ACCESSIBILITY RATING: 5/5
On a recent overnight trip to visit a friend in Sarasota, I needed wheelchair accessible accommodations near Siesta Key Beach. I have stayed in Aloft properties before wth great experiences, so I had high expectations. Fortunately, with the Aloft Hotel in Sarasota, those expectations were met and exceeded.
I had reserved a room with two queen beds and a roll-in shower (room 303). The bathroom and bedroom sections were separated by a wall. To say the bathroom area was spacious is an understatement. The sink and vanity area were so easy to fit under, although the location of the power outlet next to the mirror instead of to the side of the sink was inconvenient. The shower and toilet area were separated by a barn door that had a full-length mirror. The shower had a padded fold-down bench, which is always a luxury to sit on (as opposed to the usual hard laminated wood. The faucet and shower head were conveniently located to the left of the bench. However, the soap and shampoo dispenser were attached to the far wall, making them unreachable (more to come about this).
The bedroom area was easy to navigate, and the two queen beds were comprised of only the mattress on a platform, making them lower than the standard hotel bed and very easy to transfer and get into. The room had two corner windows with horizontal wooden blinds, and the pulls were hard to reach from a seated position (also more on this).
As I usually do when staying at a hotel, I requested that the hotel manager come up to my room so I could speak to them about accessibility (and convenience) issues. The Aloft management sent Joe, their very kind (and funny) Chief Engineer. I showed Joe the soap and shampoo dispenser in the shower first that were unreachable from the bench. He agreed that they were in a silly location. Instead of moving them, he said he would just arrange to install an additional set of dispensers next to the bench so both a seated and a standing person would be able to easily use them. I then showed him the pull for the blinds. He asked me if I had noticed a small plastic knob next to the window. It was actually for holding a remote control that helped open and close electronic blackout blinds. The horizontal blinds were only a temporary measure until the blackout roll-down blinds could be installed to work with the remote. I thought this was fantastic!
My friend Azure asked Joe if we could take pictures of him working with me for this review, He said he had to ask for permission first and would let us know downstairs when we checked out. He then asked us if there was anything else he could do for us in the meantime. Champagne? he joked. I joked back, saying chocolate would be fantastic. About ten minutes later we went to the front desk to check out, and Azure asked the young lady working there if Joe had mentioned anything about the photo. She said he had gotten approval for us to use his photo. Then she handed us two packages–Reese’s peanut butter cups for Azure and M&Ms for me. Thank you for your kindness and fabulous sense of humor, Joe! And a huge THANK YOU to Aloft Sarasota for a fabulous stay!