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 has expanded its autism program with the release of all-new Sensory Guides. 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.
Debuting in time for Autism Acceptance Month, which is celebrated annually during the month of April, Beaches’ Sensory Guides add to the brands’ 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 one 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 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 its Sesame Street programming to include Julia, a four-year-old character on the autism spectrum who introduced an exciting new activity for kids—"Amazing Art with Julia." Tip: 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 percent 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 percent 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.
Furthering its commitment to inclusivity, the resort company is set to host its first-ever dedicated autism week for loyalty members and guests, inviting families with children on the spectrum to come together at Beaches Ocho Rios in Jamaica from October 9-13, 2023. Guests can look forward to daily arts and crafts with Sesame Street’s Julia, fireside chats with autism experts, a private dinner and more, all with the help of a dedicated Beaches Buddy per family.
Families traveling with children on the autism spectrum can find more information on www.beaches.com, including a dedicated toll-free number (1-844-360-9380) to speak with Beaches’ Special Services Team, certified by IBCCES, during the planning stages of their vacation. A pre-arrival questionnaire is also available to help the Beaches Resorts team customize a supportive vacation experience.