The farm-to-table culinary experience at The DeSoto in the center of Savannah, GA begins right outside the historic property’s door. Growing some of their produce is just one part of the DeSoto’s mystique your group can experience for themselves. Book their Savannah Meetings, Remaking History package by December 31 for available Sunday through Thursday time periods in 2024. The DeSoto has 246 guestrooms and 20,000 sf flexible meeting space.
The choice of which hotel or even whether it’s located in Boston (MA) or Cambridge (MA) is up to you, but to receive 10% off booked rooms, and a 10% rebate off the banquet and master account, you will need to book within these parameters: 2024: 11/20/2023 – 03/31/2024; 2025: 11/18/2024 – 04/17/2025; and 2026: 11/17/2025 – 03/31/2026.
Book a meeting within specified dates at Margaritaville Lake Resort, Lake Conroe (Houston, TX) and receive a complimentary cruise for two on the Margaritaville at Sea Paradise or a Margaritaville Bahamas Frozen Concoction Maker. The remaining dates in 2023 are Nov. 12-30 and Dec. 10-30. For 2024, promo dates include Jan. 1-12; Mar. 14-29; and Mar. 31-Apr. 4. What gifts you are eligible for depends on amount spent for the booking. There are other promotional incentives, from 20% off any team building activity (sans F&B), self parking, and complimentary meeting room rental with minimum F&B spend.
I have a dear friend who believes the power of the beach overcomes any of the day’s negativity. She would go crazy for the ‘Wealth of Wellness’ package offered by Pueblo Bonito Golf & Spa Resorts, located within the luxury residential development Quivira Los Cabos at the tip of the Baja Peninsula. The updated-for-2024-package integrates numerous wellness components available within the resort community. The exclusive five-day “Wealth of Wellness” package, available through December of 2024, includes all-inclusive F&B, two 50-minute organic massages or facials, mountain bike tour for two, use of beach cabanas with personal butler service, a cooking class for two, and shuttle service and access to sister properties, which also have all-inclusive F&B,
www.pueblobonito.com; (800) -990-8259
You can only book your group business for Sunday through Thursday stays, but you have until December 31 to do it and take advantage of The Sea Pines Resort (Hilton Head Island, S.C) incentive package. This limited-time incentive for conference, meeting or corporate groups booking $25,000 or more in lodging revenue at The Inn & Club at Harbour Town, named one of the top five hotels in the country for 2023 by U.S. News & World Report. Incentives range from a $1,000 credit on the master account to 10 percent off all 2024 catering menus. Additional considerations include: $500 resort credit for use in retail or outlets; 20% off in-house AV needs; waived chef and bartending fees for one group event; in-house group guest rates available on Harbour Town Golf Links, Heron Point by Pete Dye and Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III and more. Other terms and conditions, including blackout dates, apply to the group incentives booking offer. Sea Pines is set on the southernmost tip of Hilton Head Island. Five miles of unspoiled beaches, 18 clay tennis courts, six pickleball courts, 14 miles of bike and walking trails, horseback riding, Eco-Adventures, water sports, and the 605-acre Sea Pines Forest Preserve filled with wildflowers, wetlands, and more than 130 species of birds.
https://www.seapines.com/offers-and-packages/group-incentives; (866) 561-8802
Book an event at The Garden Villa (Winter Park, FL) in (available dates) November or December and get 10% off on all food and beverage.
www.Events@TheGardenVilla.com; (407) 745-5718.
Meeting Planners: secure your 2024 event at The Westin Nashville (TN) by December 31 to receive a signing bonus of Marriott Bonvoy Points. You’ll receive points based on your total contract value upon signing.
sales@WestinNashville.com; (615) 248-2800
Wine tasting, cultural tour, and a 15% discount on F&B, as well as AV are just some of the perks when you book at least 30 rooms a night a minimum three nights at Live Aqua Urban Resort San Miguel de Allende, located near the Obraje Dam in Mexico. You must make this new booking by December 30. There are many promotional packages available so check them out to see which might work for you.
