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Inclusive, first-of-a-kind hotel opens in Amherst

Ryan Zunner

A new Hampton Inn in Amherst will be the first hotel to receive a Universal Design certification through the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning.

Assistant director of the school, Danise Levine, said the hotel located on Amherst Manor Drive will have a welcoming layout and allow all guests to take advantage of the full amenities no matter their physical or mental abilities.

“Universal Design accommodates everybody, and the goal is to provide an equal experience and provide the ability for people to have enjoyment within the facility,” said Levine. “So what we really try and do is make the environments more inclusive and provide features and spaces that people can go and enjoy the same.”

Levine said the hotel goes well beyond the minimum standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which she said is rather “prescriptive.”

“What we have found is accessibility codes are not enough, they just don’t accommodate people of all ages, all genders, all disabilities and abilities,” Levine said. “There are many disabilities that are not visual, and may not involve people who use wheelchairs.” 

The hotel was supposed to have been completed in mid-May, but delays in construction due to the COIVD-19 pandemic pushed it back its late-July opening.

Uniland Development broke ground on the site in 2018, with the goal of utilizing the location situated near both the University at Buffalo’s North Campus, and the Northtown Center to attract sports tourists. The company worked alongside USA Hockey throughout the process, as the Paralympic athletes of the USA Sledge Hockey team often utilize the Northtown Center. Those athletes have stated many hotels they have stayed in aren’t up to par in terms of accessibility, and they welcome what the new Hampton Inn does for them.    

"It's really huge for disabled people, whether you're an athlete coming here or just want to stay in Buffalo," Adam Page of USA Hockey told WBFO during the 2018 groundbreaking ceremony. "It definitely adds something special to the area."

Eighty-eight of the 107 rooms will feature two queen size beds to better accommodate families. They’ll also have increased space between beds and walls, bigger showers, lowered furniture, and a focus on allowing for 360 degree movement for guests in wheelchairs and other mobility devices.

Credit Ryan Zunner / WBFO News
Universal design room which has wider areas between bed and walls, areas underneath nightstands for storage, and lower furniture.
Credit Ryan Zunner / WBFO News
Table is lowered for those in wheelchairs.

Ryan Zunner joined WBFO in the summer of 2018 as an intern, before working his way up to reporter the following summer.
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