Christiane is also posting about hotel accessibility:
How Accessible is our Hotel?
I travel a great deal, and so I’ve been to a lot of hotels, all over the world. I know that “accessible hotel room” doesn’t necessarily mean accessible hotel room. Even though there’s a DIN for accessible construction, the devil is in the details.
At Podcastday in Cologne, I stayed at the Radisson SAS at the Messe, and was pleasantly surprised. This is what I call accessibility – in the room, the bathroom had a sliding door, there was enough space, the toilet had proper grab bars, I could fit under the counter and sink, the bed was not too high and not too deep, so that I could get in easily, and the room still looked chic. Additionally I noticed that the elevator buttons were marked in Braille, and the room numbers were tactile. I was so enchanted, I told people about it all afternoon.
Later, when I returned to the hotel, my room phone rang. A hotel manager was calling to ask me if I’d like to have a drink with her at the bar. I was one of the few wheelchair users who had stayed at the hotel since its opening, and she wanted to talk about what the hotel could do better. I have to say, I’ve frequently been in the US, I’ve visited Australia, Asia, and many European countries, and nothing like this has every happened. None of the hotel employees in the many hotels I’ve stayed in have ever asked me if the room worked well for me as a wheelchair user. I thought this was so great, that I agreed immediately, even though I had planned to nap.
The manager was very nice, I told her about my travels, and how great my room was, and how I had noticed that this hotel offered more for blind guests than many others. We talked for about an hour, then she gave me her card and said that I should write if I thought of anything else that could be improved. One or two things have occurred to me since (the control for the AC is too high), but these things are peanuts compared to other hotels. Just the fact that the manager asked shows me that they get it. They don’t have six accessible rooms because they have to, they have them because they want to, in order to offer disabled guests optimal service. You don’t see that every day.
On the same note, there’s a postscript to my recent Albuquerque hotel experience. I filled out the comment card at the hotel (as I always do), and a couple of days later the hotel manager called me to make sure she understook my comments. This was definitely a first for me. We had a nice long chat, during which I learned, among other things, that every Marriott hotel has a “little people’s kit” which includes a reacher/grabber to be used for things (like the AC controls) that are too high.
When she learned that we will probably be staying at a different Marriott property for our longer term visits, she asked my permission to give my name to the the other hotel manager, who also called me.
So kudos to the Marriott properties in Albuquerque for excellent followup.