They didn’t have the accessible room I reserved — what am I owed?

Some hotel amenities aren’t that important. Some are.

Having an accessible room, which is required under some state and federal laws, is a biggie. So when John and Carolyn Falabella asked me to look into their hotel’s failure to offer them the room they reserved, I knew it could be serious.

But a closer look at their case one shows just how frustrating it can be to fix a major problem like this, particularly with a chain hotel. I’m not sure if I can make this right, but read on and let me know if you think I should get involved in mediating this dispute.

Falabella had reservations at a Comfort Inn in Arlington, Va. He says he’d made a booking for an accessible room through Comfort Inn’s 800-number, and that he received a confirmation.

“When we checked in at the hotel, we asked if the room was mobility accessible,” he says. “The person who checked us in said no, but there was a bar in the bathroom. We accepted the room thinking the bar would be sufficient.”

It wasn’t. The bar was too small.

“We asked for and received a bathtub stool to gain access to the tub to prevent an accident. This helped a little, but not enough to comfortably use the bathroom,” he says.

Using the restroom was even more difficult.

He explains:

In order to use the toilet, the person had to get her wheelchair through the door, close the door, fold the chair, and unfold the chair to use it to mount and dismount the toilet. The bathroom door had to remain open while she performed her business. If the wheelchair had been the kind with the large wheels, entering the bathroom would have been impossible.

Now, bear in mind that the Falabellas had been told that the room they received wasn’t accessible. I’m sure they wish they’d rejected the accommodations on the spot.

Complaints to the hotel were fruitless. They approached someone at the front desk with the problem.

“He said he would tell his manager to see what they could do for us,” he said. ” He also told us we should have called the hotel directly rather than using the 800 number to book an [accessible] room.”

The couple checked out of the hotel the next morning, as planned, and hoped to hear back from Choice with an apology. But, surprise! — they didn’t. So they contacted corporate Choice.

A representative wrote back and said that because Choice properties are “individually owned” they can’t control the day-to-day operations.

What nonsense. Choice Hotels can strip this “individually owned” property of its flag, and it should do so if it fails to honor a reservation for an accessible room.

But at this point, what can the hotel really do except apologize?

“Choice hotels booked us for a mobility-accessible room,” says Falabellas. “We did not get what we paid for and would not have stayed there if we knew they did not have mobility access rooms available.”

He’d like a few additional Choice Rewards points for the trouble. That doesn’t sound like an expensive resolution to me. I’d like to see an apology and a promise to never let that happen again. There’s no way to go back in time and re-do the Falabellas’ visit, and therein lies the problem. Choice should have given them the right room in the first place.

Is it too late to make a difference?

(Update: Shortly after I wrote this, Choice corporate contacted the Falabellas and offered them 2,000 points for the trouble. “We told them ‘no,'” he says. “It takes 20,000 points to get a free night.”)

Should I mediate John and Carolyn Falabella's case?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • DavidYoung2

    This one is a big deal. A really big deal.

    People with mobility challenges face enough problems without having to face more. They specifically requested an accessible room, they were promised one and didn’t get it. This is probably a serious violation of ADA laws and the OP isn’t talking about suing or something unreasonable.

    Choice should (1) immediately refund the cost of the room, in full, and (2) offer them 40,000 Choice points, enough for a free two-night stay. Trust me here, Choice is getting off on the cheap.

    And nobody with in a wheelchair should face obstacles that could have been avoided but for the errors of the proprietors. Don’t they have enough challenges?

  • Tara Salsman

    I just want to go on the record as having not intended to vote “no” but had a glitch with my browser.

    I agree that this is a big deal. DavidYoung2 said it as well as I could.

  • Michael__K

    Both Comfort Inns in Arlington, Virginia (Pentagon City & Ballston) let you book “mobility accessible” rooms online (at least they do today). The website even notes how many accessible rooms are left.

    If they booked by phone and confirmed a mobility accessible room, then they should have received one, no excuses.

