Hi, Maegan Blau here! I am the owner and lead designer of Blue Copper Design, an interior design studio based in Phoenix Arizona focused on combining adaptive design with beautiful interiors. I have two passions in life, interior design and travel. When living in a wheelchair, those two worlds collide more often than not.
My husband Chris and I have done our fair share of traveling in the 10 years we have been together and have experienced the entire spectrum of accessibility. Recently my husband and I stayed at The Strawberry Inn in Strawberry Arizona to attend a wedding in the area. We were excited to have a quick weekend getaway and enjoy the changing leaves and northern Arizona forest. We have found many ways to “make things work” when we encounter major accessibility issues (which is a whole other story) but when we find places that are completely accessible and well thought out, we rejoice! Most people think with ADA laws and many people living with disabilities that accessibility has been solved and done with but that cannot be further from the truth. Simple access to entry points, bathrooms, bedrooms, etc. is something people living with disabilities constantly think about in everyday life let alone when traveling. It is a stressor that people overcome every day and something that can be eliminated with practices of good design.
The Strawberry Inn's Cottage 11 is one of the most accessible accommodations we have ever seen. To be honest, my expectations were low when booking the room just because of our past experiences with “accessible” hotels. Typically, hotels check off the boxes to make their rooms ADA compliant but don’t think the room all the way through from the perspective of a wheelchair user. The Strawberry Inn was not a typical hotel. I could immediately tell that the design considered the user in all areas of Cottage 11.
Cottage 11 is The Strawberry Inn's accessible cabin. It has a nice ramp with a gentle grade leading up to a spacious porch. The entry door has no threshold which was awesome when I was bringing my luggage in and out, no bump to worry about! The cabin opens into a cozy living room with plenty of space to roll around. The sofa was a great height for transfers and the kitchenette was completely accessible. There is a roll under kitchen sink, coffee maker, refrigerator and stove top that were all very easy to get to.
Bathrooms are probably the most crucial area in a hotel room or home for that matter that can determine a person’s independence. For myself, it is the biggest question mark when traveling. The bathroom in Cottage 11 was perfect in every way. I could easily transfer to the toilet and shower and could be completely independent with my personal care. First off, they utilized a pocket door to the bathroom which is a practice we do all the time at our design firm. Eliminating door swings is practical and user friendly. The roll in shower could accommodate a variety of different physical needs and was very easy to transfer into. The shower head was placed by the shower bench which is a rarer find than you would think.
The most overlooked area in hotel rooms when it comes to accessibility is the bedroom area. 99% of the time hotel beds are too high to make a safe transfer to. As a wheelchair user of almost 13 years, this crucial detail is one that makes it almost impossible for me to travel solo. The bed height being too high means I would need assistance getting in and out of the bed. The Strawberry Inn has a lowered bed that was very easy to transfer in and out of. Such a game changer! Once again, they utilized a pocket door which is a smart use of space. Plus, the bedroom has a view that looked over the creek and we just appreciated seeing the fall leaves when we woke up. It is not very often I find lodging accommodations I can fully utilize independently, and it was amazing to realize I can be completely independent in this cabin. I would recommend Cottage 11 to any couple or individual who is looking for an accessible place to stay in the woods.
Chris and I really enjoyed our stay at The Strawberry Inn, so much so we were planning our next visit before we even left the property. We have big plans to do a vacation with some friends, our dogs and enjoy more of beautiful Strawberry Arizona. The owners leave a notecard in the room expressing how much they love Strawberry and their passion for their hotel is sharing the town they love with the world. Having spaces that can accommodate all people is powerful and completely shares in the mission of sharing this quaint, quiet, and beautiful town with their guests.
All photos courtesy of The Strawberry Inn