Just one of the extraordinary inflatables by Disco Designer.

Occasionally, I see event props and décor that are over-the-top incredible. I have worked functions with enormous inflatables that enhance a theme but the ones from Peter Yordanov’s Disco Designer group soar to new levels of creativity, vivid colors, imagination, and yes, size. While there are many enormous inflatables on his FaceBook and LinkedIn pages and in short videos, I think you should check them out for yourself. Enjoy.

https://www.facebook.com/DiscoDesignerEN; https://www.linkedin.com/smart-links/AQGq4brN0D_Oaw


Margaritaville Lake Resort Lake Conroe is offering great incentives for booking events.

You won’t even need a breezy day to sail away with this offer from Margaritaville Lake Resort Lake Conroe (Houston, TX). Book a qualified meeting in any of these time periods to receive a cruise to the Bahamas for two aboard the Margaritaville at Sea Paradise or a Margaritaville Bahamas Frozen Concoction Maker. The dates are August 11-16, 18-23-, and 25-30; September 2-6; November 22-29; and December 1-6, 8-11, and 15-23.


If your group is focused on Financial/Professional Services, Corporate Headquarters; Life Sciences; InfoTech, Clean Tech, Manufacturing and Creative Industries, pay closer attention to incentives now being offered by Sarasota County, FL. The County has a new incentive program for businesses headquartered outside of Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte counties, that is designed to introduce first-time and re-introduced infrequent businesses hosting events. Incentive amount is based on the highest peak room night produced. For instance, 10-35 rooms at peak may make the company eligible for up to $625 each for transportation, group dining/events, and wellness initiative. For 86-250 rooms at peak, the group may receive up to $3,750 each for transportation, group dining/events, and wellness initiative, as well as $15/room cash rebate, and $4,000 per meeting for multi-meeting incentive. Full details at the link.


LaPlaya Hotels & Resorts in Naples, FL has promo offers.

When you book your meeting at LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort (Naples, FL) between June and December, you get not just one, but your choice of five “Paradise Perfected” perks for booking a minimum of 25 guest rooms per night with a two-night minimum stay and standard F&B minimum. The property has 180 guestrooms, including eight gulf front suites and 30 junior suites. There are 10 event spaces, including the Vanderbilt Ballroom, which can accommodate up to 300-people when set in rounds. There are seven outdoor venues, the largest of which can also host 300 set in rounds. Here are some of the perks: two complimentary VIP welcome amenities (chef’s choice); one complimentary upgrade to a one–bedroom beachfront suite or lanai beachfront fire pit premium room at the group rate, reduced outdoor site fee of 50% for select beachfront venues, 10% discount on group golf rounds, and one gift certificate for a complimentary two-night/three-night stay. The resort is 22 miles from Southwest Florida International Airport.

https://www.laplayaresort.com; (239) 598-5700; sales@laplayaresort.com; (800) 237-6883

Swimming with pigs in The Bahamas.

If heading to The Bahamas is your idea of a summer vacation, has this group of islands got some offers for you and for family activities you may not find elsewhere, such as swimming with pigs in the bluest of calm water. There are way too many promotions happening, some of which you must initiate pretty quickly, so rather than me detailing them all to you, check them out for yourself. Discounts begin at 10% and some promo packages must be booked by June 30, for use through the summer.


View from JW Marriott Nashville’s 34th floor Bourbon Sky Lounge. L

Unsure which is grander: the JW Marriott Nashville’s 34th floor Bourbon Steak restaurant and its abutting Bourbon Sky Lounge, or the new promotions being offered to secure your group business. First, the facts: this offer means a contract must be signed by July 31 for a minimum of 150 rooms on peak night, and must be actualized between June 23-30, August 18-31, or December 6-29 of 2024. Here are just some of the possible amenities you can score with your new booking at this Tennessee beauty: 10,000 Bonvoy points (50K at signing and 50K upon program completion), complimentary one-hour reception including an open bar and three Chef’s choice hors d’oeurves, two complimentary rooms for pre-planning visit (up to two nights), and two complimentary hot breakfast items added to the continental breakfast.


One&Only Mandarina, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Riviera Navarit’s Rainforest, has promotions for stays.

Journey Mexico it’s time to book your summer vacation (but use anytime in 2024) at One&Only Mandarina and receive up to 30% for advance bookings, free nights, and thousands of USD resort credits included with Grand and Signature Villas. Here is a small sampling of the possibilities. Book a four-night stay in a Grand Villa, and get complimentary full American breakfast daily for two persons per room; complimentary roundtrip airport transfers from the airport for up to five people; and a 50-minute spa experience for two. Book 14 days in advance and receive up to 30% savings on your stay. Offer includes complimentary full American breakfast daily for two, per room. Book a four-night stay in one of the  eco-designer Treehouses and Cliff Villas, and the 4th night is complimentary. Stay longer: book a seven-night stay and  the sixth and seventh nights are complimentary. Book a minimum four nights at an exclusive clifftop Grand Villa and receive a $1,000 USD resort credit to use at One&Only Mandarina. Applicable for stays in  Villa Tortuga, Villa Jaguar, Villa Pacifico or Villa One. Also, book a Signature Villa and receive a $1,000 resort credit for a three- night stay or $2,000 resort credit for five nights to use at One&Only Mandarina restaurants, bars and spa.


