It’s that time of year when everyone’s personal life clashes hard with business activities, no matter how much one strives for balance. With that in mind, I will respect your time and not regale you with tales of the cookies I’ve baked or the fun parties I’ve worked as Natasha, The Psychic Lady. Your time is precious, so here are some of the deals and promotions you may want to keep in mind going forward.
HELP REJEUVENATE PUERTO RICO’S MEETING AND TOURISM MARKET
Meet Puerto Rico (MPR), the Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) responsible for attracting meetings, conventions, trade shows, sporting events and incentive groups to Puerto Rico, is launching the “Check Off your Bucket List” promotion – with one message – Puerto Rico’s meetings industry is here – from the Convention Center to member hotels to many attractions and experiences. To deliver the message properly, I am letting MPR update you on the island and the promotion. “We were hit hard, that is for sure,” said Milton Segarra, CDME, President & CEO, Meet Puerto Rico. “But we are still standing. Right now, according to the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), 72% or 108 out of 149 endorsed hotels, are operating, this means that 82% of endorsed rooms are available and accepting reservations for new bookings. We current also currently have 1,747 weekly non-stop and direct flights to Puerto Rico from the USA, Caribbean, and International cities. Coupled with attractions updating us on their ability to host guests, a Convention Center that is in such good shape it is being used as the headquarters for government officials and local DMCs being open as well – we are ready to turn your meeting lists and ours, into bucket lists, to be fulfilled in Puerto Rico.”
The “Check Off Your Bucket List with this Outstanding promotion”, rewards meeting and incentive industry planners for booking groups at select participating hotels and resorts in Puerto Rico. A one-time “bucket list experience” will be provided to a group for any day – select from either a culinary or cultural/entertainment option. Both will make the experience pure Puerto Rico. The promotion applies to new leads or groups generated/contract signed by March 31, 2018 with the travel window until December 31, 2019. For 100-499 room nights, Meet Puerto Rico will contribute $10.00/per booked room night; 500-999 room nights – $15.00 per booked room night; 1,000+ room nights – $20.00 per booked room night.
NEW AND REDO’S BRING IN THE NEW YEAR
Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, the largest full-service beachfront resort on Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast, has begun a $5 million capital improvement three-year project. First on the list is upgrading bathrooms in the Emerald Tower, adding new tile, flooring and walk-in showers. All the Parlor Family Suites are being converted to king bedrooms and adding connecting doors, making it possible to adjoin up to three guest rooms for families. Amenities are being upgraded for the resort’s three pool decks and Barefoot’s Beachside bar & Grill. Menus throughout the seven dining options will also be tweaked. Sandcastles, the one restaurant at Hilton Sandestin Beach that serves guests from morning until evening, including late-night snacks in the Lounge, will feature new fish items by Spring. Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, managed by Sandcastle Resorts & Hotels, has 602 rooms, more than 40,000 sf of award-winning meeting space, a world-class spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, and the Emerald Coast’s only AAA Four-Diamond steakhouse.
www.HiltonSandestinBeach.com; (850) 267-9500.
Waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club, a full-service boutique waterfront resort on Anna Maria Island, FL, has opened with 37 guest rooms and suites, a 50-slip marina offering a variety of water activities, 2,000 sf of indoor and outdoor meeting space, as well as the signature Eliza Ann’s Coastal Kitchen restaurant and bar. Tampa’s Mainsail Lodging & Development President Joe Collier said “Waterline seamlessly unites the island’s Old Florida charm with new experiences, a modern coastal design and luxury amenities.” Through a partnership with Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch & Shorebird Monitoring, the resort will also support efforts to maintain a suitable habitat for sea turtles, shorebirds and the island ecosystem through special guest programs, promotions and messaging. Sandra Zinck was named general manager of both Waterline and Mainsail Beach Inn, an award-winning 12-unit luxury beachfront property on the west coast of Anna Maria Island. Two additional Florida hotels are planned for 2018 and 2019, respectively – Fenway Hotel in Dunedin and Luminary Hotel & Co. in Fort Myers.
Caesars Entertainment Corporation plans to develop a 550,000 sf conference center in Las Vegas, NV named Caesars Forum. Expected cost for the conference center, which is to feature the two largest pillar-less ballrooms in North America, is $375 million. If completed as planned in 2020, it will feature 300,000 sf of flexible meeting space, equivalent to over five football fields, and will be located east of the Las Vegas Strip with bridge connections to Harrah’s, LINQ and the LINQ Promenade. Caesars Entertainment has to first acquire 18.4 acres of land as part of its plans to develop this new conference center.
