Disabled Accommodation in Bulgaria
We have a 17yr old son Sean who is blind with CP. Can I please make you aware of the first ever disabled holiday villa to be built in Bulgaria.
If you would like to get to know the full story behind this 21st Century villa then please reasd on .. It's a great story and will hopefully inspire you.
Access All Areas
One family teams up with an intrepid team of architects, lawyers and builders to create their revolutionary Villa, Katherine Watt looks into this rather amazing story to overcome the odds.
When the Mooney family went on holiday to Bulgaria four years ago, they fell in love with the beautiful landscape and friendly people. Although they wanted keep holidaying in Bulgaria, 16-year old Sean Mooney, who is registered blind with cerebral palsy, did not have the disability friendly facilities available in Bulgaria to fully enjoy the vacations.
In the UK, the Rights of Access legislation passed in 2006 meant that shops, clubs, restaurants and any other public premises had to modernise their establishments to accommodate disabled people. Bulgaria, on the other hand is still working at making the country accessible to disabled people. Sofia is leading the way, with rudimentary wheel chair ramps now installed at tourist attractions, metro stations and public squares.
There are also many hotels on the Black Sea coast that are able to accommodate disabled travellers, however the mountain resorts and other city areas are still lagging in disabled access.
A few years ago, it would have been virtually impossible for a disabled visitor to comfortably enjoy a trip to a Bulgarian village, yet now, innovative thinking from the Mooney family is making this possible.
'We loved Bulgaria, but if we were to continue visiting we had to find better ways to accommodate Sean' says Sean's dad Trevor, a businessman from Abbey Hey, Manchester. 'We decided to take on the challenge of being the first ever parents or company to construct a 21st century villa specifically designed to cater for all people with special needs who want to visit Bulgaria.'
The Villa is typical for a holiday accommodation; it will be fully air-conditioned, have satellite television, a balcony, a barbeque area and a family-sized pool. The villa will sleep eight people in four nicely-sized bedrooms, and have a spacious open plan living and dining area and a fully fitted kitchen.
In addition to these features, the villa will have additions to cater to the needs of our guests. Doors will be wheelchair friendly, ramps will be installed to enable access from outside areas, all bedrooms will be ground floor with door handles low enough to allow a person in a wheelchair to access them without stretching.
We loved Bulgaria, but if we were to continue visiting we had to find better ways to accommodate Sean
All bathrooms are planned to incorporate a wet room, and will also have grab rails for security. The 1.5 meter pool will be built with tactile areas around it, enabling blind or partially sighted holidayers to identify areas of danger. It will also include a hoist for easier access. Inside, the house will be decked out with modern appliances to aid visually impaired people, including a talking microwave, scales and clocks, and Braille markers all around. The garden will be completed as a special sensory area with an aim to stimulate all the five senses, including a water fountain and wind chime to make ambient sounds.
Plants grown will be selected for their aromatic qualities, for example, mint and lavender. Surfaces in the garden will have tactile finishes, like pebbles, tree bark and smooth stones to stimulate touch.
The stair lift for the villa will be provided by the world's largest supplier of stair lifts, Stannah.
The company has been run by a British family for over 140 years, and now supply private individuals and professional organisations across all the continents. Planning and preparing the construction of the Villa involved an intrepid team of experts. Emilia Tomova, a solicitor, was the backbone to the project.
She told QBG; 'I was introduced to Mr Mooney over 3 years ago. At that time he required legal assistance with regards to purchasing an empty plot of land in the area of Borovets, which was completed in September 2004. The following year Mr Mooney told me about his plans to have a villa with extra facilities for disabled people constructed on the land.' The next step was for Emilia to contact an architect, so she arranged a meeting with Julia Jelezova who helped Emilia's father with plans for his hotel in Golden Sands.
After discussing requirements, plans were drawn up, and then submitted.
There is hardly a villa in Varna or even in Bulgaria that is meant to be used thoroughly by disabled people
A period of over two years elapsed before the Construction Permits were granted by the mayor, which gave more than sufficient time to seek, negotiate and contract a building firm named Deniz. The project was a great challenge for Emilia, who commented, 'I am thrilled to be involved in this project, because there is hardly a villa
in Varna or even in Bulgaria that is meant to be used thoroughly by disabled people. I am also aware that the Mooneys have many handicapped friends so they will do their best to create a comfortable environment for all people with special needs.'
The architect company, Fribul Ltd, are still in the process of finalising plans for the villa. Julia Jelezova, who is heading the architectural team, feels impassionate about starting such a modern construction; 'In Bulgaria most of the new public buildings are integrating disabled friendly facilities, however in the private sector, constructors are deciding on the basis of their moral considerations whether to integrate those facilities or not.
For us, the disabled villa was such a special project to work on.' Sean, who is studying French, Music and Food Technology at the St. Vincent's school for the blind in Liverpool, is looking forward to the freedom that will come from this unique holiday villa.
'I always like travelling abroad, especially to Bulgaria,' says Sean, 'But I find it difficult to have the same level of independence as an able bodied person. This villa that my Mum and Dad are constructing will give me the ability to enjoy my Summer holidays, and I hope that some of my friends from the school will be able to join me on my future holidays in Bulgaria.'
And what of the future? 'We hope that there will be some Bulgarian entrepreneur out there who will see the benefits of what we have achieved and build on our strengths to create more 21st century accommodation for disabled people.' Says Trevor.
The villa is expected to be competed by the end of 2007, and you can chart the progress at www.bulgariaholidayvillas.com