Fenway Hotel, an Autograph Collection property, in Dunedin, FL has a group offer.

A Jazz Age landmark for the past 90 years, Fenway Hotel in Dunedin, FL (near Clearwater Beach, FL) was home to the county’s first radio station. The historic Autograph Collection hotel has a group offer that is available for stays through September 30. Book 10+ peak night rooms for two+ weekday nights and receive up to three complimentary suite upgrades. Also possible to contract $5,000+ in F&B to receive complimentary in-house A/V.

https://www.marriott.com/en-us/hotels/tpadu-fenway-hotel-autograph-collection/; (844) 569-9879

Aerial of Wyndham Alltra Samana’s main pool area. Photo courtesy of Playa Hotels & Resorts

Save up to 50% on bookings made now on stays through March 31, 2025 at the family-friendly, all-inclusive, and finally open Wyndham Alltra Samaná, managed by Playa Hotels & Resorts, in the charming town of Las Galeras in the Samaná province of the Dominican Republic. The 404-room resort marks Wyndham Alltra’s first resort in the Dominican Republic.  It won’t be the last. Later this year it will be joined by Wyndham Alltra Punta Cana, also to be managed by Playa. The two resorts earmark Wyndham’s rapidly growing all-inclusive portfolio, which now spans about 40 resorts worldwide. “The Dominican Republic has long been a coveted destination for travelers looking to relax amidst some of the most stunning beaches in the world,” said Fernando Mulet, Chief Investment Officer, Playa Hotels & Resorts… As we continue to add stunning resorts in the Dominican, Wyndham Alltra is the perfect brand to deliver on that promise.” The resort guest rooms and suites have private balconies and garden views.

www.alltrabyplaya.com/samana; www.wyndhamalltra.com; www.WyndhamRewards.com; www.playaresorts.com; www.wyndhamhotels.com

One of Opal Collection’s golf courses.

Tin or aluminum are traditional 10th anniversary gifts for married couples, but to celebrate Opal Collection’s 10th Anniversary the luxury hotel and resort company is offering group guests exclusive incentives, including complimentary guest rooms, upgrades, and turn-down gifts. Plus, a complimentary champagne toast and a $1,000 Opal Collection gift card for the meeting planner. Minimum guest room spend of $20,000 for 2024 for one group arrival. One Opal Collection gift card per booking. Subject to availability. Black-out dates apply. Cannot be combined with any other offers. Not applicable to already confirmed groups. Meetings must be booked by August 31 and consumed by December 31, 2024 (with the exception of Opal Sol, which may be consumed until Dec. 31, 2025).

Matt.Pave@ophotels.com; (855) 314-2829.

Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach has promotional incentives.

You have until September 30 to book your next meeting at Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach (FL) to receive great incentives. Meeting must be actualized by December 23 and only valid for new group events. The Wyndham Grand Clearwater beach has 22,000 sf of meeting space and 343 guest rooms. Incentives vary by the size of groups, from 10 to more than 50, but some incentives include 5% off all Master account charges, $150 complimentary gift certificate for Pallavi Spa, and reduced resort fee to $20 per group room.

https://www.wyndhamgrandclearwater.com/meetings?;  (727) 281-9500

Palm Beach Convention Center in West Palm Beach, FL offers a promotional discount.

Book a new meeting at the Palm Beach County Convention Center (West Palm Beach, FL) by June 30 and receive up to $20 per room night. This promotional offer is valid for any new qualified event in The Palm Beaches and must utilize the Convention Center with minimum contracted room nights of 300 rooms on peak with a minimum of two or more nights. Event must actualize with the 2024, 2025 or 2026 calendar year. Cannot be combined with other promotions.

Scottsdale, AZ has Sizzling Summer Heat promotion for bookings.

Scottsdale, AZ isn’t pretending that temperatures in the city don’t soar during summer months, but they want to cool down the heat by offering a Sizzling Summer Rebate Program, based on having a minimum of 125 total group rooms and actualizing during these time periods: to September 13, 2024; May 26 – September 12, 2025; and May 25 – September 11, 2026. The RFP must be sourced through Experience Scottsdale. Total rebate, up to $5,000 max, is credited to the client’s master bill. Rebates only apply to new meetings and there must be written confirmation of eligibility from Experience Scottsdale.


Tommy Bahama Miramonte’s new olive tree lined patio.

Book your next meeting or event at Tommy Bahama Miramonte Resort & Spa (Indian Wells, CA) for stays through September 30, with low rates and no resort fee. 35,000 sf of versatile indoor and outdoor spaces.

www.tommybahamamiramonte.com/meetings-social-events/; (442) 305-4533; sales@tbmiramonte.com

Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL

Book any group meeting or event at the Walt Disney World Swam and/or Dolphin (Lake Buena Vista, FL) by December 24 this year and use by December 31, 2025 to receive Triple Marriott Bonvoy™ Points, complimentary Planning Meeting for up to 12 Guests for up to two nights, round trip airport transfers, F&B, and a VIP Epcot Fireworks Yacht Cruise for up to 12 guests.


