Everybody needs a little TLC once in a while, and honestly, British Columbia is probably one of the best places in the world to do just that. From natural hot springs to mountainous landscapes and delectable cuisine, there is no shortage of ways to get in your rest and relaxation time.
With that being said, a lot of spas and wellness centres in the province are tucked high up in the mountains, resulting in lots of stairs and complete inaccessibility for anyone with limited mobility. It is a challenge to focus on relaxation and self-care when the only thing on your mind is: “how will I safely navigate this space?”
Luckily, there are a few amazing places that recognize the importance of self-care for everyone, regardless of ability. Whether you’re interested in getting pampered with spa treatments or simply relaxing in the beauty of nature, there is surely something for everyone on this list.
So get ready to turn work mode off — here are 4 wheelchair accessible places to relax and rejuvenate in British Columbia, Canada.
Photo Credit: Globe Guide
Radium Hot Springs is about an hour and a half west of Banff National Park. Unwind and have a soak in these springs, which are surrounded by beautiful, lush forest and jagged mountainous rock. The springs are open all year-round and the area is pooled with naturally heated mineral water for the ultimate relaxation.
There is an elevator onsite and the entrance of the springs is graded, with shallow water and handrails. Additionally, submersible water wheelchairs can be rented from the reception desk on a first come, first serve basis. Accessible change rooms are available on site and one support worker can enter free of charge when accompanying a person with a disability that requires assistance using the hot springs.
Please note that there is a maximum capacity of 200 people, so if that limit has been reached, there may be wait times in non-shaded and unsheltered areas. Additionally, the hot springs are kept between 37° C and 40 °C. As such, individuals with heart conditions, diabetes or other chronic health concerns or conditions should consult their doctor prior to visiting.
Photo Credit: Wickaninnish Inn
Wickaninnish Inn is situated on spectacular Chesterman Beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean just five kilometers from Tofino. The hotel’s Ancient Cedars Spa, nestled into the rocks on the edge of the forest, is a haven for relaxation and rejuvenation. Here you can recieve a massage, a body polish, or a temple-style Lomi Lomi, which is traditionally used by Hawaiian shamans and healers.
The spa is located on the main level of the Wickaninnish Inn and is equipped with mechanical massage beds, making transferring easier for wheelchair users. Additionally, The Pointe Restaurant on site is accessible via ramp for a nourishing meal after your spa services. Here you can enjoy a sweeping 240-degree view of the lively Pacific Ocean and innovative Canadian cuisine inspired by fresh, local and seasonal fare.
If you’re looking to stay the night, specific rooms feature lower counters in the washroom, an accessible shower and balcony. Upon request, the Wickaninnish Inn can also provide a portable commode, shower chair, transfer bench, toilet seat lift and grab bars, as well as a wheelchair for guests.
Photo Credit: Vacations & Travel
Disconnect from the world in the peaceful, rejuvenating oasis of KurSpa – one of the largest spas in Canada. This wellness retreat is part of the Sparkling Hill Resort, which is located in Vernon in BC’s Okanagan. It offers 7 fantastic steam rooms and saunas, not to mention around $10 million of Swarovski crystals incorporated in the hotel’s design. If you’re feeling a thrill, you can also tackle the cryotherapy treatment — the first cold sauna of its kind in North America.
As a health and wellness destination, the Sparkling Hill Resort aims to create an inclusive environment for everyone. Indulging in a weekend getaway is made easy with the comfort of their accessible hotel rooms which include lowered beds, wider doorways, as well as roll-in showers and railings on bathtubs. Not only that, but a chair lift can be set up to aid in transferring into any of their pools, including their magnificent outdoor infinity pool with panoramic views of Okanagan Lake and surrounding vistas.
Photo Credit: Miss604
Bordering the breathtaking mountains of Southwestern British Columbia, Harrison Hot Springs Resort is a refreshing world of outdoor tranquility. Settle into one of their hot mineral pools, which are fed directly by pumping hot spring water that has been cooled to a comfortable temperature. Each of the pools are set at a different temperature so you can select what feels best based on your heat tolerance. Furthermore, the outdoor family pool, which is the largest pool on site, has a gradual sloped entrance for accessibility with ledge-style seating in various areas. Unfortunately the other pools do have stairs to enter but handrails are provided.
If the hot springs didn’t quite fulfil your relaxation goals, you can also check out the Healing Springs Spa on the same property. They feature a menu of stress-relieving, immune-system-boosting, energy-building, and rebalancing massage and spa treatments to help you feel your best.
The one caveat is that you do have to be a hotel guest to enjoy these amenities. The hotel itself is old, and while improvements have been made to make it reasonably accessible, it is not perfect. There are many steep ramps throughout the interior of the hotel and in many cases, you will have to take a longer route if you need step-free access. The rooms themselves are quite spacious but do not have accessible bathrooms with roll-in showers. There is, however, an accessible bathroom with a roll-in shower and bench next to the indoor hot pool, so you can shower off before and after using the mineral pools.
About the Author
Tori Hunter is a writer and travel enthusiast, passionate about redefining the way we view accessibility and the disabled experience. She has worked alongside numerous organizations to help dismantle access barriers, and in her free time, she likes to share her adventures as a wheelchair user on her Instagram @torihunter.blog
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