    The federal ADA requirements are very specific and the room the OP’s received clearly didn’t meet the standards:

    According to the facts presented, the OP’s reservation was simply not honored. “We should have called the hotel directly rather than using the 800 number to book an [accessible] room” is an incredibly pathetic misdirection and not a valid excuse. They should have been treated as walked guests and offered the option to receive transportation to an equivalent hotel or better with an accessible room. And normally walked guests are refunded for the first night of their stay.

  • Michael__K

    Duplicate post (removed).

    Edit: Actually, now it looks like my original post disappeared (again). Was there something objectionable about it?

  • sdir

    I’d be interested in hearing the hotel’s side of the story. Since corporate Choice claims they’re not involved in day-to-day operations at the hotel, how can corporate reservations guarantee they know whether an accessible room is still available to reserve? This sounds like a miscommunication between Choice corporate reservations and the individual hotel, which is why the hotel suggested calling them directly in the future. So who bears the responsibility to walk the customer if an accessible room isn’t available? Corporate because their reservations system is wonky or didn’t properly communicate the reservation, or the individual hotel?

    And Chris, how could the Falabellas have handled this differently? Sure, they could have called to confirm the reservation and room type, but what about once they were already there. Sounds like they did ask for a manager who wasn’t available, would calling Choice corporate have made any difference?

  • mythsayer

    This is standard practice. My mom is in a scooter and has very little balance and requires an ADA room and let me tell you that even if you reserve one, it is a crapshoot when you arrive.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I voted no, mainly because the OPs should be talking to the state Attorney General. Failing to provide ADA mandated accommodations is a very serious matter. It’s not just the OP, but what about the next person who needs ADA accommodations? This is clearly not an important issue for Choice. If it were, they would be falling all over themselves to remediate this situation and some bigwig would be calling the GM of that hotel to explain to them that ADA violations aren’t going to fly.

  • TonyA_says

    Agree. The hotel (chain) needs to fix this problem and not just pay off some hush and go away money.

  • EdB

    “A representative wrote back and said that because Choice properties are “individually owned” they can’t control the day-to-day operations.”

    What rubbish. If this was about the sheets not bed not being perfectly made or a hair was found in the sink, that is day-to-day operations. Reserved room types not being honored through the corporate reservation system? That is the heart of the business and corporate should be all over this.

    I think a letter to the DOJ, who enforces the ADA in regards to accommodations, cc’ed to both the hotel and corporate, is in order.

  • Jim Zakany

    I was thinking the same thing: a true apology and a couple free nights to use when and where they would like.

    The customers tried to live with the hotel chain’s mistake, and they wish to be loyal to the chain. Two free nights seems appropriate to me in that situation.

  • Jim Zakany

    They need to do both, actually.

  • Kairho

    This indeed is a big deal. However, I don’t understand why, after seeing the assigned room, they didn’t reject it, return to reception and request another room. And if a truly accessible room was not available they should have been reaccommodated in another hotel (of same quality, etc.) in the same manner as anyone else who reserved and was walked.

    It’s that they apparently accepted the room and remained for the night.

    (admittedly, I am not aware of the remedies in ADA law, but hey may supersede what I say above)

  • John Baker

    I’m conflicted on this case. I voted “no” simply because, if there is an issue here, its a legal compliance issue and outside Chris’s area of expertise.

    There are just too many unknowns in this story for me.
    1. Does the hotel have a “mobility accessible” room? If not, it may be an issue (My understanding under ADA is that a hotel does not have to remodel but is required to give “reasonable accommodations.” Once they do remodel or build anew, they are required to have an accessible room. The stool etc could qualify as reasonable accommodations under the act.)
    2. If they had a room, did they rent it to someone who stated they needed an ADA room? Since the hotel can’t require someone who states they need accommodations to prove that they do, if the person staying in the room stated they needed an ADA room, the hotel might be covered.
    3. What type of rate was the OP staying on? If its non-refundable, the hotel has much less wiggle room if they rented they ADA room to another party. If it was a refundable rate, the hotel may not have had a choice but to rent to room to another party. If someone showed up at the desk wanting to rent the room, stated they needed an ADA room, and the hotel had one available, I’m not sure that they can legally turn them away unless the room was booked on a non-refundable rate.

