A Swedish Hotel Welcoming Blind & Sighted Guests: Almåsa

Hotels embracing accessibility win more customers. The Almåsa Sea Hotel owned by Sweden’s Visually Impaired Foundation has multi-sensory experiences enjoyed by both blind and sighted guests.

Descriptive Transcript

A paved path, with a railing, guides visitors through a fragrant garden. Seeing Eye dog Mylo and Haben stride along the path toward a dock over gently rolling waves.

Haben: Along the Baltic Sea, there’s a place where you can recharge, relax, and support the Swedish Association of the Visually Impaired.

Stairs lead up to a stately building with pillars lining the entrance. Haben and Mylo bypass the main entrance, pass a person in a suit typing on their phone, and walk toward a step-free side door with an automated door opener.

Haben: This is about an hour from Stockholm. Almåsa Hotel.

Photo: Haben and Mylo stand in a small patch of sunlight, Haben’s hand rests on the edge of a flower box filled with pink, orange, and yellow flowers. Above the flower box, large 3D letters, in print and Braille, pop against a black wall. It says: “Almåsa Havshotell.”

Haben: This was the first time I got a braille menu in Sweden!

Photo: Haben’s hand over a white page of Braille.

Haben: Dessert! Mjölkchokladterrine, basilikaglass, jordgubbscreme kaksmulor.

Her hands glide across the Braille page as she reads out loud with an American accent. Beside her on the circular table, a ceramic bowl holds the dessert.
Photo: Close-up of the dessert bowl with a chocolate fudge bar topped with a violet and surrounded by dollops of bright-red strawberry cream with large berries. Nearby, a scoop of green ice cream sits on a bed of white cake crumbles. A soft, bright pink, maple leaf shaped candy tops the ice cream.

She reads a gold-colored, metal sign on the side of a red, wooden building.

Haben: Along the paths, around Almåsa, there’s also Braille signage.

The audio cuts to her reading the sign.

Haben: I – L – L – A – N. Strandvillan.

She stands in front of the glass double doors to the hotel. A high-pitched blackbird whistle plays from a small, red speaker above the door.

Haben: They’re using sound to give people signals of where they are. There’s a kind of bird sound to indicate where this specific door is. And then there’s another kind of water sound to let you know about another door into the building.

The camera pans to the main entrance with the staircase.

(Water bubbling)

Haben: So there are different ways to communicate information by sound, by sight…

She stands in front of another red speaker. Behind her, green foliage fills the frame.

Haben: And for the start of the forest trail…

(Cuckoo call)

Back inside the restaurant, Haben reads at the round table that has glasses, her BrailleNote, and the keyboard. Sun streams in through a window, and Mylo rests on the floor.

Haben: I was not really able to get a lot from the sound signals as a Deafblind person, but I’ve heard from blind people that it’s a cool way to be able to know where you are. In addition to also hearing the ocean sounds and the waves.

The camera pans over the sea, soft waves lapping at the dock. Haben smiles holding the ILY sign, with Mylo standing beside her.

Haben: A lot of the paths have ropes.

Photo: A weathered rope connects to the wooden railing of a dock.

Haben: So you can hold and follow the ropes to help you get places.

We cut to a video of Haben and Mylo walking down a concrete pathway toward the sea.

Haben: Or you can use your white cane or you can use your guide dog. Lots of guide dogs come here. And it’s important to make sure blind people have choices. We have had access to different trainings, resources. Some people have had training on how to use a cane. Some haven’t. So by creating multiple ways to navigate a space, you support people with different levels of experience and training.

The video slowly zooms out on the image of the rope leading to the dock, revealing a small wooden building at the end of the dock. The setting sun paints the sky in soft orange, yellow, and blue.

Haben: And if you keep following the ropes, they will take you to a classic Swedish experience: the sauna.

They stand near the end of the dock. Haben has one hand on the door knob, and The glass door of the sauna reflects Mylo. He fidgets and whines at first, then lies down.

Haben: This is a sauna on a moving, bouncing dock. And every time the waves hit the dock, we’re bouncing up and down a little bit, and on the other side, there’s a ladder going down.

She gestures behind her to the metal guide rails of the ladder that are secured to the dock. The rest of the ladder disappears into the green-blue water below.

Haben: So if you want to cold plunge first before your sauna or after your sauna, you’ve got those choices.

Mylo and Haben quickly walk back up the dock away from the water.

Haben: My feet never touched the water and I was already freezing! Would you do a cold plunge?