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Beaches Resorts Welcomes Everyone on the Autism Spectrum



Year after year, we hear about more children being diagnosed with autism. Random outbursts, sensory overload and overwhelming bouts of anxiety are just a few of the symptoms that can seemingly appear out of nowhere, making a normal family vacation feel like, well, not much of a vacation.

Luckily, many industry giants are making waves when it comes to learning how to accommodate those on the spectrum, and Beaches Resorts is no stranger to the disorder. In fact, the family-friendly resort was the first to complete the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) Autism Certificate (AC) training, becoming a Certified Autism Center (CAC) in April of 2017.

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Fast forward to April of 2019 and, once again, Beaches is striving for more. Now, two years later, the company has taken their commitment to the next level by becoming an Advanced Certified Autism Center (ACAC), marking the first time a resort company has obtained the designation from IBCCES.

But, these are just their credentials.

What really matters is how they take the knowledge they’ve gained and use it to ensure that every family that chooses their resorts can go home knowing they received a level of care and compassion they can’t find anywhere else. Your family fun doesn’t need to be hindered by concerns of ‘Is this safe?’ and ‘Do they know how to interact and respond to my child?’ Beaches was basically built for this.

Personalized care starts before you even get to the resort. Prior to their travels, families can fill out a questionnaire with a dedicated Special Services team that identifies specific requests and preferences. Whether you need a private check-in or a sensory-friendly toy to keep your child busy during the process, Beaches has you covered.

Your fun is limitless once you finally arrive at the resort. A partnership with Sesame Street has allowed Beaches to create an environment designed specifically for kids, with favorite characters like Elmo, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch and more, wandering around the resort.

PHOTO: The author, pictured with popular Sesame Street characters Elmo and Oscar the Grouch. (Photo via Jessica Zickefoose)

In September of 2017, the company took it up a notch with the introduction of new muppet Julia, a four-year-old girl who just so happens to be on the spectrum herself. Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to visit the Beaches Turks and Caicos property and experience this side of the resort for myself. Having a seven-year-old on the spectrum, I can personally say he would have more than enjoyed his time there.

Exclusive to Beaches, Amazing Art with Julia is a fun-filled activity that every kid will enjoy. Many autistic children have a hard time expressing themselves with words. This is where Julia comes in, allowing and encouraging expression through art. Here, your little one can explore and create in an open-ended art activity, giving them the opportunity to express themselves in an easier and a more exciting way. Please note, pictures of Julia cannot be taken without her permission, further encouraging the understanding and acceptance of autistic children.

What’s more, the company doesn’t limit itself to kid-specific activities for those on the spectrum. Earlier this year, Beaches was able to include all of their watersports operations in their ACAC certification, introducing autism-friendly programming. Dive team staff has undergone extensive training on how to accommodate, interact and keep safe those on the spectrum. This alone brings a whole new level of opportunity that no other resort can provide.

Family scuba diving
PHOTO: Family scuba diving. (Photo via dsafanda / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

It’s a well-known fact that autistic children are drawn to water. It’s been said it has a calming effect and can improve coordination and balance in those on the spectrum, among other things. Now, everyone can enjoy world-class diving in the Caribbean. Thank you, Beaches Resorts.

For those families with an autistic child, planning a vacation is never easy. The fear of the unknown can oftentimes feel crippling for parents. The good news is that with their highly trained staff, multiple activity offerings and willingness to go above and beyond to ensure your entire family creates fun-filled memories that will last a lifetime, Beaches is, hands down, the one Caribbean resort where you’ll feel your fear subside, replaced by joy in knowing that instead of limiting your child, you’re showing them that the world is at their fingertips.

Are you interested in staying at this property? Travel agents have access to huge savings you’d never find booking on your own. Enter your email below and one of our expert travel agents will be happy to help you save money!

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MGM Resorts Addresses Effects of COVID-19 and Near-Term Plans



A statement just released by MGM Resorts International sheds light on the company’s current status and the ways in which it’s maneuvering to mitigate fiscal damages being inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

All operations at MGM’s domestic hotel and casino properties have been suspended since March 16, 2020. “At MGM Resorts, we are committed to doing our part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including the closure of our properties across the United States,” said Bill Hornbuckle, Acting CEO and President of MGM Resorts.

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“While this will undoubtedly have a significant negative effect on our business in the near-term, we are well-positioned to emerge from the current crisis in light of our strong liquidity position and valuable asset portfolio. We are currently making very difficult decisions, but believe these will be in the best interest of the Company long-term.”

As of March 26, 2020, MGM Resorts Domestic Operations reported liquidity balances of approximately $3.9 billion, including $1.5 billion drawn under its revolving credit facility.

The other good news is that MGM’s figures for domestic business performance during the first two months of 2020 were strong: $1.3 billion, up significantly from the $27 million seen in the same period in 2019. Of course, in March, the company incurred substantial operating losses due to the escalation of the coronavirus public health emergency, but MGM says that it’s swiftly implementing policies to “significantly reduce expenses to protect its financial position.”

The company estimated that between 60 and 70 percent of its domestic operating expenses are variable, and is leveraging means of minimizing these costs, including implementing hiring freezes, furloughs and other headcount reductions. “Most of our employees are either working from home or have been put on furlough,” Hornbuckle disclosed in an online video message addressed to MGM team members.

MGM said that it’s also reviewing fixed operating expenses and corporate expenditures to identify further opportunities for cost-cutting. In addition, “the Company is evaluating all capital spend projects and expects to defer at least 33 percent of planned 2020 domestic capital expenditures.”

By proactively and carefully managing its expenses and other cashflow items, monitoring its balance sheet and fully drawing its revolving credit facility, MGM Resorts remains confident that it will successfully, “weather this downturn and ultimately rebound from the impacts of the current crisis.”

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