Aug 16, 2023, AFAR: What a Truly Autism-Friendly Destination Resort Looks Like https://www.afar.com/magazine/greater-palm-springs-now-has-a-new-autism-friendly-resort?_amp=true
Palm Desert’s largest resort just became the first in the Greater Palm Springs area to be designated a Certified Autism Center. Here’s what the certification means for guests on the spectrum.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 36 children has been diagnosed as autistic and 1 in 6 people has sensory needs or sensitivities, which means that accommodating neurodivergent travelers has become more important than ever before.
Earlier this month, the 893-room JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa became the first JW Marriott property and the first Greater Palm Springs hotel to truly commit to its neurodivergent guests by being designated a Certified Autism Center (CAC). The designation ensures that inclusive options are available for those visitors who have different neurotypes and unique needs. The 450-acre property is Palm Desert’s largest resort and features sweeping views of the Coachella Valley….
“At the end of the day, families who have autistic or sensory-sensitive kids just want the same experience as everyone else,” said IBCCES executive director Meredith Tekin, adding that the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa is only the 35th hotel nationwide to receive the CAC distinction.
“Hotels [that] prioritize this are making [it] a priority to go above and beyond to ensure a positive experience for guests of all kinds,” she said.
For the better part of 2022, JW Marriott Desert Springs employees went the extra mile to accommodate neurodivergent guests, participating in training sessions to better understand some of the issues and realities with which autistic and ADHD guests might be grappling….
In addition to training its staff, the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa has taken other steps to guarantee that the experience is a success for guests of all neurotypes, including those with ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, personality disorders, and bipolar disorder (to name a few). Most of the efforts revolve around helping guests manage their sensory environments, since many neurodivergent individuals can be overwhelmed by sensory inputs….
Nationwide, the push for more inclusive travel continues. Tekin said IBCCES is in the process of giving 35 additional resorts and hotels CAC certification—which would double the number of U.S. hotels and resorts with the designation. Among those in the pipeline are Great Wolf Lodges across the country. These properties could receive formal CAC designation by the end of the year, Tekin said.