In celebration of Autism Acceptance Month, Sandals and Beaches Resorts is expanding offerings at its luxury-included family resorts in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos where the resorts will become recertified as Advanced Certified Autism Centers (ACAC).
Sandals and Beaches Resorts are part of Sandals Resorts International which is a parent company to 5 resort brands across seven countries. Beaches Resorts is an operator of all-inclusive resorts for couples and families in the Caribbean, founded in 1997.
In honor of Autism Acceptance Month, Beaches® Resorts has announced its expanded commitment to families with children on the autism spectrum, ensuring a safe, fun, and comfortable vacation experience that’s tailored to their needs.
With one in 54 children diagnosed with autism in the U.S., special needs travel continues to be one of the fastest-growing family travel segments and one that is severely underserved. Building upon an existing partnership with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) – the global leader in cognitive disorder training and certification – Beaches Resorts has extended its Advanced Certified Autism Center (ACAC) accreditation through 2023 and continues to be the world’s first and only ACAC resort company underscoring its dedication to ensuring every family can enjoy the award-winning Luxury Included® vacation experience.
Through this ACAC recertification process, over the next several months, Beaches Resorts’ team members in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos will be eligible to participate in advanced autism training virtually, with an emphasis on the resorts’ key touch point areas, including kids camps, entertainment, front desk/reception, food and beverage and watersports operations. This recertification process will also expand to training of team members at the Airport Arrival Lounge/Reception Area in Montego Bay, Jamaica and Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, which offer the first point of contact for Beaches Resorts’ arriving guests.
The all-inclusive family resort company, in collaboration with IBCCES, will also launch a Sensory Stimulation Guide for guests with sensory needs, providing comfort and an understanding of what to expect in each designated area of the resort. The guide, which outlines the degree of sensory stimulation in a specific area or event, allows families to easily plan and navigate their visit based on their individual needs. Designated Low Sensory Areas will also be identified at all resorts, allowing guests to find comfort in designated spaces should they need a break from sensory stimulation. These locations will be easily identifiable through resort maps, onsite signage and in pre-travel planning materials.
“As the first resort company in the world to attain the distinguished ACAC credentials, we’re proud of the work we’ve accomplished to-date and look forward to finding new ways to demonstrate our commitment to autism acceptance and inclusion while creating an autism-friendly environment,” said Joel Ryan, Group Manager Themed Entertainment and Children’s Activities. “As the best-in-class, luxury vacation experience, we have always strived for an inclusive experience that allows parents to have confidence in selecting our resorts, knowing their children can feel comfortable and safe, have fun and make lifelong memories.”
In 2017, Beaches Resorts became the first resort company in the world to be recognized by IBCCES as a Certified Autism Center (CAC) and, as part of their larger Sesame Street partnership, also introduced Julia, a four-year-old girl on the autism spectrum, who brought an exclusive new activity to Beaches Resorts: Amazing Art with Julia. Two years later, the resort company then became the first to attain the Advanced Certified Autism Center (ACAC), recognized by IBCCES.
“Like the rest of the world, we know families and autistic individuals are looking forward to traveling, visiting new places, and making new memories as soon as they are able to. They are also looking for organizations that are trained and certified in autism, particularly leaders like Beaches Resorts, who go above and beyond,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman and CEO. “The professionalism, dedication and enthusiasm of the team at Beaches Resorts is second to none, and we are thrilled to continue our partnership to provide long-lasting support and impact.”
The Beaches Resorts ACAC recertification and extension builds on the existing measures in place to serve this specialized community as well as those with sensory sensitivities including:
• In-depth education for Beaches Resorts staff, with 40 credit hours on autism sensitivity and awareness, centered on communication, motor skills, social skills, environment awareness, emotional awareness, bullying, early childhood identification, transition to adulthood, and more.
• Advanced training with particular emphasis on the company’s Kids Camps, Entertainment, Food & Beverage, Front Desk/Reception and Watersports operations.
• An annual onsite audit and review by the IBCCES team.
• Changes to protocols and physical space to accommodate various needs.
• An optional service of ‘One-on-One Beaches Buddy’ providing personalized, private childcare with a buddy who is autism certified, and can be pre-booked for a nominal fee.
• A dedicated toll-free number to Beaches’ Special Services Team, certified by IBCCES, and able to assist both consumers and travel professionals who wish to learn more about a Beaches vacation and on resort autism programming.
• A Culinary Concierge program to support specific dietary restrictions and special requests.
• Modified check-in options for private, in-room, check-in.
• Availability of sensory toys as well as DreamPad pillows for children’s use.
• Modified design and decoration in Kids Camps and key entertainment areas to create a more sensory-friendly environment.
“Beaches Resorts is ‘walking the walk’ in this space and while they are humble about their efforts to serve the autism community, it’s important to note that they were the first travel company to do it, and do it right!” said Holly Robinson Peete, actress, activist and philanthropist. “With first-hand experience as the mom of a child (RJ) with autism, this space is near and dear to me, and inclusive travel on this scale is rare. I continue to applaud Beaches Resorts – and return with my family – as it’s truly a place where we all feel welcome and can relax and enjoy quality time together,” Robinson Peete concluded.
Additionally, Beaches Resorts’ industry-leading Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness were created with consideration of guests with sensory disorders. While first meeting rigorous health and safety standards, the resort company ensures the use of low-fragrance cleaners, fragrance-free hand sanitizers and other products to ensure guests with sensory disorders have an enjoyable and safe experience. Complimentary COVID-19 testing is also available to all registered guests at Beaches Resorts prior to their departure.
For more information on Beaches Luxury Included® Resorts and its longstanding commitment to creating an autism-friendly environment, please visit https://www.beaches.com/all-inclusive/autism-friendly/
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