...nothing here is promised, not one day... Lin-Manuel Miranda

It's not just a hotel room, it's an adventure
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (3)
Share on Facebook
For about what, 10 years, I've been regularly asking for "handicapped accessible" rooms at hotels - ADA rooms, disabled rooms, they're called everything but they exist thanks to ADA. There are some basics that all rooms must have and beyond that, it's a crap shoot. I know the basics but have never been clear on what the bottom line is on what's required, and SO many things are iffy.

The idea is for someone who uses a wheelchair to be able to use the room. Okay, so some stuff is obvious right? Doorways have to be wide enough. Some stuff's slightly less obvious but if you think about it, useful; no shag carpeting. Not that we have that much anymore but still, low pile carpeting, it's easier to move on, especially if you're using a manual wheelchair. You'll notice usually that if there are fancy sink fixtures - crystal handles or whatever, they don't exist in the crip bathroom. There are levers, long, push handle type thingies to turn on/off the water, as some folks with disabilities, especially stuff where the spine is involved have limited hand strength and hand movement. My hands have gone completely from strong to weenie in recent years, so I appreciate the help. So levers are easier than grasping a knob. There's often that sort of handled on the room's door and the closet doors, but not always.

The main reason I get the room - ok, 2 reasons; one is that I really need those damn grab bars in the shower and usually at the toilet as standing up is difficult for me and my balance can be really iffy. So that's it - most other stuff I don't require as I tend to walk around the hotel room. But the rooms often have a bit more floor space - needed to turn the wheelchair around in, so really it's required. The thing is, that the power/motorized things, like the scooter I use or a power wheelchair, they need to be charged, so you have to a) have space for them in a room and b) find an outlet where you can plug the thing in. THAT one isn't in the requirements, lemme tell you; we've spent interesting times finding available outlets in hotel rooms. Have you noticed? The ones for the bedside lamps? Behind the headboard. Forget it. More than once I've had to do this interesting thing where I use the outlet in the bathroom to charge the scooter - great in the middle of the night in a strange room, eh?

You'll also notice in the bathrooms a range of things from sinks you can roll up to - so no vanity or cabinet underneath - and if you peek under the sink, you'll see wrapped pipes. That's so someone who might not feel heat on their legs doesn't get burned.

There's a range of bathroom things from roll in showers, to hand-held showers to shower benches. This is only in newer hotels; older ones of course, can't really tear out bathrooms, so all too often they have a bathtub. With grab bars. Neither is, ideal for me since I have trouble standing and I have lots of trouble lifting my legs over a tub ledge - can't use a regular tub at all. But often there's this cool fold-down seat attached to the wall; sometimes you can request a bench/chair.

I always wonder though about some of the little things like, okay, say you use a manual wheelchair. And you can scoot it into the shower. But you can't reach the damn hand-held shower thingy, so its value is sort of useless.

Then there's the towel shelves and or racks; which are often too high to reach; or the handy little hook on the back of the door, which is only for someone who can stand (of course, if it's too low, your elegant, gorgeous ankle-length robe drags on the floor, but still…

There have been closets with lowered bars so you can hang/reach your clothes which seems handy; especially nice when they have some of those and some of the usual so your jeans long stuff again, doesn't drag on the ground.

The peephole thing is a challenge, I discovered; years ago, while traveling alone, I checked into my accessible room and the bellman came up with my suitcases. This was the first time there was only one peephole - a lowered one (usually there are two). I was walking around the room - I might still have BEEN walking at the time with a cane, before scooter, and said to myself "self", I said, being that sort, "you're a woman alone in a hotel room. You're going to be wise and use the peephole. Which I bent over and did. And I can tell you that yes, someone was standing in front of my door. With a belt. That had a belt buckle. Umm…..

