THE FUTURE LIES WITH THESE OPENINGS AND RENOVATIONS
OK. I’m drooling just writing about James Beard award-winning pastry chef Dominque Ansel’s new bakery opening in Caesars Palace on October 21. Dominique Ansel Las Vegas will naturally feature signature creations such as his iconic Cronut® pastry, the best-selling DKA (Dominique’s Kouign Amann), freshly baked French viennoiserie and the new “Lucky 7” collection, a set of pastries exclusive to Las Vegas. Bonus: the first 100 guests will receive a commemorative gift in celebration of the opening. Each month, the shop will offer a new Cronut® flavor available only at Caesars Palace. The Cronut® (a cross between a croissant and doughnut) was named one of Time magazine’s “25 Best inventions of 2013.”
The Lucky 7 collection includes such delectables as the Lucky Penny Pig (Milk chocolate crémeux, homemade raspberry jam and salted peanut feuilletine are sandwiched between vanilla sablé cookies to create a pig, which is topped with a lucky gilded chocolate penny) and the Ladybug (Elderflower mascarpone mousse, fresh strawberry compote, strawberry gelée, fluffy chiffon cake and a lychee meringue make up a mini garden watering can, which is finished with a tiny chocolate ladybug). The Goldfish contains tropical flavors of calamansi coconut mousse, fresh diced mango, mango passionfruit gelée and coconut dacquoise shaped like a goldfish, complete with hand-painted white chocolate fins, while the Four-Leaf Clover has coffee mousse topped with hazelnut dacquoise, dark chocolate crémeux and crispy feuilletine to create a four-leaf clover. Not to be omitted (because I am envisioning these as I write), are the Fortune Cookie (sablé Breton base topped with jasmine tea crémeux and lemon curd. A white chocolate “fortune” sticks out of the cookie, wishing luck in Las Vegas), the Feather (a vanilla sablé cookie topped with chestnut mousse, banana jam, orange marmalade and banana cake, which is then garnished with a white chocolate feather), and the soon to be popular Evil Eye Éclair, a classic French éclair filled with cassis jam and Valrhona Caramelia whipped ganache. I’ve never tried or even seen a Cronut® (which takes three days to make) or the DKA which features flaky layers on the inside and a caramelized crunchy crust outside and is Chef’s #1 seller worldwide, but dang, the Cookie Shot sounds like the answer to a milk lover’s dream: a warm chocolate chip cookie shaped like a shot glass and then filled with homemade cold-infused Madagascan vanilla milk. Sip the milk, eat the cookie. Spanning more than 1,100 sf, Dominique Ansel Las Vegas will have a retail area and café-style seating for 20. It will be adjacent to Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill.
Caesars Virginia is slated to open in 2024. The $500 million resort to be built in Danville, VA will include a 500-room hotel, full-service spa, pool, high-quality bars and restaurants, a 2,500-seat state-of-the-art live entertainment theater, and 40,000 sf of meeting and convention space. There will be 900 sf of boardroom with natural lighting and an outdoor terrace for breaks and receptions.
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Luminary Hotel & Co. (Fort Myers, FL) has reopened following Hurricane Ian with all their dining outlets, barring The Silver King Ocean Brasserie. Each has limited menus and hours. “Our hearts go out to the entire Fort Myers, Naples and Southwest Florida communities impacted by Hurricane Ian and we remain supportive in the recovery efforts,” said Joe Collier, President and Founder of Mainsail Lodging & Development. “We’re extremely grateful for our team’s hard work in getting back up and running so quickly.” Reopened restaurants include Ella Mae’s Diner, Beacon Social Drinkery, Oxbow Bar & Grill, The Lobby Bar and Dean Street Coffee Roastery & Retail. Luminary is also currently assessing the recently opened Caloosa Sound Amphitheater and its technical infrastructure. Updated info on ticket sales for the three remaining shows in the Rockin’ on the River Free Concert Series (Pablo Cruise, Oct. 30; Lorrie Morgan, Nov. 21; and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Dec. 12)
WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET AND WILL YOU SPEND IT?
“Forty percent of people say the Federal Reserve’s rate hikes will affect their travel plans this winter, according to WalletHub’s 2022 Winter Travel Survey,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “The average household has around $8,558 in credit card debt, and people’s balances are getting more and more expensive thanks to recent Fed rate hikes, leaving travel budgets bare. People with credit card debt are expected to pay $20.9 billion more than they would have absent any Fed hikes.” Gonzalez also said the survey found that “69% of people are worried about inflation when it comes to travel. Even trying to economize by taking a road trip rather than flying is unlikely to provide much relief. Nearly 60% of people say that gas is too expensive for a road trip this winter.” The survey revealed more than one in four people plan to apply for a new credit card to save on travel this winter, while 55% of people are planning to use credit card rewards to help pay for a trip. WalletHub, the personal finance website, shared these tips for saving money, such as getting a new credit card. 1) Credit cards are currently offering very attractive initial rewards bonuses, which could subsidize or completely pay for winter travel and other seasonal expenses. 2) If you anticipate having trouble paying off holiday expenses in a single billing period, taking advantage of 0% introductory APR credit card offers while they last could save you a bundle on interest. 3) If you’re headed abroad for the holidays, bringing a credit card with no foreign transaction fees is a must. It could save you up to 9% compared to exchanging hard currency. 4) If the economy takes a turn for the worse, credit card offers are likely to get much less attractive.
