when the Ritz Carlton (which was great) tried to kill me

I’ve never had the treat of staying at a Ritz Carlton.  So I was looking forward this trip to NOLA as a luxury.

I was expecting a much higher standard of shampoo to jank.


Now, let me start off by making sure I’m perfectly clear on certain points

  • Our room was comped for the days we had problems.  Without question and quickly, it was taken care of.
  • The staff we interacted with, from valet and registration to managers and vice-presidents was kind, conscience and NEVER part of the problem.

That out of the way: THE HOTEL TRIED TO KILL ME.


It did.

It was a several-step process: (I didn’t take pictures of everything, but I will share what I’ve got)

  1. After a very long road-trip from ATL-NOLA, Robin and I arrived at the hotel. We quickly found out that the reserved room wasn’t handicap-accessible.  Kind of a big deal. So we were moved to a second room. It WAS h-a, but didn’t have a roll-in shower. Which meant I couldn’t bathe. Which meant my panel was going to be interesting. They had to move me again. Room #3.
  2. Now Room #3 was a lovely room on the Club Level. HOWEVER. It was set up for looks and not functionality. Which is sort of what a person in a wheelchair needs.
  • There were plush runner carpets! But they had to be removed because my chair kept getting stuck.
  • The bathroom sink was seated so far back that when I went to spit toothpaste the first time, I spit all over the counter instead of the unreachable sink.  From that point on. brushing my teeth took a series of glasses.
  • The bathroom mirror was so tall, I could only see half of my head.
  • There was a mattress topper that was part of each bed (which was too tall for a handicapped person to get in without holding onto something) and when getting into the bed one day, IT MOVED.  It scooted across the bed and almost caused me to fall. In a panic, I jumped on the bed to stop falling and it kicked my weak leg out.  Which kicked the brake on my wheelchair. Which rolled into the middle of the room and out of reach. Did I mention that I’d told everyone I was going to take a nap and they could leave?

3. When I knew the hotel wanted me dead!!

  • The way the shower was set up there was no possible place to set shampoo/soap. So Robin had to stay close so she could help me. (I know! Lucky girl! I didn’t even charge her extra)
  • First shower! The hotel provides a shower chair. And just as I’m finishing I feel the legs move. I say something to Robin.  She had noticed the movement too. The legs move again. Robin says something again. I feel it wobbling.


  • The legs on the shower chair gave way and I ended up wet and naked on the floor.  Reminded me of Spring Break 1993. Poor Robin had to pick me up and get me back in my chair. We both cried. After so many laughs it was a moment full of pain and fear.

It’s impossible to explain to how embarrassing and UGLY a moment like that is. How it makes you feel. What it does to the part of you that tries so hard to find independence, but will alway rely on others.

Please don’t think we didn’t have a great time.

I got to see friends that made my heart sing.

Stephanie from Adventures in Babywearing (who I wanted to kidnap and bring home with me)

I tried foods that I’m pretty sure made angels weep.

BBQ Shrimp pasta.

While I was dumped on the floor I totally took advantage of the time on my knees to give thanks to BodyLogicMD for the trip to the RC spa.

But (as long as this was to write) wonderful as NOLA was, this was part of my trip too.

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26 Responses to when the Ritz Carlton (which was great) tried to kill me

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  2. Petit Elefant May 11, 2011 at 2:37 AM #

    It’s always 100% phenomenal to see you. One of these days we’re going to have to sit down and have a real chat. You know, about your boobs.

    Petit Elefant´s last post…Crazy weekend in New Orleans

  3. tracey May 5, 2011 at 4:16 PM #

    Anissa, if you don’t write it and write it often, how will the world ever change? I’m glad you had a good time and hope that the hotel changes their rooms to suit people with needs.

    tracey´s last post…They- They- They

  4. Christy @morethanmommy May 3, 2011 at 9:17 AM #

    As much as I’m sure RC NOLA cringed at reading this, it’s important to write. It might save another person from going through what you went through. Plus, as bad as an experience may be, it’s also good to note how the establishment handles a problem, which in this case is quite well. It’s a fail for them in terms of being a wheel-chair friendly hotel, but it’s a win for them in terms of customer service. Hopefully they can fix the first challenge and get all that much better.

    Christy @morethanmommy´s last post…Day 22 – Win Stop &amp Shop Gift Cards for Gas &amp Food

  5. kristin May 3, 2011 at 8:07 AM #

    They should make the architects and managers roll through their own rooms in a wheelchair and try to do those everyday things like brush their teeth and look in the mirror and transfer to a bed or toilet.

  6. Kristine (Mommy Needs Therapy) May 2, 2011 at 11:13 PM #

    It sounds like you handled this with class Anissa. I imagine the they were shitting themselves when they found out the shower chair broke.

    Perhaps the RC will invite you back to test out their renovations!

