Bobby Flay opens his new Amalfi Restaurant at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV


The Cromwell is back. The hotel and casino is the last of Caesars Entertainment properties on the Las Vegas Strip to reopen. What makes this property unique is “In addition to The Cromwell being the only standalone boutique hotel, it is now the first adults-only hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip,” said Senior Vice President and The Cromwell General Manager Ken Janssen. Guests of all ages are welcome at GIADA, the award-winning restaurant of notable chef Giada De Laurentiis. Book The Cromwell by November 23 for select travel dates through September 2021 and receive up to 30 percent.  Use code FALL20

Caribe Royale has multiple promotions.

No need to panic. You can still book Caribe Royale(Orlando, FL) for their Winter Getaway package up until April 30, 2021, with a stay by that date. Book two nights and get the third at 50% off. The package comes with two specialty coffees and choice of two bagels, muffins or croissants daily, plus 50% off Resort Fees (value $12.50 per day, plus tax).;  (407) 238-8000

Vantage Rooftop Bar at The Karol Hotel in Clearwater, FL.

The Karol Hotel (Clearwater, FL) celebrates its post-pandemic reopening with discounted rates and through December 15, all reservations will include a $25 food and beverage voucher. Centrally located in beautiful Feather Sound between Clearwater, St. Pete and Tampa, and the first member of Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio in Pinellas County, the 12-story property will once again offer artisan cocktails, local craft beers, tapas, and city views from its Vantage Rooftop Bar. The Karol Hotel is named for and inspired by Karol Kelly Bullard, “Miss Karol K,” wife of Fred Bullard, CEO of The Bullard Group, developer and owner of the property. The boutique hotel has 123 guestrooms and 7,340 sf of event space. Face coverings are required for guests and associates in all indoor public areas. Social distancing guidelines and protocols from Marriott International are also strictly followed. The hotel is 12 minutes from St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE), and 20 minutes from Tampa International Airport (TPA).;


Beacon Social Drinkery at the Luminary Hotel is now open.

Fort Myers, FL has officially opened the Beacon Social Drinkery, showcase rooftop bar 12 floors up in the new boutique hotel, Luminary Hotel & Co. Wine, handcrafted cocktails, and a tapas-style menu of Pan Asian and Latin-inspired dishes are on the menu, as are the views of the Caloosahatchee River. Capacity will be managed on a first-come, first-served basis, but the 1600 sf space will also be available for private social or corporate affairs. The area can seat 105 and comfortably fit 120. The Luminary Hotel & Co. has 243-rooms, 10,000 sf of adaptable indoor and outdoor function space.

ConferenceDirect has the first conference at Caesars Forum (Las Vegas, NV)

Conferences are back at Caesars Forum, the new 550,000 sf conference center located center of the Las Vegas Strip. The Las Vegas, NV Caesars Entertainment property features the world’s two largest pillarless ballrooms; each measuring more than 110,000 sf. The first group to host their event at the $375 million resort was ConferenceDirect. Already scheduled for 2021 and 2022 conferences at the property are Cvent, Meetings Professionals International (MPI) and Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA).;

Centrally located in beautiful Feather Sound between Clearwater, St. Pete and Tampa, and the first member of Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio in Pinellas County

Mainsail Lodging & Development has expanded their Mainsail Corporate Housing brand throughout 24 states. “We’re very proud of what our team has accomplished this year and believe our accommodations solve the need for flexibility, coupled with a clean and private work-from-home space that many clients now desire,” said Jana Collier, Managing Partner of Mainsail Corporate Housing. The Tampa, FL-based Mainsail Corporate Housing offers fully-furnished and professionally-styled one to three-bedroom homes for short-and long-term stays.