Snorkel in the 33,500-gallon aquarium at RumFish Grill at RumFish Beach Resort, part of the TradeWinds Island Resort collection (St. Petersburg, FL)

The beaches of St. Petersburg, FL may be a strong attraction, but in this case, perhaps the reason to book one of the TradeWinds Island Resorts could be the promotional incentive to book your group’s meeting by December 20. The meeting for a minimum of 50 rooms on peak must also be used by December 20. There are at least a dozen incentives offered, and when you book, you get to choose six of them. Incentives may include 4% rebate to the master, donation to the charity of your choice; 10% discount on published Banquet Food & Beverage spend; 10% discount on published A/V spend; Complimentary break for staff office; or a Complimentary 2-night stay certificate for meeting planner.


Visit Plano Foodie Pass

Visit Plano (Plano, TX) has an offer designed for foodies. Receive a Free and limited time foodie pass when you accumulate points by checking into participating restaurants and redeeming coupons. Then you cash in your points for prizes provided by Visit Plano. Check in to 20 restaurants and be automatically entered into the “Fit for a Foodie” sweepstakes. First place: certificate for a Charcuterie Board Making Class led by the Executive Chef for six people at the Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West and $500 in restaurant gift cards. Second place winner gets a one-night weekend stay at the Hilton/Dallas Plano Granite Park and $250 in restaurant gift cards. Third place winner will receive a one-night weekend stay at the Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center and $100 in restaurant gift cards. Go to visitplano.com/tasteofplano and register for free. Open the pass from the received text or email and follow the directions to add the button icon to your home screen. Do NOT forget this step. Then go eat and accumulate points!


Book any new convention or meeting through Visit Winston-Salem (NC) by June 30 for a stay in any year and receive up to $3,000 in Travel Back Rewards towards a future meeting. Book 299 room nights and receive $500 credit, but if you book at least 499 room nights and get $1,500 in credits. Book more than 500 room nights and receive $3,000 in credits.


Save 20%* on four-nights at a Universal Orlando Hotel by booking by December 15. Travel dates now-May 23, May 27-November 26, and December 1-19.


Florida and Georgia residents only: Buy a 2-Park 1-Day Park-to-Park and get two days free at Universal Studios Orlando and Universal Islands of Adventure. (Hint: if you are a Harry Potter Wizarding World fan as I am, you must have tickets to both parks to receive the full experience). Must be used by June 26, 2024. Unused days will be forfeited. Guest must present valid proof of Florida or Georgia residency at time of purchase, ticket pick-up and redemption. This promo is only online.


Wyndham Alltra Vallarta La Costa Restaurant

The all-inclusive market in Mexico and the Caribbean just received a boost from Playa Hotels & Resorts with the completion of extensive renovations at the newly renamed Wyndham Alltra Vallarta in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. To celebrate the grand unveiling, Wyndham Alltra Vallarta if offering a 40% discount on bookings, valid for stays through December 20, 2024. Owner and operator of all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean, Playa Hotels & Resorts has drawn inspiration for the property (formerly known as Wyndham Alltra Riviera Nayarit) from ancient Huichol culture. The renovation includes 159 rooms, including all Junior Suites. The Alltra VIP Club for club level guests has speeded up its semi-private check-in (and out) service, enhanced its concierge assistance and personalized cocktail service. Club guestrooms receive upgraded minibars, in-suite Nespresso coffee makers and a complimentary hydrotherapy spa experience. Five dining venues have been revamped. The brand introduces its new Agave Bar and the first Mezcaleria in the chain’s portfolio.

www.AlltraByPlaya.com; www.WyndhamAlltra.com

Book new business in a Boston or Cambridge (MA) hotel and receive a 10% rebate off the banquet master bill and 10% off all rooms booked. Here are the eligible program dates to qualify: 2025: 11/18/2024 – 04/17/2025; and 2026: 11/17/2025 – 03/31/2026.

sales@meetboston.com; www.meetBoston.com

Wealth of Wellness package offered at Pueblo Bonito Resorts in Quivira, Los Cabos, Mexico.

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


In 2024

Gaylord Rockies has reimagined its Grand Lodge resort. Check out the new 15,000-sf. Grand Lodge Games Lawn, the new Mountain View event pavilion, our newly remodeled Grand Lodge, and two brand-new bar and dining venues, Embers Lodge Bar and The Fortunate Prospector.

James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Dominique Ansel opens in Paris Las Vegas this Fall. Photo Credit Evan Sung

Ever eaten a Cronut® (named one of TIME Magazine’s “25 Best inventions of 2013”)? Do you know that James Beard Award-winning Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel has been dubbed a “Culinary Van Gogh” by Food & Wine and the New York Post coined him the Willy Wonka of New York”? This Fall, he’s set to open his second dining destination, Dominique Ansel Marché, at Paris Las Vegas on The Strip. The entirely new concept will showcase croissants and viennoiserie baked fresh each morning, made-to-order crêpes, seasonal fresh fruit tarts and cakes, and ice cream, as well as savory items, inspired by Parisian favorites. “I’ve always loved the open-air markets that often pop up throughout Paris, where you can find the best and freshest foods,” he said. “We’ll be baking fresh croissants daily, fruit tarts and cakes with beautiful in-season ingredients, making crêpes to order like my early memories from back home and serving rotisserie chicken and many of our signature pastries. There will be plenty of café seating that’s perfect for people-watching with a cup of coffee, just like on the sidewalks of France.” Spanning more than 5,000 sf, Dominique Ansel Marché will be able to seat café-style and park bench seating for about 50. Greenery and trees will enhance the experience of dining along the streets of Paris, while flower stands and hanging awnings will add to the market atmosphere. Dominique Ansel Marché will occupy the former JJ’s Boulangerie space near The Bedford by Martha Stewart at Paris Las Vegas.