    Kristine (Mommy Needs Therapy)´s last post…A Recipe for a Pissed Off Mom

  7. Jessica May 2, 2011 at 6:46 PM #

    I don’t know how you do it. Well, yes, yes, I do. You laugh and laugh and laugh and then cry when you need to and you inspire.


    Jessica´s last post…Okay- HIS bad!

  8. Kristin May 2, 2011 at 5:51 PM #

    I am so glad you can find the humor in that horrible series of events but I’m so sorry you even had to go through it.

    So, what I want to know now is do we get the story of Spring Break 1993?

    Kristin´s last post…Sunday Smorgasbord

  9. Miss Britt May 2, 2011 at 5:35 PM #

    I have to say that I was really impressed with how you and the staff at The Ritz Carlton handled this entire situation. You were totally calm and specific – even offering to give them tips for their upcoming renovations – and they were also calm, listened, and (as you said) comped your stay.

    It’s always great to see a business that listens when a customer says that improvements are needed.

    Miss Britt´s last post…How to Make a Budget Even if You Hate Making Budgets

  10. Penbleth May 2, 2011 at 5:15 PM #

    What a bummer. I’m glad they looked after you once the situation arose but what a shame that it had to happen in the first place. Independence isn’t valued highly enough until it is compromised or even removed.

    Penbleth´s last post…Well- that was the weekend- tomorrow it’s porridge

  11. Susie May 2, 2011 at 4:19 PM #

    Wow, I don’t know what to say. I loved that you explained what happened but I winced at what you had to go through, Anissa. The crashing shower chair sounded like a real nightmare, and my heart sank as I read your words. I admire your courage for sharing this
    “adventure”. (“You can’t call it an adventure unless something goes wrong”.) Only by explaining what went wrong can changes be made.

    My vote is for the Ritz-Carlton to hire you as a consultant. Terrific they called and “took notes” and nice that they comped the rooms, but your feedback is invaluable for them now and in the future.

    Now go get tomorrow, like you always do…<3

    • Anissa Mayhew May 3, 2011 at 12:15 AM #

      They seem to be getting it more wrong as the day go on. *sigh*

  12. Char Thian May 2, 2011 at 1:24 PM #

    Good afternoon. Anissa, since you arrived in New Orleans at the hotel on March 14, 2011, we have been corresponding via twitter. I hope that the Mom 2.0 summit was an enjoyable experience. We regret that your need for an ADA compliant room was not noted on your reservation, so we upgraded you to our Club Level since all of our rooms in the main hotel were occupied. We felt very fortunate to be the host hotel for this year’s summit. Over the course of your stay and afterwards (as recently as Friday, April 29, 2011) we continued to talk via twitter and for that we are most appreciative. We wanted to answer your questions in a timely manner, especially when you have feedback about the hotel’s facilities. That is why I asked Executive Assistant Manager of Rooms Paul Reggio to call you. He overseas the operations of our Club Level. He said that he enjoyed speaking with you on Saturday, April 30, 2011 and took a lot of notes. Trust that we have taken notes and those will be circulated to the architects and interior designers. I’m certain that it will prove useful and for that we are most grateful. We also appreciate the positive comments that you shared via twitter, including “@charthian Impressed at how considerate and conscious the #RitzCarlton staff are, even when told how to improve!! TXS!” Again, thank you for the opportunity to improve.

    • Anissa Mayhew May 3, 2011 at 12:07 AM #

      Char, I wish that you had all the details straight first.

      I DID ask for a handicap room at the time of reservation. I reserved 2 rooms side-by-side so we could have our editor’s meeting conveniently. I reserved both rooms at the same time. I was told they would be adjoining.

      Yes. Everyone has been kind. Everyone has taken note. Everyone returned my calls. The fact remains I fell because your equipment was faulty. I had accidents because your hotel wasn’t accessible. No phone calls or kindness makes up for that.

      • Char May 3, 2011 at 1:33 PM #

        Anissa, please accept my personal apology for any error. Again, we truly appreciate your help and feedback. If we don’t know that there are issues, we cannot fix them, so we’re most grateful. Happy Mother’s Day to you.

  13. Becky May 2, 2011 at 12:28 PM #

    I was a foster parent to medical needs children for several years. One of my children was power wheelchair bound. It is amazing how everyday life can be so “against the grain” and accomplishing everyday things can be so much more difficult. He had a Make-A-Wish trip where we stayed at Give Kids The World Resort near Disney. Words can not describe how wonderful it was to roll into a shower, or park a wheelchair NEXT to the commode versus in front of, ROLL into a pool or ROLL into a van versus lifting and stowing of a power (cement laden, lol) chair. BTW, words defy the gratitude that I have for Make-A-Wish and Give Kids The World who made a difference in a handicapped childs life.

    Bravo for you for educating and not staying silent!!!

