Any trip requires preparation, and when one of the travelers is an aging parent who might have mobility issues or other needs, some extra preparations may be required. Hotels can often accommodate these sorts of requests, but not if they don’t know about them.
Will Perry, the global head of hotel asset management for CII Hotels and Resorts, recently shared some of his expertise on the subject. In the first half of my interview with him, he offered an overview to working with hotels to accommodate the needs of aging travelers. Here, in the conclusion of our conversation, he presents even more advice, including tips for handling problems that may arise with the hotel.
VG: How far in advance should you call the hotel to made arrangements to meet your needs?
WP: Do this as soon as possible to ensure that any particular rooms you need are available. After you discuss your needs by phone with the hotel staff, follow-up with a letter to the hotel general manager.
Even more important, though, is to call the hotel three days prior to your arrival. Ask to speak with the front desk manager, the person who’s really in charge of guests’ needs and requests when they are onsite. Because the general manager will typically forward requests to the front desk manager, speaking with the latter directly shortly before you arrive will enable you to confirm that the arrangements you need have been made.
VG: What happens if you arrive at the hotel and find that things you’ve ordered are not correct (for example, you’ve been assigned a room on the second floor in a building with no elevator, but you booked a room on the first floor)?
WP: You should not have any problems if you’ve done everything possible to make your arrangements ahead of time, such as call in advance and clearly communicate your needs. Unless the hotel is very old, it should have no trouble meeting most requests.
If you do encounter a problem at the hotel, however, ask to speak with the general manager or the manager on duty right away. He or she should be able to remedy the situation. And when you return home after your trip, send a letter to the brand headquarters about the issues that arose.
VG: Are there differences between U.S. and non-U.S. hotels? Does your advice change if traveling internationally?
WP: For U.S.-branded hotels, the brand typically requires the international operator to comply with U.S. ADA standards. For example, our Hilton in Cape Town has everything a U.S.-based Hilton would have in terms of amenities to assist a mobility-challenged traveler, even though South African law does not require them.
VG: In a previous interview posted to this blog, Dr. Douglas Zeiger, a travel medicine specialist, made the following recommendation for anyone with age-related issues who’s traveling outside the USA: “At a minimum, they should book accommodations in higher-end hotels with English-speaking doctors on staff, just in case they become ill.” I asked Mr. Perry about this recommendation.
WP: Higher-end, larger brands usually do have English-speaking doctors on hand. You should confirm this before booking a hotel, however, and also find out if the doctor is onsite full-time or maintains an on-demand schedule at the hotel. In case your parent does have a medical emergency, bring their doctor’s contact information, as well as a physician’s letter with details on their particular medical condition, potential complications (such as allergies), special needs, or other pertinent information.
Thanks to Will Perry for offering such helpful information. I plan to make great use of these suggestions when planning my next trip with Mom, and I hope my readers will use these tips for their own trip preparations as well!