Nothing livens up a weekend getaway faster, than a good old fashioned garden variety ghost in your hotel room. Truth be told, almost every historic hotel has at least one tale of a spirit haunting the premises. Fortunately historic doesn't always mean inaccessible; so, in keeping with the holiday spirit, here are a few haunted properties that will work for wheelchair-users and slow walkers.
Uneasy in the Big Easy
At the top of my ghostly list is The Monteleone (tel. 504/523-3341; www.hotelmonteleone.com), located in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans. The most active area of the hotel spirit-wise is the 14th floor, where guests have reported seeing the ghost of Maurice, a child who died there in the 1800s. There have also been reports of ghostly children playing on the 14th floor and a mysterious doorman opening and closing the cafe doors after hours.
This 570-room property features 18 accessible rooms, including six with roll-in showers. The accessible guest rooms include wide doorways and good pathway access; while the bathrooms feature grab-bars in the shower/tub and around the toilet, a roll-under sink, a hand-held showerhead and a full five-foot turn around. A portable shower bench is also available upon request.
As for my own haunted experience, I heard children running up and down the 14th floor hallway; however when I opened the door, nobody was there. It could have been visitors from the spirit world, but then again, it could have been my overactive imagination coupled with the three lemon drop martinis I had before bed time.
Lyle Ignores the Bait
Over in Northern California, the Historic Groveland Hotel (tel. 209/962-4000; www.groveland.com) is reported to be visited by the spirit of Lyle, who died at the property in 1927. He's especially noted for disliking makeup and cosmetics on his dresser; so much so, that he tosses them to the floor. On a recent visit, a friend stayed in Lyle's room and baited him, with more makeup than Tammy Faye could ever imagine. All to no avail. Lyle was silent that night. Perhaps we were too obvious.
Still, with its location near the north entrance of Yosemite National Park, the Historic Groveland Hotel is a pleasant place to stay. Although technically not wheelchair-accessible, innkeeper Peggy Mosely reports that many wheelchair-users have stayed in the first-floor Cassaretto Room.
The room boasts wide doorways and good pathway access and a bathroom with a roll-under sink, a raised toilet, a tub/shower combination and a portable shower chair. Additionally, Peggy is very accommodating with special requests.
JFK Slept Here
Down in Yosemite National Park, the historic Ahwahnee Hotel (tel. 801/559-4949; www.yosemitepark.com) also has its fair share of ghostly happenings. Mary Curry Tresidder, who once operated the hotel, is said to haunt the sixth floor; while the strange appearance of a rocking chair has been noted in the suite where John F. Kennedy stayed in 1962. Apparently the chair was added for the president's visit, then later taken away. Or so everyone thought.
On the access side of things, the property features two cottage rooms with roll-in showers (702, 703), three rooms with grab bars in the bathtub and a hand-held showerhead (106, 107, 108, 230), and one room with a transfer-style shower (116). Although the cottage rooms are appropriate for full-time wheelchair-users, room 116 is better suited for slow walkers.
And if an overnight stay is beyond your budget, then stop by the hotel for the view from the back porch. Although you probably won't see any ghosts there, you may find a few deer. But then again, you never know.
Candy Harrington is the editor of Emerging Horizons and the author of 101 Accessible Vacations: Travel Ideas for Wheelers and Slow Walkers. She blogs regularly about accessible travel issues at www.barrierfreetravels.com.