    As I said, this seems to be a legal compliance vs customer service issue. Legal compliance issues are for lawyers not for consumer advocates.

    Because it maybe a legal compliance issue, that maybe why Choice took a pass. The OP needs to contact legal assistance (either a ADA advocacy group with attorneys on staff or the State Attorney General) for this one.

  • Andre_K_FL

    My first thought is, if the Falabellas file an ADA suit, they can win tens of thousands, of dollars. To Choice an offer to settle the matter for a free night should be like a gift from heaven.

  • Thomas Ralph

    I think they should have rejected the room on the spot or kicked up a bigger stink.


    This is definitely a major no-no! Choice should offer them a free night or two, at the very least. I had my one and only bad experience at a Choice hotel in Princeton a few years ago (no way the same magnitude as this issue, but a major issue nonetheless)- all it took was one call to corporate and my points were returned + 2000 more for my trouble. There must have been other complaints about this location, because shortly afterward it was stripped of its affiliation with the Choice brand.
    My only suggestion for folks who need an accessible room and arrive to find “none available” is to check out the room they’re offered BEFORE accepting it.

  • Thomas McGrath

    Having worked the front desk for a major chain hotel, I find the hotel staffs statement to be very poor customer service.
    If they had booked through a 3rd party booking service I might understand the issue, but when it comes to chain hotels, booking directly through the hotel, through the hotels website, or through the national 800 number are all the same thing. They all link directly to the inventory system for each hotel.
    This sounds more like the front desk staff didn’t do their job right in assigning rooms, and now is trying to pass the buck.

  • scot2512

    This happened to my husband and myself in Bayonne NJ. I had called the hotel directly and stated I needed a wheelchair accessible room and it was confirmed to me several weeks in advance. we arrived late at night and found the room was already occupied. The front desk called several other hotels in the area with no luck. They finally gave us a regular room on a high floor even though the elevator was not working correctly. My husband was forced to use the public wheelchair accessible toilet at the pool. Luckily it was only for one night. I contacted the corporate office when we returned from our cruise and got the same response about “individually owned” However they did contact the hotel and we eventually received a refund for the night stay.
    It’s always a problem as we have found (over 35 years) there is no standard for accessible rooms. Sometimes all it means is a handle bar in the bathroom.


    This is a major problem and occurs more frequently than many of us know. I have been given accessible rooms twice even though I did not book or request them, I changed the rooms each time, but cannot help but wonder if someone had reserved the rooms and needed them would they be available when the travelers arrived.
    This is far from a petty complaint. National reservation services do take reservations for accessible rooms. It is up to the front desk to provide that room if it has been reserved as such. To not do this is breaking the law. If the Choice hotel did not have the room available they should have sent the clients, at the same rate they booked, to a nearby hotel with the accessible room. And the corporate office should step up and own the problem. If that hotel flies the Choice flag then the main office is able to do more than they are offering. Individually owned and operated is simply an excuse to avoid responsibility.

  • Bill___A

    What needs to happen is that common standards need to be set for these rooms and rules put in place. The damage is done and the goal should be to take steps so that the OP and others do not have to go through this again.
    Calling the hotel directly versus the 800 number is nonsense. It is a room type and should be able to be booked any way the hotel offers bookings.

  • shannonfla

    I think if they have at least one ADA room, the hotel is in the clear. But that’s a big IF.

  • emanon256

    I voted yes on this one. This was completely unacceptable. I honestly don’t know what is fare for the OP, but they reserved an accessible room, needed an accessible room, and the hotel didn’t provide one. As much as I am always against complete refunds, I think one is in order here. I also think the hotel should get a huge fine for this as well, far more than one night, and the money should go to help people with disabilities. Completely unacceptable. The OP needs to file a complaint with the DOJ.

    I am curious why they didn’t have an ADA room in the first place, I thought every hotel was required to have them. Were there that many people staying in the hotel who needed an accessible room, or did the hotel just give them away to people who didn’t need them?

