My name is Justin Schroth, my family owns and operates an accessible vacation rental in North Carolina. Though when we moved here it wasn’t our intention nor even a thought to do so, that is until an Eclipse happened. While this sounds like the beginnings of some ominous tale, it isn’t so fantastical, but it has been an interesting journey, if I say so myself. Let me tell you about the creation of one of the very few accessible cabin rentals in western North Carolina and some of the experiences along the way.
In the mountainous area that is North Carolina it is common to have multiple steps to access houses. While we have since moved into a new nearby house, originally, we lived in such a barely accessible home until we modified it (done before I could even get my wheelchair inside). We also had a studio apartment located above a detached garage, which of course had more than a dozen steps up to enter. This apartment was originally intended just for visiting family and friends. This changed after a conversation with a local repair man (working on our AC at the time) said the upcoming eclipse was looking to bring a lot of business to the area from visiting tourists, and that it would be a good idea to rent our apartment if we weren’t using it at the time. Soon after we were signed up on vacation rental websites and had guests who thoroughly enjoyed their stay and gazing at the eclipse. Content with the new change, we continued renting it and learned a great deal from the experience, but this would just be the beginning.
Later, after running the rental successfully for a while, my uncle was visiting and grew interested how it was going. Sadly, they lost their son who was in the military, but they wanted to do something that our family can enjoy and that could potentially help others in the name of their son. They decided to purchase a local cabin and had us (my parents and I) begin looking for a place on their behalf (because they lived out of state). My Uncle had various requirements, but they really wanted something accessible or something that can be made accessible (a challenge indeed). This was particularly important for a few reasons: easy access for my aunt who has cerebral palsy, access for my wheelchair when we have family gatherings, and access for guests renting the cabin when we aren’t using it. We ended up finding a beautiful 2-floor cabin in the woods, which only required a few modifications to make accessible.
Once the cabin was purchased, my uncle immediately got to work alongside my father to renovate the master bathroom, having some building design experience I helped with the new layout and suggested various accessible changes. We decided to use some of the walk-in closet space to expand the bathroom, this is exactly what it needed and allowed for a toilet with side access, a roll-in shower, grab bars in both, and two floating sinks accessible by a wheelchair (we also left the large existing tub in place). At the same time my uncle hired a local carpenter to expand the outdoor front porch and add a nice long gently sloped ramp that gives access from the garage level (which was already accessible for the most part). All the work and planning paid off, now someone using a wheelchair can visit upper/lower decks with a view of the river, hangout in the living room and kitchen/dinning room, or even play some games in the game room (previously the garage). This newly renovated cabin would be named after my uncles’ son, specifically his military call sign: Cobra 6 Legacy, to act as a tranquil refuge for those who visit.
The cabin is only one of a few advertised cabins that are truly accessible in our area, and really the only one with as much to offer as we have. We attract all kinds of people because of this, with approximately a third of them using assistive devices such as walkers or wheelchairs. It has been a joy to host them, and even more so when guests living with disabilities exclaim how wonderful it is to finally find a place that they can enjoy. Sadly, we’ve heard far too often that many other rentals were not actually accessible even when they said they were. For the same reason we also get many inquiries about our accessibility, even when the information is already stated, but we can’t fault them for double checking, so we gladly answer any questions they have.
Its not all fun and games though, lucky we haven’t had many unreasonable guests but there has been a few. We do state that you should try to keep things clean (not counting laundry we do) during the guests stay because it isn’t a party-house, but we occasionally get a mess left behind (and if it’s bad they won’t be allowed a second stay). Even without a mess it can take some time to ensure a proper cleaning of the cabin. Luckily my parents are retired, and between the two of them they can clean it up in the 4-hours between check-out and check-in of other guests. But guests are usually good about cleaning up, and we are also forgiving to those who inform us of a mess or accident.
If you’re curious or want to know more about running an accessible vacation rental, feel free to leave a message below. If you want to check out the rental itself of learn more about it particularly, check out my post here: https://www.tabifolk.com/groups/united-states/forum/topic/accessible-vacation-rental-cabin-in-the-nc-mountains/