On May 19th, 2007 my wife and I arrived at the Budget Inn (owned by Natvaral M Patel) at 140 Emmet St., Charlottesville, Va 22903 ([---]) to check in for the evening in order to attend our daughter’s graduation from the University of Virginia the next day (May 20th).
My wife had come down with a systemic infection the same day and we had spent the better part of the morning and afternoon at our local hospital (Reston Hospital) near our home in Reston, VA in order that she might begin a treatment regimen before leaving for Charlottesville. She was continually running a fever and I had to set my watch in order to remind us to give her alternating doses of medication every 3 hours to keep her fever down. She was very cold and needed my constant care that first day.
Our daughter is a UVA trustee and we had already missed her trustee ceremony at the university president’s home that day, so we were not going to miss her actual graduation on the 20th.
We arrived around 7:00pm at the hotel and immediately noticed that there was no parking available for disabled or handicapped individuals. Not only this, but there was also no access ramp to reach the check-in office. The check-in office is about 4 feet above street grade and requires an individual to open a non-accessible door (there is no electronic button to open it) and then climb an additional 3 steps to arrive at the front desk. Once at the front desk, there does not exist a way for someone in a wheelchair to reach the “doorbell” that one must press if one would like assistance.
Fortunately for me, I have the advantage of just a left leg amputation above-the-knee and can ambulate well around such obstacles. Someone in a wheelchair would be much less fortunate.
We received our room key and immediately noticed that it was a second-floor room. We asked if it would be possible to find a way to get a first floor room, but were told that we were the last ones to check-in and that as a result they could not provide us one as they were all booked for the graduation.
We proceeded to room 21 and off-loaded our luggage up the two flights of steps.
At approximately 7:45pm we left the hotel to go out to dinner with our daughter. We arrived back at the hotel around 10:30pm and began getting ready for bed. I had been up almost the entire night before caring for my wife before we eventually went to the emergency room and was very, very tired. I proceeded to remove my prosthetic leg and “plug” it (I have a microprocessor C-Leg) to recharge it for the evening, as the battery had run it’s course during the long day. I then tended to my 2-year old son and got him a snack and settled into bed.
It was now about 11:30pm and I was brushing my teeth when my wife began to complain about being cold. The thin, polyester bedspread provided little comfort to her in her state, so I dialed “0” on the room phone to request 2 extra blankets.
The hotel manager on the other line (Manisha Patel) said that they had blankets and that I could come down to pick them up. I informed him that I was undressed (it had gotten pretty cold outside) and had already removed my prosthetic leg for the evening. He repeated that I would need to come downstairs to pick up the blankets.
I noticed that English was his second language and assumed he had misunderstood something I had said. I repeated that I was an amputee who was missing an entire leg and that it would not be physically possible for me to carry the blankets up to my room. He said there was nothing he could do because, in his words, [Budget Inn] “is not a full-service establishment.”
I was shocked at first and then rather irate that he was taking such a stance. I had not asked for anything out of the ordinary in my opinion, nor was it a request that was asking anything more than for him to leave his television program and do me a favor, as a paying guest.
Soon, I realized I was talking to a brick wall and hopped across the room to my crutches and proceeded to go outside in my shorts. I crutched past several other tenants as I made my embarrassing trip down the 2 flights of stairs on my crutches (they slipped out from under me at one point and I almost ate it). This time I had a harder time entering into the hotel office due to the lack of disabled access, but eventually muscled my way up to the front desk and rang the doorbell. Manisha promptly arrived at the desk and said he would go back and get the blankets.
When he came back out, he informed me that there were no blankets in the office and that he would go check upstairs. “Upstairs??” I asked him. He informed me that the blankets were kept in a storage closet on the second floor. As I began following him back up the steps I had almost fell down to get my blankets I felt like the lowest form of life on the planet; very, very, very belittled. It was a real blow to my ego, and this from a guy who has overcome cancer three times and volunteers every Tuesday night at Walter Reed to assist amputee and other war veterans.
As we passed in front of our hotel room, I could not believe that this guy (Manisha) could actually treat another human being in such a sub-human manner. Fortunately, I had made it up the stairs in time to get the blankets from him before he descended back down to the office.
I will admit that I was livid and let him know it. I have only been an amputee for about a year, but this demeaning experience will live with me forever.
As a final statement, I would like to openly let it be known that the following morning I confronted Manisha and told him how I felt about the kind of person he is. I was not kind to him and let him know how I felt. I was still very (rightfully) upset about the previous night, but I never used any curse words or made any threats against him in any way.
In the end, I was appalled by my treatment at Budget Inn and believe it is this kind of ignorance that sets a discouraging and poor example of the very rights guaranteed by the ADA Act and the United States Constitution.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located at the University of Virginia, we at Excel Inn & Suites (formerly Budget Inn Charlottesville) welcome you to Charlottesville and Central Virginia! Our central location is ideal walking distance to University of Virginia (Rotunda, Grounds and The Corner), JPJ (John Paul Jones) Arena, Scott Stadium, Klockner Stadium and Barracks Road Shops and Dining. A short drive will place you at Monticello, Ash Lawn, Michie Tavern, Vineyards and Historic Downtown Mall. The University of Virginia Hospital and medical facilities are a short dive distance. Our Excel Inn & Suites is a SMOKE-FREE facility offering Standard and Suite room types. Complimentary to our guests...Hot Continental Breakfast w/ Waflles, Coffee and Computer Lounge. In room amenties include LDC TV w/ cable, USB charge station, free Local & Long Distance Calls (USA & Canada), Microwave / Fridge, Iron & Iron board, Safe and Hair Dryer. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Budget Hotel Charlottesville