  • Chris Johnson

    I am with you on that one too. I realize that many hotels and restaurants are franchises all over the USA and there’s nothing we can do about it, but it just pisses me off that corporate basically “hides” behind the fact that the property is individually owned by a franchisee and says they can’t do anything. Yet the property has the corporate logo on it everywhere, and I’m sure the corporate office is happy to collect royalty payments every month from the property as well as sell them supplies like soap and toilet paper at inflated prices. Then it when it comes to enforcing their so-called standards expected of franchisees, they throw up their hands and say they are just the corporate office and are not involved in “day to day operations” like having enough handicapped rooms.

    Even though they offered relatively basic accomodations, I used to make a point to always stay at a certain chain because they used to be 100% company owned with no franchises. Now they have franchised properties. I stayed at one of their locations again, and believe me, I noticed a difference. A franchisee can screw up even the most basic of accomodations and corporate does little more other than collect royalties and maintain a reservation number/website.

  • absherlock

    Without more information, I also had to vote “no”. As someone else said, if the hotel had accessible rooms and they were being utilized by other patrons in need, the best that could be expected is a walk to another location (which the guests should have insisted upon). It’s the same as handicapped parking spots – if they’re all being used in a valid manner, it doesn’t put the location out of compliance.

    That being said, hotels should make sure that either a) all of their rooms are ADA accessible or b) only those specifically requesting such rooms be allowed to use them. Unfortunately, I’ve heard of unscrupulous travelers requesting such rooms for convenience, so absent some type of handicapped designation (ala parking placards) it’s really something you have to take their word for.

  • emanon256

    I have noticed that over the past 18 months or so that every time I use points with Hilton they put me in an accessible room. Every time I ask them for a regular room, and they always tell me they are reserving the regular rooms for paying customers. When I tell them I don’t need ADA accommodations and that if someone does its not right for me to be occupying the room, they always tell me that no one uses those rooms, and that’s why they use them for free stays. This still really annoys me that they do that, and I wonder if something similar is what happened to the OP.

  • Goldie

    I had something like that happen to me once. It wasn’t while using points but was a discounted rate, not prepaid. I was so discussed with their attitude I told them that I would find accommodations at another property so I wasn’t denying access to someone who really needed the room. As I was walking out, suddenly other rooms became available for me. I just told them that they should have said that to begin with but since they didn’t, they can have two empty rooms. I walked out and found accommodations next door with their competitor.

  • sirwired

    Yes, in the long-term, you can certainly argue that many franchisors do not exert enough control over franchisees. This is especially prevalent with lower-end properties, such as most properties of Choice Hotels. (Which includes Days, Choice, Comfort, and Clarion… none of them have particularly high standards in my experience. They all meet their respective requirements for amenities, but appear to have pathetic standards for maintenance, upkeep, and service. I’ve seen many hotels as they get older (with no substantive renovations) get reflagged from some other brand to a Choice Brand. And, FWIW, Crowne Plaza is also on my “never book” list, but I’ve had good luck with the rest of IHG’s brands.) Corporate probably can’t pull the flag as I doubt Choice’s corporate standards would allow them to for an incident like this… and yes, that reflects badly on Choice, but it’s just not a problem fixable any time soon.

    In the immediate case, going after the owner of the property makes more sense. They are the ones that accepted the reservation, they are the ones that collected (and are retaining) the money for something they didn’t deliver.

  • Michael__K

    1. Yes

    2&3: Why does it matter? How does one reserve a room with Choice hotels without a card guarantee (or with points etc.)? What is the point of guaranteed reservations if they are optional for the hotel and the hotel is free to give away a reserved accessible room to any walk-up guest who asks for it?

    If a walk up guest arrives and asks for an accessible room, and there are no unreserved accessible rooms, then the hotel needs to say, “Sorry, but none are available right now; Maybe check back later” (after they contact or checkin the guests with a reservation and confirm that they really do need an accessible room).

  • Alan Gore

    Doesn’t the ADA have specific definitions for the various kinds of accessibility?

  • Elaine Thompson

    I’m a Choice Hotels member and have always had excellent service. I find it infuriating that the hotel was unwilling or unable to offer an accessible room. The should have been provided one or walked to another hotel that did have an accessible room available. That being said, however, many Choice brand hotels offer a reward night for only 8000 points, though redemption may require as many as 20,000 points. While I understand why the Falabellas want 20K reward points, to insist that “It takes 20,000 points to get a free night” is disingenuous.

  • John Baker

    Both questions are absolutely relevant.
    2. If the hotel gave the ADA room to someone who did not request one and then later denied someone who needed that accommodation, they are absolutely liable for that action and I’m pretty sure in violation of ADA.

    3. I’m not sure that a hotel can legally deny the use of an unoccupied ADA room to someone that presents themselves for check in. It would be the equivalent of someone blocking a handicap space because they know that a client with the sticker is on their way. A business can not deny the accommodation based on what may occur in the future. If the hotel denies the room to the person at the desk and the OP no shows, they might be liable for denying the accommodation to the first person.

    ADA has a number of conflicting points where a business can’t win and this maybe one of them. Like I said, this case needs a lawyer versed in ADA law and not people vaguely familiar with it (I didn’t even spend the night in a Holiday Inn Express).

    The hotel may or may not have violated ADA.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    2&3 are absolutely not relevant. Not even a little.

    A reservation means that the accommodated place is no longer available. Nothing in ADA that I am aware of would require an establishment to prefer a walk-up ADA guest over an ADA guest with a reservation.

    The hotel would be perfectly within its rights if the parking lot was a reservations taking parking lot and the handicapped spots were already reserved.

    Now, if it were a first come first serve then you would be correct.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    If they reject the room, that means that they have to hope that somewhere else has a handicapped accessible room available.

  • John Baker

    But under your analysis above… Wouldn’t the hotel have to walk them to a location with an ADA room if they rejected the non-accessible one?

  • Joe_D_Messina

    That’s the part I was curious about… It almost sounds to me like they didn’t have any truly accessible rooms. If they had accessible rooms, I’d be somewhat surprised if they couldn’t have shuffled guests around to get this person into one of them. On average, I wouldn’t think there could be all that many guests in wheelchairs staying at a hotel at any given time. And if the rooms were occupied by other people who were in the same shape as the OP, I’d have thought the hotel would have stressed that in their explanation, but nothing like that is mentioned in the OP’s story.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Confirmed hotel rooms are not like handicapped parking spots. If the hotel couldn’t provide what the person reserved, then there shouldn’t have been a reservation made for them. If you book non-smoking, is it okay to find out at check-in that all the non-smoking rooms happen to be occupied so you’ll need to deal with a smoking room?

    Now, my guess is that what happened was the hotel didn’t have any rooms that truly met this person’s needs. But, again, assuming they were promised wheelchair accessibility, there’s no excuse for them not getting it.

  • MarkKelling

    Thinking back over my “free” stays at various hotels and I realize now that most of them had me in an accessible room. I never really thought much about it because most of the hotels I stayed at were very full and I usually arrived very late. I just assumed that these were the only rooms left. I will definitely question it in the future.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Years ago when I was but a Young Raven, I worked front desk at very small chain/franchise hotel. We had ONE handicap accessible room and no elevators for the two story building. (Building was grandfathered by state law)

    Following a very bad storm, we had some serious plumbing issues in the area of the building and the room was flooded. It had been vacant that night, but it was reserved for the next. I called the person who had made the reservation (we didn’t have email) and left a message. They had missed the message and arrived a few hours later (approximately 4pm). I explained the situation and told them I had booked a room for them at a nearby hotel (definitely considered an upgrade) and said that our hotel would pay the one night’s stay there.
    The husband flew into a tirade. He was an attorney! Didn’t I know it was ILLEGAL for us not to have a room for his wheelchair bound wife! He threatened to sue me, a penniless high school kid, and I laughed at him. That just made him even more insane. I just kept laughing until they left. I don’t know what happened to them, but we never ended up paying for their room at the other hotel.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I don’t know if the rules are different with hotels, but I know that when it comes to retro-converting public buildings there is a fair amount of wiggle room with the ADA. I’ve seen older courthouses and post offices go threw ADA renovations and still have only limited accessibility–there was no way short of tearing them place down and starting over to make some of the needed changes.

    It wasn’t totally clear to me from the story, but it almost sounded like the bathroom would have been fairly accessible in regards to the toilet if the person didn’t demand the door be closed. I wonder if that could be an area where the ADA would say it was technically in compliance, but just not the ideal.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Should have just put them into the flooded room, I guess!

    But what sort of manager has a high school kid relay news like that to a guest? Honestly, that would sort of tick me off.

  • tomjuno

    I’m with EdB on this. There are few things more annoying in travel than a head office washing its hands of a problem because an affiliate is “individually owned”. In my view, if you lend your name to an affiliate, you’re responsible for the actions of that affiliate. A car rental company’s head office once tried the “individually owned” routine with me when I complained about the actions of one of its affiliates. I’ve never used any of that car rental company’s affiliates ever again.

  • absherlock

    Okay, I see the flaw in the parking spot analogy since it doesn’t involve a reservation. So how about this one – what if someone reserves a car with an accommodation (hand controlswheelchair liftetc.), but then the person who had it before them opts not to return it on time? If all of the other accessible vehicles are off the lot, what’s the rental place to do?

    I’m not sure about the rules in Virginia, but in some states you can’t force a paying customer to vacate their room even if their reservation is up.. If someone were in that room before the Falabellas and decided to extend their stay, the hotel may have been caught between a rock and a hard place. A reservation made in good faith by the hotel can be disrupted by other guests.

  • Raven_Altosk

    A lousy one. Trust me. It was a job that taught me many things…like how to file a police report.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Better analogy. In that instance, the person is out of luck. Without question there are circumstances in this case that could have tied the hotel’s hands. But if that were the case, they did a poor job of communicating it to the OP. They come across as largely non-responsive.

    My guess remains that they didn’t actually have any fully accessible rooms, which would explain the employee’s comment about how the OP should have called the hotel directly. In that case, it sort of stinks for the hotel because that would mean the chain was making promises that the hotel couldn’t possibly delivery upon. But that’s not the OP’s problem.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That’s a really complicated question.

    The first question relates to the contract between the hotel and the guest. What does the hotel promise if the booked room is not available. Walking is industry standard and may also appear in some hotels websites.

    The second part relates to that is required when a property is unable to provide the accomodation required. I don’t know off hand, but I suspect its a long set of if…thens…

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Yes, It really comes down to the specific building. Older buildings may simple not have the ability to be ADA complaint short of razing it to the ground. At the end of the day, it’s all about what is reasonable under the circumstances.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Sounds like hubby is a real [jerk]. Some members of my profession really act as if the world revolves around them.
    I want to cut him some slack because I can see him battling accomodation issues 24/7 and being frustrated. But even still, unloading on a kid is just stupid.

  • Elmo Clarity

    Especially since it was an unanticipated problem and the hotel had been proactive getting another room booked for them before they arrived. At least that is the way it sounded to me reading Raven’s post.

  • Trudi

    I’ve been a member of Choice hotels loyalty program for many years, but about 2 years ago I weaned off their chain. The implication is that Choice is a chain – which means they should have the same basic standards in each hotel. However, I’ve come to understand that franchises are not held to to even the lowest standard. In a SC hotel the room was over run with mice. One in Tennessee had the bathroom wallpaper stapled in place, and it was still falling into the shower. One in Arkansas had mold in several places – smelled horrible! Old hotels require a lot of maintenance, selling them cheap and keeping the name is just wrong. However, failing to meet with even modest ADA requirements is not justifiable. Getting from a wheelchair to a toilet is difficult enough, but adding the embarrassment of having to leave the door open is unacceptable. Trying to manuever a wheelchair through a small door opening can destroy the door jamb and tear up the knuckles on the rider’s fingers. This is an unconscienable situation and Choice Hotels should jump on the opportunity to right this situation through a full refund to the Farabellas. Points? I don’t think I’d go there again, so why get points?

  • Michael__K

    I would expect a late-returning car renter or overstaying hotel guest to get charged the maximum (rack) rate for any unapproved extensions. That should cover the cost of walking the next customer with a confirmed reservation over to a partner or competitor who can accommodate them.

  • Raven_Altosk

    He was a tool. And from Brooklyn. Laughing in his pathetic face (even after he scolded me for doing so “wipe that smirk off your face young man!”) seemed the appropriate course of action.
    I can still hear that nasal, obnoxious voice telling me that phrase at times. It still makes me grin.

  • Lindabator

    Amen! Most would have just shrugged.

  • SoLame

    There are how many hotels in or near Arlington, VA? He should have wheeled around and found another, and then sued in small claims. End of story.

  • absherlock

    I completely agree that they should have been walked to another hotel (if a more appropriate room was available). Perhaps that’s a change that needs to be made to the ADA.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Oh Raven…wipe that darn grin off your face! ;-)

  • joaneisenstodt

    It is my understanding that the amendment to the ADA, in addition to the requirements for web sites, for pool lifts (which the hotel owners assn. lobbied very hard against and were able to have implementation delayed for more than a year) REQUIRES that accessible rooms are to be the LAST ROOMS SOLD. (Intentional caps.) And I believe the law is very specific about the number of accessible rooms and what types the hotels must have. (This from 2001:, this from 2012: and this that starts out with guest room info:
    I imagine that hotel is owned by a company that owns other hotels and that they are aware. If it were the front desk staff who were simply not aware of what accessible is and what their inventory contains, boo to the management and ownership. Choice does in fact have lots of control over “brand standards” (learned years ago as a member of a customer advisory board for a major hotel brand) and this is one of those.
    Yes, this has to be taken on, Chris, with thanks from many of us .. who have disabilities and some of us in the hospitality industry who have fought our own industry for years over compliance issues. A colleague and I are doing a session in January for a meetings industry convention about more than the ADA – more about the meeting experience for people with disabilities. That clearly includes being able to be accommodated in a guest room.

  • mizmoose

    Thanks to idiot sites like Reader’s Digest who advise people, “If you want a bigger room for the same amount of money, book a handicapped room”, it’s harder than ever to book an accessible room, especially on short term notice.

    I once went to check into a hotel where I had made my reservation months in advance so I’d get an accessible room. When I got there the clerk found that the room had been switched out under me for another guest. I was fortunate that she recognized the name as someone who wasn’t disabled but liked the “extra room” of a handicapped room, and switched the reservations so I got the room.

    Sure enough I was in the lobby when the other guest showed up, and threw a screaming tantrum when she was told she wasn’t getting a handicapped room. I eventually went over and said, “Excuse me, ma’am, are you disabled?”
    She said no.
    I said, “Are you staying here with someone who is disabled?”
    She said no.
    I said, “Then why don’t you leave handicapped rooms for people who actually need them, like me?”

    She started screeching at me, but I just turned and left. What a self-absorbed jerk.

  • Fishplate

    ” If you book non-smoking, is it okay to find out at check-in that all
    the non-smoking rooms happen to be occupied so you’ll need to deal with a
    smoking room?”

    Yes, it’s happened to me more than once. They pointed to the fine print, and said, basically, tough luck.

    But the ADA issue is different. Had I had some medical need to avoid residual odors, then perhaps I could have made a fuss. But they got the ozone machine out, and did their best to make it right for me.

  • tonis

    ADA used to state a minimum that was required for a room to be considered handicap accessible, but I don’t know what changes have been made in the law in the last few years.

  • tonis

    Choice Properties used to (as late as December 2010) require one to reserve via the main 800 number in order to receive points for the stay.

  • Grant Ritchie

    I think this whole handicapped/challenged/disabled/differently able/mobility challenged/disadvantaged/differently advantaged (Did I miss any of the buzzwords?) contretemps is an example of political correctness coming back to bite us in the butt. God forbid you should ask someone if they’re really handicapped or what their handicap might be. And more and more ethically-challenged people are realizing that there are bigger rooms, better parking spots, and front-of-the-line privileges at Disney World to be had for the low, low price of a little white (black?) lie.

  • mizmoose


    People with invisible or not obvious handicaps get tired of being constantly asked about their handicap – and I mean constantly. If I had a mere penny for every random person who thought they were helping me by explaining to my face that I’m not really handicapped, I’m just overweight (I’m still trying to figure out how weight loss grows internal body parts back) I’d have more than enough money to live on for life.

    You have a valid point about the unethical behaviour of people but have completely missed my point about how this problem is exacerbated by companies that encourage it, all to wrap it up in complaining that we’re too politically correct about people with disabilities. Great job.

  • EdB

    So if a person were allowed to ask someone what their handicap was, do you think the vast majority of the population would be able to determine if it was something that needed the accommodation? How would they be able to know the extent of the handicap? Where is the line that separates two people with the same “handicap” but at different severities to say the accommodation is required versus it is just helpful but not needed? This is one reason why people are not allowed to ask about handicaps.

  • Annie M

    I vote yes. As a travel agent, I know that these rooms are on request and depend on the availability when guests arrive. But I have a few questions – did the hotel have ANY accessible rooms or were they just occupied when the guests arrive? The excuse that the hotels are individually owned is baloney – if you make a reservation online or through their call center and it shows accessible rooms, then there is no excuse about being individually owned and operated. Either they have them or they don’t.

    If I had been the couple, I would have either insisted I be moved to an accessible room if there weren’t any or insisted they move me to another hotel nearby that had accessible room on their dime.

    I think that Choice hotels either owes them a refund or points equal to one night.

  • Annie M

    I agree!

  • Annie M


  • Annie M

    I am with you EdB!!

  • Patrick Henry

    No. When the OP arrived to find out the hotel did not have an accessible room they should have cancelled their reservation and found another hotel. The hotel did not force the OP to accept the room. I think it is lame to accept a room, knowing that it did not meet your requirements, and then complain after the fact.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Actually, Ed, what I’d like to see is even more radical. I’m handicapped and I have a handicapped parking placard for my car. I had to prove to my doctor that I WAS handicapped before she would authorize it. That requirement that I have an authorized handicapped parking placard means that I have a much better chance of finding the parking spot I need. Why shouldn’t that rationale apply to other kinds of handicapped accommodations? You’re handicapped? You go to your doctor and get a wallet-card stating that you’re handicapped. When you wish to rent a mobility accessible room, use one of the “handicapped” carts at the store, or jump to the front of the line at Disney World, you produce your card. I know, I know… that would be terrible, and discriminatory, and all the other PC blather, but it would also work. And someday, given the thousands (millions?) of folks who are taking rooms, carts, or whatever to which they’re not entitled, it’s going to happen.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Hi Miz,
    I expressed myself poorly. I do know what you mean about thoughtless people asking about your handicap, and as a handicapped person myself, more sympathetic I could not be. But if some kind of a system for determining if a person really IS handicapped is not put in place, then eventually amenities for the truly handicapped are going to become harder and harder to find. We’re seeing it already with mobility-accessible rooms. As I mentioned to EdB above, eventually, I think we’re going to have to go to carrying some kind of doctor-issued “handicapped” card. I remember when stores and theaters first started setting aside “handicapped” parking, but the able-bodied would snap it up. It wasn’t until “handicapped” placards were created and people like me were made to prove that we were entitled to them that the parking situation improved. The same will prove true for “handicapped” wallet-cards. We can swaddle ourselves in political correctness and huff about our “entitlements,” or we can do something to make the system work.

  • Grant Ritchie

    P.S. Sorry about the Moderator tag, Ed. I’m not posting as a moderator; I just can’t get rid of the damned thing. :-)

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    What an excellent example of the I DON’T CARE attitude. The hotel manager should appear on live TV to answer the question of why s/he doesn’t give a dam* about a disabled guest. Then s/he should be dragged through the streets; there is no excuse for treating a human being like this. It’s not a case of a pillow that’s too soft or a towel that is old and thin, it’s a case of being able to take care of yourself in the room you have paid good money for.