Galactic characters welcomed to Pensacola International Airport in Florida

I read a lot of news, from the morning Orlando Sentinel newspaper to various professional organization and general news feeds. It would be easy to buy into just one side of reported events, but when one story says the world is returning to normalcy and that tourism and event numbers are exploding, but the next story says the virus is still rampant and if we don’t continue being careful it will worsen… what is one to believe? As an optimist and psychic for events (did you know that part about me?), I am all in for believing that the second half of this year will be far better for the greater number of people than the past year+ has been. So there. You can help. Start by envisioning where you, your family and friends, and your business will be in just a matter of months. Would love to hear your expectations and successes!


The recovery from COVID seclusion has people thirsting for travel and businesses, especially resorts, are offering enticing packages to promote health, happiness and in the case of Pueblo Bonito Resorts in the Los Cabos, Mexico area, a ‘Wealth of Wellness’ package.  Available at the Sunset Beach, Pacifica, Rose, Los Cabos, and Montecristo Estates resorts, the four-night, five-day immersive package includes outdoor activities, rejuvenating spa treatments, and many dining options. With the package, each guest receives two spa treatments. Outdoor options that can be arranged by the site’s concierge include hikes and mountain bike rides in the Baja’s natural mountain-desert-ocean environment. Take in a lighthouse built in 1905 (the oldest standing structure in Cabo San Lucas) or visit the Cabo Real Ecological Reserve for a guided tour. Guests at the adults-only Pueblo Bonito Pacifica also receive the reserved use of shaded beach beds along 2.5 miles of ocean beach. And then top that with the personalized butler service, a full complement of food and beverage options, that are available with the “Wealth of Wellness” package.; (800) 990-8250.


Ocean Tower Emperor Suite Living Room Rendering

Caesars Entertainment, Inc. is investing $400 million in Atlantic City (NJ) where it owns and operates three of the region’s preeminent casino destinations: Caesars, Harrah’s Resort and Tropicana Atlantic City. The master plans for the next three years of renovations include remodeled room towers; freshly appointed interior design elements; enhancements to the casinos’ gaming floors; and new dining concepts with acclaimed restaurant partners. Phase one, a $170 million renovation of guestroom and suites at Caesars and Harrah’s, debuts this summer. Room enhancements designed by Interior Image Group at Caesars and Harrah’s Resort. At Caesars, the designs will feature a modern Roman aesthetic, drawing inspiration from the local Atlantic City scenery, including the beach, ocean, and famed Boardwalk. Rich hues of blue and cream accent colors, contrasting white and gray tones, and contemporary furniture. At Harrah’s Resort, the design inspiration was drawn from the casino’s upscale, yet accessible brand of hospitality with rich elements that are fun, lively and vibrant. “Building on our rich, 40-year legacy in the market, we are excited to introduce the new Caesars Entertainment to Atlantic City through our $400 million investment and development plan,” said Anthony Carano, President and Chief Operating Officer of Caesars Entertainment. “These exciting plans over the next three years will revitalize Caesars’ brand of hospitality, and will continue to position Harrah’s, Tropicana, and Caesars Atlantic City as leading resorts in the market. We remain bullish on Atlantic City, and this commitment will further position us for long-term growth and success.” Among new venues at Harrah’s Resort are The Spa at Harrah’s Resort, The Lobby Bar (with more than 70 variations of whiskey and spirits), The Baywalk at Harrah’s, and Rum Point Crab House (overlooking the water).

Vantage Rooftop Bar at The Karol Hotel

Vantage Rooftop Bar at The Karol Hotel[/caption]Like a diamond in the sky, Tampa, FL-based The Karol Hotel has earned the AAA Four Diamond designation after only being open two years. AAA reviews thousands of hotels annually, with fewer than 6% earing Four Diamond status. The designation encompasses cleanliness and condition, management and style of operation, exterior and public areas, guest rooms and guest bathrooms. The Karol Hotel is centrally located in Feather Sound between Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa, and is the first member of Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio in Pinellas County. Named for Karol Kelly Bullard, wife of Fred Bullard, CEO of The Bullard Group, developer and owner of the property, the boutique hotel has 123 guest rooms and suites; the Vantage Rooftop Bar overlooking Tampa Bay; the signature K Club Bar & Bistro; a combined 7,340 sf of event space, and an outside pool and fitness center. The Karol Hotel is located 12 minutes from St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE), and 20 minutes from Tampa International Airport (TPA).    

