MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA – Home to the Caribbean’s first advanced autism-friendly kids camps, and as the first all-inclusive resort company in the world to complete the rigorous International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) and Autism Certification, Beaches® Resorts expands its exemplary autism program with the release of all-new Sensory Guides. Carefully developed by the IBCCES and designed to allow caregivers and guests with cognitive disabilities to more comfortably navigate the on-resort experience based on specific sensory sensitivities, the Sensory Guides comprise extensive resort maps with public areas – such as the resorts’ many pools, dining spaces, and sports hubs – rated on a 1-10 scale of sensory stimulation.
“At Beaches Resorts, the word ‘inclusive’ has dual meanings – one speaks to our business model, and the other speaks to our mission,” said Joel Ryan, Group Manager Themed Entertainment and Children's Activities, and a key player in the curation of the program’s offerings since its inception. “Our enduring commitment to do more in this very important space, and to do it better, has inspired many new programs across our resorts to create a vacation experience that’s safe and comfortable for all. This month, and year round, we’re proud to see and hear from guests who, time and time again, trust to bring their families to a Beaches Resort.”
Debuting ahead of Autism Acceptance Month, which is celebrated annually during the month of April, Beaches’ Sensory Guides add to the brands’ thoughtful array of offerings and overarching mission to create an inclusive vacation experience for guests with cognitive disabilities including the autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which affects 1 in every 36 children. Throughout the month of April, all resorts across the Beaches portfolio will offer daily sensory arts and crafts, as well as added activities through the brand’s one-of-a-kind partnership with Sesame Street.
Beaches Resorts also offers one-on-one Beaches Buddies, accredited staff members who can join the family for an hour, a day, or for their entire stay, at an additional cost. Additional programs include Beaches’ dedicated Culinary Concierge, through which families can pre-plan meals according to dietary preferences and allergies. In 2017, Beaches Resorts evolved their beloved Sesame Street programming to include Julia, a 4-year-old character on the autism spectrum who introduced an exciting new activity for kids - Amazing Art with Julia. Beaches also offers the Island Routes Fast Track Arrival & Departure Service, for an additional fee, securing a professional airport agent to escort families through immigration, customs and security to ensure a seamless airport experience.
In 2017, Beaches Resorts became the first resort company to be designated a Certified Autism Center (CAC); and in 2019, Beaches became the first to attain the Advanced Certified Autism Center (ACAC) designation from the IBCCES. Through the latter designation, the core focus has been directed at Beaches Resorts’ Kids Camps and Entertainment and Watersports operations, ensuring at least 80% of customer-facing staff have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament, and expertise to interact with families and children with special needs, specifically on the autism spectrum. In a recent survey conducted by the IBCCES, 94% of surveyed families shared that they would take more vacations or visit more new places if they had access to autism-trained and certified options.