House Hotel Galatasaray is a 19th-century boutique hotel in Instanbul

House Hotel Galatasaray is a 19th-century boutique hotel in Instanbul

When I was a child, my family travelled on a pretty regular basis. We moved on a fairly regular basis from one end of the country to the other, or from one country to another, depending on the whims of the Air Force, to which my dad belonged. I knew even then that our worldly adventures, geographical awareness, and exposure to many cultures was something to be relished like a fine wine paired with the right piece of cheese. My love for travel continues today, even when I find the vagaries of airline restrictions often inconvenient. I feel blessed to share travel opportunities with you. May you find the opportunity to pack your bags for an exciting learning and fun experience in the near future.

HOTELS & RESORTS

If you left your heart in San Francisco and are yearning to go back for it, the San Francisco Marriott Marquis would like to check out their $90 million redo of the lobby, meeting space, fitness center, Bin 55 Restaurant and Wine Bar, Mission Grill, Starbucks Cafe, second floor atrium, and all 1,499 rooms and suites. The 39-story Marquis lies next to the Moscone Convention Center and just steps away from Yerba Buena Gardens, renowned museums and cultural attractions, world-class shopping in Union Square, and AT&T Park — home of the San Francisco Giants. 415-896-1600 or www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/sfodt-san-francisco-marriott-marquis

If I can’t get to San Francisco (one of my favorite cities), then will someone please book me passage to Istanbul so I can stay at The House Hotel Galatasaray. This place looks stunning. Tucked away among the antique stores of Çukurcuma, the bohemian neighborhood that’s inspired countless artists, this 19th Century five-story 20-guestroom mansion has been painstakingly restored. Older features, like the solid marble staircase that stretches through the lobby, sit comfortably among contemporary wall moldings and polished parquet floors. A gray stone fireplace warms diners in the all-day roof lounge, which overlooks downtown Istanbul and the Galata Tower. Local transportation makes the Bohemian quarter of Beyoğlu, famous for its antique shops, The Taksim square, the Golden Horn and the historical peninsula of Sultanahmet easy to visit.

Plan meetings in the South? This bit of news may spark your need for a future site visit. The Renaissance Dallas Hotel is building a new 30,000 sf meeting facility that will open in June, next year. Renaissance Hotels is a lifestyle brand of Marriott International, Inc. Centerpiece of the expansion is a 16,000 sf Grand Ballroom, able to hold up to 1,500 people for a seated dinner. Directly above the new ballroom will be the City View Ballroom, with floor-to-ceiling windows, and City View Rooftop Terrace. The new spaces add an additional 10,900 sf of indoor and outdoor space for larger-scale events.

A bit further to the west, Caesars Entertainment’s $150 million expansion of Harrah’s Rincon Resort & Casino in Valley Center, CA should wrap up by later 2013.  The expansion includes a new hotel tower to open in 2014 and new meeting space that ups the resort’s total to over 50,000 sf, while doubling the actual size of the resort with 1,065 guestrooms. Hallmark of the meeting space will be a 23,000 sf ballroom, 2,700 sf conference lounge, and multiple breakrooms. Bring bathing suits. A lazy river, swim-up pool bar and new indoor/outdoor Mexican restaurant are scheduled to open this summer. 855-MEET-CET (855-633-8238) or www.cetmeetings.com

Hilton Sandestin freshens up with a$5 million renovation

Hilton Sandestin freshens up with a$5 million renovation

From the desert we go to the sugary white sand beaches of the 598-room Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, which just completed a $5 million renovation that encompassed meeting space, lodging and a fine-dining restaurant. The 32,000 sf of flexible indoor meeting space now features natural stones and tiles, a casually sophisticated palette of indigos and sand dollar whites, and modern lighting in the resort’s two ballrooms(the 9,504-sf Emerald Ballroom and the 5,600-sf Coral Ballroom), breakout space, intimate boardroom and pre-function areas. The award-winning 150-seat Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, Destin’s only AAA Four Diamond Award rated restaurant, is now painted in coastal soft blues, greens, platinum and sandy hues. The new fire-and-water element is striking, but you’ll find me browsing the 600 label wine list. 850-267-9500 or HiltonSandestinBeach.com