The $64 million renovation of Gaylord National Resort will finish in time to reopen on July 1 with all new guestrooms. Located minutes from downtown Washington DC on the Potomac River, the resort has easy access to National Harbor. The redesign includes the guestrooms, signature Pose Rooftop bar and lounge. The redo enhances the 19-story glass atrium, all-season pool, hot tubs with river views, and the resort’s spectacular 1.5-acre garden atrium.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood faces the Kraken challenge head on!

Is this where you are supposed to yell “Release the Kraken”? In this case, it’s more about who will win the grand prize and bragging rights of winning Daytona Lagoon’s Inaugural Kraken’s Revenge Slide Challenge on May 15.  The Daytona Beach Waterpark and Family Entertainment Center (FL) introduces their 50-foot+ tall Kraken’s Revenge, a multi-colored four-lane, forward face racing slide that offers riders a rush while sliding through a high-speed time warp tunnel and competing against each other. Competitors can apply to radio stations The Hog 95.7, The Vibe 103.3, Hot 94.1, and 93.1 Coast Country, who are each providing 16 candidates to take part in the competition. The tournament will be traditional bracket-style format, with participants racing in a series of elimination races until the four semi-finalists determined. The semi-finalists will then compete in the final series of races.  All participants receive free waterpark entry the day of the event for themself and one guest, a $65 value.  The fastest slider will win a staycation for four that includes a weekend stay at the Hilton Oceanfront Daytona Beach, a prime rib dinner and seafood buffet, and four Daytona Lagoon season passes. Total prize package value: over $800. The event will include a showdown between local celebrities Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, Daytona Beach Chief of Police Jakari Young and WHOG’s on-air personality, Riggs.


Pensacola International Airport goes galactic in May

“Star Wars” and other space invaders alert! May the 4th… I mean the Force, be with you. In Pensacola, FL. The dates are actually May 21-23, but who can quibble over small details when the Pensacola International Airport goes so far as to rename itself Pensacola Intergalactic Airport and decorates the terminal with iconic and science fiction characters and welcoming messages for visitors coming in to attend the 2021 Pensacon convention?  It isn’t the first time the airport has partnered with Pensacon and transforms itself, although Pensacon is usually held in February (pre-COVID). “This year’s Pensacon is particularly special because of what we have all been through this past year,” said Pensacon CEO Mike Ensley. “The airport’s transformation to intergalactic welcomes travelers from all over and has become a subject of delight for promoters, agents, celebrities and guests alike.” As a result, the event will look a bit different than in years past. In addition to hand sanitizer stations, increased aisles space, and masks required to be worn. Outdoor venue, Poseidon’s Bay, will be expanded allowing more space for attendees to safely visit the various booths. Panels and other presentations will be subject to smaller capacity levels, with distanced seating on a first-come, first-served basis. “The expression on the faces of each traveler that comes through this airport says it all,” said Airport Director Matthew Coughlin. Pensacola is also enjoying tremendous growth, from new non-stop flights to the addition of two airlines. Starting Memorial Day weekend, United Airlines is expanding its service at Pensacola International Airport (PNS) with nonstop flights to Cleveland (CLE), Milwaukee (MKE), Cincinnati (CVG), and Pittsburgh (PIT). The Airport has also recently added two new airlines. In December, Boutique Air joined PNS with service to and from Muscle Shoals, AL, connecting passengers to both Nashville, TN and Atlanta, GA. Starting June 10, Spirit Airlines will service nonstop flights to Columbus (CMH), Indianapolis (IND), Louisville (SDF), Austin (AUS), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Kansas City (MCI) and St. Louis (STL).; (850) 436-5000;;;


I’ve written about the generous contributions by companies and their employees many times in the past, but during the economic fallout of COVID it’s worth noting that companies, like Casesars Entertainment, continue their outreach. The Las Vegas, NV-based entertainment and resort giant made a $3.1 million donation to support vulnerable populations in the Las Vegas Valley, including underserved youth, people experiencing housing or food insecurity, and people with disabilities. Through funds collected from the company’s paid-parking garages, more than nine organizations will receive assistance, although most will alleviate critical food and shelter needs, including major gifts of $1 million each to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children and Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada. Catholic Charities will use the donation to expand its critically important Meals on Wheels food delivery service and renovate its emergency homeless shelter. At St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, the funds will be used to help build the organization’s first-of-its-kind therapeutic residential center for child victims of sex trafficking. “Our commitment to Southern Nevada doesn’t end at our property line,” said Sean McBurney, Regional President of Caesars Entertainment Las Vegas Operations. “As a company, we believe that together we win, that extends outward to our community.” The other organizations receiving funds are Clean the World ($300,000), Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health ($200,000), The Shade Tree of Las Vegas ($200,000), The Goodie Two Shoes Foundation ($100,000), Kya’s Smiles Foundation ($100,000), The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Foundation ($100,000), and Special Olympics Nevada ($100,000). Self-parking at Caesars’ Las Vegas resorts will remain free for Nevada residents with valid identification, registered hotel guests, and Caesars Rewards loyalty members rated Platinum and above. All other guests will be charged to self-park at Caesars Palace, Bally’s Las Vegas, The Cromwell, Flamingo Las Vegas, Harrah’s Las Vegas, The LINQ Hotel + Experience and Paris Las Vegas. All guests who enter Caesars self-parking garages are afforded a 60-minute grace period before parking rates apply. Self-parking at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino as well as Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino will remain free for all guests.


In their analysis of 2021’s Best Airlines, WalletHub assessed price, safety, delays, baggage issues, animal incidents, passenger complaints and more. Highlights of the study found that Alaska Airlines had the best overall score, followed closely by Delta Air Lines, but when it comes to reliability, it’s Southwest Airlines who leads. Safety is a huge factor for me, and again, Alaska Airlines tops the list. Maybe because so many of their planes are newer? An airline of which I am unfamiliar, Envoy Air, came in second. Comfort level is subjective. Would you rank seat width or leg room over snacks and WiFi? All of those were factored in, with JetBlue Airways scoring highest. In a three-way tie for second: Alaska, Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines. I don’t travel with a pet, but if you do, note that three airlines scored high for being pet-friendly: Alaska Airlines, SkyWest Airlines and Envoy Air.
For the full report:


The Etherio Group has openings for account executives and are particularly seeking experienced meetings professionals. The Etherio Group has assembled a “synergistic collection of existing companies with individual expertise focusing on corporate clients, life sciences, associations, incentives and site selection. Michael Shannon, CMP HMCC, Vice President of Sales & Strategy of the Boca Raton, FL-based company, says the company wants to empower account executives “to meet all of their clients’ needs with start-to-finish solutions. to meet all of their clients’ needs with start-to-finish solutions. This position is as a remote 1099 Independent Contractor, based virtually, paying commissions on all aspects of sourcing, meeting planning and logistics management offering uncapped commission potential.

For deets and application:


Innovation comes about when tried-and-true methods are either unavailable or not as practical during difficult times. Such is the case for people having to sign paper waivers to omit or limit liability. In a gym or personal fitness studio, the number of paper waivers needed can be overwhelming. Now WaiverSign, a Utah-based company which has successfully been used for digital liability waivers and electronic liability release solutions in the hospitality, meetings and events industries, has eased concerns for some private facilities. For instance, Wattage, a personal training facility in Chicago, IL uses WaiverSign for clients before they can access workout equipment or even before first coming to the facility. A COVID-19-related Code of Conduct, also digital, pledges them to adhere to the center’s protocols. “The WaiverSign system is organized by type of waiver and all in one place. This is so much better than juggling and storing multiple paper waivers,” said Manager Maria Candia. Money magazine reported in their June 9, 2020 issue that “As Americans return to their favorite gyms, salons, and restaurants, waivers will be part and parcel of the experience…”; (877).741-7705.


Carnivale celebration [/caption]The World Food Championships are back this November 5 – 9 in Dallas, TX. There is still time to compete for the $350,000 in prizes, volunteer (, or judge ( If you are not an E.A.T™ certified food judge, you must first take the online class (


Carnivale celebration

]Summer is fast approaching in many parts of the world, and with it comes the allure of festivals and new attractions. I don’t cover all of them, like fishing tournaments or the latest wine dinner offering, but some events are as unusual as they are entertaining. Take for instance, the Pensacola (FL) Grand Carnivale Parade on May 29. The four-hour parade, beginning at 2 pm, is the largest and most extravagant in Pensacola.

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 International Live Events Association, Meeting Professionals International and the Society of Professional Journalists. She is now serving on the 20121-2022 MPI Independent and Small Business Owners Advisory Board. 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.