Entries by Karen Kuzsel


Sunset on a dude ranch.

Word in hospitality, meetings & events industries is that business is returning. Slower than any of us would prefer, but it’s like Spring emerging from Winter: tender green shoots begin popping out from tended soil, buds unfold into colorful flowers, and love (personal or business—your choice) is in the air. I hear from many of my business relationships that inquiries are increasing. Bookings occurring more for fall than immediate. Some friends expecting to be travelling again soon for conferences, and yet, there are still huge question marks about safety protocols at meetings and events. Would love to have your input on what you think has made any events you’ve hosted be successful.

EVENT INSIDER: the flames licked closer to my hair

The flames from the large stand-alone heater flicked closer to my hair with each breezy gust. I have thick, long curly hair. One errant spark and both my hair and the nightmarish trauma witnessed by the guest seated across from me would turn this corporate event from a fun, relaxing tropical party in the hotel gardens, to absolute disaster.

The close call could have been so easily prevented.

If only the party coordinators or hotel wait staff hurriedly removing dirty plates and glasses strewn on linen-topped tables had thought, “Hmmm. I wonder if we should move those patio heaters a tad further from seated diners. The flames seem to be escaping their confines with each wind gust.”


Villa La Datcha has sleeps 20 in 10 bedrooms.

My plants are confused. I hear there’s a lot of that going around. A week ago in Central Florida temperatures averaged 60 and the evenings dipped into high 30s or 40s. This week the lows are in the 60s and the highs in high-70s to high 80s. My plants don’t know whether to hibernate or bloom, as some are doing. Just spoke to someone in Texas who was in the midst of that horrendous below-freezing weather a couple days ago and today her area is in the high-70s. The rapid variance of temperatures is just like the world news. Recovery is imminent, airlines and cruise lines preparing for tourism crush, and COVID-related infection and death numbers are plummeting. Those stories contrast sharply with other current news that says tourism won’t recover until 2022 or 2023, and the new U.K and African viruses are more deadly and spreading quickly. What, and whom, to believe. I think the solution is: we believe what makes us feel better. So, my advice is to find something positive on which to focus and just do your best to make it happen.


Tomato, Avocado & Salted Peanut Salad

Russ is not big on my all-but-the-kitchen-sink salads. Yes, he can pick out the items he’ll eat, but every once-in-a-while (or in our household, more often than not), I rely on ingenuity to create dishes that will appeal to both of us. That’s how this Tomato, Avocado & Salted Peanut Salad came about. They are all ingredients he enjoys. (A can of cocktail peanuts sits by his side of the loveseat to continually munch on while watching TV).

EVENT INSIDER: pandemic slowdown spurs new businesses

A short while back there was a viral-bound joke that if vaccination site managers wanted to have their operations, appointments and follow through go smoothly, they should turn to meeting and event planners. The joke continued that not only would the task be done skillfully and to everyone’s satisfaction, but all those seniors who had endured standing in long lines, (sometimes throughout the night), unsure if they’d even score a shot, would have been served snacks, a drink and maybe even a chair. I was likely among the meetings & event Insiders who didn’t see the surface humor in the proposition. I had discussed that same “duh moment” ad nauseum with industry friends and my husband and wondered why no one in charge hadn’t already figured that out. Who better to strategize all the minutia of appointments, parking, cue lines, qualified staff, and follow up visits to fulfillment, than a planner?


Grizzly with a salmon seen at Chilko Lake, part of the remote area’s experience with nature.

Welcome to the New Year, when we all are hoping that our world’s health, outlook and economies rebound with vigorous speed and stability. I have faith in us. Throughout the pandemic, I have been renewed by stories of people who have switched industries, founded new businesses, reached out to others, or have received the help needed. I’d love for you to be interactive with this blog. Send me your news of destinations, events, or what topics are of concern. Comment on what I have written. Contribute ideas on what direction or information you would like to know. I will do my best to deliver. I have been privileged to be accepted onto the Independent Small Business Owners Advisory Panel for Meetings Professionals International. Have been on many local chapter committees and on the Board of Directors, as well as many other global advisories. I “feel” like this group will be invigorating, challenging, and resourceful… All great words I want to insert into my, and yours, everyday life. Be healthy, focused and productive.



Silver King Ocean Brasserie opened in November.

The restaurant is new. The seafood fresh and prepared classically in the new Silver King Ocean Brasserie in the Luminary Hotel & Co, the latest property from Mainsail Lodging & Development and the first Autograph hotel in the Fort Myers-Naples (FL) area. Centered on an open kitchen and overseen by Executive Chef Kiel Lombardo and Chef de Cuisine Matthew Mohler, the 60-seat restaurant has 40 additional outdoor seats. The décor includes modern elements such as a flowing silver and copper artwork installation inspired by the restaurant’s namesake, the “Silver King” Atlantic tarpon, as well as silver accents, rich woods, marble, and velvet. Chef Kiel has embellished the menu with Marinated Charred Octopus, East Coast Oysters, Potato & Caviar, New York Strip Dry Aged Prime, A5 Japanese Beef, and whole fish dishes.


a slice of German apple cake topped with cream cheese frosting.

This cake is a family favorite that I’ve been making since I was 16 when a friend shared her family’s recipe. Although I wouldn’t hesitate to bake it anytime of year, when the weather hits fall, it becomes a must-do. This is an easy-to-do cake, one even beginners shouldn’t be afraid to tackle.