Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Grand Indeed

We are in a wonderful room in a really, really, old hotel, built in 1871. Considering that Canada became a country only four years earlier, it's a sturdy old thing. More than that, it's beautiful. Really, really beautiful. After check in, I went for a complimentary cup of tea in the bar while the porter helped Joe get everything to the room. The bar looks over what's affectionately called 'The English Riveria' ... the trees are lit up and the view is lovely. I sat having a cup of tea in a room where, for 130 years, people have relaxed after a day of work or of leisure.

Joe came and joined me, ordering a cold beer, and we unwound from the day and the drive. The day had gone well, the drive had us watching the day darken over some spectacular views of rolling countryside. Soon we were ready to head to the room. I had some work emails to respond to, Joe had some unpacking to do. Riding along in my chair down a very narrow hallway, though to be frank it could pass as a country lane hosting two way traffic, I struggled not to bang into the walls on either side. They must have been a lot smaller a century and a bit ago.

We turned into the room and I discovered a wonderfully large room with all sorts of space for the wheelchair, I was able to actually wheel in and wheel up to the desk from which I am now writing this blog. More, the bathroom has the first walk in shower that I've had on this trip, there are bars everywhere. It's completely accessible for me.

Here's what I find interesting. This is a building that was built in a different time that had differing attitudes towards disability and accessibility. Attitudes were built into concrete. But, even this old, beautiful, historic building has been changed. A long ramp leads up from the street to the lobby and the rooms are more accessible than many that I've stayed in, in modern hotels.

I keep hearing about how I have to understand that 'these old buildings just weren't meant to be used by those in wheelchairs.' No, that's true. But that doesn't mean that they can't be, shouldn't be. I'm willing to bet that those who believe that these old buildings are destroyed by the advent of ramps and adapted bathrooms would be hard pressed to even notice the changes. The building looks as if people with disabilities have always been welcome.

Trouble is, when a place like the Grand Hotel does it right, it makes it harder for people to deny that it can be done at all.

My expectations have been raised.

My consciousness has been expanded.

My imagination has been broadened.

This is, in essence, one of the reasons why I travel.


Glee said...

That's great that you found a great Grand Hotel. And yes I dare say no one would know it was modified to meet all needs. In fact no crip would know either!! The trouble is that when I go to their website there is absolutely NO INFORMATION OR INDICATION that they have wheelchair accessible rooms. Not in "Facilities" although they do mention in there that it is a good place "For the more active guest" as there is a gym and pool (which I doubt is accessible). Not in "Book a Room", I did a mock booking and still no indication that there is an accessible room available. WTF. These people are hopeless. How are we gonna know this stuff without making extra effort? We can't. We ALWAYS have to ring up and ask AGAIN.

And I am shocked that when you book an accessible room Dave that you rarely get a roll-in shower. How stupid is that to put a shower over a bath in a crip room? Here in Australia I have never booked or seen a hotel crip room that has not had a roll-in shower.

Glad you enjoyed your stay. Space is sooo nice :)

Glee said...

Remember, knowledge is power!

Dave Hingsburger said...

Glee, good catch! I'll call the pepole who booked the hotel and get them on to the hotel itself. So many websites don't have intormation about accessibility. I went to the Wetherspoon's website as Joe and I like their vegetarian carvery to find out if they were accessible. They have a tab called 'accessibility' but it's about the site not the puts. I then wrote them about a particular pub I wanted to go to as we were in the area I didn't complain about their site not saying anything, i just asked. They didn't respond. Accessibiility is attitude too!

Glee said...

sure is Dave!

Andrea S. said...

In my view, a critical component of accessibility is not simply having the accessibility features but making sure it is easy for people with disabilities to find out about it.

For example, as a deaf person, I can only go to the theater if a movie has captions (known as "subtitles" in most other countries--we use the term "subtitles" in the US also but we usually reserve that for those used on foreign films rather than the captions used for deaf people ... a distinction that I feel is sometimes useful since they are written a little differently). But only a few movies are available with captions at all, and only a few theaters have even a single auditorium in which captions may be shown, and usually only a few prints of any given captioned movie is available so a movie that is available for many months for hearing people at many theaters is harder to find for deaf people. But standard movie listings often make it hard to identify which few of the many showings in your city are actually accessible. If it wasn't for the web site, I (and probably many other deaf people I know) would not attend movies nearly as often as I do.

Hannah Ensor said...

I am so going to add that to my list of potential weekend-away places. It sounds marvelous.

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

Good to know that you have got a very good hotel. I hope they change the website so people know there are accessible rooms there. Sounds like your trip is going well so far.

You realize Torquay is Fawlty Towers territory?