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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

AFFINIA GARDENS AGREES TO BUY TRANSFER BATH BENCH

UPPER EAST SIDE MANHATTAN HOTEL MAKES UP FOR FAILURE TO BOOK REQUESTED ROLL-IN SHOWER ROOM WITH TUB SHOWER & SAFE TRANSFER SHOWER BENCH.

Refer to our last post about the goof up by Affinia Gardens.

The Director of Operations decided to make the wise, less than $100 including shipping, move to buy a bench that would safely accommodate Heidi during our upcoming visit.

While the reservations team needs to do a better job in complying with requests -- and the hotel with apartment-sized rooms that markets to disabled guests should have more roll-in shower suites -- we applaud this move.

We also, as returning guests, requested free wi-fi and were granted that privilege, which shaves $15 per day per labtop/ipad from the bill.

Stay tuned for reports on access after we have stayed a week-plus at this property conveniently close to Central Park and a subway station with an elevator.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

AFFINIA GARDENS IN NEW YORK -- OUTSTANDING ACCESS OR NO ATTENTION TO SPECIFIC WHEELCHAIR USERS' NEEDS?


MANHATTAN HOTEL THAT PRIDES ITSELF ON DISABILITY ACCESS FAILS TO MAKE REQUIRED ROLL-IN SHOWER BOOKING -- FIXING THIS MATTER WILL DETERMINE WHETHER AFFINIA GARDENS IS GREAT OR NOT ACCOMMODATING

Here is the email we sent today, trying to fix an egregious error that placed us in a room without the specified/required roll-in shower. We'll report on the results.

As a marketing and public relations executive with 30 years of experience, I am writing to you to help you head off a public relations disaster.
My wife, the Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator for one of the largest counties in America, and I are traveling to New York.
The trip has a triple purpose -- my spouse is delivering a speech on wheelchair access, we are meeting with our literary agent and we are taking a respite in the City while writing a feature on accessible hotel rooms for the premier magazine of disability issues.
We have stayed with Affinia before and called Affinia first to stay at the Affinia Gardens property.
The first words out of my mouth to the reservationist were "I know this property has rooms with a roll-in shower. That is what I need and we will go no farther with this booking until we have a roll-in shower room."
I was told the room I was booking indeed had a roll-in shower. I then booked a room with 2 beds arriving Aug. 30th and departing Sept 8.
I asked that a confirmation be sent. I booked non-refundable air fare based on the assurance of a room with a roll-in shower.
My wife is a wheelchair user and requires this accommodation.
The confirmation arrived with all details except for the roll-in shower.
I replied to the confirmation email asking for confirmation of a roll-in shower, not a tub shower. I never received a reply.
I registered for the Affinia concierge program and emailed it for confirmation. Nothing.
I phoned reservations...and was put on hold so long, I gave up.
Less than an hour ago, I bypassed reservations and asked for a manager at the Affinia Gardens property.
I was told we have an "ADA room" with a tub with grab bars. Grab bars are lovely, but they do not help a person who cannot walk and relies on a bath bench in a roll-in shower. When you told me we are not getting a roll-in, I was crushed by this news.
You offered to look at other Affinia properties. This really won't do, because we were booking for this location because it has a large room, a kitchen and is located near a subway with a wheelchair lift, not to mention our literary agent's apartment, the park, etc.
The only possible way of accommodating my wife in a tub shower is by the use of a portable tub transfer bench. This is a special kind of bench which extends outside the tub: two legs of the bench are positioned in the tub, and two legs of the bench are positioned outside. The disabled person can be lifted from wheelchair to the bench outside, then be assisted while wiggling into place on the part of the bench inside the shower.
This type of tub transfer bench can be purchased for under $100 (I have seen it on the Home Depot website) and is portable for future use. In order to make up for its false promise, Affinia needs to purchase this type of transfer bench and have it available for my wife to use when we check in to the property. I can forward images of the type of bench we need.
I cannot stress how important it is to work with hotel managers to rectify this grave situation. I cannot cancel my reservation and come some other week. I cannot waste time spending two nights at one property, then a few at another Affinia, etc.
I spent the entire past weekend researching markets, restaurants, taverns, shopping and transportation based on the Affinia Gardens location. I printed dozens of google walking maps and other guides to access based on the promise that I had secured a roll-in shower at Affinia gardens.
This egregious error has turned a 2,500-word feature story, with Affinia Garden's access as the center piece, into a disaster story that will repeated in our frequent radio interviews and blog posts on accessible hospitality winners and sinners.
I trust that reasonable minds will prevail and some a combination of a tub transfer bench for the tub shower and other considerations for our troubles will ultimately turn this into a positive experience for my wife and I -- a couple who has published thousands of academic and professional article on hospitality accessibility.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

LOS ANGELES BOUND


We are very much looking forward to our upcoming trip to Los Angeles.

