Omni King Edward Hotel gets a $40 million facelift

Omni King Edward Hotel gets a $40 million facelift

In this issue: Free French breads. Line up soon

Money talks and Resorts reap the benefits

Europe’s hands get cleaner


It isn’t every day that a hotel receives a $40 million facelift, even an iconic beauty like The Omni King Edward Hotel, built in 1903 as Toronto’s first luxury property. The Canadian luxury hotel, originally including 400 rooms and 300 baths, was designed by Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb and Toronto architect E.J. Lennox. Restoration to its original glory while delivering modern amenities has been an ongoing project since 2013 when first acquired by Omni Hotels & Resorts. All 301 guestrooms, meeting space, and restaurants have been updated while maintaining its historic elegance. New ingredients include the exclusive Royal Club: 29 guestrooms and suites, access to the VIP Royal Club Lounge, breakfast, light bites in the afternoon, evening hors d’oeuvres, and on-site guest services including the business center, complimentary use of boardrooms and car service. The 22,000 sf of small to mid-sized meeting spaces, the lobby, and three ballrooms were updated, including four large teardrop crystal chandeliers added to the Sovereign Ballroom. While Executive Chef Daniel Schick and his team have updated the dining menus to include locally-produced seasonal produce, there are some traditions just too ingrained to alter, such as the Afternoon Tea.; (416) 863-9700

$18 million in new funding can go a long way to enhance the private island resort, Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina in the British Virgin Islands. Scrub Island Development Group, owner of the exclusive Marriott International Autograph Collection property, has successfully restructured its financial obligations to acquire the funding. The Scrub Island Resort’s capital improvement project includes expanding the number of available two-to-five bedroom villas, finishing and building roadways, increasing on-island transportation, and completely redeveloping the irrigation system while massively enhancing landscaping around the entire resort. Upgrades and renovation of the resort pool were recently completed, along with the addition of a VIP sun deck and cabana on Pavilion Beach overlooking the marina. The award-winning Ixora Spa has been relocated to a luxury villa in closer proximity to Marina Village and now offers treatments using Elemis products.

(813) 849-4153;

The Florida Panhandle gains a new luxury resort by Fall of 2016 when the $30 million renovation of Bay Point Resort is completed. The property will be renamed Sheraton Bay Point Resort. Expected: 320 guestrooms, including 120 golf villas; 40,000 sf of flexible indoor/outdoor event space; 36 holes of championship golf, including the only Nicklaus Course in NW Florida; and a 12,000 sf full service Serenity Spa & Salon.; Florencia Branagan –; (850) 236-6081

Coming by Fall of 2016: Waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club, a full-service resort on Anna Maria Island, FL, being built by Tampa-based Mainsail Lodging & Development. The boutique waterfront hotel will “Seamlessly unite the island’s Old Florida charm with new experiences, a modern coastal design and luxury amenities,” stated Joe Collier, president of Mainsail Lodging & Development. The new resort will feature 37 stylish two-bedroom suites with gourmet kitchens, a 50-slip marina offering a variety of water activities, 2,000 sf of meeting space, a signature restaurant and bar, as well as resort-style swimming pool with oversized sun deck extending into the marina. Waterline’s separate Beach Club will offer exclusive beach access, kayaks, stand up paddleboards, lounge chairs, umbrellas, beach toys, and a “Desalination Zone”.

Waterline joins the Mainsail Lodging & Development’s portfolio, which includes foodie favorite Epicurean Hotel in Tampa’s Hyde Park, Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, a private island resort in the British Virgin Islands; and Mainsail Beach Inn on Anna Maria Island, which features 12 upscale two- and three-bedroom vacation residences.


Empanadas from Chile are part of Omni Hotels and Resorts 9th culinary series

Empanadas from Chile are part of Omni Hotels and Resorts 9th culinary series

Forget the passport! No need to travel from the U.S to Chile to taste the South American country’s diverse culinary offerings. Just participate in Omni Hotels & Resorts ninth installment of its “Flavors of the World” culinary series by December 31, 2015. Destinación Chile! features traditional favorites, such as empanadas and choritos (spicy steamed mussels), to sweets, such as tres leches cake and arroz con leche. Wines representing the varied geographic growing regions are paired with the dishes. “We have captured the unique climates and incredibly diverse terroir that our chefs and culinary team experienced through a cultural immersion in this beautiful country. By partnering with the stellar organizations of Wines of Chile, Chile Oliva, ProChile and Fundación Imagen, and experiencing the culture first-hand, we can truly serve our guests a taste of authentic Chilean flavors,” said David Morgan, vice president of food & beverage for Omni Hotels & Resorts. The Omni chefs trained solidly for three days with Chilean Chef Rocío Alvarado Díaz., while Wines of Chile complemented the curriculum with wine training and an exploration of varietal pairings. Thirty Omni food and beverage directors from across the U.S., then spent a week in Chile to sample wines from multiple regions and engage with winemakers for a comprehensive in situ wine education. Dishes you can expect during Destinación Chile! Include Milcaos con Pebre de Palta (fried potato cakes with avocado, banana peppers, tomato, Chilean sea salt); Costillar con Pure Picante (pork ribs slowly cooked in beer and palm honey with potato puree, smoked Chilean chili pepper); and Bacalao con Tomaticán (seared sea bass with braised tomato, yellow corn, cilantro salad). I’ve not had empanadas filled with anything other than meats and spices, but on this menu you will find the beef as well as Camarón Queso (prawns, cheese, spring onion). Each participating hotel will have eight to 11 hand-selected Chilean wines, served in six or nine-ounce pours. Not interested in driving home afterwards? Check out their ¡Destinación Chile! Package, available through

Chilean seabass with tomato tomatican

Chilean seabass with tomato tomatican

December 31. You’ll receive deluxe room accommodations, a bottle of Chilean wine, the traditional Chilean spice, Merquen, and an empanada recipe card.; (800) The-Omni.