The opening of this Daytona Beach, FL hotel will give new meaning to Rock On! Opening early 2018, the beachfront Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach will have signature music-inspired amenities, including the complimentary Sound of Your StayR program and the renowned Rock SpaR & Salon. Sound of Your Stay is an all-encompassing music experience that encourages guests to channel their inner rock star from the comforts of their own guest room. The newest component of the brand’s music amenity program, WAXR amplifies the in-room experience with a Crosley turntable and a collection of 10 carefully curated vinyl records, chosen by Hard Rock’s team of musical experts. The PICKSR Fender guitar room service program lets guests choose from a menu of 20 Fender guitars, including Stratocasters, Telecasters and even basses, to be delivered to a guest’s room, complete with Fender Amplifier and premium headphones. At Rock SpaR & Salon, the world’s first fully immersive music-centric spa, Rhythm and Motion adds a music vibe to massage tables, sending pulses through the body.
Book select Seabourn international luxury cruises for 2018 sailings by December 12, 2017 and receive these possible perks: complimentary Three Veranda Suite category upgrade; complimentary Veranda for Ocean View category upgrade; and Up to $500USD per Suite Shipboard Credit. Book Penthouse and Premium suites and get $1,000USD per Suite Shipboard Credit. Seabourn’s suites are all ocean-facing. Complimentary premium spirits and fine wines available on board at all times; Tipping is neither required, nor expected; and the cruise company has a culinary partnership with Chef Thomas Keller. Dining venues are complimentary with open seating. Travel experiences are in partnership with UNESCO and some of the entertainment is in collaboration with Sir Tim Rice.
Want to get away from winter’s blasts of cold and snowy weather and escape to warm Mexican beaches? Paradisus by Meliá has some great winter promotions for couples, business and family travel. For instance, Paradisus Playa del Carmen celebrates its 6th year anniversary celebration by giving you a sixth night free when booking at least six-nights. Here are some of the other perks that come with this particular package. 60 minutes water ritual at our YHI Spa per person per stay; 6,000 MeliáRewards points upon check in; 60 minutes early check in or late check out; $60 USD off on upgrades, stackable with Resort Credit and MeliáRewards points; and 6th anniversary Chef´s special amenity.
NEWS YOU CAN USE ALL YEAR
WalletHub’s 2017 report on Hotel Rewards has some pretty interesting data amassed. WalletHub examined the rewards programs operated by the 12 largest U.S. hotel chains based on 21 key metrics, such as the average value of a point, point expiration policies and the volatility of award night pricing. Here are some of their findings. For the third consecutive year, Wyndham Rewards is the best hotel loyalty program for travelers of all spending levels, earning an average WalletHub Score of 72.30. Part of that reason is the redemption flexibility, allowing members to book award nights at consistent point values and without brand restrictions. La Quinta offers up to $13.65 in rewards value per $100 spent – most among major hotel loyalty programs. Which is the only major hotel chain whose rewards points don’t expire due to account activity? Best Western! Club Carlson has the fewest limitations when it comes to earning rewards. because you get the same earning rate at all of its brands. Hilton Honors has the best hotel loyalty program for pooling points and Marriott Rewards is the best for international travelers as they operate in 126 countries.
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL EXPLODES ONTO THE ICE!
I rarely talk about specific shows or performance companies, but this one has me wishing for a trip to one of the limited Canadian and American venues where Cirque due Soleil will perform Crystal, an ice show that has performers not just leaping and twirling, but flying through the air like acrobats. Alas, Florida is not on the list but maybe by January the schedule will expand. Check it out for yourself.
LONG LIVE THE BEATLES IN THE SONGBEAT RHYTHM OF OUR LIVES
Can you believe 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ White Album? If that album or the music from St. Pepper and Abbey Road albums trigger happy memories, you may want to check out the May 24 -28 festival taking over Jeffersonville, IN at Big Four Station Park. The WAVE 3 News Abbey Road on the River, the world’s largest Beatles inspired music festival, will not only commemorate Beatles music, but include special guests Grammy-winning rock group America, the fathers of psychedelic rock Vanilla Fudge, and The Beatles’ primary recording sound engineer Geoff Emerick, The Beatles’ audio engineer and four time Grammy-winner. He will give special presentations throughout the festival, addressing the creative process of the band in the studio and how he achieved the sounds for some of their most famous songs and albums, such as the distinctive classic album Revolver, in which they pioneered innovative recording techniques that changed the course of rock history. Emerick also engineered the monumental Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road albums, considered by many the greatest rock recordings of all time. The White Album, released on November 22, 1968, was mostly written in India while the band was studying meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “Hey Jude” with a very special ensemble show are also underway.
Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries. She is an active member of ILEA and MPI and is now serving on the 2016 – 2017 MPI Global Advisory Board for The Meeting Professional Magazine for the second consecutive year. Karen writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, she 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. firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.