Interview with Lynne Kirkby of Enable Holidays
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Enable specialises in holidays for people with limited mobility, slow walkers and the elderly who find it harder to get around. Lynne Kirby talks about how she founded Enable Holidays and the changes she has seen over the years in holiday tastes and facilities on offer.
Lynne Kirby, co-founder and Managing Director of Enable Holidays talks to Debbie Marshall from Silver Travel Advisor and shares her views about limited mobility travel.
How long have you been working in the travel business and what made you decide to start Enable Holidays?
Travel has been life for over 35 years, since I first entered the industry as a junior travel clerk. During that time I’ve witnessed a great many changes as Britons have become the most travelled holidaymakers in Europe. But it wasn’t until we entered the new millennium that we became serious about providing a better standard of holiday for older people with limited mobility. We first identified the need for a specialist kind of service late in 2003 when a colleague suggested that she’d like to cater for older travellers – especially slow walkers and wheelchair-users. And I’m proud to say that we launched Enable Holidays in 2004 as one of the pioneers in this specialist field. We were in fact the very first to introduce a personal auditing service to identify the levels of accessibility in hotels, apartments and villas throughout the Med, Aegean, Canary Islands, Florida and Egypt, and we are still the only company to undertake an audit that covers in excess of 140 points.
Do you feel that there’s a greater desire to travel and explore the world now than say 10 years ago for limited mobility guests?
Definitely. Once upon a time it was regarded as being nigh on impossible with too many barriers, hardships and disappointments. And lots of hard work. Now, by using a specialist like Enable Holidays, it’s possible to find a holiday that’s suitable for the traveller’s specific requirements from arrangements at the airport and during the flight to having everything in place upon arrival in resort. There are also improved facilities for getting to and enjoying attractions and places of interest.
How can you recommend the hotels and services offered by Enable Holidays with confidence?
By personally visiting and auditing the hotels we feature in our programme means we are able to offer qualified, impartial and accurate information on the facilities and services on offer.
Do you find that hotels are now paying more attention to the facilities needed for limited mobility guests and making greater efforts generally?
There is certainly more emphasis being placed on meeting the requirements of guests with limited mobility, but we do need more hotels to offer more accessible rooms to cater for demand. On the whole however we are finding it’s getting better and essentials such as adapted rooms, pool hoists, ramps and grab rails are becoming more of a standard feature.
What further improvements do you think could be made?
A better understanding of the needs of mobility impaired customers this would be helped by providing more accessible rooms in more hotels, there is also a need for equipment hire to be more available in some resorts which would ensure that more people could enjoy more destinations. Better care being taken when handling wheelchairs during luggage off-loading at the airport.
Where is the most popular destination for your clients?
The Mediterranean is always a firm favourite with our clients with Majorca being the most popular summer destination, but this is closely followed by Tenerife which offers a great range of accessible accommodation and accessible beach facilities and is a year round destination.
Where is your favourite destinations?
From those that are featured by Enable Holidays Majorca is also my favourite, however the most wonderful holiday that I have experienced was a safari in Kenya many years ago I would love to be able to bring that opportunity to our customers and maybe in time we will
Do you have a packing tip that you could share with us?
Always work from a packing list. Place beach towels on top of all your packing to keep things in place (it really works and tucks everything in). Instead of folding clothes conventionally, roll up as many dresses and underwear as possible as this prevents creasing and takes up less space. Invest in a light-weight holiday bag – something that goes everywhere with you and contains a mini first aid kit, sun tan lotion, bottle of water, sunglasses and sun hat. Keep everything to hand.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Enable Holidays.
Read about Silver Traveller Jacqui who makes light work of her restricted mobility.
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