The term "disabled access" can be rather misleading, especially as it can apply to a spa that only has one accessible treatment room and toilet. Of course, which spa you can visit, and which treatment you can try, largely depends on what kind of disability you have. However, be assured, there are spas out there who cater for most levels of disability.
Contact the spa for details
Kelly Mullan, from Disability Now, a monthly magazine written for disabled people by disabled people, says that research is the key to a successful spa visit:
"Before you book, give the spa a call to make sure that they can accommodate your needs. Find out if there are parts of the building that will be off-limits to you. For instance, if you're a wheelchair user, are the treatments rooms big enough? If you have other mobility issues, will you be able to use the pool, Jacuzzi and other thermal/water features?"
So, find out as much as you can about the spa and the treatments beforehand and ask questions to establish what support is available. If you have problems getting in and out of pools, you'll be able to find out if you can be assisted by calling before your visit. But many spas do cater for wheelchair users and there are treatments especially for people with disabilities.
Five signs of a good-access-for-all spa
Ask whether the spa has:
easy-access hydraulic treatment beds which can be lowered and raised
lifts between floors
well-trained staff and adaptable therapists.
Legally speaking, what counts as "disabled access"?
The Disability Discrimination Act covers the UK, and asks businesses to "...provide and make reasonable adjustments to make their businesses more accessible." It's unlawful to treat anyone with a disability differently. However, the problem with enforcing the DDA is that the obligation to take a service provider to court remains with the individual.
If a spa says that it has disabled access, then as a minimum it needs to have a low-level bell at the entrance for assisted entry, a disabled WC, and treatment rooms at ground-floor level. New-build spas need to comply with DDA regulations which make sure that their buildings are disability-friendly.
Spa treatments to try
Bear in mind that spas were originally places for people to "take the healing waters". A spa that has accessible pools and a focus on water-based treatments might be a really good option for you. People with joint problems will probably find that treatments such as floatation, massage on a waterbed, or watsu, a form of shiatsu that takes place in water, may help to ease aches and pains.
Good spas that have wheelchair-accessible facilities and trained staff to support disabled guests include: