Sexual Discrimination in golf packages? You’ll have to read on to see which resort chain thinks only men golf. Venue alert: new hotels and renovated properties are vying for your business. The Galapagos say, “Welcome back”!
OPEN AND READY FOR BUSINESS
The two-year, $158 million renovation and expansion of the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center (Kissimmee, FL) has been completed. More than 100,000 sf of meeting space and 306 guest rooms in the new Gulf Coast Tower have been added. Gaylord Palms has 482,745 sf of meeting space, with 76 event rooms and 10,000 sf in the largest space. Florida Exhibition Hall, Florida’s largest in-hotel exhibition facility has 178,500 sf of flexible space. The new meeting spaces add 30,000 sf of breakout space and 30,000 sf of pre-function space. The expansion includes the 306 additional guest rooms, 13,000 sf outdoor terrace and function space, parking garage, and expanded pool offerings. Added fun for adults and youth: the new Crystal River Rapids ride has twists and turns through varied currents amid limestone rock walls in the Cypress Springs Water Park.
The four-year $250 million expansion of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, NC finishes this fall with a new 19-floor, 725-room and seven suites hotel tower (the fourth), 83,000 sf convention space, and new dining options. The two-story, open-air lobby’s registration desk made of onyx stone in front of a custom walnut slatted wood design represents an abstract vision of the Smoky Mountains. The 50-seat lobby bar’s backsplash is a sky-blue marble wall lined with bottles of wine. Two 800-sf hospitality suites with full kitchens have a private entrance to the second-floor terrace pool that overlooks the mountains. With the addition of the three-level addition of meeting space, the Cherokee Convention Center’s capacity triples. The convention center has a 32,000-sf ballroom, 26 meeting spaces, and an exhibition hall. The Book, a partnership between Caesars Entertainment and William Hill, opened in March. The state-of-the-art sports betting experience has a 90-foot ultra-high-def screen and plush chairs with USB charging ports. There are three rentable private Fan Caves highlighted by an 85” HDTV, two 43” 4K TVs and convenient access to betting stations. Also newly opened in 2021, Myst Bar has both bar and lounge seating with an elevated stage for entertainment and Wicked Weed has signature local craft beers and ciders from the Wicked Weed Brewery located in Asheville. The 1,200-sf restaurant has a 36-seat main bar, walk-up tasting bar, and a stage for live entertainment.
Pay for one hotel but enjoy the amenities for two new properties. You can book a room at the 111-room Aloft Midtown Tampa or the 115-suite Element Midtown Tampa, although booking either of the dual-branded Tampa, FL hotels operated by Concord Hospitality Enterprises Company entitles you to relax and dine at the 7th floor Sal Y Mar rooftop bar and restaurant. Evette Torres, Dual General Manager for Aloft and Element Hotel, said “As many savvy travelers know, the Aloft brand offers a tech-forward, vibrant experience and a modern style that is different by design, while Element – the first in Tampa – appeals to those wishing for a balance between life and work, with a focus on wellness on the road.” The fusion of the two Marriott pet-friendly brands means sharing the outdoor swimming pool, state-of-the-art fitness center, valet/covered parking, and 5.250 sf of flexible meeting space. The 22-acre Midtown Tampa project is walkable from area attractions, retail, and restaurants.
www.Marriott.com/tpaAL for Aloft Midtown Tampa; www.Marriott.com/tpaEL for Element Midtown Tampa.
Looking for a quick getaway by the end of July? This might be a no-brainer then. The 222-room AC Hotel Atlanta Airport Gateway at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Atlanta, GA) wants to introduce itself to new travelers with a special offer. Stay by July 31 and receive 3,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points per night, any day of the week. Key amenities for the seven-story hotel include five meeting spaces up to 1,700 sf for up to 110 attendees, on-site dining options, quick access to the Georgia International Convention Center, and the Gateway Center Arena. The hotel also has the AC Library and Media Salons.
Someone needs to explain to the folks at Pueblo Bonito Resorts (Los Cabos, Mexico), who designed their new Guys Golf Getaway that women play golf as well! I appreciate that the new promo, designed for a foursome, might entice more men than women (or couples) for the unlimited golf program at Quivira Golf club, the heralded Jack Nicklaus Signature course carved into a stunning Land’s End site at the place where the Sea of Cortes meets the Pacific Ocean… but to totally omit women from the marketing? Call me crazy, but I think they’re missing out on a key demographic! Anyway, that’s on them. All I have the power to do is tell you about the package, created as an exclusive amenity for guests of Pueblo Bonito Resorts and Quivira residents. Situated at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, the club just received its sixth consecutive year Editors’ Choice Award for the “Best Golf resorts in Mexico & Central America” from Golf Digest. Guys Golf Getaway is also available for the nearby Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort, which includes 24-hour butler service. Of course, if luxury prevails over budget, the Montecristo Estates, an elite Tuscan-inspired community, offers multi-bedroom villas. The Estates have a private infinity pool, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzi, maid and butler service, with access and transfers to all of Pueblo Bonito Resorts’ restaurants, bars and facilities. The package features too many amenities to name all of them, but you get upgraded dinner options at Quivira Steakhouse or LaFrida, a QuiroGolf massage, and additional Armonia Spa services at 25% off. Promo package dates run from September 1, 2021 through May 30, 2022.
www.pueblobonito.com; (800) 990-8250.
NAME THE #1 CITY IN AMERICA FOR SUMMER RECREATION
I was totally surprised by WalletHub’s latest survey results for 2021’s Best and Worst Cities in America for Recreation. As July is National Parks and Recreation Month and seven out of 10 Americans were ready to enjoy the great outdoors due to receiving COVID-19 vaccinations (according to WalletHub’s analysis), the personal-finance website compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 48 key indicators of recreation-friendliness. They examined the accessibility of entertainment and recreational facilities, the quality of parks and the weather. I live in the Orlando, FL area and was still surprised it came in at #1, especially after San Francisco, CA has both the highest share of walkable park access, spends more on parks per capita, and has the most bike rental facilities per square root of the population. Boston, MA did tie with San Francisco for walkable park access, both of which scored 3.1 times higher than Indianapolis, IN, the city scoring lowest with 32%. Stockton, CA spends the least amount on parks and don’t both trying to find bike rentals in El Paso, TX. Rounding out the top 10 (in descending order) are Las Vegas (NV), San Diego (CA), Cincinnati (OH), Tampa (FL), Honolulu (HI), Atlanta (GA), Albuquerque (NM), St. Louis (MO), and New Orleans (LA). The 10 worst, you may ask, working down to last place finisher Oakland (CA) are Fremont (CA), Hialeah (FL), Newark (NJ), Jersey City (NJ), Irving (TX), Fort Wayne (KN), Chula Vista (CA), Garland (TX), and Durham (NC).
Pixilated, an event photo sharing company from Baltimore, MD has a new website, along with a 14-day free trial. The company’s PixiWebApp comes packed with four different “Modes” to provide greater flexibility for uploading and displaying event photos. Pixilated Co-Founder and CVO Patrick Rife has an offer I’m happy to share. “For any Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Chapters looking for a fun way to drive engagement in their Virtual, Live & Hybrid events, Pixilated is offering free software subscriptions to their new tool PixiWeb. If you’re interested in taking advantage of this opportunity, you can reach out directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.” Rife is active with the Potomac (MD) chapter.
Eventeny, in partnership with six associations, has created a cheat sheet for event organizers. The partners include Florida Festivals and Events Association (FFEA), International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA), International Live Events Association (ILEA); North Carolina Association of Festivals & Events (NCAF&E); Southeast Festivals & Events Association (SFEA); and Southeast Tourism Society (STS). The Eventeny site has video tutorials to make hosting events a smoother process. Some product updates include the option to restrict artist/vendor application edits after submission; give access to the document manager and help design your event dashboard to show the number of events, tutorial videos, community page, and a support button. Eventeny is also looking to hire Software Engineers, Marketing and Graphic Design Specialists.
www.ffea.com; www.ifea.com; www.ileahub.com; www.ncfestivals.com; www.southeastfestivals.org; www.southeasttourism.org
Visiting the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador have gotten easier, thanks to the aggressive vaccine campaign for residents and the fact that fully documented vaccinated visitors to no longer are required to present a negative PCR or antigen test. Nearly 100% of adults in Galapagos have been fully vaccinated and by the end of August, it is expected that Ecuador will achieve the same results. “A nearly 100 percent vaccination rate in the Galapagos seems to be almost unprecedented and of course gives a lot of confidence to travelers that they can visit,” says Jim Lutz, founder and president of Vaya Adventures, a tour operator specializing in custom travel to South America. Most of the archipelago’s fleet of passenger vessels are operating this summer, according to Todd Smith of AdventureSmith Explorations. Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are one of the world’s most pristine oceanic archipelagos and home to hundreds of wildlife species found nowhere else on Earth. Designated as one of the world’s first World Heritage Sites in 1978, today the Galapagos archipelago is considered one of the world’s foremost tourist destinations for natural history and wildlife. The International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA)
is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association of travel providers dedicated to the complete and lasting protection of the Galapagos Islands.
THE STARS ARE COMING OUT FOR CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT
The list of which celebrities will be appearing in residencies and special engagements for Caesars Entertainment’ hotels/resorts is extensive, so to cut to the chase, here are some of the currently-announced options.
Legends in Concert – July 21 through September 6. Tribute artists pay homage to legendary music catalogs of Whitney Houston, Lady Gaga, Michael Bublé, Michael Jackson, and Elvis Presley at Tropicana Atlantic City in Atlantic City, NJ. www.tropicana.net
Pink Talking Fish – August 14: A Hybrid Tribute Fusion Act drawing on music from Pink Floyd, The Talking Heads, and Phish. and creates a special treat for fans of the music. Tropicana Atlantic City in Atlantic City, NJ. www.tropicana.net
Vanessa Williams – August 21. Tropicana Atlantic City in Atlantic City, NJ. www.tropicana.net
Whitney Houston Hologram Concert – beginning October 26 at Harrah’s Las Vegas. Tickets on sale now. www.ticketmaster.com; www.whitneyhouston.com
Backstreet Boys – Seven nights in November and Five in December. Tickets now on sale for the Very Backstreet Christmas Party at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino inside Zappos Theater, Las Vegas, NV. www.tickemaster.com; www.backstreetboys.com
Journey – December 18, featuring special symphony performance at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV. Tickets now on sale. www.ticketmaster.com
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. Karen@KarenKuzsel.com; www.karenkuzsel.com; www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.