Friday, 1 November 2013

They got it right

For the HMSA's family event in Wakefield I stayed at the Waterton Park Hotel. It is lovely - the grounds are stunning and the staff treat you like nothing is too much effort. Unfortunately there were a few wheelchair access issues, and a trip to A and E (due to a friend's anaphylaxis) but this still didn't spoil the weekend.


Because so many people got it right. Reception staff, catering staff, bar staff, leisure/gym staff, hotel management and more.

For example: between building 1 (main reception and our room) on the mainland and building 2 (bar, gym and restaurant) on the island in the lake there is a beautiful, 'listed building' cobbled footbridge, too narrow for a car. With ancient, pitted, wheel-swallowing cobbles. And it is stupidly steep. Beautiful, but the only way over for us was to ask for help....and yet....I didn't mind. Why?
Poor assistance is patronising and based on assumption.
Good assistance involves communication and respect.
But the hotel and gym staff went one better and simply made it clear they were there to serve - it made no difference whether it was 'help me across the bridge' or 'a glass of orange juice please.' I never heard a single complaint about our frequent trips over that bridge - no hint that we had inconvenienced anyone. They treated our requests as routine and totally unexceptional. Actually, it even felt like they were pleased to have been asked. Through their attitude the staff made the hotel accessible.

Because for the first time I can recall, asking for 'special' access arrangements/assistance in a public building was no more embarrassing or belittling than ordering food in a restaurant.

They got it right.

Having said that, I would still like to get across that bridge unaided....I may have suggested they get an X8 extreme. Or two.

If they get an X8 I will DEFINITELY be back.

Repeatedly. For the perfect Hannah 'relax and recuperate' holiday.

(If you have any disability/access requirements and are thinking of staying at Waterton Park or using the leisure facilities there, call the hotel to discuss it - when I booked they told me about the bridge, and that the gym is down a stairs - and sent photos to help me work out whether things would work for me.)

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