A row has erupted at a Cornwall hotel after a guest claimed it had contravened the new Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).
Jenny Gunn told the Cornwall Guardian that she was “furious” about facilities for disabled customers at the Carlyon Bay hotel in St Austell.
Under the DDA, businesses must take reasonable steps to tackle physical barriers preventing disabled people from accessing their services.
Gunn had planned a two-night stay at the hotel with her daughter and son-in-law, who uses a wheelchair, and had checked with the hotel that it had suitable access and a lift.
On arriving at the hotel however, she found that her son-in-law’s wheelchair wouldn’t fit into the lift. Neither she nor her son-in-law were happy with the hotel’s smaller wheelchair, which it offers guests as an alternative to access the lift.
Regional manager John Allen said staff were trained to give customers the most accurate information on the facilities the hotel offered. “We’ve never had a problem like this before,” he added.
Allen said that while the 86-bedroom hotel’s lift couldn’t be made any bigger, owner Brend Hotels had installed new ground-floor toilets, a ramp to the entrance and accessible parking.
Chris Grace, director of disability consultancy In Your Stride, said the situation was not clear-cut. “Offering a different chair to disabled guests is like offering a different pair of shoes,” he said. “One size doesn’t necessarily fit all and is unlikely to be received well.”
Grace advised hotels to focus more on giving clear information to guests. “Part of the reasonable adjustment the DDA asks for is ensuring you know exactly what guests need. While enlarging the lift shaft might be unreasonable in terms of the cost and disruption, it’s the responsibility of the hotel to check they can provide what disabled guests require.”