You know how Christmas trees, wrapping, and twinkling lights crash land in stores these days by August, bypassing all the other approaching holiday celebrations? That’s how I’ve looked at Halloween parties that have already been in full swing in September. For you readers who live in countries that don’t celebrate Halloween, you won’t understand the frenzy of costume parties that has increasingly attracted adults to attire themselves as characters from favorite books, TV or movies, or to parody trending political figures. Halloween used to be about youths dressing up as pirates, princesses, and super heroes one night a year to amass all the candy they could carry from neighbors doling out sweet treats. Halloween has morphed into one of the biggest expensed holidays in the world.
I mention Halloween because many of you who don’t know me personally have asked about the part of my bio that says I am also Natasha, The Psychic Lady. Yes, this is not a joke or just an act. Come October, I am put to the sleep-deprived test of having more work entertaining at corporate and social parties than I can possibly do. I constantly have wished some of this work would spread out to other months, and this year, it appears that wish has been granted. By the end of September, I have already worked several Halloween-flavored parties. At this rate, it won’t be long before I’ll be dressing for an assortment of themed Halloween events in August. Here’s just one of my looks for the “darker, witchier” themes that seem to be trending.
Now, on to the reason you regularly read this column: what exotic destinations are offering discounted deals, events to amuse or educate, and where you can travel either leisurely or with a group.
HOT DEALS FOR INTERNATIONAL DESTINATIONS
Design Hotels offers exceptional international destinations with unique venues and great promotional discounts. Here are just a few of current offerings. Save up to 20% for a stay til December 31 at the 101-room Avalon Hotel (Gothenburg, Sweden). The deal includes
breakfast, laundry, WiFi, and the chance to splash about in their signature rooftop glass swimming pool protruding over Kungsportsplatsen. Perhaps The old Germania Brewery in Münster, which has found a second life as the Factory Hotel, is more your style. The landmarked brewery building at the complex’s center overlooks a relaxing lake. The modern wing houses 128 rooms and 16 luxury suites designed with elements such as wood, concrete, and felt. Get 20% off for booking quickly. Then again, maybe Atix Hotel, the first Design Hotels™ member in Bolivia, has hits all the right notes, especially if you love art and great cuisine. Set in La Paz, the 53-room Atix, which means “one who thrives” in Quechua, is meant to be a live-in art gallery featuring fine-art photography and artwork in the guest corridors, rooms, and common areas by native artist Gastón Ugalde—known as the Andy Warhol of the Andes. The hotel’s Ona Restaurant celebrates the biodiversity of Bolivia and the best of its gastronomic traditions. Book for a stay through December and receive 15% off and free breakfast.
Book your meeting anytime between November 1 and March 31, 2017 at any of more than 80 Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI) properties, and be amazed at the offered incentives. Restrictions include a minimum three-night stay required and a minimum of 30 rooms on peak night. New business only. Every property has a unique promotional offering.
With 1,600 sf of white sandy beach located on the unspoiled east end of Grand Cayman, the Wyndham Reef Resort doesn’t typically offer great deals to come visit, but you are in luck. Their Fall Only in Cayman All-Inclusive Special* provides up to 25% savings on standard package rates. The all-inclusive experience includes three meals a day, beachfront accommodations, beer and wine by the glass, and One hour per day use of kayaks, pedal boats and paddle boards, plus free use of snorkel gear. The 152-room resort is offering a “room only” Fall Only in Cayman Special** with up to 40 percent in savings. The Wyndham Reef Resort is the only full-service, all beachfront resort in the Cayman Islands with an all-inclusive plan.
http://www.WyndhamCayman.com; (888) 232-0541.
Winter chill may begin to set in many locations, but in Naples, FL, the season’s fall offerings at The Inn on Fifth & Club Level Suites keeps things comfy cozy. The iconic hotel in the heart of downtown Naples has two new package experiences created with indulgence and discerning travelers in mind – The Best of 5th package and The Taste of 5th package, both available for stays through Dec. 15. The Best of 5th package includes a two-night stay in a luxurious Club Level Suite; dinner for two ($200 dining credit) at Truluck’s, one of Naples most acclaimed restaurants conveniently located at the hotel; and a 60-minute spa treatment at The Spa on Fifth. The package includes a deluxe continental breakfast each morning, plus hors d’oeuvres, full bar and desserts each evening in the Club Level lounge. Guests will also be greeted with a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine and handmade aromatic candle in their suite. Club Level guests also enjoy an array of amenities – personal concierge, secluded rooftop retreat, turndown service and more. The Taste of 5th package includes a two-night stay in one of the Inn’s 119 spacious, elegantly appointed rooms, as well as dinner for two ($200 dining credit) at Truluck’s. Guest amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi and daily newspaper; luxurious robes with satin shells French terry knit lining; living area with sofa seating, coffee table and flat-screen TV; and Italian marble bathroom.
http://www.InnonFifth.com; (888) 403-8778
Christmas parties on an English estate in London. Sounds very Downton Abbey-worthy, doesn’t it? At Brocket Hall Estate’s three venues you may feel like you fell into a scene filmed at the revered TV show. From small festive meals to a gathering of up to 150 guests, the private estate has a holiday package suitable for your occasion, from Brocket Hall to the Oak Room in The Golf & Country Club to one of the five private dining rooms at Auberge du Lac.
