A Blackpool hotel that refused to accept a guide dog has ‘apologised profusely’ for its mistake.
When blind IT supervisor Gareth Holdcroft, 32, tried to book a room at the Number One South Beach, a mix-up meant he was told in an email that the hotel would not accept his guide dog, Ross.
The Equality Act 2010 requires hotels to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to accommodate disabled people, including allowing guide dogs entry.
Claire Smith, owner of the hotel, on Harrowside West, said: “We apologise profusely for any upset caused – we certainly wouldn’t want to upset anyone for the world.
“The problem is that our member of staff has sent an email saying that we do not take dogs because of allergies and she had no idea of the implications of this with it being a guide dog.”
Gareth, from Stoke-on-Trent, lost his eyesight at the age of 21 when his optic nerve was crushed by a brain tumour.
He said: “This isn’t something I’m used to with hotels, but when it comes to taxis, often they’ll pull up, see I’ve got a guide dog, and drive away.
“I’ve got friends who have been refused access to restaurants. I have been refused access to shops.
“I do feel like it’s getting more and more common and something needs to be done to make people aware that this is the law that they need to abide by.
“The idea of having a guide dog was to be able to do more things and get to places where I couldn’t before, and I feel like I’m able to access less.”
The hotel’s no-dogs policy was put in place 15 years ago after a guest with severe allergies had a life-threatening reaction to a room where a guide dog had previously stayed.
Mrs Smith said: “We can take dogs in the restaurant and in the public areas and have done many, many times. We are legally bound to do so, and quite rightly too.
“The last thing we want to do is discriminate.
“But we were in the awful situation where we had a guide dog stay with us. The dog left and we cleaned the room as we normally do and went to extra lengths so we thought we had removed all traces of the dog.”
But she said their efforts were not enough to prevent another guest having an allergic reaction.
“He went up to his room and later came down with his eyes popping out,” she said.
“It was terrifying. It frightened us to death because we thought we had killed this man. Had we not had this awful experience we would never have batted an eyelid.”
Mrs Smith added that, in line with the Equality Act, arrangements would have to be made at the hotel to accommodate guide dogs in the future.
She said: “We have a disabled room with a wider corridor going to it. We also have a disabled toilet and a lift going down to the car park. We could certainly have a guide dog room as well.
“We would hate to be considered discriminatory. We handled this badly and we are really sorry.”
Mr Holdcroft is now booked into the Craig-Y-Don hotel next month.