Here’s an offer I’ve never seen before. Richmond Region Tourism has a summertime offer that will provide a 15% rebate off your banquet master bill and a NetZero Emission Event Certification whether you book your meeting or event this month or June through August of 2024. The booking must be made by December 31, 2023. The Virginia tourism group will assist how many carbon offsets you are entitled to from examining your RFP and will purchase those offsets to make you eligible for NetZero Emission Event Certification.
You have plenty of time to book the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach for your group and still be able to take advantage of benefits offered. Book your new meeting by December 31, 2023 and actualize by December 31, 2024 to receive benefits such as 5% off all Master account charges, reduced resort fee to $20 per group room, or a complimentary basic Wi-Fi up to 3 mbps in the meeting space. The more rooms booked, the more benefits accessible. The hotel has 343 guest rooms, 22,000 sf of meeting space, and the area’s largest ballroom.
https://www.wyndhamgrandclearwater.com/meetings?; (727) 281-9500
Opal Sol will have 57,194 sf of event space when it opens on Clearwater Beach, FL in early 2025. Combined with its sister property, Opal Sands, there will be 106,000 sf of indoor/outdoor and ancillary space for groups of up to 700 attendees. Opal Sol, part of the Opal Collection, just had a topping out ceremony. This centuries-old tradition, which hoists a tree atop a new structure to engender good luck, recognizes and celebrates the hard work and dedication of the skilled laborers and the entire team. Next up: framing of 248 suites and the luxury resort amenities, which will include three pools (two with waterfront views), the full-service Opal Spa, and four unique restaurant concepts including the resort’s marquee Drift restaurant. Each of the suites will have unobstructed views of the Gulf of Mexico. Both resorts will be connected via an elevated skyway bridge
www.OpalCollection.com; (855) 440-4344 for reservations; (855) 997-9699 for sales
Ten years ago, Nobu Hotel Caesars Palace Las Vegas opened its doors. The partnership between Caesars Entertainment and Nobu Hotels has continued to evolve. Nobu Hotel Caesars Atlantic City is set to open in January, with a hotel opening within the newly created Caesars New Orleans soon to follow. Now a new venture draws the partners. They noticed a growing number of home buyers are choosing to live in branded communities, so they launched recently in Los Cabos, Mexico, the first Nobu residences. Nobu Hotel, Restaurant and Residences Toronto will follow in 2024, spanning two 45-story towers in the former Pilkington Glass Factory in the city’s Entertainment District. The project is another ambitious launch for the brand, with 660 residential units and 36 hotel suites, as well as a unique lifestyle space known as Nobu Centre. Expanding the branded residences is a key part of Nobu’s continued global expansion, with projects in development in Al Khobar, Al Marjan Island, Abu Dhabi, Tulum, Orlando, Punta Cana, Egypt and Da Nang, Vietnam. Next year, the brand will also continue to expand its European footprint, making its hotel debut in both Rome, Italy and Lisbon, Portugal. They will also welcome a sixth Spanish property to the portfolio: Nobu Hotel Madrid.
First there was Vanderpump à Paris at Paris Las Vegas and then there was Vanderpump Cocktail Garden at Caesars Palace. This winter, there will be Lisa Vanderpump’s first concept in Lake Tahoe, Wolf by Vanderpump, at Harveys Lake Tahoe (NV). By summer of 2024, Lisa Vanderpump fans will be able to visit her third venue on The Strip, Pinky’s by Vanderpump, at Flamingo Las Vegas. “We’ve so enjoyed our relationship with Caesars Entertainment, and we are excited to expand with two new locations. Through our design company, Vanderpump Alain, we are embracing the unique history of Flamingo Las Vegas, and the designs will be reminiscent of a bygone era. Caesars has allowed us the creativity to truly delve into the Art Deco style and create something that will encompass the stunning design of that time. The building will extend into a dramatic conservatory that will enhance the façade of the Flamingo on the Las Vegas Strip.” Spanning nearly 7,000 sf and set against a palette of muted greens, brass accents and blush pink, the space will boast a dramatic bar, Deco details and a stunning covered terrace settled into the Las Vegas Strip. Similar to Vanderpump’s other concepts, the design, lighting and fixtures will be bespoke Vanderpump Alain creations designed specifically for the space. Pinky’s by Vanderpump will be in the former Purple Zebra space at Flamingo Las Vegas along Las Vegas Boulevard.
