Author: Sheri Denkensohn-Trott
When we think that we have experienced every possible accessibility drama in a hotel room, another one arises. It is seriously like a game of whack a mole. We recently traveled to New York City and stayed at the Hampton Inn. We choose this hotel because it is known for having wheelchair accessible rooms with roll in showers and when you arrive there actually is a roll in shower (unlike some places that consider a roll in shower to be a shower with a lip).
We arrived at our destination, much luggage moved up to our accessible room, and entered. The bathroom had a roll in shower and could have been a little bit bigger, but it would suffice. The area next to the bed on the right-hand side had ample room for moving and positioning to enter the bed. But here was the major issue. The bottom of the bed was so close to the wall that a wheelchair could not fit through to the other side. That meant that there was no way that I was going to be able to get around the bed and get in to sleep or reach the blinds to close them.
Luckily my attendant was able to make it work, and our only option, besides changing hotels which we did not want to do because of proximity to Madison Square Garden where we were attending a basketball tournament, was to sleep sideways on the bed. It was a king-size bed and we would not fall off. Tony’s feet hung off the bed, and it was quite difficult to get onto the bed, but we managed.
Of course, I have become adept at not letting these things slide. I met with the manager and explained the problem. The bed could not be moved because the headboard was attached to the wall so sliding it to the right was not going to solve the problem. Even if we could move the bed to the right, it would not change the fact that there was not enough space at the bottom of the bed to get through.
The manager asked if we wanted to relocate to a more accessible room in a Hampton Inn in Soho, but that would involve packing up our belongings and relying on public transportation to get back and forth to our destinations throughout the week. A definite no.
She then offered us a wheelchair accessible room at the Stewart Hotel. The location was great, but I had much trepidation about this location because I had called them to make a reservation and the reservation agent responded that they did not have a room with a roll in shower. I asked the manager of our hotel to give me a point of contact and said that I would go over to the hotel to check out the room. By the time she responded the room had already been taken!
We survived the week in the room, but I certainly didn’t leave without compensation. We got our room for free and our parking fee was waived. Yes, we saved money, but that doesn’t make it worth the effort, frustration, and exhaustion of dealing with inaccessibility issues whenever we travel. I can’t understand why Hampton Inn cannot have one model of what is accessible and replicate it at every location. It seems to be a no-brainer. They should know what the rules are after 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act. But it is evident that advocacy and travel go hand-in-hand and we will continue to fight. The alternative is not traveling, and we are not ready or willing to give up.