Amilla Maldives Resort and Residences has become the world’s first IncluCare-verified resort.
The UK-based organisation IncluCare offers inclusive and accessible travel training, assessment and accreditation for the tourism industry. The Maldives luxury resort’s verification was announced at a special event held at London’s Great Scotland Yard Hotel, IncluCare’s first certified hotel.
“In a world awash with certifications, and hundreds in the travel sector alone, IncluCare stands for a really significant seal of approval — verified accessibility and inclusivity,” said Juliet Kinsman, Condé Nast Traveller’s Sustainability Editor, at a panel discussion on ways in which tourism and hospitality experts can push accessibility and inclusion to the top of the industry’s agenda.
“We still have a long way to go when it comes to the hotel industry offering experiences that everyone can book, whatever their abilities, and this sets a really important benchmark in terms of sustainability and responsibility which I hope will inspire more hotels to do the right thing when it comes to considering all the needs of every potential guest,” added Kinsman, who chaired the discussion with IncluCare Founder, Richard Thompson; Ed Warner, founder of the award-winning accessible design specialists Motionspot; Pierre Mazurier, Associate Sales Director of Great Scotland Yard Hotel; and Victoria Kruse, Sustainability Manager at Amilla Maldives Resort and Residences.
According to IncluCare, one in five people have a significant mental or physical disability, and one of the main contributors to disability is the ageing population. According to the panel, the spending power of the disability market is estimated to be US$10 trillion per year. The panel discussed how disabled people stay longer, spend more money and often travel with support but the majority of hotels worldwide are still not disability compliant.
“There are more luxury hotels in London – actually, around the world – who overtly welcome dogs. Just go to the websites to check it out,” said Richard Thompson.
“How many times have you ever seen a mention of inclusion and accessibility? There will be great footage of the butler taking the dog for a walk in the Bentley across to Hyde Park, but what is there for the vast majority of disabled people?”
“It is totally doable; if we can do it on a beautiful island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and we can do it in a fabulous historic listed building here in London, we can do it anywhere,” he said.
According to Thompson, inclusive travel is the “last major untapped market”, but the luxury sector has the shortest distance to go because of its attention to detail. He also highlighted how the vast majority of brands cannot confirm an accessible room when a booking is made, adding that it is “utterly unacceptable”.
“This has to come from the top; if it’s not coming from the top, it ain’t going to work.”
Inclucare is also developing a distribution system, Inclutel, that features all the accessibility and inclusion information that travellers require before booking.
According to Pierre Mazurier, Great Scotland Yard has 11 accessible rooms with a choice of two categories. Since partnering with Inclucare, the hotel has been named ‘Best Luxury Hotel’ in the Blue Badge Awards.
Mazurier highlighted how the design is important so a stairlift has been made “as sexy as possible” and is showcased in a video so that potential guests know what to expect beforehand.
Ed Warner said that since only 8% of the market is wheelchair users, his firm takes into account the needs of people with other physical, cognitive and neurodiverse needs.
Victoria Kruse said that partnering with Inclucare was a “no-brainer”.
“As the world’s first Inclucare-certified resort, we are committed to retaining this level of excellence and to improving accessibility each year with support, training and auditing from their hotel and resort arm, Inclutel,” the resort said.
Amilla Maldives has the facilities and trained staff to be able to welcome guests with a range of physical and sensory disabilities. The resort also hosted British TV personality and disability advocate, Sophie Morgan as a special guest for its Inclucare inauguration ceremony in July.
Its accreditation by Inclucare has prompted interest from the government as well, including a visit from the Minister of Gender and Family. She is now campaigning for legislative change to improve access and inclusion provision for Maldivians.
Amilla Maldives is exploring ways to create an inclusive workplace that could open up job opportunities for disabled people as well. The country currently has an estimate of at least 2,000 people with disabilities who are likely to struggle with getting a job.
Click here to read more about Amilla Maldives’ inclusive travel initiatives.