Melissa Chung on Transforming Studio City into Macau’s First Certified Autism Center™

About the episode

In this episode of the Accessibility Champions Podcast, we sit down with Melissa Chung, Director of Spa Leisure and Aquatics at Studio City, Macau. Melissa shares their inspiring journey in transforming Studio City as Macau’s first Certified Autism Center™, she also shares how training and awareness have impacted her colleagues to become advocates of accessibility.




Accessibility Champions Cover Artwork

About the show

Accessibility Champions is an educational video podcast series that celebrates the world of accessibility and the inspiring work being done by industry leaders to serve the rapidly growing market of people of determination. Each episode features conversations with prominent figures and community partners across various sectors who go above and beyond to champion accessibility. By exploring their initiatives, strategies, and success stories, we aim to shed light on the incredible impact of their efforts.

About the guest

Melissa Chung, a highly experienced professional in the Spa and Wellness industry, holds the esteemed position of Director of Spa, Leisure & Aquatics at Studio City, Macau. This integrated resort is proudly owned by Melco Resorts & Entertainment, and under Melissa’s capable leadership, it is set to achieve remarkable milestones. Macau’s inaugural Outdoor Water park made its grand debut in 2021, swiftly followed by the unveiling of Macau largest indoor waterpark in 2023. Hailing from Malaysia, Melissa has cultivated her expertise through extensive experience in Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, and Macau. Her unwavering commitment and boundless passion have not only elevated her proficiency in spa and Wellness but have also broadened her horizons to encompass the captivating realm of attractions.

Dr. Geraldine Naidoo, host of the Accessibility Champions Podcast

About the host

Dr. Geraldine Naidoo has a Doctorate and a PhD in Natural Medicine and is a certified Trauma Informed Professional. She is also focused on removing “internal” barriers as  she provides stress relief and wellness solutions for  clients who are dealing with, or have been diagnosed with, Anxiety, Autism, ADHD, depression, pain and other chronic conditions that typically create stress and overwhelm which adds to their existing challenges. She uses a variety of research based techniques to provide impactful solutions that are focused, effective, and non-invasive, with no contra-indications.


Dr. Geraldine Naidoo 

Hello and welcome back to the Accessibility Champions podcast. Today’s session is exciting for so many reasons. Firstly, autism accessibility and certification through the IBCCES is now officially represented in 111 countries. The world is full of barriers and difficulties, but the accessibility revolution continues to expand and flourish. Our regular followers will know that we typically focus on the MENA region. But today we are traveling to Asia, to China’s southern coast to the vibrant city of dreams, Macau. Here to tell us more about the changes currently being implemented in this beautiful part of the world is a true trendsetter of accessibility. Melissa Chung, Melissa, a very warm welcome to you.



Melissa Chung  

Thank you. Thank you for having me here.



Dr. Geraldine Naidoo  

We’re really excited to speak with you today. So, Melissa is the director of Spa, Leisure and Aquatics at Studio City in Macau. Melissa, can you tell us more about you, please?



Melissa Chung  

So I’ve been in the aquatic, spa, wellness industry for almost 18 years now. And in Macau, five years and previously I was in Mandarin Oriental Taipei and I’m originally from Malaysia.



Dr. Geraldine Naidoo  

Okay! Thank you for making the time to speak with us today. So Melissa, your dedication to enhancing accessibility and championing inclusivity showcases studio City’s commitment to creating a welcoming environment for everyone. Can you tell us what drives your passion for accessibility in the wellness and in the hospitality industry?



Melissa Chung  

So in 2024, there are approximately 16% of the world population which are diagnosed with a disability. And therefore there’s no doubt business actually placing importance in recognizing accessibility is more crucial than ever. So whether it is in the wellness or hospitality industry, organizations are encouraged to address barriers such as communication, sensory, connective, physical and awareness, thus creating an inclusive environment where guests is safe and welcome. So this leads to creating an equal opportunity regardless of the conditions, they can be part of the activities that we offer in these segments these days. So additionally, businesses in the wellness and hospitality industry have social responsibility to cater the needs to all individuals, regardless of their abilities. So priorities accessibility is the entity of our commitment, and ethical business, while showcases our care expect when it comes to our guests.



