The Basilica at Notre Dame, just one of six churches used for venue space in Montréal, Canada

The Basilica at Notre Dame, just one of six churches used for venue space in Montréal, Canada

For the several years that I worked on the radio for three different stations as Natasha, The Psychic Lady, I remember one of the co-hosts regularly signing off with “Remember that it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” That singular phrase sums up why I feel so concerned about what’s going on in the world, what’s happening in America with our election season mudslinging, and why I strive to provide the care and attention to how I treat others, even when stressed by circumstances beyond my control.

I’m an avid newspaper reader and watch a national evening news broadcast when possible. Lately I find myself shuddering with the same head-turning reaction I would give at watching a movie where murder and mayhem run rampant, wondering how can people abuse and misuse others so wilfully and destructively. I don’t understand politicians making a case for their presidency by how aggressively they slam and lie about one another instead of stating what they can (or would like to) accomplish (knowing full well that even the best of intentions cannot politically be achieved without the endorsement of people on both sides of the aisle.) I don’t understand the sheer stupidity of supporting candidates just because they spew vitriolic hate. As a newspaper/magazine writer raised on seeking the truth and not what I’d like the end result to be (a novel approach these days, isn’t it?), I find it appalling how many people accept blindly what they’re told and never bother to question or research (think of the plethora of hateful or deceptive emails you receive and wish you didn’t).

Thank goodness when I am working events as Natasha, I am lauded for my positive messages and the hope, comfort, laughter and friendliness I share. My measure of the event’s success isn’t just by the dollars I earned, but did I make an impactful connection with someone and what lingering peace do I feel from having made that connection.

My wish for you today, and tomorrow onward, is to take as your mantra that “it’s more important to be nice.”

 Ka Maka Landing, a popular Waikolohe Valley water play area at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii

Ka Maka Landing, a popular Waikolohe Valley water play area at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii

HOT DEALS

It’s not too early to think about a relaxing Spring Vacation at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina on the shores of Oahu, Hawaii. Book 5+ nights by March and receive a 30% discount; book 4 nights and get 25% off your stay. Offer good for select stays from April 4 to June 13. There are NO resort fees and admission to their signature luau (with everything from hula dancing to Disney characters) is Free!

(866) 309-2385

HSB Spa at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa on Florida's Gulf Coast

HSB Spa at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa on Florida’s Gulf Coast

Spring on the Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast are mild temperatures, blue skies and now a stellar deal for Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, the largest full-service beachfront resort hotel on the Gulf coast. Book any meeting by March 15 with a stay before April 30* and your group can receive substantial resort credits ranging from $1000 for 100 room nights, to $5000 for 500 room nights booked and actualized, along with triple HHonors Meeting Planner bonus points for the meeting coordinator. Hilton Sandestin Beach has more than 60,000 sf feet of indoor and outdoor event space, stunning gulf views, award-winning restaurants, spa and fitness center, and sugar-white sandy beaches.

Lisa Jones: (850) 267-9600; www.HiltonSandestinBeach.com

Meliá Hotels International is offering you a 20% discount and one of two other amazing offers if you book their new INNSIDE New York NoMad by February 29 and stay between May 1 and August 31 for at least two nights. If you book this offer, you receive the discount and a choice of either TRIPLE MeliáRewards points or DOUBLE miles with American Airlines AAdvantage®.

How about a Mexican beach resort vacation? Meliá has a great offer on that as well. Top beach destinations include Los Cabos, Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta. All you have to do is book by March 30 and stay through September 30 and you could be well on your way to sipping margaritas Oceanside. You must join MeliáRewards to enjoy this and future promotions.

http://www.MeliaRewards.com

Book any Gaylord Hotel for a stay from now through October 31 and receive a $50 resort credit per night at Gaylord Palms, Gaylord Opryland and Gaylord Texan ($100 max per stay) or a $100 resort credit per night at Gaylord National. Use promotional code ZJL. In a hurry to book your Spring Vacation? Save 20% when you book by March 19 and stay by April 3. Must pay at least 14 days in advance. Use promo code ADP.

(800) GAYLORD; http://deals.marriott.com/gaylord-properties/usa/gaylord-hotels-advance-purchase-offer?scid=4b1d4ab3-e64e-4f6e-b40f-c5b2af6308f5

Design Hotels is offering a luxurious location perfect for an executive or small group retreat. The Royal Snail in Namur, Belgium only has 30 guestrooms, but the two meeting rooms can hold up to 50. The boutique hotel also offers a spa, gourmet restaurant, tiered terrace, gardens and outdoor pool. It’s located just 25 minutes from Brussels Airport South.

https://www.designhotels.com/hotels/belgium/namur/royal-snail?utm_source=1404010&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_content=royal-snail&utm_campaign=mice1602