www.ParisLasVegas.com; www.CaesarsMeansBusiness.com

Pueblo Bonito Vantage San Miguel de Allende opens October 1.

New Pueblo Bonito Vantage San Miguel de Allende, the Mexican hospitality company’s first urban, European Plan (EP) hotel, opens October 1. Built in homage to the city’s architectural heritage and located within the District Corazón (the Heart District) in a traffic-free zone in front of Zeferino Gutierrez Park, it’s a quick stroll from the historic center. Multicolored, with a Moorish influence, the boutique property 111 guest rooms and suites in one wing and 45 privately-owned villas and multi-bedroom condos in another, will showcase beautiful fabrics and hand-crafted furniture. All rooms and residences, designed in a neo-colonial style, will feature terraces with outstanding views of the city’s historic downtown area or the hotel’s lush gardens. Visual splendor predominates throughout the property. “Mexican design elements are generally found in the form of artwork, artifacts and textiles,” Arquitectura de Interiores and its president, Marisabel Gómez, explained. “Sumptuous fabrics such as rich velvets, beautiful panels with nail-head details, and lavish area rugs adorn the public spaces.” The hotel’s entry hall and its spectacular wooden gates, when opened, will create a “visual layering” effect and a “wow” factor.  Guests will see through and beyond the gates to the spires of the city’s magnificent neo-Gothic church: Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, with more than a dozen of the historic city’s domes grouped below it. Amenities on-site include Aromatika Spa, wellness center, full-service gym, beauty salon, bridal suite and retail shop. Casa Bistro, the hotel’s breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurant, will highlight fresh, seasonal ingredients. Evenings, V Rooftop Terrace, offering panoramic views of the San Miguel Arcángel Parish and the city’s picturesque skyline, will serve tapas and drinks.  LaFrida, the hotel’s gourmet restaurant that pays homage to iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, will feature a show in coals and fire. Banquet space includes a terrace that overlooks the city. The V Life program—a collection of unique experiences in which guests and residents may immerse themselves—will be offered. Based around four pillars—gastronomy, culture, history, and lifestyle—V Life’s curated activities include language immersion, painting or sculpture classes, cooking classes prefaced by a visit to a local market, guided cultural walks of the city, a visit to a local bee farm, vineyard visits to Guanajuato’s excellent wine region, and many more. Two regional airports, approximately 1.5 hours away, are San Miguel de Allende: Leon (BJX) and Querétaro (QRO). Transportation will be provided by the hotel.


Super Nintendo World, one of five worlds at Universal Epic Universe (Orlando, FL), will open in 2025.


Playa Hotels & Resorts aligns with Marriott International to open Paraiso de la Bonita this Fall.

Playa Hotels & Resorts, owner and operator of all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, Jamaica, and Dominican Republic, has aligned with Marriott International Inc. to expand The Luxury Collection brand in the Mexican Caribbean with Paraiso de la Bonita, am adult all-inclusive resort in Riviera Maya.  Set on 14 acres of lush natural landscape in Puerto Morelos, a picturesque fishermen village, just 20 minutes away from Cancun International Airport but far from the popular and bustling tourist spots. The resort is expected to feature 100 oversized, stylish oceanfront suites, as well as an array of amenities, including an expansive 22,000-sf spa. In line with the brand’s commitment to showcase local gastronomy and provide unique, locally inspired dining experiences, the resort is anticipated to have three restaurants, including one with a 5,000-bottle cellar, as well as a sushi and ceviche bar. To provide an even more exclusive experience, there will be a separate building within the property that will act as a “resort within the resort” with 10 suites with private plunge pools and beach access, an intimate exclusive pool, and two dedicated restaurants with a private chef.

www.playaresorts.com; www.marriott.com

Nobu Hotel Caesars New Orleans rendering.

Caesars Entertainment and long-time hospitality partner Nobu Hospitality (a global luxury lifestyle brand founded by Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro, and Meir Teper), are erecting a Nobu restaurant inside the soon-to-be Caesars New Orleans. The Nobu Hotel Caesars New Orleans, located within the Caesars tower, will mix Matsuhisa’s signature style infused with New Orleans flair. It will be the third hotel and fourth restaurant within the Caesars Entertainment Empire. Spanning two floors, Nobu Hotel Caesars New Orleans will feature a dedicated reception desk and offer 54 exclusive guest rooms designed by Rockwell Group and is expected to open in the Fall. The restaurant is slated for a late summer opening. The Nobu restaurant, with seating for 175, will feature fresh fish and seafood in the form of nigiri and sashimi. Signature dishes include Yellowtail Jalapeño, featuring delicately sliced yellowtail sashimi with touches of garlic puree, adorned with jalapeño slices, crowned with cilantro and served with Japanese citrus soy sauce. Another highlight is the Black Cod Miso, prepared by marinating the fish in den miso sauce for two to three days to produce the iconic, sweet-savory flavor.

www.CaesarsMeansBusiness.com; harrahsneworleans.com.