20 YEARS OF SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION
The sea turtles who call the beach in front of Pueblo Bonito Pacifica and Sunset Beach Resorts their home, have reason to celebrate. The Pueblo Bonito resorts of Los Cabos, Mexico, have protected the gentle sea creatures since 2003. The interactive program’s mission is to return turtle hatchlings to the sea to boost the survival rate of an endangered reptile that’s vital to the region’s ecosystem. The Pueblo Bonito Golf & Spa Resorts and now Quivira Los Cabos direct a successful turtle protection and release program. Carlos Villalobos, manager of the resort community’s Sea Turtle Protection Program, started working as a security officer at Sunset Beach in 2003. Five years later, he traveled to Costa Rica to participate as a scientific research assistant in the Green Turtle Program of the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC), a prestigious research institute. “During these 20 years of protection work, we have shielded approximately 16,000 nests and released more than one million baby turtles into the sea,” Villalobos stated. In 2003, a scant 83 nests were secured. Currently, more than 2,000 nests are protected per season. “The program has been a resounding success,” Villalobos enthused. “The olive ridley turtle population in particular is recovering favorably.” Adult female turtles will soon complete their annual migration to the tip of the Baja peninsula to make their nests and lay eggs. Once the location of the nests is recorded, they are marked and sheltered after the female turtles return to the sea. Fences and structures are erected to safeguard the nests from birds, animals and humans until the sea turtles hatch. As the incubation period is 45 days, the eggs should hatch in December. In addition to the olive ridley turtle, Los Cabos also receives the black turtle and the leatherback turtle, the latter attaining a length of seven feet and a weight of over 2,000 pounds. Villalobos explained that sea turtles are part of two vital ecosystems: beaches and marine systems. If sea turtles diminish in number, both the beach and marine environments in Los Cabos will suffer. Sea turtles use beaches and dunes to nest and lay approximately 100 eggs per nest. Dune plants use the nutrients from turtle eggs to grow and become stronger. Without the turtles, dune vegetation would lose a major source of nutrients and would not be healthy or strong enough to anchor the dunes. In time, beaches would erode and wash away. The negative impact to tourism would be incalculable. For guests and owners visiting Los Cabos this season, Pueblo Bonito resorts offer the opportunity to join conservation team members to carry the hatchlings of threatened or endangered species of sea turtles to the shallow surf, greatly enhancing their chances of survival.
www.pueblobonito.com; (800) 990-8259
HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY TECHNOLOGY EXPOSITION AND CONFERENCE PROPOSALS SOUGHT
Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP®) is seeking input from industry professionals and presenters for the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC®) scheduled for June 24-27 in Charlotte, NC. Presentation proposals should be industry-specific and unique to HITEC, crafted for seasoned hospitality professionals. Topics may include (but are not limited to) artificial intelligence, sustainability and renewable resources, best practices regarding ethics, operational back-office solutions, and personal development. For HITEC 2024, the council is incorporating a new hybrid approach to its program planning to ensure attending professionals will have access to industry guidance of great interest. Presenters will receive a complimentary HITEC 2024 registration in exchange for speaking. They will then be responsible for their own participatory travel and hotel expenses.
