I look for the joy every day. Some days it’s as easy as putting on my favorite oldies station and diving into making a scrumptious dinner or dessert. Some days it becomes the moments when I read about selfless volunteers, or kids chalking rainbows onto sidewalks, New Yorkers clapping for hospital staff during shift changes, and sometimes it is by watching entertainers perform from their living rooms or on their driveway while neighbors dance or just listen.
Until the world is at a stage where COVID-19 isn’t ravaging bodies or depriving those who shelter-in-place of their ability to earn a paycheck, visiting with friends, eating out, or even getting our hair done, then I will continue dedicating my Hotel Happenings & Program Promotions column to some of the positive news I am sent or see for myself. There are many news outlets that share “good news” stories of bravery and random acts of kindness, so I won’t repeat those.
COMPANIES GIVING BACK
The special deliveries to employees out of work has been weekly. Hotel owner Phil McCabe of The Inn on Fifth in downtown Naples, FL has arranged for weekly distribution for necessary food and supplies for his furloughed employees. Some of the luxury hotel’s staff helped package and distribute meat, pasta, eggs, milk, produce etc. McCabe said, “We hope to start welcoming guests back soon, but in the meantime I want to help support our valued team members, who are a critical part of the exceptional guest experience at The Inn on Fifth.”
Noble House Hotels has partnered with Direct Relief, an international aid organization dedicated to supplying essential medical equipment, medications & PPE to frontline medical professionals.
The Nashville, TN Convention Center Authority has given a one-time payment of $40 million to assist Metro Nashville with its current budget challenges. The money is allocated to assist Metro with expenses that are related to tourism. “We are fortunate to be in a position during these uncertain times where we can help the city of Nashville with its budgetary challenges,” said Charles Starks, President/CEO of Music City Center. Music City Center staff are being fully compensated during this time as non-operational team members continue to work remotely, abiding to Metro’s and the state of Tennessee’s Safer at Home regulations. The Music City Center, Nashville’s convention center features a 353,143 square foot exhibit hall, a 57,500 square foot Grand Ballroom, and an 18,000 square foot Davidson Ballroom.
INGENUITY SAVES THE GRADUATION EXPERIENCE
Talk about teamwork to save an experience high school seniors eagerly anticipate: their graduation ceremony. The idea sprouted when several business leaders decided to maintain the graduation’s original timeline with creative thinking. Dan Buck, Managing Partner of Big Sports Properties, will soon be converting the former St. Louis Mills Mall (MO) into a premier 160-acre youth sports campus development scheduled to open in early 2021. venue called POWERplex. “This campus will soon be completely renovated to serve thousands of young student athletes and families every week. So Buck thought, “Why not get a jump start on serving our community and do something special for the Class of 2020. We have all the necessary ingredients for a massive drive-in graduation. Huge parking lots, plenty of interior and exterior space to meet the social distancing requirements for the graduates and faculty, while the audience can stay in the safe confines of their cars watching everything on giant jumbotrons and listening on their car radios.” When Bill Fogarty, President of Fogarty Services (Arnold, MO) heard that area schools might delay graduation dates into July or August and that he could assist in making the graduations a memorable experience, he jumped in with his audio-visual company’s abilities. “When the creative minds at the POWERplex came to us with this idea to build a huge drive-in graduation with video trucks, Jumbotrons, live-streaming, along with food trucks offering curbside delivery to parents and family members, we said, ‘Count us in.’” They were soon joined by Kyle Vogt, Vice-President of Klance Unlimited. “Our goal is to deliver a first-class production and commencement experience to more than 3,000 seniors this year,” said Vogt, whose company will bring all of the huge stage elements and trusses to mount the giant screens. Also on board was Paul Brown of Brought 2U Media. “These seniors have been through hell this spring with Covid-19. We’re thrilled to be able to join the production team and help 16 different schools enjoy a lifelong memory and keep their big day on-time and on schedule,” said Brown, whose company is supplying two video trucks to enhance the production and viewing experience for parents. School boards must approve the unique arrangements, but it’s a bright possibility of hope for the schools, families, and area companies. “This is exactly what our campus is all about,” said Don Short, one of the partners in the POWERplex. “This is a place that touches lives, brings families together and shows the world what an amazing community St. Louis is. We all know that Covid-19 can’t beat this region and this is just another creative victory over the virus.”