InterContinental San Antonio Riverwalk (San Antonio, TX) opens this summer with 390 rooms, 20 suites, and 18,000 sf of meeting space in the 21-story property. InterContinental Hotels & Resorts said the hotel will directly have access the landmark Riverwalk promenade. Onsite valet parking services, self-parking garage, same-day dry cleaning services, and the Club InterContintental lounge will all be available. Owned by Trailbreak Partners and Scarlett Hotel Group. Designed by Leo A Daly and the internal IHG design team.


In 2025

Fiesta Americana Funeeq Punta Cana opens Summer of 2025.

Coming Summer 2025 to the Dominican Republic: Fiesta Americana Funeeq Punta Cana, the newest addition to the Fiesta Americana Travelty Meetings & Events resort family. The 494-guest rooms and 45 suites all-inclusive resort will have over 20,000 sf of function space, eight onsite restaurants, water park, beach access, and is adjacent to the Live Aqua Beach Resort Punta Cana.

Gaylord Pacific Resort and Convention Center (Chula Vista, CA) opens in late spring of 2025. Seven miles from downtown San Diego, the expansive resort fronts San Diego Bay to the west and Chula Vista Marina to the south. The sixth hotel in the Gaylord Hotels brand portfolio will have 1,600 guest rooms and suites, more than 477,000 sf of function and convention space, including a 140,000 sf carpeted exhibit and meeting Flex Hall. The hotel will have 135,000 sf of outdoor event lawns and a 4.25-acre water park.


The seven floors of 182 guestrooms and suites in The St. Regis Washington, D.C. (downtown D.C) have been redesigned and refreshed with a light creamy palate and pops of blues, grays and gold. The 2,508-sf Astor Ballroom and 2,500-sf Astor Terrace have both also received restoring touches. Next up: the hotel’s onsite contemporary Mediterranean restaurant, Alhambra, gets a new outdoor terrace, and there will be updates to the St. Regis Bar, as well as redesigns to the Food & Beverage venues in 2025.


This is the lobby for Opal Sol, coming to Clearwater Beach, FL in 2025.

Opal Sol, an all-suite luxury resort, comes to Clearwater Beach, FL in 2025. The resort will have floor-to-ceiling Gulf views from every suite and more than 57,000 sf of event space. When combined with its sister property, Opal Sands, via the sky bridge, there will be more than 106,000 sf of event space and 478 luxury rooms and suites.

https://www.opalcollection.com/opal-sol; Danielle Silva, Associate Director Of Sales: (727) 674-4104, danielle.silva@ophotels.com

Wyndham Alltra Punta Cana Sun will open on Uvero Alto Beach, gearing towards newlyweds to families, in 2025 Spa, world-class fitness center, and nearly a dozen dining options with international cuisines, and a new water park will be the draw. Located about one hour from Punta Cana’s airport, the resort will offer 620 suites. “Guests today look for easy, stress-free vacations that don’t break the bank, and all-inclusive resorts can make that happen,” said Gustavo Viescas, President, Latin America and the Caribbean, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. “From Dominican Republic to Mexico, Barbados and Jamaica, Wyndham allows guests to travel the world—and expanding brands like Wyndham Alltra makes international travel possible for guests of all kinds.”

www.wyndhamalltra.com; www.WyndhamRewards.com; www.playaresorts.com; www.wyndhamhotels.com

Hyatt Hotels is busy adding to their collections. The first Hyatt Studios hotel opens in Mobile, AL in 2025. Caption by Hyatt Chattanooga in Tennessee just broke ground and is expected to open in early 2026. Located downtown in the Southside area, the 123-room hotel is being developed by 3H Group Inc. under a franchise agreement with Hyatt. It will feature the brand’s all-day food-and-beverage concept, Talk Shop, serving as a welcome area as well as a rooftop bar and meeting space.



Paws For A Cause will feed hungry pets thanks to Playa Hotels & Resorts’ Pet Food Drive.

Montego Bay Animal Haven (MBAH) needed help to feed the nearly 200 animals, predominantly dogs. Playa Hotels & Resorts responded with an inaugural “Paws For a CausePet Food Drive, a community-driven initiative that collected 566 pounds of pet food. This campaign, spearheaded by Playa Hotels’ Sustainability Department, highlighted the collective efforts of its dedicated associates from Hyatt Ziva & Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall, Jewel Grande, Hilton Rose Hall, and Jewel Paradise Cove. The month-long “Paws For a Cause” campaign engaged associates across its hotels in Jamaica to contribute to the well-being of local animal shelters. MBAH received a 13-day supply of pet food. “We are incredibly grateful for the support from our associates during the ‘Paws For a Cause’ campaign.” said Juan Narvaez, Regional Sustainability Manager at Playa Hotels & Resorts. “It’s inspiring to see our team come together to make a tangible impact on the lives of animals in need. As leaders in hospitality, it is our responsibility to address issues affecting our destinations. Together, we are making a difference and setting an example of compassion and community engagement.”



