Holidays for disabled people have had an unfortunate image in the past. They have been good value but definitely short in the glamour stakes.
In the UK there has been an emphasis on seaside holidays, perhaps with an underlying belief that blustery winds, strong doses of ozone and temperatures below the seasonal average are somehow good for those who are not very mobile. Many of the popular resorts do not boast a convenient rail connection and are not handy for motorways so a slow journey along A roads has also been part of the fun.
They seem to do things differently in Germany as I found out when I went to the German National Tourist Office stand at Naidex. They were showcasing Feeling Fearless the latest addition to the GNTO’s website www.germany.travel/barrierfree .
I met representatives from Germany’s biggest barrier-free hotel, Haus Rheinsberg, https://www.hausrheinsberg.de/eng/hotel/ a superior 4 star hotel located in the beautiful surroundings of the Brandenburg Lake District. Yes the rooms and communal areas are designed for wheelchair users but they also factor in fun: ‘The restaurant provides high quality regional cuisine and meets special dietary and nutritional needs. The hotel bar offers a counter that has the perfect height for wheelchair guests, and our dance floor offers plenty of space for wheelchair dancing.’ Now that sounds like a holiday.
Go boating www.accessible-brandenburg.com offers ‘Barrier-free Aquatic Adventures’ including canoeing, boat trips and chartering house boats. For those who prefer dry land there are bike trips in Potsdam or you can just enjoy the culture, scenery and food in Lower Saxony and Thuringia.
I met Fiona Jarvis, founder of Blue Badge Style. She runs a website which rates places based on style, accessibility and disabled facilities. She was enthusiastic about Feeling Fearless and is thinking of having a go at skiing for the first time.
She is just the sort of tourist that Klaus Lohmann, director of the German National Tourist Office for the UK and Ireland. He said: ‘Our new webpage is designed to open up ideas for what you can do- not what your can’t- whether it’s cycling, tacking a climbing rope course in a forest or skiing. We are trying to make holidays in Germany as free from obstructions and as enjoyable as possible.’
They are definitely doing something right, because Germany has just recorded it sixth, record breaking increase in tourism in a row. So maybe give Skeggy and Weston Super Mare a miss this summer and give Germany a go.