?
- What is the height of the toilet in the vacation rental property bathroom?
Providing answers to these questions upfront will put guests’ minds at ease and reassure them that your property is accessible enough to fit their needs.
Adapting your vacation rental property to accommodate guests with disabilities is a great way to improve your business. Not only does it allow everyone to enjoy their stay at your vacation rental regardless of disability, but it can also increase your bookings and profits since there aren’t many disability-friendly vacation rental properties available. Here are 11 ways to make your vacation rental more accessible:
- Optimize your entrance with a ramp and low threshold.
- Eliminate stairs if possible and replace them with ramps.
- Keep the hallways clear of small tables, decorations, and other obstructions.
- Offer handicap-accessible parking with enough space for a ramp or lift to deploy.
- Adjust your doors so that they’re at least 35 inches wide.
- Adapt the bathroom with an accessible toilet and shower or tub.
- Modify the kitchen counter and consider placing the fridge and freezer side-by-side.
- Consider the glare lighting may cause and move the light switches to a height of 36 inches if possible.
- Provide accommodations for service animals like food and water bowls and dog waste bags.
- Invest in accessible gadgets like a smart thermostat and light sensors.
- Answer common questions regarding accessibility in your vacation rental property listing.