PUEBLO BONITTO IS OVER THE MOON FOR PREGNANT MOMS-TO-BE
Pueblo Bonito knows expectant women need a pampering vacation before the realities of sleepless nights and free time fly away to the tune of lullabys and the drone of The Baby Shark song. The Los Cabos, Mexico deluxe all-inclusive, couples-only Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort has a soothing solution. They are offering a Blissful Babymoon Package. “We’ve created this package to cater to millennials, a key generation roughly 26 to 41 years of age, who have a tendency to spend money on experiences rather than material possessions,” said René Virgilio, general manager of Pueblo Bonito Pacifica. The four-night, five-day package features the option of a deluxe guest room at Pacifica or a private pool suite in The Towers, the luxury accommodations within the resort hotel. Included in the package of amenities are private transportation from and back to the Los Cabos International Airport (arrival and departure), an all-inclusive guest room and food & beverage program, including specialty ‘mocktails’; welcome signage (in room and with amenity); and a special gift (baby booties, logo onesie newborn pajamas). There will also be an expectant mother massage and couples massage at the wellness inspired Armonia Spa, spa man-pedi for the mother-to-be; access to cabana beach beds, with butler service; and a private chef’s dinner for two on the beach. Additionally, there will be exclusive access to Quivira Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course (one tee time); mini-maternity sunset photo shoot (15 fully edited images); and all taxes and gratuities. The package is available through April 2023.
BASEBALL GAME BRINGS ACTION TO BALLROOMS
GameTime Events (Clearwater, FL) brings their interactive Speed Pitch game to group activity. This newest addition to GameTime Events’ roster of interactive games strikes a chord with fans of the game or anyone just testing out the arm! The rental includes balls, radar gun, and large screen digital read out to measure a player’s top speed!
COMMUNITY RALLY AND DISTRIBUTION OF FOOD KITS IN FORT MYERS, FL
Fort Myers, FL was slammed by Hurricane Ian, and Luminary Hotel & Co. and community sponsors and partners are doing what they can to help in the aftermath. The downtown property, along with Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida, Cheney Brothers, Inc., Food Sales East, Coca–Cola Beverages Florida, Minnesota Twins, and Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company are working together to provide aid and comfort. The hotel is hosting a Downtown Community Rally & BBQ on Wednesday, October 12 from noon – 4 pm. The rain or shine event will occur at the Caloosa Sound Amphitheater, where families can enjoy a hot BBQ meal sponsored by Cheney Brothers, Inc.; wiffle ball with the Minnesota Twins; and music. Several community nonprofit organizations will offer information on services, resources and other opportunities for those in need. The Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida will distribute 15-2- lb food kits to the community containing a mix of shelf-stable dry goods (canned fruit, canned vegetables, canned tuna or chicken, pasta, rice, etc.), while supplies last. “This rally will facilitate the distribution of food and other resources, but it will also be a welcome break for so many who’ve been working nonstop in the recovery effort,” said Joe Collier, President and Founder of Mainsail Lodging & Development. “Even in the face of such overwhelming loss, we wanted to take a moment to celebrate the indomitable spirit of this community.” Later that evening, Luminary will also host a “Raise The Roof for Hurricane Ian” event at Beacon Social Drinkery from 4 -10 pm. 100% of the night’s sales will go to the food bank. Unable to attend? Donate directly to the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida and the dr. Piper Foundation.
BEST FOODIE CITIES IN AMERICA 2022
To honor October 16 being World Food Day and curious how the rise in restaurant prices affects diners, personal-finance website WalletHub compared more than 180 of the largest U.S. cities across 29 key metrics. The data set ranged from affordability and accessibility of high-quality restaurants to food festivals per capita to craft breweries and wineries per capita. (Please note: this survey was conducted prior to Hurricane Ian’s savage attack across Florida and some of the named places may not be as they were.) Orlando, FL became first for having the most gourmet specialty-food stores, the most restaurants, and the most frozen yogurt and ie cream shops (per square root of population), yet only ranked #2 overall, under the #1 foodie city, Portland, OR. The rest of the top 20 American foodie cities leads off with Miami, FL, followed by San Francisco, CA; Austin, TX; Sacramento, CA; Seattle, WA; Tampa, FL; Las Vegas, NV; San Diego; Denver, CO; Chicago, IL; Washington, DC; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, ME; New York, NY; Charleston, SC; and Oakland, CA. There were many expert comments on this survey.
