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Luxurious accessible stays for families with disabilities
By Jennifer Allen

An aerial view of a luxury tropical resort during early evening. The resort is composed of a large, multi-story building with a terracotta roof and balconies, suggesting a design inspired by the local architecture. In the foreground, a meticulously designed pool area mimics a lazy river, winding through an artificial landscape of rocks and palm trees. The pool area is dotted with lounge chairs and umbrellas for relaxation. Beyond the resort, the calm ocean extends to the horizon under a soft, pastel sky, indicating the resort's beachfront location. The tranquil setting is designed for leisure and suggests an atmosphere of an exclusive getaway.
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The best experiences are discovered by word of mouth, so we asked the people who know! Here were the top family luxury travel recommendations from people used to travelling with a wheelchair.

Disney’s Aulani Resort, Oahu

I went on a trip to Hawaii in late 2022. We stayed at Disney’s Aulani Resort in a wheelchair accessible ocean view room for one week. It’s on Oahu and while on that island, we rented an accessible van from Wheelers Van Rentals of Hawaii. We did a helicopter ride with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters (we also did another ride with them on Kauai the next week), enjoyed the spa at Aulani, attended the Paradise Cove Luau, visited Pearl Harbor, and more. For our second week in Hawaii, we did a cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line and went to Maui, the Big Island, and Kauai. -Curb Free Cory Lee (Learn more about his accessible luxury trip to Oahu here.)

Sonesta Resort, Hilton Head

The walkways to the pools, beach, etc. were all paved and there was a ramp instead of steps to the beach. It was perfect for us to pull our daughter down in her wagon, and the beach wheelchair would’ve been great. There were also accessible restrooms near the beach access which was so nice because we didn’t have to go all the way back up to the hotel room to cath. 

I would say most of Hilton Head as a whole is pretty accessible! Coligny Plaza is very popular and is all paved. If you go out to Sea Pines (where Salty Dog Cafe is), it’s pretty much all boardwalk and has ramps and accessible parking. We also did a dolphin cruise that let us bring her wheelchair on board.

My daughter is 5 and a full-time wheelchair user, and we took her in her wheelchair everywhere! Lenze Ramage

La Soa Chalets, Austria

10/10 For luxury, with every detail designed for ultimate rest, relaxation, and enjoyment.

10/10 For family-friendly. Luxury, but laid back. There’s a playground on site, a game room, pool, and plenty of kid-centered games and activities.

8/10 For accessibility. The chalets are beautifully designed with full accessibility on the first floor. If your wheelchair user is staying in the master suite, this is perfect. The kids’ rooms are upstairs. The pool was also difficult to manage and didn’t have a chair lift. Rooms include tickets to the accessible gondola just down the mountain. Jenn Allen

Walt Disney World Deluxe Resorts, Florida, U.S.

Disney has a reputation for inclusion – and that doesn’t change when you move up to luxury level. In addition to the accessibility of the parks, the convenience of DAS, and the wheelchair-friendly transportation, the deluxe resorts create an inclusive luxury experience.

As a family of five, including my eldest daughter, who has cerebral palsy, we have thoroughly loved our vacations at Walt Disney World Deluxe Resorts. All Disney property goes above and beyond with accessibility and inclusion, and that is ever-present at the resorts as well. Our favorite is Beach Club, where not only do they have a zero entry pool, but it is made into a faux beach with sand. It was perfect for allowing my daughter to sit and play at the water’s edge and enjoy the sensory input of the sand. The rooms have a variety of accessible options and staff who are willing to accommodate any need. We truly appreciate having a roll-in shower and they deliver a shower chair upon request. Most of the deluxe resorts are in close proximity to the theme parks, which means less loading and unloading on transportation. Having multiple dining options, right in the same building, gives us plenty of choices. They’re very careful and accommodating of dietary needs, including sending a chef directly to the table for consultation. Walt Disney World is absolutely the best destination for the disabled traveler, and the deluxe resorts add luxury without detracting from accessibility. Bethany Hildebrandt and Stacey Lynn

Hyatt Ziva Resort, Cancun, Mexico

Very accessible. My daughter’s ages were 3-10 on those vacations. Full time chair user. As far as rooms go, we never had an issue. We found them to be great accommodations.  Casey Meybohm Hall

Ritz Carlton, Anywhere

In addition to their reputation for luxury and customer service, they have excellent accessible accommodations. They were super accommodating with having our son’s medical supplies pre-shipped and holding them for us so we didn’t have to deal with flying with them. -Erin Moya

Hotel Bardo, Savannah, U.S.

My boyfriend and I travel with Pack Up + Go often.  We stayed at The Mansion on Forsythe (now Hotel Bardo) in Savannah, GA and it was luxurious! Champagne and strawberries in our room at check-in, accessible pool, champagne hour in the lobby each night – such a fun trip!  Savannah roads were rough with a powerchair, but the hotel and Forsythe Park were a delight! Pack Up + Go is great about accessibility details. Dawn Burns

Tier II luxury

These destinations are just below premium luxury, while still remaining high above a standard getaway. With high-end accommodations, upscale dining experiences and personalized services, these destinations bring luxury within reach for middle class families.

Beaches, Turks and Caicos, Negril, or Ocho Rios

We always enjoy the service, and they have great amenities. The best focus here is that they have a guaranteed accessible room category. Also, their general manager is making some serious strides to turn it into the most accessible resort in the Caribbean. They have two accessible beach cabanas, adaptive scuba diving, and accessible transportation. -Kristy Durso

Cruise lines

While many luxury cruise lines don’t cater to families (many won’t even take children), Holland America and Celebrity Cruise Lines are both upscale cruise lines that welcome families and wheelchair users. If you do the higher end suites, these cruise lines are truly fabulous. The Koningsdam has installed pool lifts for all the pools, including the spa therapy pool. They are seriously working to become the most accessible cruise line.  -Kristy Durso

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