Estate Concordia and Sustainable Inclusive Development in Tourism

Last November I was privileged to participate in the early stages of this project to develop an Eco-Resort on St John in the US Virgin Islands. Below is further information on progress at Estate Concordia.

Concordia New Accessible Eco-tent photo Multi, Design for People, LLC 2005

RESORT ISLAND DEVELOPS A TRAVEL DESTINATION FOR ALL
ECO-RESORT GEARS-UP FOR WHEELCHAIRS


St. John is the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands but it has big ideas. Long known as an idyllic spot for an active vacation, this mountainous island will soon become one of the first Caribbean destinations to offer extensive facilities for persons with disabilities.

From July 24 to 30, a small group of volunteers with a range of mobility disabilities, some wheelchair-users, will test newly designed accommodations at Estate Concordia, an eco-resort on the south side of the island. Walkways have been built for convenient access. Recently constructed living quarters offer wide doorways, large bathrooms with spacious shower stalls and utilities within easy reach. For some of the volunteers with disabilities the chance to swim, snorkel, kayak, sail and even scuba dive with assistive/adaptive recreational equipment and to explore the island�s nature trails will be the fulfillment of a life-long dream.

The weeklong event will conclude with a conference during which participants will critique the facilities and offer suggestions for improving them. Attending will be inclusive design consultants, USVI officials and hotel representatives.

The initiative, known as �Building a Destination for All 2005�, was conceived by Stanley Selengut, owner of Estate Concordia, in collaboration with Multi, Design for People, LLC, based in Connecticut and Rhode Island, members of St. John�s government, local businesses, and the National Park and its supporters.

The need for the project is underscored by market studies that estimate there are 54 million Americans with disabilities. The tally incorporates the nation�s rapidly growing senior population. Says Kat Darula, one of Multi, Design for People�s consultants: �Because one American turns 50 every seven seconds, it is critical to recognize the need to apply an �inclusive� design approach that accommodates people of all ages and abilities for all scales of the built environment.�

The first steps to �Building a Destination for All 2005� were taken last year when Multi�s inclusive design consultants and acting professors for 15 interdisciplinary design students from the Rhode Island School of Design�s Industrial Design Department visited St. John. Their recommendations led directly to the innovations at Estate Concordia and the coordinated effort by the island�s government and business community.

Endorsing the undertaking, Lorraine L. Berry, President of the USVI Senate, noted that "One does not see children and adults with disabilities enjoying our magnificent sun, sea and surf to the extent they should. The simple fact is that their needs aren't being met." Selengut, who also owns Maho Bay, a 30-year-old eco-resort on the island, acknowledges the economic potential of attracting visitors with special needs. But he echoes Senate President Berry when he says; "It's also the right thing to do.

Contact: Roseanne Ramos Melody Smith
Inclusion by Design Maho Bay Camps, Inc
info@designforpeople.us melody@maho.org
T: 401.427.6965 T: 340.693.5722 x233.

Estate Concordia, St John, USVI 00830
Reservations/brochures: (800) 392-9004 Front Desk: (340) 693-5855 Fax: 340-693-5960
Email: melody@maho.org Website: www.maho.org

See the Estate Concoodia coverage in the New York Times:

St. John's Looks at Accessibilityhttp://travel2.nytimes.com/2005/07/17/travel/17advstjohns.html?ex=1122696000&en=3d1416ae70f49e94&ei=5070

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