Not as Described

Photo shows ocean waves crashing on the sand under a blue sky dotted with whispy white cloudsTemperatures dipped well below freezing in a large portion of the country as well as Mayberry. Zipped coats, knotted scarfs, and hands in gloves aren’t enough fortification when menacing wind cuts right through your thickest outerwear. I’d rather not take the chance of spending much time outside in that climate.

Huddled inside with the terriers I flick on my tablet. I adjust my blanket and search listings. No, no, no. These are all wrong. The house is in this group somewhere. There’s no better day than a snow day to look at beach house rentals.

I find the one. It’s what my family had rented. Specifically chosen for the number of bedrooms plus features like decks and A/C. My Aunt L doesn’t really do stairs anymore and this house had an elevator.

My family called the real estate contact and inquired about it. They were assured, yes, the elevator will be available for your use. Great. 

On a sunny day, Stockton and I pulled into its gravel drive. I walked inside the house and greeted my relaxed family. Then I made a beeline to use the elevator.

“Well, there’s a bit of a problem,” my Aunt S said, leading me to the ground floor. “Here it is. It does work.” She opens a door and shoves a gate aside and we enter the chamber. She selects the floor button and slides the gate closed. “Oops, I need to shut the other door, too.” She fixes this and we wait for the bulky machine to transport us skyward. This unit is no Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator model. Slowly we rise and reach the main level of the house where the kitchen, living area and master bedroom is located.

Aunt S pushes aside the gate and flings open the door and we step into the hallway off the kitchen. “The problem is,” Aunt S says as she closes the gate and door behind her. “It doesn’t go all the way up. The button says 2, but this is it.” The rest of the bedrooms are on the floor above us, a full staircase away for Aunt L to climb.

Did it ruin vacation? No. We made it work. And my aunt left feedback about the glitch. But what if a guest did not have any ability to do stairs and this is the house they chose? As a person living with a disability, I have learned I can’t always trust information available about a place is up-to-date. Calling and speaking to someone directly about layout and procedures minimizes the chances of having a “surprise” like this elevator fail, but sometimes even that doesn’t protect you.

On my snow day, I study the listing. The same photos, the same type of description. None of the glam photos showed the elevator interior or exterior from a hallway. The  info listed “elevator” in the “Other amenities.” A virtual tour using a floor plan is offered, but it wouldn’t work on my smartphone. On my desktop, I was able to scroll through all three levels of the house. The top level does not have an “ELEV” label over the area between the stairs like the other two levels. Would others notice? I’m not sure. Renters beware! I wanted to post. Elevator only goes to two of the three floors.

A multi-generation family vacation works best when the accommodations live up to their descriptions. An inconvenience can be managed. Inaccessibility means someone is excluded. It’s maddening because a simple fix prevents issues: accurate listings. Experience teaches you a lot. If I’m unsure about a vacation accommodation, I’m going to pass up the option and take my dollars elsewhere rather than be stuck somewhere unpleasant.

How do you chose where you will stay when you are away from home? Have you encountered issues? Tell me about it.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. This has happened to me with a wheelchair accessible room not being available when we arrived, despite our reservation. As you suggest, it is wise to call the hotel directly and speak with the manager on duty if possible.

    1. George, how did the room issue turn out?

      1. In one instance we brought our bags into the lobby, sat on the sofa, and started to unpack. The desk clerk came over, and we told her we had nowhere else to go, so we’d just stay here and use the public restrooms. We had a room within an hour, an apology, and a gift certiorari dinner.

  2. johnmill79 says:

    I just went on a great trip to Miami Beach, and ended up in a hotel that was much smaller than i’d thought. In fairness, it did say boutique. Haha. It was strange but kind of romantic for our anniversary trip. There are no elevators, but a wheelchair user could stay on the first floor I think. Though maybe not, because getting in to the building requires mounting two pretty big steps.
    I make decisions about where to choose by reviews, so as someone said on Twitter it is important for us to note accessibility shortcomings like that, which I will do. Then after the fact my sighted wife looks at the pictures to see if she might like it. Thus far, i’ve not made a radically bad choice.

    1. Reviews do help. Thanks for sharing your experience, John.

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