NEW SOFTWARE EASES A PLANNER’S WORK

What meeting planners wouldn’t like to watch one- to two-minute videos that will provide them practical information on Orlando’s options for dining, entertainment, convention hotels and what’s new? Ask and ye shall receive the solution from Visit Orlando. The first video, now completed, showcases the connectivity and walkability of the area surrounding the Orange County Convention Center.  Four more videos are set to roll out by the end of 2013.  Tammi Runzler, Visit Orlando vice president of convention sales and services, says “These videos are for planners who have already been sold on the idea of meeting in Orlando and now need a next-level understanding of specific attributes of the area, including walkability, transportation logistics, the range and depth of available after-hours options – particularly dining and entertainment – and more.” The videos are straightforward. The first video features the covered walking bridges that make it easy to access the convention center, the 2nd largest meeting facility in the U.S. at more than 2.1 million square feet, and the heart of Orlando’s convention district. The next videos scheduled for release by the end of 2013 will showcase Pointe Orlando, Restaurant Row, convention hotels and the new convention hotels and resorts in the works. www.OrlandoMeeting.com.

PROGRAM PROMOTIONS

My mom was an amazing woman: strong-willed, fiercely protective of our family, industrious, and clever with her hands, whether learning to cook the way the locals did wherever we lived or making customized photo album covers and lighted lamps. When I saw the Mother’s Day promotion being offered by Mainsail Beach Inn on Florida’s Anna Maria Island, my first thought was how much my mom would have loved the experience and the $250 gift card that comes with the package deal. Here’s how the promotion works: Guests are eligible for the gift card by reserving at least a three-night stay over a Sunday-Thursday. The card can be then used to treat Mom to some pampering treats, such as taking her shopping on Anna Maria’s popular Pine Avenue, or to dinner at the neighboring Beach Bistro. Sea-hardy moms may enjoy a day of sailing lessons or a tour of the surrounding Sarasota/Bradenton area with Seaduced Watercraft Adventures at the nearby Mainsail Marina. Anna Maria Island is an exotic getaway just 40 miles south of Tampa. The Mainsail Beach Inn features 12 boutique two- and three-bedroom residences, complete with beachfront access, private balconies, and gourmet kitchens. (888) 849-2642 or amireservations@mainsailhotels.com

Journey back in time for wine tastings at Castello dei Amoroso in Napa Valley

Journey back in time for wine tastings at Castello dei Amoroso in Napa Valley

Anyone who reads my blog knows I am a foodie and wine devotee who has spent a great amount of time and tongue savoring the abundant treasures of Sonoma and Napa (as well as other CA and OR wine regions). I have been wined and dined on Napa’s famous Wine Train, an authentic steam engine train with preserved Pullman cars, and have ogled my way through the Castello di Amorosa, a 13th century Tuscan castle winery with high walls and five defensive towers and over 30 acres of estate vineyards. I’ve been green with envy at the sumptuous themed events they hold on the property, but alas, my timing for trips hasn’t coincided with those events. Now here’s a promotion that’s totally tempting because it combines the Wine Train and Castello di Amorosa into one delightful package. Included in this new deal is a welome-aboard glass of wine and a three-course gourmet meal prepared onsite by The Wine Train’s chef, followed by a a private shuttle ride to transport you for a tour of the Castle, which was built over a 15-year period by Dario Sattui, a fourth generation winemaker and owner of V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, CA.You won’t need to bring your own rum but you might want to practice your best pirate “arghs” before checking out Pirates Dinner Adventure’s newest show, The 3 Musketeers-Premier Dinner Adventure. The family-styled show is set in the 17th century. Of course, a maiden’s life is at stake. Oh dear! Will they save her? There will be shows six nights a week in the theater at 6400 Carrier Drive, Orlando to discover that answer. 800-866-2469 or www.piratesdinneradventure.comKaren Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries.  She is a Contributing Editor-Writer for Prevue Magazine and is an active member of ISES and MPI. She writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, Karen 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. karenkuzsel@earthlink.net; www.ThePsychicLady.com

 

 

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