72% of Americans believe “the arts unify our communities regardless of age, race, and ethnicity” and 73% agree that the arts “helps me understand other cultures better”—a perspective observed across all demographic and economic categories, according to a National Arts Administration and Policy Publications Database survey (of 2021). Quite simply, the arts have elevated the spirits of doers and those watching or listening. The arts inspire, act as therapy, entertain, and unleash creativity, so to discover a 2024 survey done in 2024 by SmileHub of the Best (and Worst) states to support the arts, I am pleased to share the info. To highlight the states that provide the best environment for the arts and the ones that need to improve the most, SmileHub compared each of the 50 states based on 16 key metrics across three key dimensions: 1) Access to Art, 2) Artists Economy & Personal Finances and 3) Arts Education. The data set ranges from the share of residents who attend art events to the average salary of fine artists to the quality of graduate art programs. New York has the most art charities per capita, 14.7 times higher than in New Hampshire, which has the fewest. Nevada has the highest average salary for fine artists adjusted for the cost of living, two times higher than in Hawaii, which has the lowest. Wyoming has the most federal arts funding per capita, 14.4 times more than in Florida, which has the least. I’m going to save the best for last, so here are the 10 worst states for supporting the arts, beginning with #41. South Carolina, Kansas, Idaho, Indiana, Nevada, Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi. The best, beginning with #1 New York, is followed by Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Vermont, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Illinois. Where does your state rank?



River rafting with Western River expeditions can earn planners a free trip!

Wellness has become the flavor of the month in the hospitality, meetings & events industries. (I will be contributing to a small segment of a July Meeting Professionals International Small Business Owners hour-long discussion led by Claire Caldwell on Zoom, July 17 at 2 pm Eastern. To register: https://lnkd.in/eNNnms_D) Conferences are hosting sessions on everything from breathing techniques, metaphysical meditations, to eating healthier, but for those who prefer to be a bit more active and breathing in fresh air, Kam Wixom, Marketing Director of Western River Expeditions, offers a refreshing solution: a digital detox through immersive rafting adventures, or what he refers to as a Digital Detox. “When you find yourself gasping for air in your self-made digital stratosphere, it’s time for a good shake-up,” advises Wixom. “Our multi-day rafting trips provide the perfect opportunity to unplug because these vast, remote regions lack cell and internet service.” A digital detox involves taking a break from electronic devices such as smartphones, computers and tablets. The goal is to reduce the constant bombardment of digital stimuli and promote mental clarity and relaxation. Your sleep will improve, as will your work-life balance, and you will be living more “in the moment.” Western River Expeditions does provide Grand Canyon rafting, Utah and Idaho rafting, and international multi-sport trips that are perfect for a digital detox. Check them out for yourself or your group, but whatever you opt to do, find a way to chill, relax, and rejuvenate.

Caesars Entertainment has a strong, ongoing commitment to wellness for its employees and their community service projects. According to a story written by Blair Potter for Meeting Professionals International magazine’s January issue, the international company also has a focused wellness menu and physical activities to “make life easier for meeting planners.” In the story, “Catering to the Mind, Body and Soul,” Kelly Gleeson Smith, vice president of sales for Caesars Entertainment, notes that, “Wellness is taking on a much bigger role in society.” Gleeson Smith also indicated that sometimes wellness is the last item on a long list of planning a program due to time, logistics, and budget, “So why not provide a Wellness Menu with great partners that we can put in front of clients right after they’ve committed to hosting their conference with us?” Update from Caesars: they held their Global Wellness Challenge Powered by Heka Health on June 8. 170 participants took part in the Wellness Challenge. All participants exceeded 2.6M total points. 57 participants achieved 20K+ points. Many prizes were awarded.

https://www.themeetingprofessionaldigital.org/themeetingprofessional/library/item/january_2024/4161750/; www.caesarsmeansbusiness.com


The most popular Summer Destinations in every country.

Cloudwards researched and analyzed Google Search keywords related to hotels, resorts, Airbnb, weather activities and holidays. They gathered data for 80 countries worldwide, as well as for each state in the United States, focusing on travelers’ preferences from different countries for summertime travel. I must confess the results surprised me, so would love to hear your feedback. Cloudwards, and Writer Grace Micere, discovered that London and Dubai are the preferred destinations for travelers from 10 countries each, spanning the globe from Africa and Asia to Europe and the United States. U.S were divided equally between Cancún, Mexico’s beautiful, sun-soaked beaches and vibrant nightlife, and London, England’s cooler weather and historical allure, for top international choice. Domestic affordable travel for U.S citizens, is topped by Las Vegas, NV, but closely trailed by Boston, MA and Chicago, IL. South Americans seem to prefer Tokyo, Japan and Florence Italy, while others named Lima, Peru; Barcelona, Spain; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is the top choice for travelers from India, Qatar, Mauritius, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Kuwait and the United Kingdom. Venezuelans often choose Barcelona, Colombians like Florence, and travelers from the U.K. prefer Dubai. Europeans tend to choose destinations with a rich cultural heritage, antique shops and historic sites, such as Thessaloniki, Athens, Rome, London, Cyprus and Paris. Charming cities like Seoul, South Korea and Málaga, Spain are favored for their museums, art galleries, stunning architecture, and pleasant weather. As for those from Australia and New Zealand, they prefer travel to Bali and Melbourne, respectively.



