• Peyton and Me

    In honor of what will likely be Peyton Manning’s last game, here are a couple of pictures of me and Peyton from December 5, 1999 at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, FL. He was very gracious and was happy to pose with me.

    This was back when I would wear the colors of whomever was playing the Dolphins (I was a Dolphins season ticket holder, if you can believe that). As I got older, that became tiresome and now I just wear my Jets gear no matter who the opponent is. I also have a Dan Marino picture from this day. Will post that another day.








  • Hertz ORD Massive ADA Fail

    I am traveling on business to Milwaukee and decided to fly into Chicago and drive to Milwaukee.  I rented a car from Hertz. As Hertz no longer offers hand controls in minivans, I rented a large SUV. My confirmation shows a large SUV being rented.  I requested hand controls left (HCL) and called Special Services to have the spinner knob added. The rep put me on hold and came back and told me that he confirmed with the location manager that the HCL and spinner knob would be added. This was on Sept. 8.  For the past few days, I have been trying to call the location to directly confirm the HCL and knob but nobody ever answers or returns the numerous messages I left.


    Today, I arrived at ORD and took the bus to the rental location.  As usual, my name was nowhere to be found on the Gold board (not sure why I even bother using it).  I go and wait on line (the avoidance of which is the reason to use Gold) and the rep looks for my car, finds it, and asks her associate to confirm the spinner knob.  While waiting, the text telling me where my car is (which should have been sent while I was in the air) finally arrives, but that’s another issue.  The associate returns and indicates that there is no knob. The manager eventually comes over, says he has to find a mechanic to install the knob, and that I have to wait. 40 minutes later, I go over to the car to see what the delay is since installing the knob should take 10 minutes. I look in the vehicle and see that there are no hand controls!
    I ask where the hand controls are and get a blank stare from the manager. I ask him how he expects me to drive the vehicle (I am a bilateral amputee in a wheelchair). Same blank stare.


    I ask him to find out where the vehicle I need is located. An hour later, they cannot find the vehicle and have no options for me.


    On top of all this,  my SUV was changed to a minivan without telling me and, as we all know, Hertz no longer installs hand controls in minivans (why, I have no idea). I prefer minivans, so that wasn’t very disturbing, but the fact that they changed it without notifying me is very problematic and may be the cause of this entire debacle.


    Luckily, I am with a colleague who said he would drive today but he is leaving tomorrow and I have to drive to Milwaukee tomorrow night for a business meeting early Monday and have no idea how I am going to get there.


    Hertz is trying to find a vehicle for me and will call me if and when they find one. I’m not holding my breath and plan on having a car service drive me and I will bill Hertz.


    This is completely and totally unacceptable. The manager confirmed the hand controls as shown on the reservation below.


    To be continued….


    The Hertz reservation confirmation


  • JW Marriott ADA Fail – This is becoming a trend with Marriott

    I checked in to the JW Marriott Essex House New York last night and was welcomed with the most disconcerting ADA room I have seen.  Here’s a picture of the bathroom sink:

    Notice anything wrong with this picture?
    Notice anything wrong with this picture?


    How am I expected to access the sink? There is no place for my legs to go under the sink.  And how can I lean into the sink when the faucet controls are right in front of me? Here’s what a wheelchair user looks like when they use a sink:

    What sadist designed this ADA bathroom? Who puts faucet handles in front of a sink? While this design may be artsy and comfortable for able-bodied people, wheelchair users have special needs and this sink fails on all fronts. I don’t know exactly what ADAAG requires, but this can’t possibly be compliant. I checked with the front desk and all of the bathrooms are like this. No excuses about this being an old hotel since the sinks are apparently part of a “refresh” and look pretty new (as opposed to the shower which has cracked tiles and ancient controls which feel like they are going to fall out of the wall if you touch them too hard (and for the record, they also appear to be non-ADA compliant, though I cannot speak to what ADAAG requires for shower controls)).

