Having a family member with special needs can make travel challenging, so imagine how cool it is to find out there’s a program resorts can go through to prove their eagerness to work with those special families. The designation is called ‘autism-friendly’. And I just discovered one of my favorite resorts is qualified as one of only five in the U.S.!
I’m talking about TradeWinds Island Resorts, located in St. Pete Beach, FL, right on the beach. The resort offers some amazing amenities, from a floating obstacle course families can play on to a really cool pirate show for “pirates in training”, or kids of all ages. But this resort just went way up in value in my book. It’s now named as “autism-friendly” by the Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (C.A.R.D.) TradeWinds employees went through C.A.R.D.’s training program to learn how to better meet the needs of guests who have autism, and their families.
According to the Tradewinds management, the properties also took the following steps to ensure these guests have a memorable and pleasant experience:
Social Books – A guide for each property is available online for families to review prior to visiting the resorts. It is a detailed description of the hotels, complete with photos, so that families and children will know what to expect during their stay. The social books can also be emailed or mailed to guests.
Gluten-Free Offerings – Gluten-free menu options are available at all TradeWinds dining outlets, and special diets can be accommodated. There is even a kid-friendly snack amenity which can be made with gluten-free products.
Safety Kits – Safety kits are available to guests free of charge, and include a hanging door alarm, outlet covers and table corner cushions.
Reservations – The reservations department has been equipped with a list of questions to ask families when reserving their stay so the staff can be aware of any issues before arrival, including sensitivity to cleaning products, noise, etc.
Activities – Special sensory activities for kids with autism will be offered in the TradeWinds Activities Center, and programs that may be appropriate for children with autism will be noted in the resorts’ recreation calendar. Parents are always encouraged to share any special needs of their child with the activities staff when registering in advance for programs.
When resorts go out of their way to make sure all guests are happy, especially those with special needs, it makes me want to book with them even more. If you feel the same, visit www.justletgo.com/autismfriendly or call toll-free (800) 808-9834.