EYEING FUTURE TRAVEL FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR OWN HOME
Poseidon Expeditions is hoping you’ll fight off the shelter-in-place doldrums by watching videos of trips they host to the Antarctica and Arctic. If you agree, then maybe when the time is right to take advantage of their new “relaxed reservation” policy for the 2021-2022 season. For new bookings during that time aboard the 114-passenger Sea Spirit, the deposit has been reduced from 20% to 10%. Travelers have two months before the deposit is due. For those who dream about kayaking, getting up close to whales, or flying over the North Pole, check out some of their destination and ship videos. Poseidon Expeditions has offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, Cyprus and China. Here are just a few of what’s available:
https://poseidonexpeditions.com/info-for-travelers/video/north-pole/on-top-of-the-world-north-pole-cruise/ (18:34); https://poseidonexpeditions.com/info-for-travelers/video/antarctica/kayaking-in-antarcica/ (2:06); and Nuclear-powered Icebreaker– 50 Years of Victory
https://poseidonexpeditions.com/video-360/ (7:02), a 360º virtual reality video experience. For a full list, https://www.youtube.com/user/pxpeditions. http://poseidonexpeditions.com/
IKON PASS SKIING OFFERS FLEXIBLE PACKAGES
Creative thinking is what may save many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. IKON PASS wants to assure skiers that when skiing in the Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows (CA) becomes available, the pass you buy now can be still used next year or even the year after. Buy a pass by May 27 and you choose to defer the value of your pass until the 21/22 season without penalties or additional fees. Contact the company between September 10 and Ecember 10 of 2020 to obtain this no-questions-asked pass deferment. There is also a renewal discount available for the shortened 19/20 season. Renew by May 27 and receive double the renewal discount, up to $200.
MASKS COME IN MANY SIZES, PRINTS AND DEGREE OF SAFETY
I haven’t been anywhere to worry about wearing a mask. My husband and I both have risk-factors, so the only time we’ve ventured outside has been in our back yard or to take a walk, so having a mask has not been high on my priority list. My husband, Russ, though, is a woodworker and has been ambitiously working on a couple projects. Wearing a mask to filter out dust, sawdust and fumes is a necessity for him. (He’s also the one who sprays the Lysol for cleaning as I am quite allergic to household cleaners.)When his last supply of proper masks was worn out and N95 masks worn by woodworkers aren’t available, I sought a suitable substitute, which led me to contact Theresa Mulconry. I know Terry as an amazing costumer and I knew she was making masks to donate to hospitals, nursing homes, and for people simply too poor to afford any. After others began requesting them, she began selling them for $7 to defray her costs. Each mask has medical gown material on the inside that can be removed and sanitized. The cotton masks themselves can also be washed. I ordered several: one for me, the rest for Russ. Terry makes the masks in a couple sizes to fit different faces. Russ tried his out. He prefers masks with the band around his head, and Terry’s go around the ears. Russ fixed that, which also tightened the mask more around his nose, by adding a band to go around his head. I’m good with mine. If you’re interested, Terry prefers email or text messages.
The annual Kentucky Derby was postponed from its traditional May date to September 5, but that hasn’t stopped two local milliners from using their hat-making talents to help protect the public during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Christine Moore (owner/designer of the Christine Moore Millinery based in New York City, who sells her chapeaus at Rodes For Her in Louisville, KY) left her Manhattan studio, and grabbed materials that would have gone for fancy chapeaus, and is instead making double-layered masks of a cotton and polyester blend with a pouch. The masks have millinery wire in the nose area that can be pinched to create a tighter fit, along with ties or an elastic strip that goes over the ears. Olivia Griffin, owner of The Mysterious Rack hat shop in Louisville, is another milliner who has been sewing and assembling masks around the clock to fulfill requests. Her main mission is to get masks in the hands of essential front-line workers. “What about the bus drivers? What about the grocery store employees? What about cab drivers? What about the delivery drivers? In addition to the medical workers, these other front-line people need masks too,” Griffin said. Her masks are cotton with a pocket filled with a double layer of what she describes as an “industrial paper towel” to create a strong barrier.
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 2019 – 2020 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. Karen@KarenKuzsel.com; www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.