A Spanish hotel is facing a firestorm of criticism after it refused to board a group of children with Down syndrome who had been planning to celebrate their end of term there. The management feared they might annoy other guests. The hotel, the CaboGata Plaza Suites in the south coastal resort town of Almeria, has since apologized for the blunder, but is facing outrage from Down syndrome advocacy groups.
According to The Local.Es, a worker from Down España, which runs a school for children with Down syndrome, approached the hotel to find out how much overnight accommodations would cost for a group of students. CaboGata Plaza Suites responded to the request, writing, “we do not admit groups of guests with mental disabilities,” adding, “this has happened before.”
The worker reported the incident to the association, which passed it on to a public prosecutor. Down España argued that the hotel’s refusal to serve patrons with mental disabilities represented “a clear case of discrimination against disabled people that breaks the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by Spain."
The publication reported that the hotel’s management apologized to Down España, claiming that the encounter had simply been “a misunderstanding" and that the hotel staff who had communicated with the organization had mistakenly believed they were dealing with a group of previous guests with a different disability who had been “very confrontational” during their last stay at the hotel.
CaboGata management added that the ensuing media coverage over the incident had “deeply affected” staff members. "In 35 years of business we have never refused access to guests with Down syndrome," a spokesman for the hotel said, adding that they, "have been, are, and always will be very welcome."