    This is yet another entry in a long line of ADA violations for Marriott (see my earlier posts herehere, and here). They need to do something about this or they are going to lose me as a customer for good. Their ADA consultant needs to be fired and replaced with someone competent because this is just unacceptable.

  • Yet Another Marriott Family Hotel ADA Fail (Ritz-Carlton this time)

    We are visiting Atlanta and decided to stay at the Ritz-Carlton Downtown as I was able to find an accessible suite, or so I thought.  My reservation said that I was guaranteed a “Mobility Accessible Room with Roll-in Shower”:


    Reservation Details
    Reservation Details


    After the debacle at a Renaissance in Pittsburgh (click here for details), I decided to email ahead of arrival to see what I was in for. I asked to confirm that the room was wheelchair accessible and this was the response I received: “The bath is half accessible which means it has grab rails in the shower tub combination. The shower is not a roll in shower however. ” Ummm…grab rails do not make for an ADA bathroom.

    So much for an accurate website reservation.  I was OK with this as I can use a tub or roll-in shower and actually prefer a tub, so I figured I should be fine.  Well, the reality of things was a bit different.

    The only accessible feature in the room is the non-master BR bathroom which is a proper accessible bathroom despite the email response, albeit with a few issues (more on this later). The rest of the suite, however is not accessible.  The door is barely wide enough for me to get through (I have a wheelchair with a 29″ track) and does not have a lowered peephole.  The master BR is not accessible at all. The desk is in a corner and a wheelchair cannot access the desk. Very narrow path around the bed as well.  And the bathroom in the master BR is a standard non-ADA bathroom.  So, I was relegated to the outside bathroom and to using the table in the living room area as a desk. As for the bathroom, people in wheelchairs can’t reach up to get the shampoo and conditioner you leave on the only rack in the shower, and leaving the handheld shower at its highest setting doesn’t make things easy for a disabled customer – yes, we can ask someone to help and I’m sure the staff would be happy to assist, but that is an imposition and puts us in the uncomfortable position of having to ask for help all the time.

    The valet area of the hotel is also very poorly designed.  There is a curb the entire length of the driveway with no curb cut.  For a wheelchair to enter the hotel, you have to go down the driveway where the cars go (very dangerous) and then come back up the hill on the sidewalk so you can enter the building. Not only is this difficult and dangerous (putting wheelchair users in the middle of automotive traffic), but it also requires you to leave the covered area and be exposed to the weather. This is a simple fix that should have been done years ago.

    I don’t know what has happened to the Marriott family of hotels. I became a Marriott loyalist because they were the first hotel to allow me to reserve and guarantee an accessible room online, but now everyone does that so my reason for staying at Marriott properties has been eliminated.  My past few stays at Marriott brand hotels have been underwhelming to say the least. Marriott needs to hire an new ADA coordinator and review every property and their reservation system.  I shouldn’t have to confirm every detail of a reservation – if the system says a room is accessible with a roll-in shower, the room should be.  If I am guaranteed a king accessible room, the system shouldn’t try and upgrade me out of an accessible room. We are way past the era of blaming the computer system – Marriott is a sophisticated company and their systems should be state of the art.

    I’m very disappointed in Marriott and hope this trend is reversed as I have been generally pleased over the years but lately it has been a different story.

    And on a non-ADA note, the electronics on these properties need to be updated. The TVs are ancient, the HDMI jacks rarely work for plugging your computer in, and there are only a handful of HD channels – the rest are modulated SD channels and they look horrible. The guest services menu on the TVs take forever and frequently don’t work. The wifi in these hotels also needs to be updated – very slow, even if you pay for the premium package. And before you say that’s because there are many users, I have tried in the middle of the night and received the same slow speeds. Free wifi isn’t really a benefit if it is too slow to use. And paying for really poor wifi is just a slap in the face.


  • Marriott Renaissance Pittsburgh is total ADA fail

    Following up on my prior post on the Renaissance Pittsburgh, I checked in yesterday expecting a disaster.  It was even worse than I imagined.

