Carlson Hotels Worldwide Introduces In-room Assistive Convenience Kits Across The Americas To Assist Guests With Dwarfism

Monday, December 18, 2006

Following a year-long test at its owned and managed hotels in the Americas, Carlson Hotels Worldwide has moved forward to introduce the Assistive Convenience Kit for guests at select hotels in the Americas by July 2007. The kits will be made available at all full-service Radisson Hotels & Resorts® and Park Plaza® Hotels & Resorts, and at select-service Country Inns & Suites By Carlsonsm hotels and Park Inn hotels with more than 120 rooms. The Assistive Convenience Kits are designed to help make travel more accessible for the estimated nearly one million people who are short stature (4'10" or shorter) or have one of more than 200 forms of dwarfism.

"Carlson Hotels Worldwide is taking an important step forward for the travel industry by providing greater convenience, comfort and safety for people of short stature or with dwarfism when they travel," said Matt Roloff, owner of Direct Access Solutions, the company that created the kits. "People with dwarfism have largely been ignored in ADA laws and guidelines that pertain to hotel companies providing accessible accommodations at the property level. Carlson's actions stand out as going above and beyond what is expected, and we are very appreciative of their efforts." For guests of short stature or with dwarfism, visiting a hotel can present a variety of obstacles which the average height hotel guest never encounters when approaching the front desk, pushing elevator buttons, latching the lock on the guestroom door, hanging up their clothes or sitting on the bed. Carlson Hotels Worldwide hotel brands are expanding the availability of the kit at their hotels to help provide greater convenience, comfort and peace of mind for these guests. The kits, which will become more widely available in mid-2007; include a stepstool, a reaching tool, a bar to lower the clothes rack in closets, and a device to retrofit the latch-hook lock on the door. "We first learned about the need for the kits through a relationship that developed with Little People of America, Inc. (LPA), and Direct Access Solutions, the company responsible for providing the kits to the hotels," noted Carmen Baker, who previously led diversity for Carlson Hotels Worldwide and is now vice president of diversity for Carlson Companies, the parent company of Carlson Hotels Worldwide. "Our perspective on diversity and inclusiveness goes beyond the traditional realms of ethnicity and we want to find ways to provide a welcoming experience for all guests. There are more than 52 million people with disabilities – the largest minority group in the United States. Maria Seiler, the new vice president of diversity for Carlson Hotels Worldwide, will continue to support this initiative." "Carlson Hotels Worldwide has a very responsive and attentive diversity department, and is a great example of how corporate America does the right thing when presented with the challenges of the disabled community," said Gary Arnold, vice president of public relations for Little People of America, Inc. "It's a win-win situation for the hotel and the traveler with dwarfism. As a frequent traveler myself, I find it reassuring that I will be able to check into a Carlson-branded hotel and know I'll have a tool kit waiting for me, instead of having to lug my own reach-aids or use hotel furniture in an unsafe manner." Matt Roloff, owner of Direct Access Solutions, said Carlson's proactive attention to this issue compelled him to nominate the company for an Eagle Award, an honor presented by California-based Disability Rights Advocates to organizations that willingly provide auxiliary access aids to individuals with dwarfism. Roloff also stars in and produces a reality show on The Learning Channel (TLC) that features his family called "Little People, Big World." The hotel company was featured in a recent episode of the show with footage of Roloff's visit to Carlson Companies headquarters in Minneapolis to sign the agreement with Carlson Hotels Worldwide which will greatly expand the availability of the accessibility convenience kits at its hotels throughout the Americas. (0) About Carlson Hotels Worldwide Minneapolis-based Carlson Hotels Worldwide includes five hotel brands, totaling 905 hotels in 69 countries. These brands include Regent International Hotels, one of the most respected brands in the luxury segment of the lodging industry; Radisson Hotels & Resorts®, one of the world's leading full-service hotel companies with more than 400 locations in 63 countries; Park Plaza® Hotels & Resorts, positioned in the mid-scale segment of the full-service hotel category, with approximately 40 hotels globally and known for its great value and customer-focused service culture; Country Inns & Suites By Carlsonsm, one of the fastest growing, mid-tier lodging chains with over 400 locations offering excellent value with upgraded services and amenities; and Park Inn®, with over 80 hotels worldwide, a unique emerging hotel brand offering a relaxed environment in the economy category and poised for aggressive global growth. Carlson Hotels Worldwide is a division of Carlson Companies, a global leader in the marketing, travel, and hospitality industries. Ranked among the largest privately held corporations in the United States, Carlson-related brands and services employ about 170,000 people in more than 150 countries. Additional information on the company can be found at www.carlson.com.

About Direct Access Solutions, Inc DAS was founded in 2003 to be the premier provider of accessibility products for traveling Little People. The company's main focus is to make the travel experiences of Little People safe and comfortable. Primary marketing efforts are directed towards the hospitality industry. The company is located in Hillsboro, Ore. For more information, visit http://www.lp-access.com.

About Little People of America, Inc.

Hillsboro, Oregon-based Little People of America, Inc. assists people of short stature with physical and developmental issues related to dwarfism. By providing medical, environmental, educational, vocational, and parental guidance, LPA is dedicated to enhancing the lives and lifestyles of short-statured individuals and their families. Networking with national and international growth-related and genetic-support groups, LPA works to enhance the knowledge and support of short-statured individuals. For more information, visit www.lpaonline.org.

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