Autism Friendly Hotels & Resorts - Tradewinds Island Resorts

    By Carrie McLaren

    As a parent of a child with special needs, vacations are a time for creating memories. But they can also be a bit difficult at times, too; visiting new places, transitioning into ‘vacation mode’ and fears of not knowing what to expect can be unsettling when trying to prepare our family for a trip.

    When planning our stay at the Tradewinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach , I was excited to learn that they were one of the few resorts in the state of Florida that is CARD certified, which means the staff receives annual training on how to assist guests and families with special needs.

    The Tradewinds Island Resorts received certification from the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities in 2010, and prides itself in offering all guests a relaxing vacation while also taking into consideration the needs of guests with special needs. As a mom, I appreciated the efforts to make my daughter comfortable with her surroundings and ensure she, too, had a fantastic vacation.

    Some of the amenities available at this autism friendly resort for guests with autism and other related disabilities include:

    In-room Amenities

    The resort provides ‘safe kits’ for families to use during their stay to create a comfortable environment within their accommodations. Items in the kit include hanging door alarms, corner cushions for tables, and electrical outlet covers. While the kits are meant for families with special needs, they’re also available for guests of all abilities. I truly appreciated having those extra items.

    For some individuals with special needs, social books are a helpful resource for becoming more adept in new surroundings. Available online for downloading prior to your arrival and also available at check-in, the visual guides allow you to review each part of your stay. From arrival to departure to activities at the resort, guests can familiarize themselves with the property and prepare for a great vacation.

    Quiet Areas

    If the excitement and fun of vacation becomes too much, families are can take advantage of the designated quiet areas throughout the resort. One of our favorites was along the beachfront in the hammocks. It was a great place to relax, regroup and even sneak in a late afternoon nap before dinner. 

    Another of our favorite activities was the nine-hole mini-golf course in one of the many quiet atriums found at the autism friendly resort. It was my kids’ first time playing mini-golf and now I’m certain it won’t be their last. Friendly competition became quite the thing for our family, a great way to unwind after a day of fun at the beach.

    Food and Fun

    At the KONK (Kids Only, No Kidding!) Club, the staff offers specific activities for guests of all abilities. From sensory tubs to hands-on, creative arts and crafts, the trained staff is well-equipped to entertain children while parents take some well-deserved time away to enjoy the property. 

    At any of the resort’s on-site restaurants, staff are well-trained in assisting with guests’ dietary needs. From gluten-free options to allergy concerns and specialty snacks, there are plenty of options for families that need to be cautious with their meals. The staff at The Flying Bridge, just steps away from the pool, were fantastic with my daughter. With a beachfront view and fish tacos for lunch, we found ourselves there each afternoon for lunch -- and loved watching the paddleboats cruise by in the lagoon.

    Carefree Vacation

    Our time at the Tradewinds Island Resort was a welcome retreat for our whole family. While I loved all the fantastic amenities of the resort and the attention to details in assisting my daughter and our family, I especially loved that they made us feel welcome. The Tradewinds, with its serene, beachfront setting and the choice activities we experienced together as a family, is a place we’ll come back to again and again.

    To learn more about the Tradewinds Island Resort CARD certification, visit

    If you go…

    Tradewinds Island Resorts
    5500 Gulf Blvd.
    St. Pete Beach, FL 33706