Dr. Geraldine Naidoo  

And I love that. Thank you. Yes, social responsibility. It is the right thing to do.  So congratulations on becoming one of the first Certified Autism Center in Macau. Can you tell us a little more about your journey? 



Melissa Chung  

Yes, thank you. Well, our journey began when we met Myon and Jane, who shared THE inspiring stories in making the attractions more accessible for individuals with autism during last year IAAPA Expo in Singapore. So their success in creating Certified Autism Center influence and motivate me to share this with our studio city property President Kevin Benning. To be recognized as a potential value Certified Autism Center, we actually embark on 18 months journey to make Studio City its first kind in Macau. Our goal not only to raise awareness about autism, but also to train our team members to be knowledgeable and capable of providing the necessary support and understanding for guests with accessibility needs. So throughout the journey, we faced various challenges and also experienced kind of mix of emotions. There were moments of excitement and anticipation as we work towards achieving the amazing milestone, however, we also encountered obstacles and setbacks that tested our determination. So nevertheless, our commitment to inclusivity and accessibility never wavered. We invested time, resources and effort into creating a welcoming and supportive environment for individuals with autism and their families. Our team underwent intensive training to ensure that they could provide the best possible experience to every guest. Finally, after months of hard working and dedications, Studio City achieved its certifications as a Certified Autism Center. It was a moment of immense pride and joy for all involved, we knew that we have made a significant impact not only our own community, but also in the larger movement towards inclusivity and accessibility in the tourism and hospitality industry. So our journey in this achievement has been both challenging and rewarding. It has reinforced our beliefs in the importance of creating a more inclusive world where everyone can enjoy and participate in experiences we have. We are grateful for the support and guidance received along the way, and we are excited to continue our effort in making Studio City Macau a truly accessible destination for everyone.



Dr. Geraldine Naidoo  

I love that. Thank you. Wow. Sounds very interesting. So you started off really being inspired by the change that people were making and you really brought that home? Incredible and, and you say you did have a lot of challenges, which I suppose is a part of the whole thing in life? I love that you say you successfully overcome your challenges and you feel quite confident in your offering at the moment. That is beautiful. Thank you. So you’ve had extensive, professional experience, like you just shared in Kuala Lumpur, Taipei and Macau? Yeah. How would you say these diverse cultural experiences have impacted your approach to accessibility and inclusion?



Melissa Chung 

All these countries are different in everywhere. But the one thing in common for sure, which is diversity in cultures, and nationalities. So this allowed me to understand the guests uniqueness and backgrounds, abilities and preference. So additionally, I’ve learned the difference of dietary requirements, religious practices, accessibility standards from every country, local regulations, and language preferences as well. So I am also involved in presentations like talks, seminars, exhibitions by conversing in different languages. So it enhanced my professional ability to be able to communicate effectively with guests, especially those who may have a different linguistic background. So based on this experience, I strive to incorporate respect, and accommodating to everyone regardless of their background and diversity.



Dr. Geraldine Naidoo   

That is beautiful. So really, within yourself, you have this incredible diversity and you’re just sharing that. So, um, tell us a bit more about Studio City. I believe it is quite a family friendly destination, what makes Studio City different and how has it been so successful in attracting families.



