In Germany, there has been a fuss about a hotel in the northwestern coastal town of Cuxhaven (Lower Saxony) where overweight people are not welcome. According to owner Angelika Hargesheimer, there is no discrimination.
Nevertheless, the website of her Beachhotel Sahlenburg states in black and white that the hotel interior is “not suitable for people weighing more than 130 kilograms, for liability reasons”. She wants to “avoid wrong expectations.”
The woman prides herself on running a design hotel. “You’ve seen our chairs downstairs, they’re real classics,” she said during a tour of news site ButenunBinnen.
“If a person over 130 kilograms sits on it, the chair cannot support the weight for long. I shudder from oak furniture and want to keep the beautiful present. We are keeping a design hotel open here.”
The manageress added the maximum 130-kilogram rule to the terms and conditions as an offshoot of a settlement with an obese hotel guest.
The bed he had spent the night in had collapsed, on which he claimed damages. Other overweight guests complained about the small shower room in the bathrooms. The chairs in the breakfast room were also uncomfortable for some.
Beachhotel Sahlenburg also avoids children, which is more common in boutique hotels. Finally, a strict smoking ban applies in the accommodation.
The visit ban for obese people does not violate German anti-discrimination law, according to scientist Friedrich Schorb of the University of Bremen, simply because the legislation does not mention physical features such as obesity. He personally finds the regulations “humiliating”. It further promotes the “isolation of obese people”.
However, weight discrimination is a widespread problem in Germany. German men and the British are among the fattest Europeans.
Fifteen percent of Germans openly admit to avoiding contact with overweight people, according to a study by a German health insurer. Schorb calls for legislation to be amended so that discrimination based on physical characteristics, such as obesity, becomes a criminal offense.