    • Anissa Mayhew May 2, 2011 at 11:44 PM #

      We did GKTW for Peyton’s wish trip as well. That place was sheer magic! My kids still think we should get ice cream for breakfast.

      • Becky May 3, 2011 at 12:37 AM #

        That was about 13 years ago. I was not able to place James’ star on the ceiling – sobbed like a baby and couldnt do it. Have regretted that ever since. Do they still place stars on the ceiling?

        • Peter Mayhew May 3, 2011 at 8:32 AM #

          yes, they still do the stars on the ceiling. You’re always welcome to go back and visit too.

          Peter Mayhew´s last post…Hi There

  14. Emilie May 2, 2011 at 11:59 AM #

    I used to work for the National MS Society, and it was amazing the places that advertised themselves as handicapped-accessible, when they clearly did not have a CLUE what that phrase means. Doors that opened in wrong directions. Bathroom rails placed on walls where they’d be no help at all. Toilets, sinks and mirrors placed at odd heights. Faucets that were completely out of reach. Ramps that were far too steep to be safe. You’re not being whiny — you’re asking them to provide what they SAY they provide, and to make your trip as enjoyable as the next person’s. You’re also doing them a favor by helping them fix this, because it NEEDS to be fixed. You go, girl!

    • Anissa Mayhew May 2, 2011 at 11:41 PM #

      I want to try to make people understand that just because you meet the legal requirements doesn’t make it good enough.

    • Kati Strong May 3, 2011 at 7:52 PM #

      Hear hear. Ever since my then 18 year old daughter had a cerebellar hemorrhage that has left her permanently disabled and in a wheelchair, she (and I as her assistant) have had to deal with dozens (hundreds?) of problems due to the inability of architects, builders, city planners, etc. to THINK about what accessibility truly means.Something easily achieved if they were to spend only 4 or 5 hours in a wheelchair trying to get up sharply slanted curb cuts, heavy doors, etc. Hotels have been some our most frustrating experiences. We’ve clearly stated that we needed wheelchair accessible rooms, with roll-in showers, only to be given rooms with tubs only.Some have told us, once we’ve arrived, that they don’t have any rooms with roll-in showers. Why didn’t they tell us in the first place?? Since my daughter needs help with getting in and out of hotel showers, transferring from her chair onto the shower seats (usually permanently installed), we CAN deal with tubs. However, almost all “accessible” showers that are situated in bathtubs install their seats at the end of the tub. Sure, they have the required adjustable height shower head, but no human (unless they are blessed with stretchable arms) can possibly reach the shower controls or shower head while seated at the back of the tub.) So, there goes their independence in the shower. :-( The ones that have had roll-in showers have managed to slant the floor of the shower the wrong way, causing the water to run out of the shower and over the bathroom floor, making the floor extremely dangerous for transferring back into the wheelchair. I can only imaging how dangerous it is for people using walkers, with their feet sliding all over the floors. We’ve had to ask for 4 or 5 extra towels just to use to dry the bathroom floors. Then there are the parking spots that are compliant with the ADA; they are closest to the front door. But where do they put the accessible rooms? The farthest away from the front entrance and/or elevators. It’s very tiring to wheel oneself on carpet down long hallways to get to the room. So many places follow the letter of the law, but not the spirit. I often think that, once/if my daughter is ever able to get past all of the health difficulties she has, that I will become a crusading advocate (but a very polite and calm one) for people with disabilities, taking pictures of all the things that are done in bathrooms, hotels, theaters, etc. and keeping on the managers/proprietors/builders until the changes are affected.
      Oh dear, I fear I have gone off on a rant. Sorry ’bout that!
      Thank you, Anissa, for sharing your story. It’s important to make people aware.

  15. Heidi May 2, 2011 at 11:43 AM #

    Thanks for this post, Anissa. You aren’t being whiny at all. Businesses and people unfamiliar accessibility issues need to see things like this to understand. It’s like childproofing your house. You don’t really know what dangers are there until you get down at the toddler’s height to see what they see. Then it’s a whole new world.

    • Anissa Mayhew May 2, 2011 at 11:39 PM #

      That’s a great analogy!

      More people that don’t have handicaps DO have kids.

  16. Birdie May 2, 2011 at 11:17 AM #

    Love your writing, but hate reading things like this. I have a degenerative genetic disease that will likely put me in a wheelchair in my thirties or early fourties, and I see the world with chair-colored glasses a lot of the time now, recoiling in horror at steep, short ramps, ramps leading to skinny doors or doors that open out, etc. One of my favorite groups has a photo share called handicap fail where people share pictures of the brilliant design choices. Glad to hear they comped you, though!

    • Anissa Mayhew May 2, 2011 at 11:32 AM #

      I’m so sorry to make you read this!

      I hate to post things like this, but it’s part of what I’ve had to go through. I try to be fair and not fall into that whiny “poor me” group.

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