Woman turned away from seafront hotel because of her guide dog
PUBLISHED: 17:30 06 September 2017 | UPDATED: 17:30 06 September 2017
A Weston-super-Mare woman has hit out at a seafront hotel after she tried to pop in for a coffee but was turned away because she was with her guide dog.
Maggi Burgess was taking a coffee break from a sponsored Walk All Over Cancer event where she was raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support when she said her confidence was completely knocked by an employee of the Seaward Hotel, in Knightstone Road, turning her away.
Maggi had a brain tumour nine years ago which affected her vision and means she is now partially sighted.
Since losing part of her vision Maggi has been able to regain her independence and build up her confidence with the help of her trusty guide dog, Annie.
But she said the recent incident at the Seaward left her incredibly angry, upset, and lacking in confidence.
She told the Mercury: “We just wanted a coffee and it was the first place once we had crossed the road.
“We went in and were greeted by a person who just said ‘no, no, no, you can’t come in here’.
“I explained that I could, and that Annie was a guide dog and she was allowed to go inside.
“He said she couldn’t and ushered us out. He then told us to have a nice day, something which then became impossible.”
In the UK it is against the law for service providers to treat people with disabilities less favourably and as a result shops, cafés, hotels, taxis, libraries and other businesses must cater for people with guide dogs.
Maggi said: “When I got home I was really quite upset. This shouldn’t happen to someone that’s got a guide dog.
“I put a post on Facebook and it’s had hundreds of responses, people are disgusted.
“Annie has completely changed my life and made me loads more independent and a lot more confident, but when things like this happen it just really doesn’t do anything for my confidence – I just wonder if the next place I go to is going to turn me away.”
The hotel’s manager Mark Sendell-Childs told the Mercury the hotel is investigating the matter internally and it has expressed its deep apologies. The hotel also put up a post on Facebook, which says the hotel ‘will always accommodate guide dogs’ and assist their owners.
One of the hotel’s partners Michelle Michael later told the Mercury the incident was a ‘misunderstanding’ and said the employee was in training but the person supervising him was unfortunately sick, so he was left alone.
She said the hotel has been in business for 50 years and always welcomed guide dogs, adding the employee is a foreign national and did not understand what was happening.