We will be staying at the Sofitel, which is perfectly located near Beverly Hills, West Hollywod and more.

The Sofitel folks were outstanding in honoring an online favorable room rate while acommodating Heidi's need for a room with a roll-in shower.

Monday, December 24, 2012

THE ACCIDENTAL URBANIST -- PART 5

PROFILE OF PRESERVATIONIST ELIZABETH BELL



Bell also crusades to buy books for school children.



The poverty is so abject, that schools must charge for school books and supplies.


That means only a handful of students have school materials and the rest can only crudely follow the lecture and blackboard lessons without books or writing paper.

Bell seeks to break the chains of low education, high teen birthrate and poverty.

Her greatest joy is researching the city.

She has authored and published the definitive book on her adopted hometown, Antigua Guatemala: the City and its Heritage in English, Spanish and Italian.

She also has published a book that captures the floral carpet and processional spirit of Semana Santa in: Lent and Holy Week in Antigua – available in both English and Spanish editions.

“Now Antigua is the No. 1 city destination in Central America, so everyone visits. There are efforts to achieve a balance between preservations and development through Salvemos Antigua -- a foundation I am active in -- and other groups,” Bell said.

Visit Bell’s website at:   http://www.antiguatours.net/
 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

THE ACCIDENTAL URBANIST -- PART 4

PROFILE OF PRESERVATIONIST ELIZABETH BELL



“They have to -- it is the law. McDonald's tried to put its arches up and kept arriving in Antigua with seven corporate lawyers, but they couldn't do it,” Bell said. 

“They are here, in a sort of `colonial’ McDonald's and the locals don't want to go there because it is believed there is a ghost. Locals prefer Burger King for that reason!”



In a recent election, Bell was part of a group that campaigned for an urban planner to become mayor of Antigua. 

In a nation where violence and bloodshed is not too terribly rare in politics, Bell’s group staged a peaceful, but ultimately unsuccessful protest of the ballot box results.

She continues to be a major sponsor of the restoration materials for the Colonial Art Museum. 

Bell also has financially supported the restoration of several historic paintings that were careworn and in jeopardy of being lost to neglect from lack of funding.

Elizabeth Bell profile continues tomorrow Dec. 24




 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

THE ACCIDENTAL URBANIST -- PART 3

PROFILE OF PRESERVATIONIST ELIZABETH BELL



Bell received a certificate in Architectural Conservation at the International Centre for the Conservation and Preservation of Cultural Property (ICCROM) in Rome in 1983.


Bell has conducted cultural tours since 1992. She is an active member of various associations in Antigua that provide private sector support for preservation and positive development of Antigua.

“It is an on-going effort to preserve the city and the next few years are critical,” Bell said.

She noted that tourism brings much-needed dollars to impoverished Guatemala, but as Antigua gains popularity, it also feels increasing development pressures from those who would destroy the centuries-old urban fabric and compact city in the name of chain resorts, restaurants and shops.

So far, Antigua’s leadership has held the line in keeping chains from demolishing historic buildings and forcing those mega businesses to conform to the vernacular of the area.

Elizabeth Bell profile continues tomorrow Dec. 23
 

Friday, December 21, 2012

THE ACCIDENTAL URBANIST -- PART 2

PROFILE OF PRESERVATIONIST ELIZABETH BELL


Although the population topped 60,000 in the 1770s, Antigua’s current population is roughly half that.

The city is a mecca for grand weddings among the ruined cathedrals and Spanish immersion classes in the dozens of schools that have sprouted up as adaptive uses of old low-rise Mudejar-influenced buildings.

Not a native Spanish speaker, Bell acquired the language and graduated from the University of San Carlos in Guatemala, holding a degree in Teaching English as a Second Language.

After experiencing the 1976 earthquake in Antigua, she worked on her Master of Arts at the University of Washington, majoring in Latin American history.

Upon her return she co-authored the first of her series of books on Antigua.

She was Director of Educational Programs and Public Information at the Consejo Nacional Para la Protección de La Antigua Guatemala (the national council to preserve Antigua) from 1978 to 1987.

As head of its information department, she designed and directed preservation educational programs for 10,000 schoolchildren.


Elizabeth Bell profile continues tomorrow Dec. 22