The U.S. News & World Report has revealed their Best Places to Live survey. Rankings are based on an analysis of public data and user opinions. To top the list, a place must earn high scores in criteria such as desirability and quality of life. Cities in the rankings are evaluated using data from sources including the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. News’ own internal resources. This data was categorized into four indexes. The Quality-of-Life Index measures how satisfied residents are with their daily lives in each ranked city, including crime rates, quality of education, well-being, commuter index, quality and availability of health care, air quality, and Federal Emergency Management Agency data. The Value Index measures how comfortably the average resident of each city can afford to live within their means. To accomplish this, the median annual household income with the housing cost in each city, along with a regional Price Parity Index created through data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), were compared. The Desirability Index measures whether people want to live in a named city. Using SurveyMonkey, approximately 3,500 people across the country were polled. The Job Market Index measures the strength of each city’s job market. To do this, the unemployment rate and the median household income were used to determine how likely residents are to find employment in each city and their earning potential there. The survey listed 150. Based on this data, here are the top 10. Naples, FL at #1 is closely followed by Boise, ID. Then Colorado Springs, CO; Greenville, SC; Charlotte, NC; Raleigh, NC; Huntsville, AL; Virginia Beach, VA; Austin, TX; Boulder, CO.

150 Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2024-2025 | U.S. News (usnews.com)


Chef Gordon Ramsay opens new restaurant in St. Louis, MO

Ramsay’s Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay has opened in the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, in collaboration with Horseshoe St. Louis. Inspired by the multi-Michelin-starred Chef’ travels abroad, it is the first he has opened in St. Louis, MO. Located on the hotel’s eighth floor, Ramsay’s Kitchen St. Louis offers a breathtaking backdrop of the iconic Gateway Arch and mighty Mississippi River. With a capacity to accommodate more than 250 guests, the restaurant’s spacious layout includes a bar and lounge, the main dining room with a seasonal patio, two private dining rooms and the outdoor RK Bar, providing a perfect setting for a memorable dining experience. Expect to dine on signature dishes such as Beef Wellington, Crispy Skin Salmon, crispy Fish & Chips and Pan Seared Scallops. Desserts feature British classics such as Sticky Toffee Pudding and Strawberry Eton Mess, as well as more contemporary twists on timeless confections. Designed by California-based architecture and interior design firm AO, a warm color palette of navy blue, sienna, and cream creates a cozy setting. There is also a strong focus on elements that reflect the surrounding rivers, such as in the custom carpeting and bespoke artwork. The lounge has a clubby atmosphere that is enhanced by the curated bar menu of cocktails and extensive wine list. A floor-to-ceiling glass wine case divides the bar area from the dining room, where soft leather banquets and chairs are complemented by smoked glass mirrors and bronze metal accents. On the back wall, commissioned artwork combines Chef Ramsay’s monogram with a representation of the confluence of rivers that is distinctive to St. Louis. The seasonal, al fresco RK Bar, centered by a fire pit and water feature surrounded by plush seating, offers dramatic vistas of the Mississippi River and its architecturally striking bridges.



WalletHub has once again surveyed people to find out the preferences for everyday concerns. This time they discovered that while summer travel is booming, there are many whose bank accounts are better suited to enjoying a staycation. The personal-finance website compared 182 cities across 42 key indicators. Data set ranges from parks and museums per capita to restaurant-meal costs for their report on 2024’s Best & Worst Cities for Staycations. “We saw a large backlog of travel during the pandemic. Many people were not able to travel, and as soon as the country opened again, there was a deluge of travelers. Pent-up desire to travel, paired with extra income, meant we saw a record number of travelers immediately following the pandemic. Now, the demand has lessened, and inflation has risen dramatically. There is reason to believe that more families will elect to stay close to home, save money, and look toward alternate entertainment,” said David T. Rolfe, Ed.D. – Associate Professor, Central Washington University. Unsurprisingly, Orlando, FL, was the top choice because of the variety of activities. “Orlando has an extremely high number of amusement parks, water parks, nightlife activities, festivals, zoos and arcades per capita, so it’s easy to fill a week with different fun outings every day. Orlando is also a great place to eat out, with plenty of affordable restaurants rated at least 4.5 stars out of 5, and very diverse restaurant types,” said Cassandra Happe, WalletHub Analyst. Here are the top 10 best destinations for a staycation according to the survey. Orlando, FL; Honolulu, HI; Cincinnati, OH; Las Vegas, NV; Tampa, FL; Chicago, IL; San Diego, CA; Atlanta, GA; New Orleans, LA; and Tucson, AZ. The 10 worst, beginning at #173, are Moreno Valley, CA; Santa Ana, CA; Hialeah, FL; Laredo, TX; Santa Clarita, CA; Yonkers, NY; Chula Vista, CA; Pearl City, HI; Irving, TX; and Fremont, CA.



Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP®), the global spokes group for the industry’s hospitality technology segment since 1952 and producers of the HITEC® brand, are developing a code of digital responsibility for hospitality. Earlier this year, Austin, TX-based HFTP commissioned the University of Houston College of Global Hospitality Leadership to write a white paper on digital responsibility, which is featured in the inaugural issue of HFTP’s Tech+Fin Hospitality Magazine (available on the association’s website June 24). Resulting from the paper’s conclusion and discussions with industry experts, it became clear that “There are many good practices for digital responsibility throughout the industry, but these have never been aggregated, vetted and published as a compilation of the best practices in a uniform guide,” said Thomas Atzenhofer, HFTP Deputy CEO. “HFTP’s (13-member) task force of global industry technology and business experts, has agreed to tackle the task and make the industry better for all segments… from small to large.” Scot Campbell, Task Force Co-chair, said, “The advent of AI and digital responsibility is going to continue to be a growing concern to our customers. Rather than have disparate governmental regulations by those who don’t understand our business, it is more prudent to have these guidelines developed for the industry by the industry.  None of us want to be able to have an unhappy customer whose digital information is accidentally used in a way they did not intend. The target date for the release of the guidelines is Q4 2024.  HFTP will also publish code guidelines for the club industry in Q1 of 2025.



Catersource + The Special Event 2025 invites you to share your expertise at the convention in Fort Lauderdale, FL, February 24 – 27, 2025 at the Broward County Convention Center. Deadline to enter is June 24, 2024. There are more than 120 sessions offered. All speakers will receive one complimentary Conference Education Package to enjoy all days of our conference and tradeshow and one complimentary Opening Night Party ticket. Selected speakers may be promoted on the community website, official show website, printed annual magazine and show guide, via social and email blasts, and on official mobile app.



Florida Festivals & Events Association Sunsational Award competition seeks judges.

The Florida Festivals & Events Association Sunsational Awards Committee is currently looking for qualified individuals to judge this year’s award entries. Judging is done online anytime between July 1 – 11 and all that is required is a computer with internet access. Judges do not need to be FFEA members and any judge who is affiliated with an event can be excluded from judging the categories that the event would apply in so as to eliminate any possible bias. They seek judges for these areas of expertise: Graphic Design, Social Media, Photography, Broadcast Media, Public Relations, Advertising, Event Programming, and Virtual Events. Click below link for application.



2024 Sioux Falls, ID Sourced box changes each quarter’s gifts.

Sioux Falls Sourced is back for a third year and you have the chance to win a box stuffed full of products that are sourced from the Sioux Falls, SD area. Each quarter Experience Sioux Falls gives away a box to 50 randomly selected winners. The featured products change each quarter.  No purchase necessary. The sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 United States who are at least 21 years of age and have a physical address in the United States. Enter for the Summer box until August 31. Here are the next Entry Dates: Quarter 3 Fall Box: September 1– October 31; and Quarter 4 Winter Box: November 1 – December 31.

https://www.experiencesiouxfalls.com/sioux-falls-sourced?; info@experiencesiouxfalls.com


Greensboro, NC – https://www.visitgreensboronc.com/meetings-conventions-sports/request-meeting-planners-guide.aspx

Scottsdale, AZwww.experiencescottsdale.com/maps-guides/meeting-travel-planners-guide/

Sioux Falls, SD – https://www.experiencesiouxfalls.com/plan-your-trip/visitor-guide

Stafford, VA – https://form.jotform.com/240735819722057

St Pete/Clearwater, FLhttps://www.visitstpeteclearwater.com/sites/default/files/2023-06/MeetingPlanGuide_23-digi.pdf


Now – October: Sounds on Centre, free concert series presented by the Historic Fernandina Business Association, 6 p.m. on the first Friday of each month in the heart of historic downtown Fernandina Beach. Bring a lawn chair and dancing shoes.

July 4 – Luminary Hotel & Co. celebrates on the hotel’s fourth floor pool deck. Enjoy a private view of riverfront fireworks and the festivities below at Caloosa Sound Amphitheater, with performances of a musical tribute to Southwest Florida Veterans, followed by a Star-Spangled Salute featuring The Venice Symphony Orchestra. Admission is just $50 per person and includes house music, food station with items available for purchase, and cash bar. www.LuminaryHotel.com/Events; www/SoundsonCentre.com.

now – October 29: Bands On The Beach summer concert series held at Pensacola Beach, FL’s Gulfside Pavilion, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Santa Rosa Island Authority presents the series, featuring regional artists performing a wide variety of music every Tues Santa Rosa Island Authority | What’s Happening Bands on Beach (visitpensacolabeach.com) day evening at 7 pm. Bring lawn chairs or blankets. No pets and no glass allowed.

Info: SRIA at (850) 932-2257.  http://www.visitpensacolabeach.com/whats-happening-bands-on-beach/

August 30 – November 3: Universal Studios Orlando presents Horror Nights.


September 5 – 8: Amelia Island Dance Festival. World-class classical and contemporary performances of dancers from across the nation and from local dance institutions of Northeast Florida.


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 2023-2024 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.