WALLETHUB’S SURVEY OF BEST WINTER HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS RESULTS MAY SURPRISE YOU
I know I am quite surprised that Orlando or Miami didn’t make the best warm destinations in WalletHub’s 2023’s Best Winter Holiday Destinations survey, in which the personal finance company compared nearly 70 of the largest U.S. metro areas grouped by warm and cold weather. Each destination was analyzed based on 37 key metrics, primarily the expense and hassle of traveling to each location but also on other indicators, such as weather forecasts, safety, and variety of activities. So, which cities scored as the top 10 warm destinations for winter travel? It began with Las Vegas, NV and then continued to San Diago, CA; Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; San Antonio, TX; Charleston, SC; San Francisco, CA; Houston, TX; Phoenix, AZ; and then Los Angeles, CA. As for the best cold destinations, the #1 goes to Atlanta, GA and then on to Washington, DC; Chicago, IL; New York, MY; Denver, CO; Cincinnati, OH; St. Louis, MO; Kansas, MO; Philadelphia, PA; and then Boston, MA. One of the reasons I like Wallethub’s surveys, besides the topical issues, are some of the advice given by experts. For instance, David Miles, Executive Professor in Residence (retired), Northern Arizona University; Leadership Consultant, Miles Lehane Companies, said his outlook for the winter travel season is “Fairly robust but with caution. Through the first 3 quarters of the year, domestic travel for vacations and pleasure has been down by approximately 10%. Correspondingly International travel has been up by about 10%. Realize this is not a direct trade-off in numbers, but a change in mix/diversity of travelers. Net numbers have shown a decline from 2022.” He said, “Airlines adjust their fares 24 x 7 in today’s advanced data analytics. Then check Lodging options using similar tools. Then rental cars or ground transportation. Finally book activity tickets. The farther in advance the better off you are. Caution, buy refundable or no cancellation fee reservations for total flexibility even if the price is slightly higher.” As for what are some logistical dos and don’ts for winter travel, “The biggest one to avoid is counting on the synchronization of timing for each part of your travel. For example, if you have a flight booked to join a cruise ship, allow an extra day if possible. With weather issues, mechanical issues and short staff, all are strained to the breaking point when there is a problem. Count on the ‘when it rains it pours’ scenario. There is nothing worse than spending thousands of dollars for a great winter trip than sitting stranded in an airport or along a highway rest stop,” responded Miles. “Unfortunately, the way all of this works in a post-COVID labor shortage market is you will wait a long time. Give your vacation some elasticity in your planning. You may spend a few extra dollars but then be able to have a fun-filled winter break.”
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR FLORIDA FESTIVALS & EVENTS
Florida Festivals & Events (FF&E) is seeking volunteers for the following committees: Sustainability Committee; Membership Committee; Marketing Committee; Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Task Force; Ambassador Committee; Sunsational Awards Committee; Entertainment Showcase Committee; Educational Program Committee; Silent Auction Committee; Expo Committee; Emerging Leaders Committee; and Hospitality Committee. Must be a member in good standing to apply.
PLAN TWO YEARS OUT FOR GRAND CANYON RIVER RAFTING
I am sure you are wondering why I’m already telling you about making reservations to go river rafting through Arizona’s Grand Canyon in 2025, but I’ll let Western River Expeditions’ co-owner and company CMO Brandon Lake, explain. “Due to these high-demand trips, we must look two years ahead. Western’s 6- and 7-Day Grand Canyon trips for 2024 are sold out, and space is very limited in the upcoming season for shorter departures of 3 and 4 days. Travelers interested in possibly rafting the canyon in 2024 are still urged to call Western’s sales office. Because people book so far in advance, cancellations do happen. Getting your name on the waitlist is advised.” The river rafting season on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon runs from April into September. The longer 6- and 7-day trips with the thrills of class III-V rapids are open to guests as young as 12. The minimum age is nine for 3- and 4-day trips that come with class II-III rapids. Western’s exclusive J-Rig raft provides accessibility for all levels of rafters on even the largest whitewater rapids in the Grand Canyon. Rafting trips include hiking that allows access to waterfalls, slot canyons, native ruins, rock art, and geologic wonders that the five million or so casual hikers from the rim will simply never see.
www.westernriver.com; (866) 904.1160 (Local: (801) 942.6669)
MPI CONNECTS YOU TO A FUN PLANNING CONVERSATION
Nov. 29 at 2 pm Eastern. Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Small Business Owners (SBO) Connects has an hour-long social event on Zoom to help you plan for the coming holidays and beyond. Meet, converse, share. Do not have to be a member to participate. Check us out! Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcsdeCspjMpG923TWmCrd86NonvhIErhgCk
Nov. 9-19: The 39th annual Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival will feature more than 200 nationally acclaimed songwriters in venues along the Florida/Alabama Gulf Coast. The festival is an opportunity for seasoned and aspiring songwriters and musicians from all over the world to have their songs heard. Flora-Bama Lounge, Package and Oyster Bar, Pensacola, FL; (850) 492-7664
Dec. 16: Winterfest Boat Parade in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Celebrate 20 years together of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Winterfest. This year’s theme is Reflections Afloat. email@example.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 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. She is also active with Experience Kissimmee CVB and Wedding Venue Map..