Rivers of Light at Disney's Animal Kingdom Expected to open next spring. (Disney Parks)

Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Expected to open next spring. (Disney Parks)

IN THIS ISSUE: Star Wars, Pandora, Toy Story and Soarin’—just what is Disney up to?

Hot deals for international resorts keep bookings alive


Time’s running out to book Meliá Hotels International Caribbean beach hotels and be able to scoop up on their 25% off promotion. Book by August 31st and stay through December 22, 2015, with certain restrictions and blackout dates applicable.

It’s not too late for Meeting Planners to take advantage of Hollywood Beach Marriott’s “Meet and Beach” summer group offer. In fact, you have until September 30 to book and use this Florida destination, just six miles from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The advantages include nine meeting rooms, the largest of which can hold up to 500 attendees. Planners can manage the meeting’s needs (climate, coffee, chairs etc) via the Marriott’s new Red Coat Direct Meeting App. Included in this hot deal are Double Marriott Rewards® points; Complimentary 1-hour reception right on the Broadwalk overlooking the beach; and Complimentary video camera to document the event.; (954) 874-3187;

Warm up the upcoming winter at Aulani, a Disney resort in Hawaii

Warm up the upcoming winter at Aulani, a Disney resort in Hawaii

Cooler weather is coming all too soon but it’s never too soon to think about escaping the snow for the warmth of Hawaii. Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina has a 30% off promotion for five+ nights booking when you use code A547N. Book your stays through February 8, 2016 for most nights between January 4 and March 17. Book your package by September 25, 2015 and receive a complimentary meal per person for each night of the stay. Just in case five or more nights is a tad extreme for your time off, you can still save 25% on a four night stay be mentioning code L396J.

(866) 309-2385.

Design Hotels has special offers for Portugal, Italy and Mexico. For instance, book the Short Break Offer at Praia Verde Boutique Hotel in Algarve, Portugal and receive 10% off their best available rate, buffet breakfast and WiFi. The 40-room property includes family suites. The Advance Purchase package for G-Rough in Rome’s Piazza Navona includes up to 15% off their best available rate and WiFi. This 10-room beauty showcases iconic Italian designers and brands from the 1930s to the 1950s, set within the antique frame of a Roman building from the 1600s. The blue of the pools plays against the stark white architecture of Deseo, in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Book one of their 15 rooms with the Advance Purchase package and get 20% off best available rate and WiFi.


Nearly a year after the category three Hurricane Odile struck the Baja Coast, wiping out many of the new luxury hotels in Los Cabos, the area continues its recovery with the reopening and rebuilding of many properties. These are slated for the rest of 2015: Hyatt Ziva (August 25); Cabo Azul Resort and Spa (September 1); Casa del Mar (October 1); El Ganzo (October 1); Dreams (October 1) and Melia Cabo Real (November 30). In March 2016, The Westin Resort & Spa reopens. New properties are being added to the destination’s menu of hotels and resorts, such as Starwood’s Hotel Solaz, a Luxury Collection Resort. Expect the beachfront hotel to open June 2017.

Out with the old and in with the new, including the name. The 30-acre oceanfront Springmaid Beach Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, begins a property-wide renovation project in September and when completed, it’ll be rebranded as a DoubleTree by Hilton. Some of the structures are being razed to make room for the resort’s new waterfront focused amenities. There will be a new registration and lobby area, ocean view restaurant with outdoor seating, lobby bar, “grab & go” snack area and outdoor entertainment courtyard. All 452 remaining guest rooms in the Live Oak and Palmetto towers get full makeovers. They’ll feature an ocean view, private balcony, 40” HD TVs, and a resort-themed design palette. The property will be rebranded as a DoubleTree by Hilton upon completion of the renovation. Though its beach is renowned for surfing, its convenient location adjacent to the Myrtle Beach State Park and minutes away from Myrtle Beach’s more than 100 golf courses, has made it a favorite for leisure and group guests. The property has six pools, an 18-hole miniature golf course, fitness center, two full-service restaurants, expansive lawns and a 35,000 sf Conference Center for groups of up to 600 guests.


Crave Interactives in-room tablets and app-based solutions for upscale hotels seems just the right products for today’s meeting groups. Based in the United Kingdom, Crave is the market leader for such technology throughout Europe and is rapidly expanding in the U.S. The company just signed their first Caribbean property, the 155-room The BodyHoliday, an award-winning resort set at the exclusive northern end of St Lucia, as a client. “Crave’s in-room tablets are particularly well-suited to resorts with a broad suite of on-site guest facilities and activities; there really is no better way to promote in-house services and to create scope for upselling,” says Crave Commercial Director Tim Butterworth. What can these tablets do? Allow for instant in-room food and beverage ordering, spa bookings, and guest communications, instantly updateable digital directories and menus, and limitless scope for additional sales and tailored in-room advertising.;

Star Wars-Themed Lands Coming to Disney Parks (Disney Parks-Lucas Films)

Star Wars-Themed Lands Coming to Disney Parks (Disney Parks-Lucas Films)


Forget the Star Wars Weekend that Walt Disney Parks and Resorts annually hosts at Disney World. Fans will soon have experience an immersive experience in 14-acre Star Wars-themed lands at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando and Disneyland park in Anaheim. Each features two signature attractions, including a customized secret mission on the Millennium Falcon and an epic Star Wars adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle. By the end of 2015, numerous attractions will be updated. Star Tours simulation attraction will tackle a new adventure with locations and characters from the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The interactive Star Wars Launch Bay also takes guests into the upcoming film with special exhibits and peeks behind-the-scenes of favorite characters. There will be a Jedi Training Academy geared for younger fans. Pandora—The World of AVATAR, is already under construction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This world includes floating mountains, a bioluminescent forest and the winged creatures known as Banshees. AVATAR Flight of Passage, the centerpiece of Pandora, allows guests to soar on a Banshee over a vast alien world. “From Disneyland’s 60th anniversary celebration to the anticipation of Shanghai Disney Resort, we’re in the midst of unprecedented growth and expansion around the globe,” said Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek. Future plans include bringing an 11-acre Toy Story Land to Hollywood Studios. The idea will be to immerse guests into Andy’s backyard, surrounded by oversized toys. There will be a family-friendly roller coaster on the back of Slinky Dog and flying saucers piloted by little green aliens featured in the films. I can’t wait to see “Rivers of Light”, which should open in the Spring of 2016 at Animal Kingdom. The show combines live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery on Discovery River. One of my favorite rides at Animal Kingdom is Kilimanjaro Safaris. The popular attraction (if persistent long lines are an indication) gets a makeover with some nighttime adventures and the addition of two new species to spot: African wild dogs and hyenas. Coming to both Disney World at EPCOT and Disney California Adventure: Soarin’ Around the World, a virtual world flyover of some of the world’s most unique natural landscapes and manmade wonders.

Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries. She is a Contributing Editor-Writer for Prevue Magazine and is an active member of ISES and MPI. She writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, Karen has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events.;; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady


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