Disabled Find it Easy to Love Vegas

Wheelchair lifts at poolside, accessible slot machines and more attract the handicapped, slow walkers

By: Candy B. Harrington

Las Vegas is one of the most accessible cities in America, if not the world. And it was that way long before the federal American With Disabilities Act ever saw the light of day.

Why? Because Las Vegas hoteliers understand a basic marketing concept: you need to do everything you can to get everybody in the door. And if that means building a ramp, adding more wheelchair-accessible suites or lowering some blackjack tables, then so be it.

That’s why Las Vegas continues to be a top vacation choice for wheelchair-users and slow walkers.

The first-rate access extends well beyond the glitzy hotels and casinos that line the Strip.

In fact, it starts at McCarran International Airport. The modern terminal features barrier-free access to all buildings, accessible restrooms and even a wheelchair-accessible monorail.

There are also a wide variety of accessible airport transfer options.

Grey Line Airport Express operates an on-demand lift-equipped shuttle service to the Strip, downtown area and outlying hotels. Reservations are not required, and frequent departures make it a preferred choice.

Bell Transportation and CLS Transportation also provide wheelchair-accessible transfers between McCarran and city hotels. Both services, however, do require reservations at least 48 hours in advance.

Also, accessible taxis are available at the airport, but since they cannot be reserved in advance, are a bit harder to secure. In most cases, the airport dispatcher has to order an accessible taxi, and the waiting period can range from a few minutes to more than an hour.

The good news: There’s no shortage of accessible hotel rooms in Las Vegas. In fact, most properties have gone well beyond the minimum ADA requirements.

For example, Bellagio has 61 accessible rooms with roll-in showers, while the Imperial Palace has 85 such rooms. In both cases, this greatly exceeds the minimum requirement of 30 and 27 rooms, respectively.

Many Las Vegas hotels, such as Treasure Island, the MGM Grand and the Luxor, have wheelchair lifts at their swimming pools.

The Mirage, Treasure Island and Bellagio also have rooms equipped with electric track lifts in the bathrooms and bedrooms. This unusual feature, a rarity in hotels elsewhere, makes it possible for wheelchair users to transfer from the chair to the bed, bath or toilet independently.

Most of the major hotels can also arrange rentals of such as wheelchairs, Hoyer-type lifts, commode chairs and scooters.

Alternately, arrangements can be made directly with American Scooter Rental (Las Vegas-based) or Scoot Around North America (a national company) for wheelchairs and scooters.

Most of the newer Las Vegas hotels are like little cities featuring everything from shops and restaurants to showrooms and movie theaters. And all are easily accessible.

Many casinos even feature accessible slot machines and lowered gaming tables. And in most cases, dealers will place bets and take verbal commands from guests who cannot move their hands.

Getting around town is a snap too.

The Las Vegas Strip Trolley stops at most of the major Strip hotels. Most of the trolleys, actually buses, are accessible and the fare is an affordable $1.30. Accessible taxi service is available through Ace Cab Co. Additionally, the CAT bus system, which offers service to the airport and around town, operates a variety of accessible vehicles.

And for the truly independent client, Wheelchair Getaways has a large selection of accessible self-drive vans for daily and weekly rental. This option offers the greatest freedom to explore accessible Las Vegas and the surrounding area.