Photography by Denise Vasquez ©2021
I just got home from venturing to 8 National Parks in 8 days! Amazing right!?! It sure was. WOW! What a whirlwind! Like the saying goes "Time flies when you're having fun"!
Not only did I see these parks, but I managed to do some mini-shoot photo sessions, see friends, hike, visit some Pueblos, fun roadside attractions and movie locations!
Planing ahead and being very organized certainly helped make the trip go smoothly for the most part.
We hit a few bumps in the road along the way. Best Western Hotels have few "Accessible" rooms available, so I booked 8 "Accessible"rooms, at different Best Western destinations weeks in advance. I put "Accessible" in quotes because some of the Best Western hotel rooms I have been put in over the years, when I have reservations for "Accessible" rooms, have not been ADA compliant! Do they do this because the ADA Accessible room was given away, or is it because they don't really have rooms that are ADA compliant?!? ADA has been the law, for over 30 years, so this makes me very curious!
I've had to leave my wheelchair in the car more than once, and even once is not OK!
I am so grateful that I can walk for a little while now, but what happens to disabled people who can't walk at all, who find themselves in a similar situation?!?
Upon arrival, time and time again, I was greeted by a few of the Best Western hotels not welcoming me, nor did they thank me for being a Diamond member....They were on the defense from the start by making excuses why they gave away my accessible room reservation, or lying about my reservation, or saying "we upgraded you to a different room" I'm disabled, so I obviously want the accessible room I booked.
What's the point of being told my reservation for an "Accessible" room is confirmed, when I first call to book the room, if they're just going to give it away. If the hotels don't have ADA Accessible rooms available, just be honest. There are so many other options, I could've happily booked another hotel I'm a member of, like Choice Hotels!
I print out all of my reservation confirmations every time I book a room, and I keep my reservations on my phone as well, so the lying about my what type of reservation I supposedly had, according to what was changed in the system, doesn't work. Two of the three hotels that didn't have my "Accessible" room reservation available, tried to find solutions to their error, but at the Best Western hotel in Bloomfield, Irene's way of handling me as a customer was very rude, arrogant, dismissive, unprofessional, interrupting me when I was trying to speak, and telling me I can go book someplace else. From now on I will. I don't need to support, promote or give my money to anyone who disrespects me, anyone in the disabled community, or any customer! I felt totally discriminated against & I told her so. Giving away a reservation for an accessible room is unacceptable! The way I was treated is unacceptable! Best Western lost a really good customer! Unfortunately this trip was my last time staying at this hotel chain. I refuse to support any company that not only allows accessible reservations to be given away, but allows this type of mistreatment of customers. It's beyond disappointing to say the least, after giving them my business for so many years, that's how they treat a Diamond member?!? No thank you!
I've stayed at many hotels around the world, I've worked in hotels around the world, have worked in customer service my entire life & have never been treated so disrespectfully in my life!
Honestly, I wouldn't recommend staying there even if I wasn't disabled. Best Western hotels have gone downhill, and I've done many surveys stating problems, from my reservations being given away, to bad customer service, to the rooms being dirty, which is a problem in general, but especially during a pandemic, paint peeling off, shower heads covered in soap scum, mold in bathtubs, vents falling out of the ceiling, stained bed sheets & towels, bugs...
I can go on and on but there are other hotels in the same price range that I would recommend staying at that offer ADA accessible rooms, are cleaner, Covid-Compliant, friendlier, up to date, more welcoming, offer better breakfast and provide really good customer service, like "Choice Hotels"!
I feel it's important to share my travel experiences both good & bad to help bring awareness to accessibility issues I experienced at Best Western hotels during my travels . This experience was disturbing, gave me anxiety which causes me to have painful flare ups having CRPS, and caused both my boyfriend and I stress. But don't worry, I've learned how to manage the flare ups & pain. We refused to allow the negative experiences to take away from the positive experiences we encountered during this trip.
Our journey as a whole was beyond incredible! My partner & I left room for spontaneity which allowed for some really nice discoveries along the way and I am soooo excited & looking forward to sharing all the content we created with you!
I will be sharing videos, photos, and blogs from each park we visited for my "How Accessible Is Accessible" series, so be sure to subscribe to the blog here & to the youtube channel as well!
*Contributions help keep The Disabled Photographer Project "How Accessible Is Accessible" series going, and you can support the project by making a donation Here:
The project is also currently seeking partnerships, sponsors, grants, and ambassadorships. For inquiries contact Denise Vasquez firstname.lastname@example.org
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