As a keen traveller, I like to keep my eye on various travel websites, of which Silver Travel Advisor is first and foremost! When I saw an opportunity to go to Spain and sample the care and accommodation offered to folks with disabilities, I pondered awhile. Unico Care specialises in holidays and respite care for people over 55 with care needs. I am definitely the other side of 50 but not yet 55, and I have an incurable, progressive syndrome (plus another incurable syndrome secondary to the first) which means I need care. I explained that I was not 55, but I would be more than happy to offer up my time to be a Guest Blogger if it was thought that I may be an appropriate candidate in spite of this. My thrill at being accepted for this assignment was also tempered with some anxiety: I hoped I would be able to produce a good blog! You, dear reader, be the judge.
On arrival at Alicante airport we had a private transfer to our first resort on the Costa Blanca in Villajoyosa, which is only a 30 minute drive away. As it was 11.15pm, we were shown straight to our suite where a cold dinner had been left for us in case we were hungry. We were also kindly given a Welcome Pack including some information about the resort, a couple of branded tee-shirts, stress balls (I’m pleased to say that these were not needed!), pens, travel mugs, perfume, aftershave, sun tan lotion and a huge basket of delicious, fresh Valencian oranges.
Our first impressions were very favourable as the modern, recently-built resort is large and airy and centres around a spacious courtyard with plenty of outdoor seating, all of which is suited to people with mobility issues as there are arms on the chairs to assist with transferring or getting up and sitting down. There was a petanque court plus some flower beds with Birds of Paradise flowers and cacti, amongst other flora. All areas throughout the resort are wheelchair accessible and our suite was accessed via a covered walkway.
Circulation space is critical for folk who use wheelchairs and our suite was certainly spacious. All the rooms were off a wide hallway, and there was ample wardrobe space for fashionistas’ clothes. There was also a large cupboard to store suitcases / wheelchairs out of sight which I thought was great.
There was a fully equipped kitchen with small hob, microwave, filter coffee machine, fridge / freezer, sink and cutlery and crockery so, if one wishes, it is perfectly possible to be fully independent in catering for oneself.
The bedroom was, again, blessed with more wardrobes than even I could fill on this trip. The double bed was composed of two twin mattresses. My husband found the bed very comfortable. There was a telephone by the bed as well as two emergency call buttons either side of the bed.
The bathroom was fully accessible with a folding grab rail to the right of the loo; a wheelchair accessible sink; and a level access shower with grab rail at waist height as well as full height to the side. There was an emergency pull cord alarm in the centre of the main wall.
There was a television and sitting / dining area at the end of the long hallway with a table for two and two easy chairs. All the chairs had arms to assist with transfers. This area opened out via a ramp on to a covered patio with an outdoor table and chairs plus a garden area. This garden area was adjacent to a footpath used by ramblers and others.
There are about 183 places in this resort, with a choice of single rooms, double rooms or double suites as we had. All have a balcony or patio and are fully air conditioned, although we did not find the need to use our air-conditioning as the weather was simply perfect for our stay, being about 24 – 26 degrees during the daytime and about 20 – 21 degrees at night.
Although many of the suites are accessed via covered walkways, some of the rooms are off of corridors which are exactly the same as one would find in an ordinary hotel.
Lounges / Dining / Other facilities
Breakfast was served in our suite every day (how blissfully civilised!) but there are a couple of dining areas and we were allocated a table in one where our lunch was served at 1.30pm each day and dinner was served at 8.30pm each evening. The chairs are all easy to transfer in and out of as they are carver ones and the tables are of sufficient height to allow for people to sit in their wheelchairs with ease as well. People who need assistance with food and nutrition ate in the other dining area where nursing auxiliaries were on hand to help. Refreshments were served around tea time (5pm) in the lounges and drinks were also served at morning coffee time. I did observe trays of food being taken to people in their rooms who were not feeling well enough to go to the dining areas.
There are many different indoor seating areas dotted around the resort, some very restful oases with plentiful greenery surrounding them and fresh flowers on the coffee tables where one can sit and read the freely available English language newspaper in peace, others near TVs that you are free to turn on should you wish to watch TV in a social setting rather than in your own suite. Also located in the lounges are card tables and I saw many a group playing cards, dominoes and a fabulous game that we are addicted to: Rummikub. Don’t worry about packing any games in your suitcase as there is a supply here to amuse you. Likewise, there are bookshelves with a supply of books in both Spanish and a good selection in English as well that one is free to borrow. There is, however, a small selection of DVDs that one can borrow if one does not find anything of interest on the TV (English language channels are available). The decor throughout the resort is pale creams and white and is extremely restful and reminiscent of a good quality hotel.
For those who may have some level of cognitive impairment, it may be possible to enjoy a holiday here if accompanied by their carer but I would recommend discussing the specific care needs prior to booking to ensure these can be met.
In addition to the central courtyard, and the grassy surrounds of the outdoor pool, there are many sundecks and terraces and most of these have lovely views over the sandy cove of Finestrat or Villajoyosa. The resort has a south facing orientation so it is perfectly possible to enjoy the sunshine all day and up to 9pm in the summer without even stepping foot out of the front door, although obviously one is free to come and go as one wishes.
There is a snack bar / café in one of the lounges from which one can purchase ice creams, drinks, including alcoholic ones, etc. but the lady who runs this happened to be on holiday herself during our stay so it was closed.
There is a hairdressing salon in the resort and I asked the hairdresser if she did nails or other beauty treatments but she does not. However, there are other salons catering for these needs a short distance away in Villajoyosa.
There is a chapel area on site and Catholic Mass is held there in Spanish by a visiting priest. If you have any other spiritual needs then I recommend discussing these prior to booking but please bear in mind that Spain is predominantly a Catholic country.
I am a self-confessed Internet Queen. Whilst I am not addicted to the www, I do like to be connected and I was pleased that there is free Wi-Fi available in all the communal areas and it was a very fast, good service. We were also fortunate in that we were able to access the broadband connection in our suite but such service is not guaranteed in all the rooms.