Melissa Chung  

So, Studio City Macau is indeed different compared to other traditional casinos resort as we aim to provide family friendly environment entertainment experience. So the first point that set us apart is our themed entertainment. So, Studio City Macau is designed as a Hollywood inspired integrated resort featuring cinematic theme throughout its facilities. So we offer a range of entertainment options, including soon to reopen flying theater, is a 4D flight simulations ride and Super Fun Zone, where kids actually can enjoy interactive activities. Studio City outdoor and one of the largest indoor water parks, and coming soon the first Dolby cinema in Macau and Hong Kong. So additionally, Studio City also hosts amenities catering to families such as spacious family rooms, child friendly dining options, dedicated playing areas, and we also offer babysitting services, ensuring parents can enjoy the casino, but and also other adult oriented activities while the children’s are well taken care of. So Studio City, we emphasize non-gambling entertainment options diversity in appeal to the broader audience. Guests can enjoy live performances, including world class shows and concerts from renowned artists in our Studio City events center which has a capacity of 5000 plus seats. So Studio City result also features a 130 meter ferris wheel that we call Golden Reel which have a panoramic view of Macau. So last but not least, we also invest in effective marketing and promotional strategies to reach out to families so it markets itself like destinations that combine entertainment, leisure and hospitality focusing unique experience. So we recently launched our highly anticipated Sanrio characters, which were all the adorable characters like Hello Kitty will make their debut.



Dr. Geraldine Naidoo  

Very Very exciting. Wow, that’s really comprehensive. It’s a beautiful offering. I love that you made the whole thing accessible. That is just incredible. The thing I love about autism certification is that you know, it’s not a, it’s not a clear, obvious disability in any way. You know, it’s something that’s unseen. And yet it’s very, very prevalent, like you shared the statistics earlier, it’s quite something. Wow. Well done. So I know this is fairly new, the changes are fairly new to you. But do you have a favorite story to share about accessibility or maybe even your journey towards becoming a Certified Autism Center?



Melissa Chung 

Most probably our interesting journey, especially in Macau, where the colleague mindset I’ll say, how skeptical one of our colleagues before was, before the transformation. So we have this particular colleague who was uncertain about the impact of our accessibility initiative towards our guests and also doubted like importance of becoming a Certified Autism Center. However, as part of our commitment to fostering this inclusive environment will be providing training to all our team members. Of course, the training will include watching videos, participating in assessments and learning about the sensory guide that we develops. So through the training, our colleagues began to understand the challenges faced by individual of autism spectrum, and how minor adjustment in our approach could actually make a difference in the experience at Studio City. So they learn about the different sensory sensitivity, and those individual autism have, and how we could adapt this attraction to accommodate those sensitivities. So as our colleague become more knowledgeable with autism and accessible initiative, the skepticism turned to become amazement. So they realize that individuals with autism are just like everyone else, and deserve to be same enjoyable experience at our attractions. So they saw firsthand how understanding and accommodating their specific needs could create a more inclusive and welcoming environment to everyone. So this transformation in our colleague attitude was truly remarkable. They went from doubting the significance of our effort becoming passionate advocates for accessibility. So they actively engage with our guests with autism spectrum and meet their needs, and you know, do their best to create a positive experience for them. So this story highlights the power of education and awareness and fostering a more inclusive society. So it shows that with knowledge and understanding people can overcome the initial skepticism and become strong advocates for accessibility.



Dr. Geraldine Naidoo  

I love that. Thank you. Yes, that is absolutely beautiful. Just by sharing education, just by sharing the awareness. It does make all the difference in the world. Yes, much needed difference, I love it. So what are some initiatives or changes you’d still like to see in Macau in general, so kind of, you know, spreading this outside of your own facility. What do you think still needs to be done to make Macau more accessible for guests with disabilities?



Melissa Chung  

From my observations, you know, it will be nice to have improvement in the infrastructure in Macau, such as upgrading existing buildings pathway to ensure accessibility by providing ramps wider, wider doorways and accessibility restroom into hotels, public buildings, attractions, hotels, and hotel shuttle bus with also wheelchair accessible will be great. So additionally will be great to see signage, way finding across the city, including clear and visible signage with braille, larger font. pictograms for easy navigation and maps guides should provide accessibility routes and landmark including hearing loops, tactile maps for visually impaired visitors at tourist attractions, museums and historical sites. So finally, Macau should improve accessibility in all public areas and buildings by establishing and enforcing accessibility standards and regulations to ensure compliance with the new constructions and renovations.



