Trailblazers have launched their Hoists in Hotels report. For most, staying in a hotel for a night or two away is stress-free and relaxing. This is why I am frustrated by the lack of hoists in hotels.
We’ve been unable to stay overnight in hotels purely because of the hoist issue. Hotels having hoists would mean we’d be able to take trips away overnight. I’d be able to attend more conferences – many of which require an overnight stay – which would open up more doors in terms of my voluntary work, as I wouldn’t be limited to places I could travel to and from within one day.
Accessibility in hotels is a big issue generally – lifts too small, doorways too narrow, not enough turning circle beside the bed, furniture cluttering rooms and preventing access and so on, but the hoist issue adds another layer of complexity. Having faced multiple issues with hotels, I’ve been put off staying overnight – even if we rented a hoist, I haven’t had the confidence to take the risk of not knowing whether the place will be accessible. In the past we’ve spent months getting measurements and photos of the hotel room and liaising with companies only to find the room still isn’t accessible. So now needing a hoist to transfer, it’s even more complicated to try and stay somewhere overnight. However, if I knew every hotel had a fully accessible room with available hoist, I would definitely have the courage to branch out and do overnight trips.
I’ve had one particularly bad experience. In one hotel, all the accessible rooms weren’t accessible. We had to take all the furniture out to get my wheelchair in, the door was barely wide enough so I had to scrape the walls and doorframe to get in. Once I got into the room, there was no room to get down the side of the bed so my mum had to pull me out of my chair, put me onto the bottom of the bed, and then drag me up the bed from the bottom to the pillows.
We managed that one year, but when we went back a year later we had spent 6 months ensuring the room was accessible, and the hotel gave us photos, measurements and so on of the room. But when we turned up the room had an L shaped entrance that wasn’t even as wide as my chair – you wouldn’t have got a buggy through it – and they made out we were the issue. We spent over 4 hours trying to find a room that was suitable, the hotel staff getting more and more fed up with me – even telling me to sleep on the sofa of one of their apartment type rooms, which I wouldn’t be able to do.
Eventually we managed to get into the executive suite, but I couldn’t get in the bathroom. Not one single room in that hotel was actually suitable for a disabled person. I will never stay there again. Also, the disabled toilets in the hotel itself and the conference centre within the hotel aren’t big enough for a wheelchair and a person to help, in order to empty my stoma bags we had to leave the door open and me sit half way out the door so mum could help empty my bags. No dignity and the treatment by staff was appalling, they very much made out I was the issue and kept getting cross with us.
Disabled people face enough barriers in life. We shouldn’t be prevented from enjoying trips away because hotels won’t always make the effort to be fully accessible and inclusive. They’re missing out on a whole market by not. I know hoists can be expensive, but they’d soon pay back the cost as people who require hoists would now become customers.
To me, it’s a win-win situation.