St. Louis Union Station is primping for its makeover

St. Louis Union Station is primping for its makeover

READY TO SPRING INTO BEING

St. Louis Union Station has had more facelifts than celebrity actresses. From her humble beginnings in 1894 until its sale in 2012 to Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM), this National Historic Landmark has been built, rebuilt, expanded and reinvented. LHM has already invested more than $40 million in the property, renovating the historic Grand Hall to include an award-winning 3-D projection mapping light show, new furnishings and a 65-foot-long bar. The station’s Midway has been re-established as a convention and exhibit hall and the property’s 539 hotel rooms and public spaces have been upgraded and rebranded as the St. Louis Union Station Hotel. Now work began anew on February 1 to transform the existing indoor and outdoor retail and entertainment spaces. “This redesign will invite people to experience Union Station in a totally new way. It will celebrate modern technology with key features that include the Gateway Light Tunnel, a fire show on the lake and a 3-D animation activation above the lake and on the hotel façade,” says Bob O’Loughlin, chief executive of LHM. The current mall area will evolve into 48 train-themed hotel rooms and 30,000 sf of new, private event space. Guest rooms will now total 587 and reflect the historic railroads that originally operated at St. Louis Union Station. Guests will receive a personalized train ticket for their room at check in. Event space will now total 137,000 sf. The St. Louis Wheel, a 200-foot-tall observation-style Ferris wheel, with 42 gondolas, will be installed near the Hard Rock Café. New food and drink venues will be housed in a series of vintage train cars and repurposed shipping containers. “Festoon lighting along the pathways in seating areas will provide illumination and guide visitors through the space,” said David Fierabend, principal of Groundswell Design Group. “A special Tube Light show will be featured every 30 minutes which will synchronize with music. This breathtaking, multimedia experience will add a totally unique and contemporary dynamic to the property.”

http://www.lhmc.com.

Gaylord Rockies Grand Lodge expected to debut late 2018

Gaylord Rockies Grand Lodge expected to debut late 2018

It’s never too early to boast about the arrival of a resort that will offer expansive views of the Rocky Mountain foothills in Colorado. The fifth addition to the Gaylord Hotels family will be Gaylord Rockies. The meeting and convention center hotel is expected to open late in 2018 with 1,507 guestrooms (including 114 suites), a world-class spa and fitness center, more than 20,000 sf of outdoor covered space, more than 485,000 sf of flexible meeting, convention, outdoor, exhibit and pre-function space, and eight dining venues. The resort will be located 10 minutes from Denver International Airport (DIA).

There aren’t many places you can see Rimmel cosmetics from the 1890s, First World War Oxo Cubes, Mars Bars, Rolos and KitKats from the 1930s, a 1970s Chopper Bike… let alone find them in one place… until now, when The Museum of Brands opens in March on Lancaster Road, Notting Hill, London, England.  The new Museum will display more than 12,000 original items from the unique Robert Opie Collection, feature new venue hire spaces, a learning space, cafe, garden and shop. For groups of at least 10 who want an experiential visit, sign up for the Introductory Talk. It gives an overview of the key themes and the stories told within the Museum’s collection from the Victorian era to the present day. Travel through the Time Tunnel equipped with a Consumer Culture quiz and (re)discover the rations of the 40s, the chocolate bars of the 50s, the washing powders of the 60s and more.

Groups: +44 (0) 207 243 9610; Venue Hire: +44 (0) 207 243 9612; info@museumofbrands.com

Following the latest trend in city accommodations, Montréal, Canada’s newest hotel, Renaissance Montréal, prides itself for being experiential, from the DJ in the lobby to the in-house mixologist to the walls painted by local graffiti artists. Once home to Canada Post, the 142-room historic building is located in the city’s center core. Three meeting rooms total 1,800 sf of space, each equipped with WiFi and a 65” TV screen.

www.renmontreal.com/en; @RenMontreal; #BusinessUnusual

Tee Hospitality began just over a year ago, but owner Michael Markarians now has more than a dozen hotels in his collection. The Gotham Hotel New York is his latest acquisition. The all-balcony Midtown loft-style boutique hotel features five public terraces with great views of the city that often are used for private events and a full-floor 25th-floor Penthouse. Other hotels in the collection include: Sirtaj Hotel Beverly Hills (Beverly Hills, CA); Royal Lahaina Resort (Kaanapali Beach, Maui); Royal Kona Resort (Kona); Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa (Sedona, AZ); The Pickwick Hotel(San Francisco, CA); Universal Hilton (Hollywood, CA); Equus Hotel & The Hawaii Polo Club (Honolulu, Hawaii); and Vive Hotel (Waikiki, Hawaii).

www.TeeHospitality.com; (310) 694-4199

Talk about a smart idea! Two large convention/leisure Orlando, Fl-area hotels have joined forces to offer an astounding array of meeting and event space. Located just five minutes from door to door, the world-class Orlando World Center Marriott and

together now can offer planners a combined 850,000 sf of flexible meeting space, along with 144 distinctive meeting rooms and more than 3,400 guest accommodations.

