Finding an accessible vacation home is a rare find and to find one in the mountains…seems it would be nearly impossible! Well, I’m excited to share there are MANY to choose from at Table Rock Lake in the Ozark Mountain region of the Midwest! The homes at the Lodges of Chateau Cove have beautiful sunset views over the lake. A view that EVERYone can experience all because these homes are equipped with MANY universal design elements!
This review is on the home my family and I stayed in during the Thanksgiving holiday. Once again, our entire family (from our 91-year-old grandmother to my 10-month-old infant) was able to participate in all the family gatherings, games, movie nights and feasts comfortably, safely as we experienced the full JOYful effect.
While this home is not fully 100% wheelchair accessible, all wheelchair users could still get into the home and participate in all the family activities. Assistance would still be required in some areas for bathing and cooking tasks were limited by a few barriers such as a step in shower and limited maneuver space to access stove and standard countertops, especially if accessed from a manual wheelchair. However, this home checks off all the basic universal design features to simply allow all guests to eat, sleep and play with ease and ultimately, experience true JOY.
Vacation Home: Stillwater
Location: Table Rock Lake, Branson, MO
Price: Peak season is the Holidays, so you’re paying more. Moderately priced compared to other homes in the area. This one has 10 bedrooms (main floor: 2 primary bedrooms with king beds and en-suite with one accessible bathroom, 1 bunk room with 4 bunks, full bath in hall; second floor: 3 bedrooms with king beds, 2 full bathrooms with one en-suite bath; basement: 3 bedrooms with king beds and ensuite bathrooms, and 1 bunk room with 4 bunks and en-suite bathroom).
Tip: When searching rentals on third party sites like VRBO, Airbnb, check out the owners and ask for direct rental sight or google rental company displayed under the listing. Booking directly is often significantly less expensive.
Check it out! Branson, MO offers many adventures for the whole family from hiking to shows (which most offer accessible seating and entrances). You’ll find unique activities like Fritz Adventures and the small town Silver Dollar City to explore (an amusement park with amazing Holiday lights and activities!). We witnessed many wheelchair users from adults to children at the amusement park so we know it’s accessible! During the summer, pontoons can be rented…we booked our rental through the marina at Indian Point.
This home was located on the bluff of the mountain surrounded by many other similar homes in this community. Each home offered lake and beautiful sunset views. It’s within 15-20 minutes of Silver Dollar City and the heart of Branson for all the shows, shopping, and cool attractions for the entire family to enjoy.
This neighborhood offered two pools (one indoor and one outdoor) as well as a small playground. A multi level home like this doesn’t even need an elevator since it has a ramp AND zero step entrance along with main floor living spaces! I emphasize the “AND” because believe it or not, you will find homes that have an elevator, a ramp, or other accessible amenities but then it stops at the entrance with the steps. It. Just. Doesn’t. Make. Sense!
The ramp and zero step entrance allows ANYone to get into the home. All wheels can go up the ramp to get into the house. What’s somewhat funny, is witnessing two older folks on two occasions and two different houses, maneuvering up / down the steps carrying their luggage. I wanted to remind them there is a ramp they can use to make it easier on them. Perhaps they’re so used to taking the steps they forgot about taking advantage of the ramp.
The wide hallway and doorways is a bit refreshing for it’s rare to walk into a space and feel freedom and the ability to move things from room to room including a play yard that transitioned without breaking it down. All the doors had lever style handles throughout making it easy to enter the home and rooms. The front door had a keyless entrance by use of touchpad to unlock/lock doors. So, it requires minimal dexterity. It simplifies your stay and reduces the stress of keeping up with the keys.
The flooring was the same throughout with the exception of carpet on stairs which is a good intervention preventing slips on the stairs. No thresholds or transition pieces between rooms and the flooring material pretty slip resistant. This makes it easy for anyone using mobility devices including infants in a walker, those with a shuffled walk, can or walker.
Accessible primary bathroom and bedroom is on the main floor along with another bedroom with an ensuite and bunk room. There was ample space around the bed and inside the bathroom. The shower was not roll-in or curbless, but it did have double doors to enter and a vertical grab bar to hold onto while stepping into the shower with the door open. I have never seen a pre-fab shower with a removable shower seat. This one allowed you to have the seat on the back side wall or the side wall closest to the removable shower head. The sink was somewhat of a partial roll under sink but still had about a 29” clearance with a sloped panel to cover the plumbing. What is interesting is that all the doorways were different widths on the main level. The accessible bathroom and laundry room both had ample clearance at 36” width (or 35” inside the door jam).
All living spaces can be accessed on the main level such as kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. This home allows the entire family to be together for eat, sleep, and play activities. Although the game room was in the basement, at least all guests could be together for meals, movies, and simply conversing. The threshold to the back porch had at least a 2” threshold to get outside and more to get back inside.
Basic instructions were provided in email. This was organized and managed by a national rental company so it’s not as personable and no direct line for customer service. We didn’t use the customer service much except to report some of the maintenance this home needed such as new air filters, plumbing needs in bathtubs, and to confirm what would be provided during our stay (play yard, high chair, type of coffee pot, etc).
The rental company provided a play yard and high chair to eliminate travel gear making it easier on our family traveling with kids. The home was kid-friendly and even friendly for older adults wanting to enjoy their vacation with their younger family members (talking about grandparents here).
We are finding most rentals being stocked with the bare minimum essentials these days. Read the reviews and check out all the amenities, including fine print when planning your trip. May need to bring all your toiletries like soaps of all kinds (bath, shampoo, dishwasher, and washing machine) and extra paper towels, trash bags and toilet paper.
Recommended additional features and consider for your rentals:
The accessibility features far outweigh the lack of the basic necessities and a few of the areas of improvement they needed to make. Some areas of improvements that any vacation home should consider are:
Good and variety of lighting (offer a variety from lamps to direct or task lighting and make sure all bulbs are the same temperature, 3000k is usually a good color for visibility and safety). This home had several lights on dimmers which is a great feature to offer! Offering lamps or dimmers softens the lighting for those who are sensitive to bright, overhead lighting. However, it still lacked good overhead lighting throughout.
Speaking of lighting, label those switches!
Variety of pots and pans (this one was lacking cookie sheets and basic pans for bacon).
At least one good cutting knife (which most rentals lack).
At least one curbless or zero barrier / no-step entrance shower (I know one in this community that actually offered one with a curbless shower entry - see below)
A vertical grab bar to assist with stepping over the threshold to the back porch off the main level.
A manual or guide on the how to’s in the home, recommended places to go around the areas, and important numbers such as how to contact management (easy access without looking it up on your phone or computer) and local emergency clinics.
A vertical grab bar with a step over threshold whether into a shower, a porch, or garage.
As you can see, universal design in vacation rentals accommodates more people in the market of all ages and all abilities. When the basic universal design features are integrated in vacation homes (i.e., primary living spaces on main level such as bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and laundry, zero step entrance, and at least one curbless shower and roll-under sink), you’re maximizing the number of people that can rent out your home. This alone will make a vacation rental in high demand.
Other rentals with accessibility features in Table Rock: