Edited to add: This was the Town and Country hotel, San Diego.
So. The hotel.
Before I begin, a general note: I have travelled, a lot, staying in everything from horrific youth hostels (and good ones) and budget hotels and business class hotels to ultra luxury hotels. I also worked in the group wholesale travel business for five years. I know hotels.
So when I say that this was the second worst hotel experience of my entire life, surpassed only by the Kyoto experience (which was, strictly speaking, not even a hotel or hostel), and that this is the first time EVER that I have gone through FOUR hotel rooms in a single stay, I am not saying this lightly. When I add that Chase Bank has agreed that I should not be charged for this stay - yes, that what, us care? bank, this should give you an idea of just how bad it was.
1) Although I have some limited mobility, I use an ultralight wheelchair.
2) Worried that the hotel would not have enough disabled rooms, I booked my room months in advance.
3) The Monday before the con, Alisa Kranostein of Twelfth Planet Press warned me that the hotel was difficult to navigate. Worried, I called the hotel to confirm that I would be arriving on the next day, Tuesday, and I would be given one of the disabled rooms closest to the convention center.
4) When I arrived on the airport shuttle, I could not find or see any bellhops. The only entrance to the hotel lobby was up a narrow steep ramp. I tried to get up it and rolled back down crashing into a wall. At this point the other passenger in the shuttle went looking for a bellhop while the shuttle driver very kindly pushed me up into the lobby and fetched my luggage.
5) The front desk was all at standing height, with no lower wheelchair accessible heights available.
5) Although I had just confirmed the DAY BEFORE that I would be arriving that night, the desk clerk informed me that I had arrived a day early and that no disabled rooms were available. They could, however, put me in a standard room in the Palm Tower for the first night of my stay and then transfer me to a disabled room closer to the convention center on the second day. This was upsetting since I had planned to spend Wednesday resting, not packing and changing hotel rooms again, but I agreed.
6) This room was too far away for me to reach without assistance, even without my luggage. So the hotel clerk summoned a bellhop who took my luggage and followed me outside the lobby. Once there I asked how far we had to go. He pointed and I realized I couldn't make it.
7) I pushed myself across the driveway to the front entrance, following the bellhop to the golf carts. We then took a golf cart over to the Palm Towers.
8) While transferring from the golf cart to my wheelchair I fell.
9) As we went to the room I asked the bellhop where the nearest restaurant was and where the convention center was. He pointed and noted that I was several hundred feet from either.
10) I had problems getting through the door.
11) Once inside I called the front desk to let them know that I could not stay in the room. They put me on hold. While I was on hold I noted that the hotel's Internet was down. When they came back on they assured me that I would be able to change rooms at "some point" the following day although they couldn't give me an exact time; checkout was at 11 and the room would have to be prepared for me, but they would contact me "sometime between 11 and 4" and move me to another room. I also noted the problem with the Internet; the clerk said, "Well, that's because you have to pay for it." I noted that payment wasn't the issue; an inability to get a signal was the issue.
12) The next morning I was not feeling that well, so I decided to order room service. When I hit the room service button I got the bellhops; after that was sorted out room service told me that my uncooked breakfast (coffee and pastries) would take 45 minutes. They offered the Trellis Cafe instead, telling me that was not too far from my room.
13) Technically that was somewhat correct. Unfortunately, the only direct access to the Trellis Cafe was through a flight of stairs, past the pool and some lovely roses.
Wheelchair users had to go down the length of the entire building, then OUT TO A PARKING LOT, down an incline, then up an incline, then up a ramp to get breakfast. And back.
Wheelchair users also had no direct access to the swimming pool, the whirlpool, or the gift shop; access to any of these was through the parking lot and around a building.
14) Shortly after 11 PM, a maintenance guy knocked on my door to fix the phone. When he saw I was in the room, he offered to return later. I explained that I was set to transfer to another room at some point but wasn't sure when. He called the front desk to find out.
15) Although the front desk had assured me, twice, that I would be transferred that day, they had no record of this request.
16) I got on the phone again with the front desk and explained that I was a wheelchair user who needed to be in a room with full disabled access and a bathtub as close to the convention center as possible, noting that I had made this request months before and had been assured as recently as that Monday that I would be placed in a first floor room almost directly from the convention center. (I later saw these rooms; access to the convention center was across a parking lot and a large courtyard.) She informed me that those rooms were unavailable but she could move me closer.
17) A bellhop arrived to help, moving me to the next room. We both agreed that this room was still too far; plus, I had difficulties getting into it. I called the front desk again. Hotel room number three.
18) I arrived there at about 12:45 and, hoping to rest up before the con, promptly fell asleep.
19) Shortly afterwards I was woken up by a power saw two doors down. This was followed by hammering and drills and more power tools. The front desk didn't know how long this would go on.
20) I finally decided to give up the idea of staying in the room, and instead go down to wait for Shweta and her husband Nathaniel at the Sunshine Deli - the only place that was open and serving coffee in the hotel.
21) The Sunshine Deli can be accessed through three flights of stairs. Or, wheelchair users can go around the building and use one of two ramps and then go through a restaurant, open for breakfast and lunch only to reach the Deli The restaurant closes down and locks its doors at 2 pm, leaving wheelchair users with no way to access the deli. At all. To add to the problem furniture was piled up against one of the doors. Also, this meant that wheelchair users had no access to the bathroom closest to the pool, since that bathroom was by the cafe.
22) I broke down and cried.
23) (er, someplace in my notes I lost point 23)
24) At this point, I decided someone other than the front desk needed to be made aware of the situation. I knew WFC had been having a book bag stuffing party nearby, so headed in that direction and explained, as calmly as I could, that I had no way to reach the Sunshine Deli. A very kind woman ran interference with the front desk for me. They initially told her about the (inconvenient) wheelchair entrance; she checked, and confirmed that this entrance was locked and blocked with furniture. She called them back, to be told that this would be taken care of "later" and in the meantime I could wait "below" and try to get someone to bring my order out to me. (Not that anyone in the deli could see me below.) She went and got me my chai.
25) By the time Shweta and Nathaniel arrived I was fuming, which is why I made an unplanned appearance at Mysterious Galaxy -- I didn't want to be at the hotel.
26) After the bookstore signing we returned to the convention center to register. I realized I couldn't make it back to my room, so Shauna Roberts and Rosalind M. Green-Holmes very kindly offered to assist me.
We needed both of them to open the door.
Note for future con organizers: I really do not like asking people that I have just met at dinner to help me open the door to my hotel room.
27) I returned to my hotel room after a lingering breakfast. More banging. Once again, I gave up, headed out, and joined various people for lunch. That was exhausting, so I headed back to my room. More banging and power saws.
28) I called the front desk again. They had no idea how long this would last, and put me through to maintenance, who didn't know off hand either. Maintanance contacted the guys two doors down who said they were doing a complete renovation of the room and would be working until Friday.
29) Back to the front desk again. She told me they only did maintainance from 9 to 4 when guests were "expected to be out of their rooms." I asked why they had even put me in this room in the first place, given that they were doing major renovations two doors down, and she repeated that guests were expected to be out of their rooms and offered to move me back to room two - the one that was too far away and inaccessible. By this time I had seen disabled rooms closer to the convention center (if not exactly close) and I exploded.
30) Exhausted and miserable, I headed to the con committee and tried not to cry. We moved me to room number four - finally on the side of the tower rooms more or less facing the convention center, where I should have been placed in the first place. I fell over on the bed and did not move for two hours.
31) The next morning I found that the shower was not working properly. No, I said to myself. I am not changing rooms again. But I did leave the hotel Sunday morning - two days ahead of schedule.
1) The door to the "disabled" stall on the second floor of the convention center swings inward, and because it's narrow, I could either have my wheelchair in the stall (not easily) or the door to the stall shut, not both. I needed assistance.
2) The hotel was spread out, with nothing - restaurants, rooms, convention center or bar at all close to anything else; worse, most of the pathways were connected by stairs. Some of the rooms could ONLY be reached by stairs.
3) Getting into the con suites meant getting over a bump; getting into the outside patios was difficult to impossible without assistance.
4) Because of points 2 and 3, I was forced to rely on people to push me everywhere. Which in turn left me relying on their whims.
5) And these were just the main points.