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mcogp-gaylord-palms-resort-and-convention-center/; http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mcowc-orlando-world-center-marriott/

UNIQUE EVENT SPACES

You have to hand it to Walt Disney Resorts for reimagining event spaces to fit a group’s particular needs. For instance, look at what’s happening in Hawaii, Paris, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Rest, relax and rejuvenate: what more could you want from a resort for your group as a post-session party? Laniwai, a Disney Spa at Aulani resort on Oahu, Hawaii, turns into a private-event 18,000 sf space, complete with treatment rooms, salon services, and the Kula Wai Hydrotherapy Garden, the only location of its kind on O’ahu. Add some tropical island beverages and locally-inspired morsels, and your guests have an evening to remember.

Disneyland® Paris revealed La Place de Rémy last year. An ode to the Academy Award-winning film, Ratatouille and its rodent chef, Rémy, this new attraction thrusts guests into a private event space celebrating the culture, architecture and food of the Paris. Bistro Chez Rémy features classic French specialties amid a stunning Parisian backdrop appropriate for up to 350.

Hong Kong Disneyland’s new 15,000 sf “Black Box” is a flexible venue open to a planner’s imagination.

The latest addition to the Walt Disney Company happens this year with the opening of the

Shanghai Disney Resort, the first Disney theme park built in mainland China. The park will feature and interactive Disney castle and six themed lands, while the will offer two hotels, the 420-room Shangahi Disneyland® Hotel and the 800-room Toy Story Hotel. Private event space will also be found inside Disneytown, a 46,000 sf entertainment district featuring distinctive dining, unique shopping and a world-class theater showcasing Broadway-style performances.

(321) 939-7129; www.DisneyMeetings.com.

Personally, I’ve never been to a conference event held in a church. Have you? Montréal, Canada apparently believes its churches offer an uplifting experience not found elsewhere. Here are six churches with unique spaces for group events.

Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal is home to a magnificent Rudolf von Beckerath organ, ranked among the 10 most prestigious in the world. The Oratory’s banquet and meeting rooms can accommodate groups of 10 to 700 people. www.saint-joseph.org/en/additional-services/rental-space

Notre-Dame Basilica in Quebec has a deep blue ceiling decorated with golden stars, stained glass sanctuary windows featuring religious scenes from Montréal’s history, and an exterior Gothic Revival façade. Two halls host events. Parish Hall can hold up to 150; Notre Dame Hall up to 60, and the stunning Basilica can host up to 2,700. http://www.basiliquenotredame.ca/en/rentals/

How about a private concert in Montreal’s oldest stone chapel or hold a reception in the 18th-century crypt of the Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours? Panoramic views of Old Montréal and the Saint Lawrence River from the tower of the chapel are just side benefits. http://www.marguerite-bourgeoys.com/en/services/room-Rentals.asp

Music comes alive in the Saint John-the-Baptist church. The acoustics make it a standout, as well as a ceiling of historic frescoes.

http://lestjeanbaptiste.com [French only]

Le Salon 1861 (Saint Joseph’s Church), originally built by the Sulpicians in the heart of Little Burgandy, has been reconstructed and preserved. http://lesalon1861.com/en/

Built in 1889, James United Church has a Gothic-style exterior and Victorian interior. Restoration of the church’s renowned Casavant Frères organ was completed in 2012. Located in the heart of downtown, the church can accommodate 1200 guests. http://www.stjamesunitedchurchmontreal.com/en/rentals/

RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES

Could this be the answer to the latest in extreme sports or perhaps a stimulating team building activity? In either case, have you ever heard of Skijoring? Me either until I received word from Red River, New Mexico about their inaugural event. In skijoring, a skier hangs on to a rope attached to a horse and glides across the snow. Think of it as horse-drawn waterskiing at 40 mph on snow. While Red River introduced this adrenalin-rush sport as a competition in January, it sounds exactly like the type of activity a group may enjoy hosting for their high-spirited attendees. The tournament is over, but you can read about the details at www.RedRiverskijoring.com. For lodge & visitor info: (877) 754-1708 or www.RedRiver.org

TECHNOLOGY TAKES A LEAP

Caesars Entertainment has eliminated the fuss and muss typical for arriving and leaving at some of its Las Vegas Resorts, including The LINQ Hotel & Casino, Flamingo Las Vegas and Caesars Palace. Caesars’ new kiosk program is the first fully-integrated self-check-in system in Las Vegas that incorporates email, text, web, mobile app and kiosks. Upon arrival, guests can receive a printed key if their room is ready, or receive an alert to return when their room becomes available. During 2016, the kiosks should become active at Paris Las Vegas and Bally’s Las Vegas; Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino; Harrah’s Las Vegas; and Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

Natasha, The Psychic Lady reveals the mysteries in palms at a student Renaissance Faire

Natasha, The Psychic Lady reveals the mysteries in palms at a student Renaissance Faire

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 and is now serving on the 2015 – 2016 MPI Global Advisory Board for The Meeting Professional Magazine. 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. karenkuzsel@earthlink.net; www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.

 

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