Until November 14, Bobby Flay’s restaurant in Caesars Palace (Las Vegas, NV) is the Mesa Grill, but after 16 years, Flay has opted to convert the restaurant to his first Italian dining venue, inspired by his frequent trips to the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Amalfi should open in the early Spring of 2021. Flay said, “We have all learned during this unfortunate pandemic, and one of the things I’ve held closely to, is to focus on the things you’re most passionate about—for me, right now, that passion is Italian cuisine, especially from the Amalfi coast. Food in Amalfi is known for two things, the fish that comes out of the water and pasta. I want to bring the best of the region to Caesars Palace, and every dish that is served at the all-new Amalfi will evoke the flavors and feel of Italy.” Amalfi’s menu, ranging from light antipasti, to a large menu of rich pastas, to whole fresh fish, with a few traditional desserts with a twist. There restaurant will have four distinct seating areas. The menu will range from light antipasti, to a large menu of rich pastas, to whole fresh fish, with a few traditional desserts with a twist.

One&Only Mandarina opens November 2020 in Lo De Marco, Mexico

Just in time for a late fall getaway, the 104-stand-alone treehouses and cliff-top villas of One&Only Mandarina has opened on the Riviera Nayarit coastline of Lo De Marco, Mexico. Its prime location between jungle-clad mountains and the Pacific Ocean, and only 45-minutes from the Puerto Vallarta Airport, make this getaway full of wondrous possibilities. Water activities, a kid-centered entertainment hub called The Outpost, an adventure playgroupnd, and the nearby Mandarina Polo & Equestrian Club means never having a dull (unless desired) moment. Each accommodation has its own pool.

Fort Lauderdale, FL will have its first AC Hotel by the first quarter of 2021. The 10-story, 171-room AC Hotel Ft. Lauderdale Beach is owned by Miami-based real estate investment and development company Key International. A chic European-inspired brand, AC by Marriott properties are designed with the modern traveler in mind who is seeking an experience-driven atmosphere. The AC Hotel Fort Lauderdale Beach will feature ocean views, onsite open-kitchen-set dining, library-focused workspace, resort-style pool with cabanas, oversized balconies, and nearly 1,000 sf of meeting space.


Nathaniel’s Toy Shop Drive

It may take a bit of extra effort this season to unwrap the holiday season’s usual bounty of cheer. COVID-19 hasn’t yielded its pervasive ills so gatherings may be less frequent, shopping more online, and parties more intimate. Adults may adjust, but how do you explain to a child that Santa may not pop in for a visit? Nathaniel’s Hope, a national Orlando, FL-based 501(c)3 whose mission is to enrich the lives of special needs kids and their families, requests your assistance as a volunteer or for your donations for its 11th-annual “Nathaniel’s Toy Store,” which provides thousands of toys each year to 5000 VIP kids and siblings  throughout Central Florida. According to co-founder and Executive Director Marie Kuck, “Unlike other organizations who also support worthwhile causes, Nathaniel’s Toy store is 100 percent servicing the special needs community directly within our geography and helping families who have financial needs. At present, we are actively soliciting organizations and individuals to assist us with our toy drive, as well as seeking volunteers to help organize this year’s efforts.” The organization especially needs groups to host toy drives, as former corporate sponsorships have been reduced due to COVID-related budget cuts. Walgreen remains on board as the anchor sponsor with 200 store drop-off points for toys at store locations throughout Central Florida. Although Nathaniel’s Hope has had an onsite brick and mortar toy store where parents could shop for their kids in the past, COVID has required a retooling of the event, which will now feature a drive-through operation. Volunteers are needed to help pick up, organize and sort gifts, coordinate packaging and deliver donations to VIP families throughout the region. Kuck said gifts for youngsters has always been generous, but really needed are gifts for pre-teens and teenagers, such as electronic games, sporting goods, jewelry, make-up and stuffed animals. Toys will be accepted until December 17. The group also wants to spread the word to special needs families who may be unaware. Family pre-registration is required and opens November 1, 2020.;; (407)857-8224


