By Latrishka Thomas
Equality goes beyond race, it encompasses equal access to opportunities for people of all shapes and sizes, is the message that “The Resort Foundation” owner, James King, is seeking to spread.
King is therefore urging the government and businesses to become “people friendly for all people”.
The plus size accommodation expert told Observer that he has received calls from the local taxi association with interest in becoming “plus size certified”.
And doing so he told them is “as simple as making sure you have the right attitude, making sure the seatbelts are full length, and making sure there’s a way for the clients to step on something to get in because a lot of plus size people have back and knee problems.”
Similarly, he said he has recommended to the Minister of Tourism that the airport should provide more comfortable seating for the full-figured and the elderly.
“One of the things I already reached out to the Ministry of Tourism, not just for plus size but for older people … they should have safe and suitable seating especially at the airport, especially with the Covid, because you are asking people to stand for a long period of time who can’t do it,” he shared.
“What would it cost the aviation authority to have four or five chairs that older people or plus size people can actually sit in?” queried a passionate King.
He noted that, thus far, there are only two places in the Caribbean where people of all sizes can feel accepted. They are his resort in the Bahamas, and now the Catamaran Hotel in Falmouth, Antigua owned by Feona Bailey.
“If things like the hotel association was promoting fully welcoming anybody and everybody…what is it going to cost them to promote equality?” he asked.
King added that becoming plus size certified means more business for Antigua and Barbuda.
He further shared his hope that one day “local restaurants in St John’s and around the island will make seating accommodations, so if you are plus size you don’t have to be embarrassed”.
“They can just guide you to some place where you will feel comfortable and not throw you in the back corner or stick you some place where you know at the end of the night, you’re stuck,” the businessman said.
He offered some suggestions to health officials, saying that the hospital, clinics and doctor’s office can become plus size friendly by taking people’s weight in private, getting wider and more comfortable chairs, and purchasing arm blood pressure monitors for people of all sizes.
King disclosed that The Resort Foundation is a non-profit organisation and it would therefore be free to become plus size certified.
“You just have to make the changes,” he reiterated.
The Catamaran Hotel is the first resort on island to be retrofitted into a safe haven for persons with a few extra pounds.
The Bailey family’s hotel is now ergonomic, with chairs that can hold persons weighing over 500 pounds, and beds fit for over 1,000 pounds, along with several other features that have not changed its look and feel.