Last July, we traveled to the Wichita area in Kansas and needed a hotel for two nights. We chose the Holiday Inn Wichita East I-35. The hotel is beautiful with it’s warm colors and sleek designs.
It was the first time we had travelled since COVID-19 started, and we discovered that some things about hotels had changed. I was surprised there were so many sitting areas in the lobby until we realized that what used to be the breakfast area was now another area to sit. We had heard from a friend that hotels were not serving breakfast anymore. Social distancing and masks don’t quite fit in with hotel breakfasts as we used to know them. Our friend was given a paper bag breakfast upon checkout from his hotel stay somewhere. We received no breakfast at this hotel. Housekeeping did not clean our room until we checked out, which ended up being the standard during the pandemic. I began to think the room rate should have lowered somewhat without breakfast included and automatic housekeeping, until I began considering all of the new measures hotels are likely obligated to provide for customers and for employees; and I realize that with sanitizing measures and lack of business due to people not traveling, hotels would be fortunate to stay afloat at that point in time.
The basic layout of the hotel’s handicapped bathroom was pleasing to the eye, but not practical for everyone. At first glance, the shower was welcoming; but it would not be possible for me to adequately manage getting in and out of it. The shower’s doorway was wide enough, but half of the shower space was to the left of the doorway and not open. Specifically, there was not room to transfer from a wheelchair to a shower chair because there was a wall blocking entry.
The toilet had one long grab bar on the side of it. It needed another bar in back of it. There was a towel rack on the wall, but I had concern it wasn’t sufficiently anchored for me to use it as a grab bar. We carefully tested it, and it likely could have been used; but we would not have wanted to find out the hard way that it was not strong enough.
The sink was set up to allow a wheelchair to slide under it, but the thickness of the counter with the wood piece below it coupled with the longer distance to the sink than usual (because of its shape) prevented me from getting close enough to use it. Framed mirrors are pretty, but the frame made the mirror itself too high for me to use. There was a full-length mirror across from the bathroom, but the lighting there was poor.
The way the large bathroom door opened into this room was better than most, but it went past the wall of the bedroom and was awkward to open and close. There was no low hook on the inside of the bathroom door.
There was ample room on the sides of the bed for my large wheelchair. I did not check the height of the bed in this room. Sometimes the height of beds make it difficult for wheelchair users to transfer onto and off of it. My wheelchair has height adjustment so it was not an issue for me.
The hotel, with its lovely entrance, roomy and welcoming lobby, considerate employees, and nice room with pleasing décor made it a comfortable place to be; but its accessible room/bathroom leaves room for improvements for practicality. Our experience there reminds me that meeting ADA requirements is often not the same thing as easy to use.