What tips can you provide to foodies on a tight budget? “Many places catering specifically to tourists are generally in neighborhoods with higher rents and therefore have higher food prices. Using proper safety, do not be afraid to deviate from the beaten path and find smaller neighborhood establishments that market to locals or find food trucks that can deliver some of the same flavors you are looking for but with a lower sticker price. However, some foods are just naturally expensive due to ingredients used, seasonality, or captive market locations such as festivals.” Darryl L. Holliday, Ph.D., CRC – Associate Professor & Director of Food Science Program. University of Holy Cross
“When dining in a restaurant, consider ordering an appetizer as your meal and try going during happy hour or slower times when discounts are often offered. For general food trends, go on social media and learn how to make some of these trendy foods yourself. TikTok, Instagram, and Pinterest are great resources for hacks and how to recreate the latest food items. When traveling to another city, ask the locals where they go, they will know where to get the best value for your dollar. Go to places during the off-peak season, if possible, prices can be lower during slower times, just like hotel rates and plane tickets. Go meatless once in a while and look for satisfying entrées that are less expensive than the same meal containing meat. Drink water instead of ordering a cocktail or iced tea and spend the bulk of your budget on the main course. Lastly, join loyalty clubs if the restaurant has one. You can often get freebies from doing what you already do anyway.” Andrea Graves – Business Planning and Marketing Specialist, Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center, Oklahoma State University
What role, if any, can local authorities play in improving the food scene in their city? “I think one of the key aspects is improving the lives of those who work in the food business. One of the biggest challenges facing food businesses and hospitality more broadly right now is the availability of skilled labor. Many who left the hospitality industry during COVID may not come back. And one of the challenges that have led to this exodus in cities is workers’ inability to make a living wage and have a good quality of life while living in the city itself. This ties into issues of affordable housing, minimum wage, and, more generally, resources (such as access to healthcare) available to workers in the food business (and other service businesses). If we want a thriving food scene in a city, those creating the scene should be thriving themselves.” Makarand Mody, Ph.D. – Associate Professor; Director of Research; Chair of Undergraduate Programs (Interim), Boston University School of Hospitality Administration
“Provide infrastructure such as market hubs that link local agriculture to the metropolitan area (think Pike Place Market). Develop zoning that encourages neighborhood markets and restaurants. Include space for food trucks in urban areas, parks, and commercial zones. Give recognition to restaurants and wholesalers that develop the local market. Development authorities and visitor bureaus can organize and promote ‘restaurant weeks’.” Wayne Smith, CEC CCE – Associate Technical Professor, Western Colorado Community College
What are the dining out trends for 2022 and how is inflation affecting Americans’ eating out habits? “Some developments that came out of the pandemic are here to stay. QR code menus, for instance, are economical for the restaurant and fine with most of the public. Printing menus and having staff distribute them is now an unnecessary expense. Groceries are terribly expensive now so that is affecting home meals as well. Restaurants have adapted by either raising prices or cutting portion sizes. Staffing is a struggle, so some venues are limiting their hours and seating capacities.” Claire Stewart – Associate Professor, New York City College of Technology, The City University of New York
“After a big jump in take-out food and delivery due to the pandemic, people are starting to go out again, but the development of take-out options may be here to stay. Those restaurants that were able to accommodate a business in a world of social distancing, were able to survive and even thrive during the pandemic, and may continue to do so in the future. Easy-to-use ordering apps, simplified menus, healthy options, and any option that allows the customer to have the power to easily chose how they want to eat their food will continue to thrive.” Martin Talavera, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Kansas State University
For the full report and to see where your city may rank, go to https://wallethub.com/edu/best-foodie-cities/7522
Oct. 28-30: The NY International Travel Show celebrates the “Future of Travel” : Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. Lively presentations, exhibits and cultural performances from global destinations, cruise lines, hotels, travel products and services to entice and inform consumers, travel trade, and media alike. Open to consumers 29 & 30. A headline session for travel trade day will be a panel discussion on Sustainable and Responsible Tourism from high-level topic experts who have been leading major initiatives to mitigate negative impact of travel on the planet, including Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism for Jamaica; Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Group; Shannon Guihan – Chief Sustainability Officer & Head of TreadRight-The Travel Corporation; Asta Lassesen, CEO Hurtigruten Expedition and Terry Dale, President and CEO of U.S. Tour Operators Association. www.nyInternationalTravelShow.com
Nov. 9 – 13: World Food Championships in Dallas, TX. Tickets now on sale for five days of tasting experiences. Live culinary cookoff. https://fairparktix.evenue.net/
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 2022-2023 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.