Dr. Geraldine Naidoo   

So I love that you at Studio City you you’re kind of setting the trend right? You’re you’ve started this amazing movement towards accessibility. I feel quite sure that everyone else in Macau is going to be inspired by that and hopefully they’ll make the change to..



Melissa Chung  

We look forward to see that.



Dr. Geraldine Naidoo   

Absolutely. The world is waiting for change. So, Studio City is a part of a family of resorts owned by Melco. That’s my understanding, do you know if accessibility is currently being reviewed across the other resorts as well? Do you know about any other initiatives in place? Will you share?.



Melissa Chung  

Yeah, definitely. The review of accessibility across Melco Resort and Entertainment is currently underway. Conferences, meeting has been scheduled across our sister properties to explore how we can implement accessibility measures in Studio City, Macau, and also others property we have in Macau, Philippines, Cyprus, and another new, more few locations that coming up very, very soon. Additionally, we are also planning to provide training for all colleagues on the subject. So the next step is involving discussions, this planning with the respective management team and considering the impact of the implementations on the cultural diversity within the organizations.



Dr. Geraldine Naidoo  

That’s a lot to consider. But it sounds really exciting. Sounds like a lot of work. But I think you’re not afraid of the work because you’ve seen the result.



Melissa Chung  

Yeah, yeah, exactly agree with so looking forward and excited.



Dr. Geraldine Naidoo  

Oh, best wishes with that, I’m sure it’s going to be fabulous. So what advice would you give to other hospitality professionals looking to enhance their facilities and services to accommodate guests with disabilities based on your experience? 



Melissa Chung  

So for business entities who are actually interested in getting certified, I would suggest to conduct a thorough audit of your property, identify any areas that may present challenges for guests with disabilities. This includes evaluating all the entrances, pathway, restaurant, guestroom, and common areas. The next will be train your staff on disability awareness. So provide comprehensive training to your staff, effective communication strategies, they should understand how to assist guests with disabilities and be knowledgeable about the accessibility features and services available on site. Not only that, communication, information is very important. And so that the guests know where is the facilities that we can the accessibility is available, and very, very important. Collaborate to accessibility organizations IBCCES, they can provide Global Insight guidance on how to improve your facilities as well. And continuous improvement, committed to ongoing improvement by regularly, regularly reviewing and updating your accessibility initiative. You know, stay updated on the latest trend of accessibility standards best practices to ensure your facility streamlines remain inclusive, and welcoming of all guests. So by implementing all these strategies, you can create an inclusive environment that accommodates guests with disabilities and enhance the overall stay..



Dr. Geraldine Naidoo   

I love that you mentioned a continued assessment of what’s going on because it’s true, you know, times change, people change situations change so it does need a continuous reassessment. Excellent. Melissa, do you have a favorite quote or a uniquely Melissa adage or motto that you’d like to share?



Melissa Chung  

I do, I actually do, slightly longer, what I believe is never stop learning for knowledge that is key to growth, never stop giving for generosity is the foundation of abundance. Never stop showing gratitude, for appreciation is the getaway to happiness. And of all the above stay humble, for Humanity is the mark of true greatness.



Dr. Geraldine Naidoo   

I love it. Thank you. It sounds so appropriate based on our conversation today. Thank you for making the time to speak with us today. Melissa, thank you. Thank you for your dedication



Dr. Geraldine Naidoo  

to enhancing accessibility and championing. Inclusivity really showcases studio City’s commitment to work to a welcoming environment for everyone. 


Melissa Chung

Yeah, thank you.


Dr. Geraldine Naidoo  

To our listeners. I hope you have enjoyed today’s valuable interaction as much as I have. We do encourage you to share this information on your own shareable platforms. And we welcome your collaboration if you would also like to do more for people of determination. For more information, go to That’s I B C C E S dot O R G. We promise to travel a little bit more with you in the coming weeks as we share inspiring stories and initiatives around the globe. Until then, may you All week be filled with the resolute spirit of determination.


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