First Fully Accessible Hotel Group in New Zealand

Sudima Hotels and Hind Management Group have become the first hotel chain in New Zealand to roll out a hidden disabilities sunflower scheme across all its properties, paving the way for better and more inclusive service in the hospitality industry. 

In New Zealand, one in four people identifies as having a disability, impairment, or access need, requiring support or adjustments to thrive. The Hidden Disability Sunflower Scheme empowers the wearer to voice their need for support discreetly with a sunflower lanyard, pin or bracelet. 

Participants of the scheme can feel welcomed and supported within Sudima Hotels, with its staff ready to accommodate anything they may need during their stay, meal or spa treatment. This includes allowing more time during check-in, offering a quiet space, and helping with additional information if required. Most importantly, the team will not assume but ask and listen to the needs of their guests.

Following Air New Zealand and the Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown and Gold Coast airports, Hind Managements has incorporated the scheme into Sudima Hotels to provide more personalised guest experiences tailored to individual needs. 

According to Phillipa Gimmillaro, Chief People Officer for Hind Management, the Hidden Disability Sunflower Scheme is the perfect way to bring their team members closer to guests by supporting access needs and enhancing guest experiences.

“It fits with the Hind Management and Sudima Hotels ethos as foundation members of the Accessible Tick Programme. With all our hotels either designed with accessibility in mind or with physical environments audited for accessibility, it’s a natural addition to the experience we already offer.”

“As a parent of a neurodiverse child, I am filled with joy seeing our teams embrace the scheme and look forward to welcoming more guests who may have previously had poor experiences or lacked support when travelling with hidden disabilities,” said Gimmillaro. “Our employees are also encouraged to discuss hidden disabilities within their team and seek any adjustments from management that may support them in their role due to a hidden disability.” 

Sunflower lanyards will be available at the front desk or from reception staff. There is no charge for guests who are not required to disclose their details or their hidden disability to receive one. Sunflower wearers will also have the option of additional assistance in an emergency or evacuation. 

 “It is so important for those with hidden disabilities to feel welcomed and know they can be discreetly supported,” said Joanne Dacombe, Autistic Disability Advocate.

“I’m excited about the timing being Autism Awareness Month, as people with autism spectrum disorder are one group with a hidden disability who often need the extra support the lanyard can signal is required. I am so pleased the lanyard has been implemented by the Hind Management group and Sudima Hotels and backed up by training because the training is a vital component.”

Together with Bayley House, a disability support provider, Hind Management, supports the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme by ensuring all staff undergo comprehensive training before implementing the scheme.