"We do not admit groups of guests with mental disabilities," Hotel CaboGata told Down España.
Hotel bans 'annoying' Down syndrome kids
A reservation for a group of children with Down syndrome, who were to celebrate an end-of-term trip, was refused by an Almeria hotel hotel on the grounds that "these kinds of people might annoy other guests".
Management of the Hotel CaboGata Plaza Suites, of the ZT Hotels group, have apologized for the gaffe but the case has now been passed to Almeria's public prosecutor according to Spanish daily El País.
A worker from Down España asked a travel agent to get prices from three nearby hotels in order to organize an end-of-term trip for the children, who attend a school run by the association.
One of them, CaboGata Plaza Suites, responded by saying, "We do not admit groups of guests with mental disabilities," because, "this has happened before."
The association reported the incident to the public prosecutor because it felt that there was "a clear case of discrimination against disabled people that breaks the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by Spain."
The convention prohibits "all discrimination on the grounds of disability".
This is not the first case of its type in Spain, according to Down España.
A nightclub in Sabadell and a pub in Alicante have both been prosecuted in recent years for refusing access to people with Down syndrome.
In 2009 a parish priest refused to give First Communion to a girl in Barcelona, saying that she was already "one of God's angels".
"We haven't gone public with this incident to victimize anyone but to educate the public," said Agustín Matía, head of Down España.
Sources from the hotel have apologized to the association, saying that the incident had been "a misunderstanding" and claiming that hotel staff had believed they were dealing with a group of former hotel guests with a different mental disability whose visit had been "very confrontational".
Hotel management claim that staff have been "deeply affected" by the incident which has led to a wave of criticism on social media networks.
They added: "In 35 years of business we have never refused access to guests with Down syndrome," who they said, "have been, are, and always will be very welcome."
Down España advised that families encountering any type of discrimination should demand a complaint form to record the details before contacting the public prosecutor.