Sink your teeth into the delectable Tuna Tartar at Bistro CloClo. photo by Karen Kuzsel

Sink your teeth into the delectable Tuna Tartar at Bistro CloClo. photo by Karen Kuzsel

In This Issue: Visit Florida Grant Applications yours for the asking

CSR: What has your company done lately?

Hot Luxury Hotel Deals

I heard on one of those end-the-year news wrap up programs that the word “foodie” was as hot as a skiable mountain during the polar vortex. I am as deeply muddled by that pronouncement as I am worried that snow will bury my Florida home during the summer.

I am a foodie. I say that while aromas of warm cookies, spicy sauces, and savory meats ingested during the recent holidays still linger affectionately in my memory. I’m not snobby about being a foodie, nor would I ever want to challenge Andrew Zimmerman for “who can eat the nastiest morsel.” I simply enjoy well-prepared cuisine that’s sits prettily on the plate and is packed with flavour. I also enjoy sharing some of my favourite meals or restaurants with others, which is why I’m telling you about my husband and my latest go-to restaurant, Bistro CloClo in the Dr. Phillips area of Orlando.

You may surmise from the name, it is French in its exquisite renditions of duck a la orange or my hubby’s new fave, steak frites. I actually salivate just thinking about their tuna tartar appetizer, a hefty mound of minced fresh tuna laced with an olive tapenade. Best tuna tartar ever…. Service each time has been friendly without being cloying, helpful without being patronizing. While the rest of the country was bundled for early winter blizzards, we sat outside and people watched while sipping ruby red wines. We haven’t made it to the Sunday jazz brunch, but that will happen soon. The assistant GM, Karim Bouskou, mentioned they will soon feature some Moroccan and Mediterranean dishes. All in all, a worthy brunch, lunch or dinner out without having to mortgage your first-born to do it.

I also want you to know I have more than food on my brain. In this issue, I am beginning a new section recognizing CSR. Don’t be shy. Let me know when your company or client has made noteworthy donations or money, time and caring.

DOES YOUR GROUP HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN A GRANT FROM VISIT FLORIDA?

You have until Feb. 9 to submit your application for any of the Visit Florida grants, designed to help you market the Sunshine State’s assets and amenities to your clients and their event attendees. Marguerite Martin at grants@VisitFlorida.org or (877) 435-2872 can assist with questions or obtaining the Grants Toolkit. It contains all the vendor forms necessary for reimbursement, sample in-kind form, reimbursement check list, and the image development release form. Take note: this year’s applications will only be accepted electronically through the online grant application submission form.

Here’s a sample of the available grant programs:

  • Airline Grant Program –an annual Matching Grant program to support Destination Marketing Organizations and airports within the State.
  • City-Wide Meetings & Conventions Grant Program – an annual Matching Grant program to generate new City-Wide Convention Business to the state.
  • Advertising Matching Grants Program – publicize the tourism advantages of the State of Florida.
  • Cultural, Heritage, Rural and Nature Tourism Grant Program – provides funding for multi-county and multi-Partner marketing projects for the promotion of Florida’s cultural, heritage, rural, nature and education efforts.
  • Minority Convention Grant Program – Offered to local governments and non-profit corporations/organizations to attract new national minority conferences and conventions.
  • Small Business Grant Program – assists small businesses (those with an income of less than $1,250,000 gross income per year, or a 501 (c) (3), non-for-profit status) in publicizing their programs and tourism advantages of the State of Florida.

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR) IS THE GIFT THAT KEEPS GIVING TO COMMUNITIES

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month—If you have ever read my blog about the roughly 75 amazing restaurants that offer fantastic three course prix-fixe meals for $33 each September during Magical Dining Month in Orlando, then you likely also are aware that this event is sponsored by Visit Orlando. What you may not know is that a dollar from each meal is donated to a select charity. Visit Orlando just released 2014’s contributions. This year, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month raised a record $111,604 for Foundation for Foster Children. The donation is a 50 percent increase over the year prior and, since 2009, the program has raised $340,416 for local charities. “We are grateful to be in a position to make a significant donation to Foundation for Foster Children, an organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children placed in foster care by providing opportunities that nurture their ability to succeed,” said George Aguel, president and CEO of Visit Orlando. “Thanks to our participating restaurants, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month has grown to become the most successful showcase of Orlando’s dining scene, which is emerging as one of the most innovative in the country.”

