A Review of Mermaids Guesthouse
Struisbaai, Overberg, Western Cape
In our search for universally accessible accommodation in Struisbaai, we found Mermaid Guesthouse. It seems to be the only accommodation in Struisbaai which markets itself as accessible. Most of the guesthouses and hotels we researched have a few floors with stairs, no lifts and no accessible bathroom. Those willing to assist with rooms on the ground floor, could,of course,not change the access in the bathroom.
Mermaid Guesthouse is a smallish establishment with big smiles and warm hearts. The family unit, that’s accessible, is on the ground floor has 3 bedrooms and sleeps 6 people. The accessible bathroom is spacious and served our purposes. There’s a second bathroom thathas 2 separate showers and another toilet. We used the double bed room and the twin bed room. All rooms have tea and coffee making facilities, water for boiling and an added sweet touch – jars of cookies. Each room has a safe, hairdryer and a bar fridge in the third bedroom. Towels,linen and toiletries are provided. Breakfast is more than sufficient and caters for most tastes with cereal, yoghurt, fresh fruit, bread, muffins, breakfast biscuits, and hot choices on order. On the whole the stay was very good. The staff was helpful and friendly and went out of their way to assist with our daughter.
Specific wheelchair accessible notes
The disabled parking spot is in the very corner at the pool and should be closer to the ramp. The parking space should be wider to allow transfer from either side of the vehicle. As it is now when another vehicle is parked next to the disabled parking bay you cannot transfer the wheelchair on either side of the vehicle.
There is enough space to move the wheelchair through the breakfast room area. The breakfast buffet should be lower though to allow someone in a wheelchair to reach it comfortably. The coffee and tea is placed quite high up as well. I could imagine the guesthouse having no issue making these arrangements if needed. They accommodated my daughter and put the buffet out on our “over-sized” table so we had everything at hand.
The ramp is a good addition, but it is too steep. For someone rolling themselves it would be difficult going up and dangerous coming down.
Accessing the building
There is ample space to move through the front door and through the breakfast area to the family unit rooms. You can also enter the family unit from the outside on the stoep area, again with sufficient room to move. In summer you may have to manoeuvre around the sunbathers and sun loungers.
The hallway and bedroom areas are fairly narrow and space is limited for wheelchairs and transferring to the bed. A suggestion would be to remove the one single bed from the room if it’s not needed. This would definitely allow more space for the wheelchair and for movement. In the double bed room the bed could be moved towards the inside wall to allow more space for transferring. The beds were not too low and manageable.
The bathroom worked well for us as we could transfer my daughter to the shower chair attached to the wall. The shower attachment needs to be lower and be adjustable so it’s comfortable for individual needs. Management indicated they are still attending to some shortcomings in the bathroom and intend to improve the accessible bathroom so that it is fully compliant.
The shower has no shelf for the shampoo, soap, shower gel etc.You are supposed to use the mobile basket and position it where it’s needed. Having a shelf lower down in the shower area would work better than having to lean towards the basket. The bathroom needs more ventilation, there is only one small window above the toilet. The bathroom steams up quickly and all the surfaces become very slippery. There is adequate wall surface area to add more towel rails. Currently there is only one hand-towel rail and a few hooks behind the door.
The establishment does offer some assistance with a notice on the door advising you how to avoid any incident due to a steamy wet bathroom. And they do provide floor mats and rubber matting.
A nice touch was the toiletries in lovely baskets, very handy and allowed for more shelf space. The shelf, however, is too high up and could not be reached by anyone in a wheelchair. The toilet has a hand rail. It would be difficult to transfer someone though as the wheelchair would have to stand in the slightly slanted shower area. The toilet area thus needs more space for transfer.
The swimming pool
The swimming pool is not accessible as there is a step and no support railings. A hoist and pool seat which could lower the person into and out of the water with adequate space for a comfortable and safe transfer would be the ideal.
We would recommend Mermaid Guesthouse and would stay there again if we were in the area.