Don’t let architectural barriers get in the way of welcoming guests with mobility needs. Sean O’Sullivan, managing director of the Platform Lift Company and Pool Lift Company, shines a light on how to improve access without the need for major building work.
By their very nature, boutique hotels are petite, intimate and stylishly designed. From luxury listed townhouses to quirky renovations of churches, lighthouses, and manor houses, the attraction is that the space has been adapted to provide a unique experience. However, unlike a purpose-built hotel, the reuse of an existing building isn’t always ideal where access is concerned.
Irregular layouts, limited space, narrow corridors and steep stairs as well as differences in floor heights or steps all present obstacles for those guests who are disabled, elderly or maybe recovering from injury or illness. Thankfully, there are ways to overcome these physical barriers: here are just a few of the options.
Let’s take a Regency style terraced townhouse which has steps leading up to its entrance. A traditional stair riser will obviously do the job but there is another way which is aesthetically more pleasing and a much nicer experience for guests.
A cantilever style platform lift is mounted in a pit at the foot of the steps and can be covered to match block paving or other stonework. When not in use, the lift remains flush with the surrounding floor until it is activated; it then slowly rises out of the floor and over the steps until it reaches the next level. A cantilever platform lift rises to 1m, making it ideal for small flights outside or even inside a building.
Steps and floor level differences of up to 3m can also be overcome with low rise platform lifts. These products are designed to be compact, stylish and easy to install with minimal building work. A lift engineer will either create a 70mm pit or suggest using a ramped entrance leaving existing floor surfaces untouched.
If space is an issue, then you could replace steps with a 2-in-1 low rise platform lift solution which can reach heights of 1.25m. At the touch of a button, this type of product transforms from a flight of stairs to a platform lift. It is the perfect access solution for hotels and spas with space restrictions who are looking to comply with Part M and The Equality Act 2010. Again, there is a variety of materials and finishes to complement an existing interior or exterior.
For heights greater than 3m, an enclosed platform lift would be required. They come complete with their own self-supporting shaft and do not require any fixings which is perfect for buildings with sensitive wall fabrics. New designs of vertical platform lifts also feature glazed panels on all four sides which means architectural features remain visible. They also have very small footprints to fit narrow and awkward spaces. Be aware that you will need a turning circle of 1500mm at each entry point and a clear opening for the lift door.
For boutique hotels with swimming pools and hot tubs, you can also make these accessible with a pool lift or spa hoist as they are commonly known. The rule of thumb when choosing the right product is if the swimming pool or hot tub is fully in the ground, there is an option of a portable or a fixed pool lift or hoist. If it is partially above ground or there is a wall or raised edge, then the only option is a fixed pool lift or hoist.
With holidaymakers opting for staycations in the UK, now could be a good time for boutique hotels to rethink disability access and explore how current platform lifts are finding their place within a variety of buildings including ones which are listed. The clean lines of a contemporary wheelchair lift can subtly blend in with any type of environment without looking obtrusive but the statement they make is very clear – access for all.
To discuss your access requirements or book a complimentary access survey, contact 01256 896000 or visit www. platformliftco.co.uk