High-tech hotels for senior tourists

Provence & Côte d’Azur: Menton to establish a new comfort standard for travelling seniors

The city of Menton is opening itself to a brand new market for tourism thanks to a cooperation project between La Palmosa hospital and local hotels. Four hotels will rearrange two of their rooms with home automation equipment and a constant connection with the hospital to fit the needs of people with health problems.

Senior tourism is a quickly developing concept as the population ages, yet people with health problems can rarely find the same amount of comfort when traveling as they have at home. According to Catherine Romanens, director of Menton’s hospital centre, seniors will represent 25% of the population in 20 years.

“We’re trying to implement technical measures for seniors to remain independent at home for as long as possible,” she told The Riviera Times. “These include home automation adaptations, but when they’re travelling as tourists, hotels can be considered as their home.”

Yet, seniors with disabilities have a hard time travelling as hotels lack the necessary infrastructure to fit their needs. Menton’s La Palmosa hospital is teaming up with the town’s hotel union to find a solution to this problem.

Three hotels in Menton – the Ibis Styles, Best Western and Napoléon – as well as the Victoria Hotel in Roquebrune will be installing in two of their rooms home automation equipment and a digital tablet with a constant connection to the emergency service at hospital. Menton’s retirement home, part of the hospital centre, will also be equipping four of its rooms.

“The equipment will include luminous markings on the floor and reinforced handlebars in the bathrooms, similar to those found in bathrooms for handicapped people,” Menton hotel union president Mathieu Messina told The Riviera Times.

Sinks and other accessories will also have adjustable heights for easier access, and cameras in the retirement home’s four rooms will help alert the hospital if the occupant falls – though for privacy reasons this will not be the case at the hotels, according to Romanens, who initiated the project. “The goal is to provide a comfortable hotel experience for those who aren’t in need of constant care, but require a direct line to the hospital,” said Messina.

Tourism isn’t the only purpose of the project, however, as hotels will be able to welcome hospital patients before or after a same-day surgery – one that doesn’t require an overnight hospital stay. “When patients who don’t live nearby are asked to show up at the hospital at 7am, it might be easy when you’re 20-years-old, but at 70 it’s much harder,” said Romanens.

Such hotel stays could be covered by the French social security system, since article 36 of the 2014 social security financing law calls for telemedicine experimentations. This could soon apply to patients from neighbouring countries within the European Union as well, which would be interesting for Menton as it is on the Franco-Italian border.

The project, which is unprecedented in France, has been established since April 2013 and should start operating by the end of 2014. It will cost 140,000 euros, 50% of which is financed by the Alpes Maritimes department.

Also published on the Riviera Times Online