I've been in horrid nasty retrofitted afterthought rooms where it was so crowded that yeah, there was a TTY, but you couldn't reach it. That same room had some weird sort of frame around the toilet as "grab bars' which practically trapped anyone but an anorexic who sat down there. That room too won the "really good planning award" for being the farthest room from the lobby and events in the hotel; Stupid planners forget that some disabled people DO WALK. Putting the room so far away, if you're using a walker or cane or crutches was, what's the phrase, ah, "user-hostile". Some rooms are at the ends of corridors, I think for evacuation purposes, most are close in to the elevators.

The room in Chicago had most of the features and that meant that well, there was room to turn around, which was good. The roll in shower was the usual disaster; almost every single one I've ever had resulted in a completely flooded bathroom floor; they're not designed so that the water drains well. This one had one of those hand-held thingies which no matter what, when you sat it in the little holder, faced the shower curtain and could not be turned in. I used up 3 towels for every shower - one for me, two, plus the small bathmat to soak up the water.

Then there was the airlock. Mind you I HAVE stayed by myself in hotels and I have managed to get in and out of my room without incident, but who WAS the genius who designed room 1227 at the Sheraton?

You enter and there's a really narrow passageway to the room itself; the hotel room door, of course, is heavy, opens in and closes automatically. On your right as you enter in this narrow passageway is the closet (with the ironing board that had a mind of its own, just ask me or Cornelia. Damn, that thing was alive, I swear to god). DIRECTLY opposite is the bathroom. The closet door is hinged on the left and will not stay open. The bathroom door is ALSO hinged on the left, but it will stay open.

I think it would have been possible for me to be trapped in a box of the three door and not be found until housekeeping arrived the next day. I might have had to gnaw off a foot or something. I spent one time trying about 5 times to get the door to stay open long enough for me to exit (partly because the basket on the scooter extends it several inches and my fingers were just…not…quite ...long…enough to grab this, hold that and manage this thing.

It was an…interesting room. I liked it in the old days when there were enough drawers for two people to unpack into and maybe not have to bend so far to reach. There were three deep but small drawers, but there was of course an extensive mini-bar. Whoopee. And alas, no ESPN2 - which only matters to those few, those proud, those WNBA fans who wanted to watch the division finals. Bummer. It was, the first time ever in my life that I was in a hotel room that ran out of toilet paper. Pretty damn sad since that one's pretty much a given that they can manage. And lacked shampoo for one day. Pretty pathetic actually.

I didn't have to park the scooter in the bathroom to charge it. That was a good thing. I was afraid one of us who take a header on wet tile. I did get out of the room a couple times by myself, but mostly I was damn lucky Cornelia was there when I wanted to leave.

I wish that when I'd started years ago, I'd made notes; maybe I could produce a guide to handicapped accessible rooms I've known and offer a rating scale. As time goes on, more and more people find the scooters useful; bigger s.f. conventions RENT them to folks for the weekend, and I keep suggesting to my friends that they considering renting one if they're going to a convention and they have walking problems. I mean my GOD, that Sheraton. Yikes!

I usually fill out the room survey. Then I forget about it and get home and toss it. This time I actually filled it out and sent it, because between the flooding, the tp, the ridiculous restaurant nonsense with the concierge, and the hiding of the telephone charges, I was interested to hear what they'd say. Then when I got home and got yet another email from them, I decided to send the damn thing back. (The first email arrived a few days before the trip - confirmed my stay with a completely different confirmation number than the one I had, had "special offers" which I could not link to and was full of unreadable html code or whatever that was. The second came thanking me and was STILL full of stupid codes I couldn't read and links I couldn't link to. You wanna tick me off - waste my time with stupid emails I didn't ask for to begin with. Hotel spam - yeah that we really need. It went to the Sheraton along with the letter I wrote to the Chicago Transit authority, informing them they owed me an apology and $45. No, I'm not holding my breath.

Some day, I swear, hot and cold running bellboys with double lattes and raspberries, an accessible hot tub and a masseuse. That's not too much to ask from a hotel, right?

Read/Post Comments (3)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.