This blog entry has been written by Paul Nicol from iCAN Experiences, he is blind and was commissioned by Spabreaks.com to carry out an inspection and write a review on Bicester Hotel, Golf and Spa for their website. His findings are as follows;
Hello blog readers,
I had the pleasure of visiting Bicester Hotel and Spa recently and wanted to share my thoughts and opinion about the venue. I was visiting the Bicester Hotel and Spa wearing my "Accessibility" hat, with a view to including the venue on the iCAN experiences website.
My first impressions of the venue were good; there are 4 disabled parking bays, a large tarmac car park and well Maintained pathways to the hotel with no steps to overcome.
As I walked into the main foyer, I could sense it was a spacious area, despite being blind. The feeling of space followed me around for the remainder of the visit and you could sense from the furnishings and fittings that this venue was a good quality one! To add to this, the reception had a lowered section so if in a wheelchair, you weren't left peering over the top of the reception desk trying to hold a conversation, good start!
It's worth mentioning straight away, that throughout the buildings, there were no steps to contend with, flat surfaces were everywhere, ideal for manual and electric wheelchair users! If you wanted to get to the upper floor, there was an accessible lift which had a low level control unit so wheelchair users didn't have to struggle to reach the buttons.
Having met with Zoe and Carol from the Hotel and Spa, we began our tour of the facilities. First stop was the hotel; the hotel has 4 "Accessible" rooms, . The rooms were spacious, fitted with emergency cords, grab rails, low level light switches and accessible bathroom/wet rooms with a shower seat with wet room style shower units.
We made our way to the Spa, we were greeted by a happy smiling Kirsty (I could hear the smile in her voice, and it was confirmed for me later), I could also smell a delicate fragrant aroma which is apparently a signature of Spa's!
Kirsty showed us the treatment rooms which are all fitted with electrically operated couches (or beds to the untrained like me); the couches could be lowered right to the floor, ideal for those who might struggle to climb onto a waist height couch. The beds sorry, couch could then be adjusted in a multitude of different ways to get customers comfortable for the range of different treatments available. What was great to hear was that every session is tailored to the needs of a customer, so you can be assured that no matter what your disability; they will ensure you leave feeling amazing!
We moved on to the Pool, Jacuzzi, Hydro pool, Steam Room and Sauna. There was no hoist to help those that would need it to get into the Jacuzzi and Hydro Pool, both of which were quite deep and had steep steps, but if you are mobile, then these were both fabulous facilities! Both the steam room and Sauna were accessible for a wheelchair, although, you probably wouldn't want to stay sat on your wheel chair whilst enjoying the heat (Not least of all because it would likely wreck the thing!). Oh, whilst I remember, there was of course an accessible changing room that opened directly onto the poolside!
Swiftly on to the bar, restaurant, breakfast room and business lounge. In all cases, furniture was easily moveable to make room for a wheelchair to pull right up to the table. The lounge and bar were furnished with low level tables, ideal for cracking your shins on (Which is something I do regularly!). The dining tables in the breakfast room and restaurant are both standard height, so can be used by wheelchair users. The restaurant and breakfast room both had table service with staff on hand to assist.
The whole facility was well laid out, there weren't rabbit warren style corridors and loads of doors to contend with, it was all flat and step free, my feeling was that a good amount of consideration had been given to the accessibility of the building and facilities within. For me, the most important thing when visiting any venue is the staff, it is difficult, if not impossible to find a perfect venue, so having happy, friendly and helpful staff on hand can make such a big difference to the stay and this is particularly true for people with disabilities. I am glad to say, that the Bicester Hotel and Spa had great staff and should you have any problems, the staff will work with you to resolve them.
Personally, I really liked the venue, I will most definitely be taking the wife there and as you can imagine, I will definitely include it on the iCAN experiences website.
All the best,
Founder - iCAN experiences