Duck Pool

A couple of years ago I got a great tip from another disabled artist: he told me that he often stays in Holiday Inns because they can often provide the accommodation for essential support workers free of charge.

This is amazing because before I knew this, every trip cost at least double what it would if I was non-disabled and didn’t require 24-hour support.

Now we often stay in Holiday Inns, and we’re in one right now, just outside Bern in Switzerland. The theatre festival who invited us here gave us a choice of hotels – we could either stay in the centre of town and be near the venue, or stay a bit further out but have access to a swimming pool. Because of how much swimming can help with my chronic pain we chose the latter.

I’d imagined the pool would be like most other hotel pools, basic and functional, but I was wrong – there’s not just one pool, there are eighteen! I couldn’t take photos in the pool so instead I’ve created a drawing to try and convey how magnificent it was.

Colourful illustration showing two outdoor pools, four slides, the duck pool, jacuzzis and saunas, with families playing and having fun

It’s literally the best waterpark I’ve ever been to. There are two heated outdoor pools with massaging showers, bubble areas and Jacuzzi loungers. There’s a large pool with inflatables, a network of pools with different temperatures and water features. There’s also a kids area, and four water slides. Our favourite pool is warm and salty so you super-floaty and it has music that you can hear underwater. It’s quite dark and atmospherically lit with massive projections on one wall of ducks swimming on a lake. The duck room blew all of our minds.

Using the waterpark for up to three hours a day is included as part of our stay. And the luxury doesn’t stop at pools: there’s also a spa, in fact there are two! One’s mixed gender and the other’s just for women. Between them these spas have around fifteen different saunas, steam rooms and plunge pools. Each of the saunas have a different temperature, humidity and scent.

The whole place had a very relaxed feel and while not everything was accessible the staff were very friendly and helpful. When I said I wanted to go down a water slide one of them popped on his swimming shorts, helped me up the stairs and became my personal lifeguard.

I’m not sure how much of Bern we’ll see as all I want to do is float around in the duck room.

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