Construction is set to begin on a first-of-its-kind hotel where teaching and employing people with disabilities will be just as important as accommodating overnight guests.
At least 20 percent of workers at the 150-room Courtyard by Marriott being built in Muncie, Ind. will be individuals with developmental and other types of disabilities, project organizers with The Arc of Indiana said. These employees will be working in all types of positions, including management.
In addition, the hotel will offer postsecondary educational opportunities for individuals to learn about the hospitality and food service industries and will serve as a training ground for human resources professionals to better understand how to hire people with special needs.
There are also plans for two businesses owned by people with disabilities to be located in the hotel lobby.
“As far as the typical guest experience, this Courtyard will be no different,” said Sally Morris of The Arc of Indiana. “That said, this hotel will not just meet ADA standards, it will exceed them. Every decision we are making is meant to enhance the guest experience for all of our guests.”
Morris said that the idea for the project came from Jeff Huffman, a dad who was frustrated by the lack of postsecondary opportunities for his son Nash, who has Down syndrome, and others like him.
Construction is set to begin later this year on the hotel, which will include a restaurant and parking garage, all attached to the Horizon Convention Center in Muncie. The property is expected to open in summer 2015.
The state of Indiana has committed up to $5 million to help fund the hospitality training institute and teaching hotel.