Despite having a disability, I am lucky enough to have traveled all over the world, including London, Antigua, Mexico, Tanzania, Dubai, Florida, California, Bahamas, India, and more! One thing that I have found when going on most of these trips is that they aren’t always wheelchair accessible. Being in a power chair, this makes for some difficult travel and many surprises along the way! There is one trip, however, that outdid them all!
One of the recent trips we took was to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. We stayed at the Grand Palladium and it was by far the best vacation I’ve ever taken! When we go on vacations, the plane is usually the worst part, but surprisingly, the flight attendants and everyone there understood and treated my wheelchair like it’s meant to be treated!
When we got off the plane, I felt the warm weather that we didn’t have back home and they let me get into my chair right outside the gate and enjoy the nice warm weather. The van that drove us from the airport to our hotel was accessible, which I didn’t expect and was pleasantly surprised by. When we went and took a tour of our hotel, I was overjoyed because almost everything there was accessible! There were ramps and elevators connecting the entire hotel which made it easy for me to go everywhere. I could not wait to explore!
We usually have to ask for an accessible room, but the minute the lady at the check-in desk saw me, she told my parents not to worry. Next thing we knew, we were in a large room with a pool built into our porch! This way I had room for all my machines and my wheelchair could fit without us tripping over everything. I also could roll out on the balcony and go to our private pool if I felt like the public pool was too much. The absolute best part of all was that 10 feet from our porch-side pool was the gate that lead straight to the beach!
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “How will you be able to go to the beach in your power wheelchair? Your wheels will get dirty! Won’t sand get in your engine? Won’t you get stuck?” Well luckily, the Grand Palladium had my back! For the first time ever, I saw a ramp on the beach that led right up to a hut with our very own beach chairs and a spot to park my wheelchair. And it was reserved only for people in wheelchairs. It was like my own cabana and we didn’t have to pay a dime to stay in it! They made sure that it was only used for people in wheelchairs and I was able to feel the sand for the first time in a long time.
After we went to the beach, we came back to our room and I parked my chair next to the shower and there was a seat that my parents would slide under me so they could bring me from my chair to the shower. Plus, the seat was waterproof! All my parents had to do was shower me. Not only did they have all this, but the hotel itself held autism walks and donated to charity! We were even able to walk to their beachside fundraisers because everything was within walking distance. The roads were smooth, so I had no trouble in my power wheelchair. I would definitely go back there in a heartbeat. The next time you’re looking for an accessible place to stay, I recommend Grand Palladium in Punta Cana.
About Sakina Shamsi: Sakina lives in New Jersey with her parents and brother. Although she has spinal muscular atrophy type II, Sakina lives a full and independent lifestyle. She is active in the disability community and enjoys horseback riding, baking and crafting. Click here to learn more about Sakina.