Speaking of places currently located in the United Kingdom, Blakeney Cottage Company has more than a 100 properties on the North Norfolk Coast has a 10% off offer for booking during October. In that same area, Sheringham Cottages offers savings of up to 230 pounds for October bookings and Barsham Barns has five barns stylishly decorated for groups up to 17. Totalled together, the five barns can accommodate 48. Discounted deals depend on when you book.
http://www.blakeneycottagecompany.co.uk/; http://www.sheringhamcottages.com/; http://www.barshambarns.co.uk/
Book a Christmas package at any Gaylord Hotels by October 9 and receive 20% off your tab. Each property has its own themed Ice! Show and special events. Here’s a tad of what you get.
Have a country-styled holiday at Gaylord Opryland (Nashville, TN) Ice! It features Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. See Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical. Brave the hills of Arctic Plunge Show Tubing attraction. Listen to Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers. Christmas at Gaylord Palms (Kissimmee, FL) has Ice! A Charlie Brown Christmas, Alpine Rush Snow Tubing, and Mrs. Claus’ Christmas Traditions. Gaylord Texas (Grapevine, TX) has ICE! Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town. New this year is Glacier Glide Ice Skating and Build-A-Bear Workshop. Gaylord National Resort (National Harbor, MD) challenges you to join in at the Frostbite Factory – a LIVE ice carving zone. New for families is Build-A-Bear Workshop as well as favorites such as the Gingerbread Decorating Corner and brunch with Santa.
NEW PROPERTIES AND AIR TRAVEL OPTIONS OPEN
Set sail for Waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club, coming in the early Spring to Anna Maria Island in the Bradenton Gulf Islands area of Florida. There will be 37 two-bedroom suites, 50-slip marina, exclusive beach club and Eliza Ann’s Coastal Kitchen.
Flying from Los Angeles to Los Cabos, Mexico will be easier beginning in December, thanks to Delta Airlines new nonstop flight. The new route is scheduled to provide more connections to Los Cabos from other U.S. cities such as San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Jose, Portland and Seattle. Additionally, Southwest has announced they will also begin offering direct flights from Los Angeles starting next December.
Out with the old Springmaid Beach Resort and in with the 30-acre DoubleTree by Hilton Myrtle Beach Oceanfront in Myrtle Beach, SC. Along with the brand change, the multimillion dollar transformation now includes a 20,000 sf main building whose floor-to-ceiling windows offer direct views of the Atlantic Ocean, refurbishment of the Springmaid Pier restaurant, creation of the Ocean Blue Restaurant and Lounge, “grab & go” snack area and outdoor entertainment terrace. Important to event and meeting planners: there is a newly enhanced 35,000 sf of flexible indoor meeting space, considered the largest oceanfront conference center in Myrtle Beach. There are three ballrooms which can be subdivided into 19 breakout spaces. The Ocean Blue Restaurant features Southern comfort foods such as buttermilk fried chicken and slow-grilled BBQ ribs, as well as seasonal seafood and grilled meats. Indoor and outdoor seating. The redesigned Ocean Terrace outdoor entertainment deck, Ocean Boardroom and Ocean Blue Private Dining Area are available for private events and functions. All all 452 redesigned oceanfront guest rooms in the Live Oak and Palmetto Towers now feature 40-inch HD TVs, DoubleTree’s signature Sweet Dreams® bedding, mini-refrigerator, microwave and private balcony with outdoor seating.
www. MyrtleBeachResort.DoubleTreebyHilton.com; (866) 764-8501
Following a $40 million dollar transformation, St. Louis Union Station Hotel, has become the latest addition to Curio – A Collection by Hilton™, a global set of distinctive upscale and luxury hotels. The historic St. Louis, MO hotel, built in 1894 and converted to a hotel in 1985, is known for its massive Grand Hall, a lobby lounge area with 65-foot-high ornate vaulted ceilings on which a dazzling 3D light show is projected nightly. The hotel has 100,000 sf of meeting space that includes the vast and historic Midway Hall and the glorious Regency Ballroom. Coming up next for the property: in 2018, it will house the 75,000-sf St. Louis Aquarium, now under construction and set to feature thousands of exotic aquatic species. HHonors, the company’s award-winning guest-loyalty program for Hilton’s 13 distinct hotel brands, has strong incentives for menbers if you book through March 13, 2017.
