Last Updated on August 1, 2023
A survey by Autism Travel revealed that only 13% of autism families take vacations, though 93% would be more inclined to do so if autism services were available. Traveling with an autistic family member can be stressful for both the member and the family considering the frustration and unfamiliar stimuli the individual is likely to experience outside their routine ‘comfort bubble’ at home.
In July 2023, and in partnership with Autism Double-Checked, family-oriented luxury-brand Karisma Hotels & Resorts, with a portfolio of properties in the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe, introduced the world’s first-ever Autism Concierge in select resorts in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
How important is a program like this? Very important considering the autism community in the U.S. alone includes approximately 25 million people with one in 36 children impacted by autism. These families, according to Autism Double Checked, would be more likely to travel and remain brand-loyal to companies who understand their loved onesneeds.
Based in Connecticut, the Autism Double-Checked organization was founded in 2015 by two lifetime travel professionals and leading experts on traveling with autism who are also parents to special needs children. Their goal is working with the travel industry including airlines, hotels, tour operators and travel agents, helping them better understand autism and make the inclusion process simpler.
“Inclusion is only possible if you truly understand the population you wish to include,” Autism Double-Checked Co-Founder and CEO Alan Day said. “It takes specialized training to understand and address the specific needs of travelers with autism and we’re proud to help bring understanding and compassion to our travel industry partners.”
Autism-Double Checked Certification
Hotel training for this autism travel program includes three stages: a general basic training for all staff, specific training per department, and the development of a site-specific visitor guide to assist parents, caregivers, and visitors with autism. Once a property has completed all three phases, it obtains the “Autism Double-Checked” Certificate, indicating that it is ready, willing, and able to welcome families and guests impacted by autism.
The designated hotels provide a dedicated contact for all autism-related questions even before families arrive at the destination. In addition, all staff in contact with guests have been trained in specific situations that autistic guests may face during their stay.
In 2023, Karisma Hotels & Resorts will also introduce temporary door alarms available upon request to provide even more safety and peace of mind to visiting families.
Current Karisma Hotels & Resorts that have received the Autism Travel Double-Checked certification include:
Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya
Margaritaville Beach Resort Riviera Cancún
Azul Beach Resort Riviera Cancún
Generations Riviera Maya
El Dorado Royale
El Dorado Casitas Royale
El Dorado Maroma
El Dorado Seaside Suites
Palafitos Overwater Bungalows
Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana
Margaritaville Beach Resort Cap Cana