Sometimes a simple gesture really can go a long way.
Since moving to Niagara-on-the-Lake eight years ago, Ruth Dowsett and her daughter, Alexis, have been regulars at the Starbucks on Queen Street in Old Town.
The original shop closed in October 2020, but was reopened under the management of 124 on Queen Hotel and Spa, enabling the mother-daughter duo to continue their daily coffee routine.
As a result, Alexis Dowsett has become a bit of a celebrity there.
Alexis is 41 and has cerebral palsy. “She’s a quadriplegic and she’s in a power chair,” said her mom.
The pair see the general manager, Eric Quesnel, almost daily, along with hotel owners David Jones and Nick Capasso. They’ve always felt welcome, said Dowsett.
A few weeks ago, the management team decided to surprise the women with a day at their fully accessible spa.
“They said, ‘You know, we’d love to have you there. It’s all handicapped-equipped and we’d love for you to be our guest for the day,’ ” said Dowsett.
On their day, Alexis was treated like a princess, her mom said.
The spa has a lift that allows Alexis to easily get in and out of the pools. Once she transfers from her power chair to another chair, the lift will gently pick the chair up and put her in the pool.
“It was so great to me,” said Alexis. “I want to go back again so I can tell them how great they are.”
Her favourite part of the experience was the hot pool, which is like a gigantic hot tub.
Since her muscles often seize up, the warmth of the water was soothing, she said.
“Alexis wants to go back every time I see her,” Quesnel said with a laugh.
The hotel gave the pair the spa day because they’re nice people, he said, adding he wanted to treat them to something unforgettable.
“Just seeing her eyes when I saw her after the experience the next day, she was kind of like a kid in a candy store,” he said.
The staff member who helped the women throughout the day is also someone Alexis won’t ever forget.
Emily Campbell was very attentive, but there was a special moment that still stands out to the women.
When Ruth tried to tip her for her wonderful service, she politely refused.
“She turned around and she said, ‘Alexis, seeing a smile on your face and how much you enjoyed it is enough for me. I do not want any money,’ ” said Dowsett.
Dowsett said Alexis told her no one has ever been that nice to her.
While it was Alexis’s first trip to the hotel’s spa, she looks forward to trying it again.
Until then, she’ll be at Starbucks most days enjoying her favourite drink – a Caramel Macchiato.
Somer Slobodian, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report