As everyone knows vacations take planning. For me, it is an excruciating process. Recently I went to Wilmington NC. I loved it! Finding hotels to stay in, in July that were accessible was a daunting task. Many of the hotels said they were accessible except their pools were not. To find out this information I had to look through the pictures of each hotel to see if the pool was also accessible. One would think that this is a no-brainer, but you would be wrong.
I saw many hotels which listed their amenities as pet-friendly, laptop-friendly, and even LGBTQ-friendly.
None of them said they were wheelchair friendly, handicapped-friendly, or even accessible. Why? Aren’t I just as important as pets and laptops? Can someone please tell me what LGBTQ-friendly means? Aren’t all hotels supposed to be in the business of hospitality? Oh, how I wish I could just pick any hotel with its sweeping ocean views and stay there.
Hotel chains got it all wrong.
Accessible rooms are larger to accommodate a wheelchair but often have only one bed. So if you are like my family and me, you need two rooms or someone sleeps on the floor. The thought of that is gross. For some reason, many hotels think that providing a tub with a bench seat or something of that nature will accommodate them. Tubs don’t work for me. I use a camping chair when I travel. It usually can fit into a tub. The only problem is that my feet then hang over the edge. The floor gets soaked and I have to use what little towels they leave in the room to clean up the water so that the floor is not slippery. Then there are the rooms with the huge roll-in shower and the drain in the middle of the floor. Although I don’t hang over the edge, water gets everywhere and the floor is slippery.
They gave it to someone else
Even after painstakingly locating a hotel with what I need, oftentimes I get to the hotel and they don’t have what I need. They gave it to someone else. This happened recently at a family wedding. The hotel was told explicitly that I was in a wheelchair and needed room to shower as we were staying for three days. Additionally, I had requested a suite because my father snores. They said no problem, we will take this, see you when you get here. So here is my saga. At check-in, I am told the room that I had reserved was given to someone else. You see they were a priority member customer and extended their stay. The hotel would give me a room for the evening and I could switch to that room the next day when they checked out. You would think this is no big deal, but it was. I had loads of equipment, luggage, and beverages for the fun-filled wedding weekend extravaganza.
We would have to lug all the stuff into a room that I would only use for one night. The next day, sometime after 3, about 2 hours before the rehearsal dinner I would be able to switch rooms. No worries the staff will help me and the room they gave me for one night will be comped.
I don’t know about you but as soon as someone says, no worries, that is exactly when the worrying begins. The hour finally arrived, and the room was cleaned, they just needed someone to fix the toilet. By this time everyone knew what was going on and the tension was building. With the help of my family, we left the large suite we had and ready ourselves for our accessible room. You guessed it, it wasn’t accessible. The tub, not the shower had a built-in bench that was useless. The room was not a suite, so I would get no sleep because of my father's snoring. When I say snoring, I mean snoring. Cutting the wood with a chainsaw snoring. This room would not do. At this point, something was about to break and it was my mother.
She wanted nothing more than everything to be perfect. This was my first wedding as a bridesmaid with the sweetest cousin you can imagine. She didn’t want to stress everyone out so she cried in the privacy of a room being shown to her by the hotel staff. At that same moment, my father called her and well he isn’t the best with sticky situations and told me. Now I know if my mother had lost it things were pretty bad and I was scared. So I lost it. Now everyone around me thought it was pretty silly to cry over a room. It wasn’t the room, it was my disability screaming in my face. Once again, something that is so easy for everyone else but so hard for me. After about an hour the hotel staff felt terrible, but they finally gave me two rooms. You see the room with the roll-in shower had two beds but was not a suite. I appreciated that the hotel saw to it that in the end my needs were taken care of but really they should have done that in the first place. Especially since the hotel was "sold out". It made me wonder why they didn't do that in the first place. I was told they always have spare rooms if something goes wrong and they need to switch rooms.
Don't depend on the plan
So it didn’t matter if the hotel was pet-friendly, LGBTQ-friendly, or even laptop friendly. What mattered was the staff was compassionate and understanding. Never once did mom yell and scream at the people to get her way. She did break down but that was the stress of the situation and the fact that this happens all the time. It shouldn’t have happened this time because we planned ahead. The lesson is planning makes life easier but don’t depend on the plan.
Thank you for reading until the end!
This is the view from my wheelchair, where miracles can make a difference. Always Strive for the Impossible. Come back next week for the next episode of parking wars and The View From My Wheelchair.