A COMMITMENT to making their luxury lodges as accessible, safe and easy to navigate as possible has been recognised by the Aberdeen City and Shire Thistle Awards; Dalriada Lodges by Stonehaven has reached the finals of the newly created Inclusive Tourism category in the 2023 awards.
A family run business, the owners designed the purpose-built lodges which opened in 2018 to provide accommodation which is as adaptable as possible for all. However, since opening, the team has learned much from their guests which has led to further improvements to cater for individual needs as managing director Kelly McAlpine explained:
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“We designed our eight lodges with inclusivity in mind. So, all the lodges are on one level with hard floors and wide doorways throughout and vehicles can back up to the door on a level surface onto a space large enough to open doors wide for wheelchair users. We installed mechanical heat recovery filtration and ventilation for optimal air quality. Each lodge comes with a free-standing secure kit house where mobility scooters can be parked and charged. All the furniture can be moved, or removed, to give more room for mobility or care equipment such as a hoist and three quarters of our lodges are pet friendly to allow for assistance dogs as well as family pets.
“Many of the choice we made back them have turned out to be inclusive ‘by default’ however.
“The hypo allergenic bedding which we use throughout and the fact that we always keep two lodges completely pet free gives a great environment for guests with allergies.
“We chose a neutral, calm, seaside colour palette because we liked it ourselves. But we’ve found that this backdrop with no overstimulating colours or patterns and oak skirtings which clearly delineate the walls and the floors work well for our neuro diverse guests. Our kitchen are fully equipped and this is much appreciated by guests who want to eat in a peaceful, private atmosphere rather than an unfamiliar noisy environment with a lot of strangers.
“It’s touches like the no flicker LED lighting, the talking keyless entry system and our one page instruction sheets rather than the full instruction booklets which mean our guests can enjoy a family holiday for all. The self-catering element of a Dalriada holiday means that home routines can be preserved and touches of home can be brought along. The fact that we’re in private grounds but are less than a mile from the excellent pharmacies and doctors’ surgeries on Stonehaven is reassuring for our guests too.”
Kathryn Saunders has been a regular Dalriada guest over several years now and appreciates the support and space which the lodges offer.
“Dalriada Lodges is a place that remains in our hearts long after we’ve left,” said Kathryn. “So much so that we’ve returned several times over. Holidaying with a child with significant disabilities is incredibly challenging, physically and mentally. Our list of requirements is quite long! However, Dalriada manages to tick all of our boxes and we’re able to leave rested and at peace.
“The entrance to the lodges is on one level and through a low threshold door so getting our young wheelchair user into the lodge is very easy. The lodge is also on one level and the flooring is seamless, no thresholds on the internal doors. The same goes for the back door which leads out to a closed decking space. Perfect for our son to have a little bit of freedom to come and go as he pleases in complete safety.
“Inside the lodge, all furniture is moveable which means we adapt the surroundings to suit his needs. We were apprehensive about him sleeping in the single bed without a guard but Kelly was more than happy to exchange the singles for a large king which gave us peace of mind and he always sleeps soundly.
“Our son also requires familiarity. When we aren’t able to access our “usual” lodge, the others are carbon copies of each other so he’s always felt comfortable. Kelly was also happy to come over one evening to fix Netflix so we had access to his usual programmes.
“Overall, Dalriada manages to provide us with a restful break that can be difficult for a family like ours to come by. The physical layout of the properties lends itself well to the practicalities of being a wheelchair user and Kelly is always over-obliging when it comes to making our son feel safe, comfortable and at peace in an environment away from home.”
More about Dalriada Lodges can be found, and bookings can be made at www.dalriadalodges.com. Gift vouchers are also available to purchase online.