Help is on the way for tour and activity operators. RESMARK Systems (Salt Lake City, UT) helps clients manage from online reservations and marketing, to finances and accounting. Clients pay fees based on actual transactions. Chip Broyles, VP  of Client Success for RESMARK Systems said tour operators have been hit with cancelled reservations (which he says are slowly returning) to a higher number of domestic requests. Resmark can help like this. “We’re seeing movement where we didn’t have traction before. People are deciding suddenly they need a reservation system to manage the flow of people. Perhaps they have had to cut staff during the pandemic and probably missed revenue projections. We help them think outside of the box and show them how they can manage customers by leveraging the tools that a reservation system like RESMARK offers: marketing, built-in waivers and customer service are all built into the platform.” Resmark’s fields are completely customizable, from the minimum first and last name and email address to custom fields and questions about such particulars as food and drink allergies. “The tour and activity world is a very diverse universe. You need different information from people for different activities. For a hot air balloon ride, for example, you need people’s weights. A rafting outfitter on a backcountry trip that includes being in a National Park may need detailed medical and dietary information. RESMARK allows you to choose what fields you need; it can store or create manifests on each launch and each reservation on every single launch.” Customer support is key. The company shares webinars, blog posts and press and marketing communiques to give people confidence in navigating the road ahead and ideas on how best to use the system. The Resmark team had no way of envisioning 15 years ago that one of its urn-off or turn-on features, WaiverSign, would emerge as a key player during the pandemic. This function that allows businesses to collect digital waivers also inherently has the capability of helping to track where and when people may have been exposed to COVID-19.; (877) 741-7705;; (888) .RESMARK (737.6275).

The nomination process narrowed to 24 possible essential service providers. When the name was finally drawn, Debra Ybarra, a nurse assigned to the coronavirus intensive care unit at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, TX won a five-day 2021 Yellowstone National Park vacation for four from Billings, MT travel company Austin Adventures. The Essential Service Providers contest honored heroic workers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with Life is Good partners, the top nominees will receive a Life is Good High Sierra backpack full of Austin Adventures and Life is Good swag. Like many who were nominated, Ybarra has worked tirelessly tending to patients diagnosed with the coronavirus disease. Before the pandemic spread, she dedicated over 20 years volunteering her medical skills around the country and the world assisting natural disaster victims in southern United States, Haiti and Puerto Rico. She also fulfilled needs in Mexico and South America. She was one of 156 nominated. Each of them will receive a gift certificate for a $500 discount on a future Austin Adventures trip. This opportunity to recognize brave individuals was created by Austin Adventures in early June 2020. “We wanted to recognize those selfless individuals who never rested or who didn’t have the luxury of sheltering in place,” said founder and director of Austin Adventures, Dan Austin. “America’s essential workers have and will continue to sacrifice their health and their family time for the rest of us. This is our way of saying thank you.”

Muhammed Ali Festival in Louisville, KY


June 4-13, 2021 – The annual Muhammad Ali Festival, a communitywide Louisville, KY celebration that marks the anniversary of Muhammad Ali’s passing and celebrates his impactful legacy and love for Louisville, has gotten larger. The expanded 2021 Muhammad Ali Festival’s events  is being designed to inspire, entertain, educate, and activate.  through events that generate a sense of unity, justice, and a rebirth of Muhammad Ali’s hometown of Louisville. The Festival will kick off with the annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards on June 4 and conclude with the Derby City Jazz Festival on June 11-13. Key partners include Louisville Tourism, the Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville Sports Commission and Derby City Jazz Festival. “The tourism industry in Louisville is down but not out.  As Louisville’s Muhammad Ali once said ‘You don’t lose if you get knocked down; you lose if you stay down,’ and we don’t intend to stay down,” said Karen Williams, President and CEO of Louisville Tourism. “We look forward to this unique festival drawing positive attention to Bourbon City as we continue to honor Louisville’s famous son as well as the City’s authentic bourbon tourism, black culture heritage and iconic museums and attractions, with the Muhammad Ali Center at the core of the festival. This celebration in June will support Louisville’s tourism rebirth, igniting the passion and unity we saw from our community after his passing nearly five years ago.” The festival will also focus on health equity and wellness. As an athlete, Muhammad Ali became the first three-time heavyweight champion of the world. He was disciplined in his training regimen and dedicated to healthy eating and wellness.

Karl Schmitt Jr. at or (502) 262-2807; or Jeanie Kahnke at or (502) 992-5301.

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 fifth 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.;;; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.