Welcome sign at the ILUNION Malaga saying: "Bienvenido a un mundo diferente".
Picture 1. Welcome sign at the ILUNION Malaga saying: "Bienvenido a un mundo diferente".

In a Different World...

Per-Olof Hedvall

Recently, my family and I stayed at the single most accessible hotel I have ever encountered: ILUNION Malaga. The hotel chain is driven by ILUNION, initiated by the Spanish disability organisation Fundacion ONCE.

"Hoteles con Todos Incluidos"

The hotel was built from the ground up with the objective of being for all people, where everyone is included. When you approach the entrance of ILUNION Malaga, you are greeted by a sign saying: "Bienvenido a un mondo diferente" /Welcome to a different world/ (Picture 1). The hotel's slogan, "Hoteles con Todos Incluidos"/"Everyone inclusive hotels", greets and accompanies visitors and guests throughout their stay.

For me as a researcher in accessibility, usability, and Universal Design, staying at the ILUNION Malaga was incredibly interesting. On the one hand, the message conveyed regarding diversity and inclusion was everywhere, visible to all visitors (Gallery 1). On the other hand, the hotel had an impressive level of accessibility and usability and contained a range of features supporting diversity also pertaining to access and use. The details were there to be seen by the trained eye, but they were much less on display (Gallery 2).

I sometimes get asked about "good examples". I always hesitate to denominate something as "good" or "bad", since access and use are more complex than such a binary affords. From a pure accessibility point of view, I think they have done a phenomenal job. When it comes to usability, this is up to each individual guest to assess what constitutes "good" or "bad", based on the experiences they have. In terms of universal design, I found the ILUNION Malaga to be an intriguing example of a project where diversity was a central tenet from the beginning, instead of being bolted on later in the process.

Hotel entrance, photo taken from the outside. Two sliding doors with "hotel" written in huge letters across them.
Picture 3. Hotel entrance. Inside, the message "Welcome to a different world."

Tacit accommodation

If you ever get a chance to stay at the ILUNION Malaga, I would recommend a visit. The overall impression has to be experienced. We stayed for three weeks, so I had plenty of time to explore and get a feel for the mix of people staying at the hotel. What stayed with me after our visit was a feeling of tacit accommodation. The hotel clearly communicated already at the entrance that it was meant for all people and the swarm of differences they constitute. There was a wide range of access features to be found if one looked or asked for them, but it did not shout "accessibility" or "accessible".

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When access reaches a certain level, it is no longer necessary to point out what is accessible and for whom.

When access reaches a certain level, it is no longer necessary to point out what is accessible and for whom. There are few pockets of society where the level of accessibility and usability has reached such a high level. It is for good reasons that the hotel greets you with "Welcome to a different world". Yes, the next time someone asks me for a good example, I will tell them about our stay at ILUNION Malaga.

A bar coaster with the hotels message about "todos incluidos".
Picture 4. A bar coaster, another example of where ILUNION Malaga's message could be found.