The Resorts That Are Truly For Everyone
The Caribbean Sea is a little bluer and the sand a bit softer as Beaches All-inclusive Resorts joins the world in celebrating World Autism Acceptance Month, which takes place every year from April 1st to April 30th.
One thing you may not know, though, is that Beaches® Resorts has been celebrating autism acceptance on a daily basis for years – always prepared to deliver a luxury vacation experience everyone could enjoy.
As Autism friendly resorts Beaches goes above and beyond to make every family’s vacation as easy as possible, so beyond introducing various special sensory toys and pillows for children on the spectrum, they’ve always taken measures a step further – even down to the furry friends that walk the resort’s grounds.
Back in 2017, when Sesame Street introduced a kind, young autistic girl named Julia to their set of muppets, Beaches Resorts was the first to be able to bring Julia on-resort to interact with their guests. Ever since, Julia has been sitting down with children to do Amazing Art at all three Beaches Resorts locations; in Ocho Rios, and Negril, Jamaica as well as Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, providing comfort to those on the spectrum and teaching other children about autism along the way. But that’s just what families can immediately see. There’s something more significant behind it all.
“We want parents, all parents, to be assured their kids feel safe, have fun, and make lifelong memories — especially if a child is on the autism spectrum,” says Joel Ryan, Group Manager of Themed Entertainment and Children’s Activities for Beaches.
Beaches is so committed to offering families a travel experience they never thought possible, that they’re the only company in the world to recertify its credentials as an Advanced Certified Autism Center (ACAC) through the year 2023. The certifications for Beaches date all the way back to 2017, when it became the first resort company to be designated as a Certified Autism Center (CAC).
The certifications, through the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) – the gold standard in global cognitive disorder training and certification, reinforce a long-standing promise at Beaches to provide a worry-free vacation for everyone. The emphasis is always on everyone.
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“Families who want to travel with a child or an adult on the autism spectrum are underserved,” says Liz Kaiser, Director of Branding and Partnerships for Unique Vacations Inc., worldwide marketing representatives for Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts. She cites a recent survey saying 84 percent of parents with autistic children are more likely to visit a resort where the staff is trained in autism sensitivity. The question those parents always ask is: Where can I possibly find that?
“Their choices are limited,” says Kaiser. “As a parent, how do you know that a resort’s employees will understand your challenges? How do you know they’ll be patient? What about safety? Our staff is sensitive and understanding to families who have to ask these often-difficult questions.”
Behind the scenes at each Beaches Resort, as part of the ACAC accreditation, team members go through at least 40 hours of autism sensitivity training. Knowing how to communicate is crucial. So is the awareness of motor skills, social skills, emotions, and sensory triggers.
Families with children on the spectrum have been coming back to Beaches Resorts repeatedly for many years. In fact, there’s one family who especially loves vacationing at Beaches Turks & Caicos with their son who is on the spectrum, Jack. He’s now 16 years old and stands six-foot-four. He recently made his seventh trip to Beaches with his family. Everyone knew Jack as soon as he stepped into the open-air lobby.
“Jack! You got so tall!”
The look on Jack’s face said very clearly, “I’m so happy to be back!”
In the family’s suite, Jack followed the routine he always follows. He went into the bathroom to unwrap each bar of soap. He lined his 14 toothbrushes on the bed as straight as pickets on a fence. He placed his stuffed bunny where he could see it from anywhere in the room. Then his parents did something they never would have dreamed of a few years aggo…
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They let Jack go.
“We hand him a walkie-talkie and remind him about sunscreen,” says his mother, Carrie. “He eats lunch when he wants and slides down the waterslides as many times as he wants. People here understand Jack. They love him. He’s happy. And for one week out of fifty-two, I can relax.”
Here on the edge of the sea, parents witness the life-giving power of freedom.
“We don’t want Beaches to be the exclusive choice for family travel, though,” says Kaiser. “Our vision is for every resort company in the world to follow our lead and train their staffs to understand families with children on the spectrum.”
The vision also stretches into Caribbean communities, where Beaches employees are taking awareness and training into their own neighborhoods.
“Here at Beaches, we don’t think of anyone in terms of ‘normal’,’” says Ryan. “We literally see ‘amazing’ in every person.”