Many cities have Courtyard Marriott hotels, but the branch in Muncie, Indiana, is one of a kind.

By Melissa Locker
October 02, 2015
Special needs education
Credit: Marriott Hotels

The hotel is owned by the Arc of Indiana, an organization dedicated to serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The group took up the challenge of running a hotel after a frustrated father proposed that they start a job-training program. With unemployment for people with disabilities sky high (82%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2013), these sorts of initiatives are badly needed, and the still-growing hospitality industry could be a perfect fit.

The new venue will be a fully operational hotel as well as a training ground for students from the Erskine Green Institute who want to get hands-on education in the hospitality field. The hotel’s facilities have been designed with that purpose in mind; tweaks such as an extra-large kitchen will allow plenty of space for students to shadow their mentors.

The organization expects that people with a range of disabilities will fill at least 20 percent of the jobs at the hotel and restaurant, including management roles. According to news site Disability Scoop, the hotel will also work with human resources professionals “to help them better understand how to hire people with special needs.”

The six-floor hotel will open for business on December 15 with 150 guest rooms, including 17 rooms that meet accessibility standards, which far exceeds the national average. Original artwork created by individuals with disabilities will be incorporated into the hotel’s interior design. The space will also feature a pool and two restaurants, including the Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company, which will soon be filled with visitors coming to Muncie to visit Ball State University, attend a wedding at Minnetrista, or check out an event at the Horizon Convention Center. The profits from the hotel will be used to support the Institute and other initiatives of the Arc of Indiana.

Despite the hotel’s unique mission, the Arc of Indiana’s Sally Morris assured Disability Scoop that when it comes to the guest experience, “this Courtyard will be no different" than any other.