http://www.curio.com; (314) 923-3970
After a comprehensive renovation and conversion project, Aloft Miami Dadeland has opened in Miami, FL. The hotel is the third Aloft-branded hotel in the greater Miami area and is owned by Integrated Capital, LLC. All 119 guest rooms were renovated. There’s a new lobby, fitness center, meeting room and W XYZ® Bar, which overflows to an outdoor pool and patio. There is 383 sf of meeting space, an outdoor Splash pool, a Re:chargeSM fitness center and Re:fuelSM by Aloft – a one-stop gourmet grab & go food and beverage area. The hotel features SPG Keyless – the industry’s first keyless entry system that enables guests to use their smartphone or Apple watch as a room key.
http://www.aloftmiamidadeland.com; @AloftHotels on Twitter; @AloftHotels
Rev your engines. Hold up your wine or martini glass. Practice your bowling. Plan your racing strategy. Plan a day of teambuilding with active participation. By July, 2017 you may put all of those elements into practice at the new Andretti Indoor Karting and Games Restaurant and Entertainment Complex across the street from the North Convention Center in Orlando, FL The facility will be 100,000+ sf and feature 12 bowling lanes, rock wall, rope course, car simulators, over 128 video games, CXC car simulators, and a 7-D interactive dark ride motion theater. There will also be laser tag, three tracks with Sodi Electric Super Karts from France, a scratch-restaurant, over 10,000 sf of meeting space, full service bar, and a Skybar with plasma screen TV’s.
http://andrettikarting.com/marietta/virtual-tour/; Elaine K. Cavanaugh, Sales Manager; (678) 496-9518
TIS THE SEASON OF PARTIES IN UNUSUAL VENUES
Personally, I’m a sucker for nostalgic vintage, parties, and any venue that manages to combine both of those elements. One of the venues I’d most like to party at is Museum of Brands in London, England. Can you imagine partying amid collections of Rimmel cosmetics from the 1890s, First World War Oxo Cubes, Mars Bars, Rolos and KitKats from the 1930s, a 1970s Chopper Bike and around 12,000 other items that tell the story of our lives? This December, the museum goes all out, offering festive packages to sweeten your holiday booking. All packages for 10 to 80 people for dinner or 200 reception-style include private hire of the whole Museum, admission to their Time Tunnel featuring over 15,000 iconic branded items from the Victorian era to nowadays, access to our new exhibition on the Graphics of Punk, and catered food and beverage.
Karen or Francesca 020 7243 9612; http://www.museumofbrands.com
TWO MARRIOTT HOTELS TEAM UP—ABUNDANT MEETING SPACE AND FUN FALL MEETING THEMES ARE THE RESULT
Bravo to the Orlando World Center Marriott and neighbor, Gaylord Palms Resort, for working together to capture larger meeting bookings. The combination of the two giant hotels provides 850,000 sf of flexible meeting space, 144 distinctive meeting rooms, and more than 3,400 guest accommodations. All that super space and staff power spurs creative ideas to spice up fall meetings. Here are just a few of those possible. Adorn a dessert table with an array of pastel-painted pumpkins. Use boldly patterned wrapping paper to create stylish decoupage. Dip pumpkins in gold glitter or decorate them with sequins for glamorous accents or on place-card holders. Metallic decor in fall colors of gold, bronze and copper add elegant autumnal styling. Take advantage of popular food trends—doughnuts and vegan cuisine by seeking out bakeries who offer seasonal flavors like green apple and pumpkin-pie spice while using 100 percent organic ingredients.
YOU SAY HARVARD. WE SAY HAHVAHD. BUT THE TOUR COMES IN MANY LANGUAGES
No worries if you don’t speak English but would love to take join in the 70-minute popular walking tour of Harvard, even if you don’t pronounce the Ivy League School’s name the way locals do. The Hahvahd Tour has proved so popular with international visitors that now full text translation four-page brochures for Spanish, French and Mandarin speakers have been initiated to accompany the guide tour. Due to demand from past international guests, The Hahvahd Tour is offering up complimentary brochures for guests in their native languages to follow along with their tour guides. Translations are provided free of charge, upon request, to guests who have purchased tickets for The Hahvahd Tour, the official tour of Harvard Student Agencies, the Harvard Museum of Natural History and The Harvard COOP. Tours run daily from March through December.
CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT DONATES TO LOUISIANA FLOOD RELIEF
The Caesars Foundation has donated $25,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief response in Louisiana. The gift will provide aid, shelter, food, comfort kits, emotional support and health services, to the more than 75,000 Louisianans affected by the massive flooding brought on in August by record rainfall.
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. email@example.com; http://www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.