We knew we were in for an extraordinary experience when we got the phone call. A room had been booked for us in Killarney a the Malton Hotel. As the room had been booked by a third party, someone at the hotel called us several weeks before our travels to enquire the specifics of our needs in an accessible room. There were several types of rooms, what would we like the room to have in it or not have in it? At no point were we asked direct questions about my disability or what I could do or not do, there were just questions about room specifics. We hang up from that call astonished after having being assured that they had 'just the right room in mind'.
Upon arrival a clerk asked if she could accompany us to the room so we could inspect it to see if it suited our needs. There was another lay out that we might like if this one did not suit. It suited. What was amazing about the place was that it was originally built to service the train station across the street, OK well that's not amazing, but it was built over ten years before Canada became a country. It was a big old grand hotel. That was completely accessible. There was no where that I needed to go that I couldn't get to. There were long hallways, sure, many of them carpeted, sure, but some carpets are really pushable, some are not, these were. The accessibility in a hotel this big and this old had had to be renovated in. The renovation was so seamless that it was like the hotel was built thoughtfully, all those years ago, for those of us with disabilities who wished to travel. A nice, but improbable, thought.
While there I had a problem with one of the foot rests on my wheelchair. We no longer have an Allen key because an airport security official declared it an international risk for flying (seems disabled people are adept at disassembling planes during flight) and we really needed to get it raised or risk damage to the chair itself. We spoke to reception. Hardly 15 minutes later a cheerful guy comes along and says, 'So let me take a look at that chair.' It was fixed only 5 minutes later and he was on his way.
All this is great. However what was remarkable is that we weren't getting 'special' service because I was in a wheelchair or because I had 'special' needs. We noted, quite simply that the hotel treated each guest and the 'special' needs that they had as important. I wasn't singled out for good treatment, I just got the excellent treatment that they gave everyone. Remarkable. Incredible even.
The sessions flew by, it felt like things were accomplished and that parents and care providers and people with disabilities all were up for learning and for interacting with this big, happy, wheelchair guy. It's easy to work well, to enjoy work, even exceed personal expectations, when one is in an environment of respect and care.
And that's what I tried to tell them in Kerry.
Here's to the Malton Hotel, Dave's official hotel of the year 2010.
Watch in December for my awards to two hotel staff, one from the UK and one from the US ... who were in their way exceptional too. Unfortunately, this year, unless something remarkable happens in the next three days, there will not be an airline category.