Governor of the Picuris Pueblo blesses meal at Hotel Santa Fe The Hacienda & Spa

Governor of the Picuris Pueblo blesses meal at Hotel Santa Fe The Hacienda & Spa

Hotel Santa Fe The Hacienda And Spa— It’s not often that a hotel can claim bragging rights as the first in the nation for an innovation, but Hotel Hanta Fe The Hacienda And Spa did just that on December 1 when it became the first hotel in the U.S. to power all of its guest rooms with solar energy. As part of its declared green initiatives (a deal maker for many environmentally-conscious groups), the hotel is using proprietary smart grid technology from Stay.Solar. The company’s software platform matches the power used in guest rooms with third party certified renewable energy that has been fed into the grid from existing and new solar installations. Data that runs along with the power on the nation’s smart grid makes it possible for Hotel Santa Fe The Hacienda and Spa to access pure solar generated electricity for its guest rooms rather than other forms of power production like coal. Not content to just improve the guest experience, Hotel Santa Fe The Hacienda And Spa added a CSR component to their Running on Sunshine program that directly benefits the city of Santa Fe. For every dollar devoted to solar production at the property, an additional dollar goes to supplying solar panels to be installed at a Santa Fe non-profit to help meet the organization’s power needs.

www.hotelsantafe.com; Steve Lewis, steve.lewisnm@comcast.net, (505) 473-9002;  www.stay.solar; Don Hicks, don.hicks@stay.solar, (505) 291-9900

Caesars Entertainment—And one of the winners of this year’s Civic 50 Award from Points of Light goes to the entertainment giant in recognition for its commitment to improving the quality of life in communities where it does business. Points of Light is the largest organization in the world dedicated to volunteer service, and recognition at this level is a tremendous achievement. All companies with $1 billion in revenue or more are invited to apply for the Civic 50.

Caesars was distinguished as the most community-minded consumer discretionary company in America, a large and highly competitive category. Caesars Entertainment also achieved three top-10 “dimension” rankings, coming in first in Integration, fourth in Institutionalization and ninth in Social Impact. Points of Light was inspired by the extent of the investment of the company’s employee volunteer program – HERO – and its members’ time and contributions to nonprofits, the integration of the company’s community engagement efforts with the way it does business, the way Caesars has elevated responsible gaming as a core value, its dedication to mitigating its environmental footprint, its investment in employee health and wellness, and the extent to which Caesars drives economic development in the communities in which it operates.

www.caesars.com; Laura Esfeller, lesfeller@caesars.com, (702) 667-1694

HOT DEALS

Save 35% on select beachfront Meliá Hotels International hotels. Meliá has 350 luxury properties in 40 countries. Earn free nights by joining the MeliáRewards! Program.

www.Meliá.com

If you’re looking to book a group for stays before the end of March, check out these three Associated Luxury Hotels International properties offering special price promotions. The Inverness Hotel and Conference Center in Denver, CO has 302 guest rooms & suites; 42 meeting rooms totally 60,000 sf. The largest meeting room is 5,400 sf. Fullfill your meeting by March 23 and be eligible for a complimentary welcome reception and room upgrades.  www.alhi.com/InvernessHotel. Book at least 25 rooms at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington DC by March 29 and be eligible for 10% off room rates and AV. Earn upgrades at the group rate and complimentary meeting room rental. The Willard has 335 rooms, 17 meeting rooms for a total of 22,859 sf. www.alhi.com/WillardInterContinental. Planning a meeting in Miami Beach? The Loews Miami Beach Hotel has a deal for you. There are 790 rooms, including 65 suites, 65,000 sf of indoor and outdoor meeting space. The Americana Ballroom has 28,000 sf, floor to ceiling panoramic ocean views and 24 additional meeting spaces. www.alhi.com/LoewsMiamiBeach

WiFi, breakfast or afternoon tea…complimentary? Must be the specially-priced packages being offered in London by Design Hotels. Check out these four possibilities. The deals vary for each, but all the stays must be fulfilled by March 1. Blakes Hotel (47 rooms); Town Hall Hotel & Apartments (98 rooms), South Place Hotel (80 rooms), and Ham Yard Hotel (90 rooms).

www.designhotels.com

South Place Hotel in London still has availability for Fashion Week

South Place Hotel in London

UP AND COMERS

It took the United States federal court in Tampa to give the OK, but Scrub Island Development Group, owner of the exclusive Marriott International Autograph Collection® Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina in the British Virgin Islands, can now invest $18 million in the luxury property. The funding will be used to complete additional ocean view villas, augmented landscaping, relocation and enhancement of the resort’s full-service spa, increased guest amenities and expanded transportation services. Opened in 2010, Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina is named after its location, a serene 230-acre private-island haven situated at the east end of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

www.scrubisland.com; (813) 849-4153; www.AutographHotels.com

The oceanfront Springmaid Beach Resort in Myrtle Beach, SC has changed owners. An affiliate of Los Angeles-based Integrated Capital, LLC along with its joint venture partner, KBS Strategic Opportunity REIT II, will reposition the hotel when fully renovated as a DoubleTree Resort by Hilton. Situated on a quarter-mile stretch of serene Atlantic shoreline at the south end of Myrtle Beach’s Ocean Boulevard, the acquisition includes the 500-roomSpringmaid Beach Resort and 187-unit recreational vehicle campground. Currently, the resort is anchored by the popular Springmaid Pier and includes six pools, an arcade, 18-hole miniature golf course, fitness center, two restaurants, and a 35,000-sf conference center (for groups up to 600).

Karen 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; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady

 

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