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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.


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