    When I initially checked in and tried to confirm that the room was an accessible room with a king bed and a tub, I was told that there were no accessible rooms with a tub.  I explained that I discussed this very issue with the hotel’s GM and was told that the room I was assigned has a tub. Another individual behind the front desk indicated that there was a note and that my room does have a tub.  So I take my key and head upstairs.  The room I was assigned was at the end of the hall. Upon entering, I am faced with the fact that the pathway into the room has a very tight turn and is extremely narrow.  There is no way that my wheelchair would be able to get through:





    I call the front desk and explain the situation. I am advised that the bellman will come up with keys for a different room.  The bellman arrives and we head over to the next room. It is even worse:




    Who designed these rooms? Have they even read the ADAAG? How do they expect a wheelchair user to enter these rooms? Totally and completely unacceptable for a hotel of this caliber (for any hotel, really).


    I go back down to the front desk and explain that neither room is acceptable. The rep shrugs and says that all of the accessible rooms are the same.  I ask if the bellman can help me move some furniture to allow me to enter the room. The rep agrees and the bellman and I head back up to the first room. He moves one of the nightstands and pushes the bed over to allow me to get into the room. OK – great. Now I can get into the room.  Quite an ordeal for anyone to go through to simply get into a hotel room.

    PS – if you need ice, it’s nice to know that there is an automated door opener. Too bad it doesn’t work (see below):


    2014-12-09 01.14.26


    2014-12-09 01.15.07


  • Marriott “upgrades” me out of a wheelchair accessible room for a better view

    I am traveling for business next week and made a reservation a few weeks ago for a wheelchair accessible room with a king bed and a tub (“KAT”). I am a Marriott loyalist due to their website being the first that allowed me to guarantee an accessible room (I hate calling and dealing with CSRs who are just reading a script and are generally not very helpful).  Usually, I have no issues. This time was very different. My original reservation was for a KAT with a city view (accessible rooms almost never have the preferred views – they are usually the crappiest locations the hotel has to offer – see NYC Marriott Marquis accessible rooms).  Here’s what the email said (note the date I made the reservation):

    The original confirmation email
    The original confirmation email (click for larger view)


    Today, I go and check the reservation online and see this:


    The reservation status on the website a few weeks later.
    The reservation status on the website a few weeks later (click for larger view)


    WHAT?????  How did this happen?

    I called Marriott and they said I was “upgraded” to an executive level room with a river view but that there are no accessible rooms that meet my requirements on that level.

    OK….so why did you move me?  Did you really think that I would prefer a nicer view and a non-accessible room?

    I appreciate the gesture, but how is it possible that Marriott has a reservation system that would move someone out of an accessible room into a non-accessible room?

    The first rep was at a loss to figure this out and transferred me to the “special services” line.  They called the hotel and told me that the reservation was “fixed” and that I now had a KAT despite what the website said. Not being the trusting type, I called the hotel directly. They said the room was accessible but had a roll-in shower.  So the rep at the hotel transferred me to their local reservation person who said that they only had two KAT rooms and that because a room number was not assigned to me when I made the reservation (is it ever?), I was not put in one. Ummm…..sure…..OK….but then why does my confirmation email say that a KAT is guaranteed?  While all this was going on, I made another reservation for the same night for the exact same room and received an email confirming that my request for a KAT was guaranteed.

    I went back and forth with the reservation desk at the hotel trying to find out why I was upgraded and why my email told me my room was guaranteed when it in fact was not. She could not answer that question and said her manager would look into it. Ultimately, she confirmed that I was in a KAT and apologized that it was on the third floor.

    What would have happened if I had not checked online to see that my reservation was still in good shape? How can Marriott allow this to happen? I stay almost exclusively at Marriotts due to the consistency of their accessible rooms and that I don’t have to call to make or change a reservation.  This is very scary because this isn’t just not getting the bed you prefer – an accessible room is a necessity for me.

    I look forward to seeing how Marriott handles this matter. Stay tuned.