What are you willing to do to earn a week’s supply of fresh-from-the-oven French breads every week for a year? La Madeleine Country French Café will be offering that deal to the first 50 people on line at 6:30 am for each of their two cafes opening in the Orlando, FL area. The one at Orlando’s Florida Mall opens October 29 and the one near the Mall at Millenia, on November 12. Either location sounds amenable to group events. The Florida Mall’s 4,200 sf location near Dillards department store, will exude a rustic ambiance with wood floors, stone and tile, beamed ceilings, a double-sided fireplace and an outdoor patio. The Mall at Millenia location near Mercedes-Benz has a private dining space for 18 and an outdoor covered space for 40. The 6,600 sf restaurant will feature a full barista bar, French-inspired coffee menu, soft bistro seating, and can accommodate up to 181. La Madeleine Country French Café is known for its give-back-to-the-community as well as its authentically-French prepared foods. Since 2012, it has focused on the fight to help end childhood hunger, raising an average of $250,000 a year.


Learn to make a cocktail and get to drink it too, all while contributing to 2015 Live United Campaign. That’s the plan for the October 30 “Spooky Cocktails and Scary Treats” fundraiser by The University of Central Florida (UCF) United Way Team. UCF instructor Marissa Orlowski has been a bar manager with Bennigan’s and The Cheesecake Factory before joining the Walt Disney World Company as a catering manager. While at Disney, she helped develop and rollout the global beverage standards used at the company’s resorts and theme parks. Rosen College Assistant Professor, Dr. Cynthia Mejia has been an Executive Chef, Director of F&B, General Manager and Assistant Hotel GM in four and five star properties. With the combined culinary and cocktail prowess of Mejia and Orlowski, you have the perfect ingredients to mix up a stirringly eerie Halloween-themed evening that’s all treats and no tricks. 100% of the proceeds benefit the Heart of Florida United Way. Tickets are $25.

The world is getting to be a cleaner place, and all because six years ago, Clean the World created the world’s first and only large-scale hotel soap recycling program. On October 14, in conjunction with Global Handwashing Day 2015, the company has expanded its program beyond the United States and Asia by partnering with the London Heathrow Marriott Hotel and Hilton Paris Opera. Beyond recycling discarded soap and bottled amenities from hotels, Clean the World’s mission includes educating people around the globe about the value of hand washing as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases. Since its inception in 2009, Clean the World has distributed more than 30 million recycled soap bars and one million hygiene kits in the United States, Canada, and Asia, while diverting 4,000 metric tons of waste from landfills.


Legendary football star Don Shula’s Hotel and Golf Club, just 12 miles from Miami’s International Airport, has a deal meeting planners may not want to pass up. For bookings now through December 30, 2015 at the Miami Lakes luxury property, there’s a $129 room rate for single/double occupancy or $60 a person for a complete meeting package, including breakfast, AM/PM breaks and lunch. Minimum 10 rooms for a two-night stay.

Maria Pellitero, (305) 820-8053;

Thinking about an end-of-the-year vacation? How about a discount of up to 30% off if you make that dream vacation a five-day stay at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii? It’s true, but like most good things, this offer ends October 26, but you can take advantage of the stay through December 21, 2015 (excluding November 25-28). Use promo code I558F. Oh, in case four days is your max, get 25% off the stay, but use promo code P796E.

(866) 309-2385.

Hilton Lake Las Vegas (Nevada) is encouraging you to begin your holidays early. Book and use a Sunday thru Thursday stay by December 17, 2015 and receive a $150 resort credit.; (702) 567-4700


When’s the last time you attended or hosted an event where video wasn’t being shot? My point exactly. Now comes Shindig Studio Event System, new software for creating  augmented reality videos and photos. Shindig Studios says their software operates from Ipad Air or higher / Windows pc or laptop. The system can capture green screen photos with different characters that can be brought to life like holograms with the Shindig Studio Photo Frame app. Realistic and animated characters are projected next to the guests to create interactive video experiences. Over 10 augmented reality videos, 12 augmented reality photo templates, 10 green screen background video templates and  50 dynamic green screen backgrounds for clients of all interests and ages.

Joe Sandor, Shindig Studios LLC, (941) 780-0550;

Each year the Hotel Technology Conference (HTC) has attracted hundreds of hotel CTOs, CIOs, information officers and e-commerce directors, along with technology innovators to the Asia-Pacific region. Which is why Crave Interactive has chosen this year’s conference in Singapore to launch its state-of-the-art Crave T2 tablet. Crave, based in the UK, has a development center in the Netherlands and further operations in the U.S. Crave’s in-room tablets come preloaded with the company’s unique proprietary operating system, enabling hotels to eliminate all printed in-room communications and information. The tablets feature direct room service ordering and booking capacities, instantly updateable digital menus and directories, guest communication functions, local area guides, and vast scope for upselling and push- message advertising – as well as 24-hour global support systems. “We’ve tailored the look and feel to be more appropriate for a luxury hotel setting, and added features, such as a unique docking and charging system, created specifically for hotel room conditions” said Crave founder and CEO, Gareth Hughes. He added that working directly with the manufacturer had enabled Crave to deliver the tablets at a highly competitive price.”; Tim Butterworth, Crave Commercial Director;; +44 (0)7977 473245


Air Canada and Air China have begun direct flights between Montréal and Beijing. Although currently operated by Air China, tickets are being also offered through Air Canada’s booking portal. The flights began September 29.

Love to drink wine, cook, bake, and of course, EAT!

Love to drink wine, cook, bake, and of course, EAT!

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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