Wheelchair users Mecca in Paradise – when Martyn stumbled across mar Y sol

Yes, you guessed it, he has been away again! The back story/self justification is ;-) while the sale of my old car funded an amazing trip to the US, I didn’t get much sun and warmth. As you all are fully aware, UK winters hit my energy and health hard. So having completed a few bits of consultancy work, progressed well in my Scope role and had a few days annual leave until the end of March – a quick trip to Tenerife seemed the perfect tonic.

My weekday PA, David, is on holiday too in Miami, so Gabi (my most recently recruited PA) enabled me along with mum and step dad (Dave aka Disco). We left very early Thursday morning but this meant we were at the hotel by 12. The usual problems ensued of finding a room that was as accessible as one can cope with. The result was the ‘special’ room with slightly wider doors for the hoist to place me on the loo in the bathroom. Then we pushed the beds right back to the far side of the room, allowing space for wheelchair and hoist manoeuvrability. By 4pm we were settled in to grab a nap in the sun before heading for a nice meal and a drink.

Friday I had prearranged a video interview with Roland from Lero at 11am. I have used his company every time I visited the island for accessible airport transport and hoist hire. He is a great guy with a great story and a great company. Please see the video on the blog post below.

So the gist was Roland cared for a guy called Mr.Fishers wife during his civil service year, who had Multiple Sclerosis. They all lived in Germany. I have had many PAs from Germany while I was studying, who were all in their civil service year too. Mr.Fisher decided to start a fully accessible hotel in Tenerife from his knowledge and experience with his wife. He offered Roland the chance to start the mobility aids company as an independent sister organisation, who would cross over with their services.

I was almost as surprised as Roland, and subsequently Mr.Fisher, that I hadn’t heard of ‘Mar y Sol’. It has been running for 20 years in Los Cristianos with fully inclusive rooms, a heated pool with hoists and a variety of therapies on offer. After the interview with Roland he invited us to look around the hotel. The views were stunning, the ambience classy and the facilities A1. As we took in the hoist by the pool, Roland said he would speak with the director if I would like to interview him.

5 minutes later, already flustered at how we had ended up in a wheelchair users Mecca set in paradise, we were whisked off to the secured office of Mr.Fisher. It became apparent quickly he could not speak English, but his hotel manager Renate facilitated translation. Myself, mum and Gabi settled in to start chatting about their story (already outlined), the hotels ethos and life on the island for disabled tourists. I then spoke about my background, work with Scope, blogging antics and aims to improve information and inspiration for disabled people.

Hoist overhanging the swimming pool
Accessible pool

We then met his son Thomas, who had grown up on the island, before studying in Switzerland and returning for an internship at his fathers hotel. Thomas and Mr.Fisher showed us around a couple of rooms and the balcony views. Wow! Roll in showers, raised beds with space for the hoist legs underneath and a whole manner of other little touches for the disabled consumer.

My ethos has always been about normal, every day life and inclusion. My fear for such a hotel would have been staying only with disabled guests could result in a kind of ghetto and exclusion. However the hotel encourage non disabled guests too, but rightly take pride in their disabled friendly facilities. There were many disabled people at the resort, but again, if someone prefers they can see to their needs at the hotel before heading to the local bars and amenities.

Please check out www.lero.net and www.marysol.org. I just want to thank Roland Mr.Fisher, with his staff, for their time and kindness. I hope this information assists you should you ever visit Tenerife for some sun. I hope I can actually stay there one day too.

After this amazing chance meeting, the rest of my trip was simply minimal and relaxing. We enjoyed the 25 degree sunshine on the beach and by the pool, had some delicious meals and enjoyed cocktails with cheesy bar music. On one night the cabaret act sang “you to me are everything” by the real thing. This was played on the radio when I was 3 and received my first wheelchair. Mum mentioned this aloud on the dancefloor, so the next thing the mic is in front of me and I am singing the bloody chorus to all and sundry. Hilariously bad.

Flying home we were delayed an hour, waiting for my carry off assistance and further delays with the luggage meant I got home at 3am. However I was tanned, energised, revitalised and ready to bounce into spring and warmer weather. Since, I have nailed the first ‘seminar in your slippers and am working on some tweaks and changes to my website. The trip served me well and then its off to Cyprus in 7 weeks for the annual family Easter holiday. Bye for now.