I recently stayed at the JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel in Bucharest, Romania. Located across the street from the Palace of Parliament, it is said to be the city’s top hotel. On the lobby level is an entrance to a small casino located inside the building.
I ventured into the casino one evening to see if any of the games would catch my interest. I am not much of a gambler, but I do enjoy playing blackjack, roulette and the occasional slot machine. I had only been on the casino floor for a couple of minutes, when a female staff member approached me and told me to leave. She said, “wheelchairs are not allowed.” Taken aback and at a loss for words, I simply asked, “why?” She stated that it was “policy” and she did not know why that policy existed. I quickly left and rolled into the hotel’s lobby bar for a couple of drinks.
Any such policy would stand in contradiction to the European Commission’s Disability Strategy of 2010 and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, a treaty signed by the European Union and its member states. Since Romania is a member of the E.U., I could’t believe that I had been so directly discriminated against.
Following my stay, I wrote to Marriott’s corporate Customer Care department and received a prompt response from the hotel’s General Manager. He wrote:
Marriott does not own the premises, the casino nor manages it. The casino facility is merely attached to the hotel building and has two entrances, one from the hotel lobby and one “the main” from the west parking side. Hence, Marriott leverage on the casino is very limited.
Sharing your experience with me has helped me reaching out to the casino management to discuss what happened and work with them so this won’t happen to anybody again. The General Manager of the casino assured me that this has been an isolated incident and it is not the policy of the casino not to accept guests with disability or limited mobility. He has informed me that he will be happy to welcome you again…
It would appear, then, that the act of discrimination was perpetrated by the individual casino employee and was not done at the direction of the establishment or its management. It is, of course, also possible that such a discriminatory policy did exist and the casino now tells a different story.
Either way, it is my hope that persons with disabilities will be welcomed by the casino in the future. I appreciated the fast response from the hotel and look forward to returning to Bucharest and the JW Marriott soon. A review of my stay at the hotel will be posted later this month. In the meantime, check out my Bucharest, Romania Accessibility & Travel Guide.
Have you ever been so directly discriminated against while traveling abroad, whether it was due to a disability or for some other reason? Share your answer in the comments below.