Northern Lights are visible during the Southern Iceland Tour, led by Big Chill Adventures

Northern Lights are visible during the Southern Iceland Tour, led by Big Chill Adventures

Some of the most interesting gigs I’ve had as my alter-ego personality, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, have come without forewarning. Don’t laugh. I know the irony of not predicting the phone calls. I may not have used my tea leaf reading or tarot card abilities to see into those future bookings, but I actually asked the Universe/higher power… whatever name is used when one puts out call for an exciting opportunity, for both of the situations that popped up within a few days of my “Hello, it’s me and I’d like…” call outs.

Natasha, The Psychic Lady when I was the dancer for the Eastern Gypsy Band, Tzighantzi, at EPCOT

Natasha, The Psychic Lady when I was the dancer for the Eastern Gypsy Band, Tzighantzi, at EPCOT

The first memorable time was me asking to be a featured performer in a Disney World spectacle. I particularly wanted to dance. Mind you, at that moment I was already working as a psychic for the Disney theme parks and corporate events and had been belly dancing for Morocco promotional events even before the Morocco pavilion was erected at EPCOT, but no dance or big show opportunities loomed in the horizon. Within a few days of my thoughts transmitted to the universe, I received a call asking if I’d like to be the dancer for a new Eastern gypsy band forming at EPCOT. Would I? For the months that followed, I was the dancer for Tzighantzi. Looking like and dancing like the embodiment of Esmerelda (at least all the girls holding their Esmerelda dolls and watching me thought so). I also was backup musician/singer/and co-emcee. Six shows a day, rain or hot summer sun. Loved it!

Most recently, I pondered that several of my entertainment friends had been getting TV and press coverage and it had been a while since that happened to me. I wasn’t jealous of their largesse. It just pointed out that my life had transitioned from a higher profile to one less noteworthy of media attention. Less than 24 hours later, I got a call asking if I was available to be on a TV program, analyzing handwriting of the news team’s anchors. Did I mention it would be early the next morning or that this would be live? I also needed to be available to work during the Pen & Inc Fair that the Channel 35 Good Day Orlando’s show was promoting for Sam Flax’ art store that

Here I am on Live TV analyzing handwriting of Good Day Orlando's news team. photo by David Martin

Here I am on Live TV analyzing handwriting of Good Day Orlando’s news team. photo by David Martin

Saturday. Yes, if only for a few hours because I was already scheduled to work in Jacksonville, FL for a corporate function later that day (at least a few hours’ drive from me).

At 6:30 am the next morning, following the strict guidelines of the TV station’s directives, I arrived at Sam Flax, where the segments would be filmed. Without any chance to redo what or how I read, I analyzed handwriting for two segments. I also appeared with the store’s staff in half a dozen promos and teasers that would be broadcast throughout a two-hour period. The experience was a tad daunting but exhilarating. My advice: ask, but believe these good things will come. Then be appreciative when they do and make the most of the opportunity. Enjoy!

Speaking of opportunities for you take advantage of, check out these Hot Deals!

HOT DEALS!

Winter may get colder, but it won’t be any cooler than going on Big Chill Adventures NEW Northern Lights Tour of Southern Iceland. The March 5-11, 2017 trip is led by co-founders climate change scientist Dr. Sarah Aciego and professional photographer Mindy Cambiar. Under their specialized expertise, these learned guides will explore the southern part of Iceland, known for its glaciers, icebergs and black sand beaches. The trip highlights dogsledding, trekking glaciers, snowmobiling , on Mýrdalsjökull glacier, spelunking and soaking in geothermal hot springs, and many more natural wonders such as the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and the Vatnajökull Glacier. “There are a lot of variables to consider for seeing the Northern Lights, including season, weather, location and luck,” said Aciego. “Statistically, the best time to see the Aurora in Iceland is near the equinox, when the air is cold and clear, which is why we’ve scheduled this excursion for March.” Dr. Aciego has led multiple scientific expeditions to Antarctica, Greenland, Alaska and the Canadian Rockies. Her research has resulted in 20+ publications on ice and climate.

http://bigchilladventure.com/trips/southern-iceland-aurora-march/#itinerary

Hot and spicy. That’s what you should expect from a vacation resort in Puerto Rico. Gran Meliá Golf Resort Puerto Rico wants to fulfill your dreams of what that Caribbean island paradise vacation should be. Take advantage of Meliá Hotel and Resorts’ three day-two-night package, which includes buffet breakfast for two; free parking; an exclusive Family Combo from Room Service; and a discount card. Offer valid for two adults and two kids under 17.

(787) 657 1040; gran.melia.puerto.rico@melia.com

Up to 35% to discover Brazil’s best cities and top hotels by Meliá Hotels and Resorts. Must book by December 31, 2016 and stay before February 28, 2017.

https://www.melia.com/en/hotels/brazil/

Book a five-night stay in the brand new Paradisus Los Cabos this holiday season and Meliá will award you one day longer! Must book by December 15 and stay by January 6, 2017.

Book a 5 night stay and receive 1 night free.

https://www.melia.com/en/hotels/mexico/los-cabos/paradisus-los-cabos/index.html? _

Luxury International Hotels has a number of promotional sales for bookings made by December 31, 2016. There’s Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara, CA, a coastal destination with 70,000 sf of indoor/outdoor function space, which includes a 211-seat Screening Room and Executive Conference Center. Bacara recently completed a $20 million hotel and room renovation. www.ALHI.com/BacaraResortandSpa. The Royal Sonesta New Orleans, New Orleans, LA offers refined southern design in the heart of the French Quarter. Traditional gabled windows, wrought-iron balconies, and 483 recently renovated guest rooms and ballroom add to the charm. Fall rates end December 28 but winter/Spring rates extend from January 2 – May 31, 2017. Spend at least $5,000 to be eligible for a host of rewards, such as an upgraded AM/PM break, hosted one-hour welcome reception, two upgrades to R Club access at group rate, 5% rebate to master bill, or 20% off AV. www.ALHI.com/RoyalSonestaNewOrleans

Warm up the upcoming winter at Aulani, a Disney resort in Hawaii

Warm up the upcoming winter at Aulani, a Disney resort in Hawaii

Looking for an offer to remind you that winter doesn’t last forever? Then consider relaxing on the white sand beaches or sparkling pools of Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai‘i. Save 35% if you book by February 13 and stay at least five or more consecutive nights in an Ocean View room. Other discounts apply if staying in other levels of rooms for four or more night stays.  Offer is good for most nights between January 2 through March 24, 2017.

https://resorts.disney.go.com/aulani-hawaii-resort/rooms-offers/special-offers/winter-offer/?sourcecode=20650&CMP=EMC-RESFY17Q2FY17Q2Q3HolidayEM0012B

Take advantage of an inclusive group promotion by Marriott Caribbean & Latin America Resorts if you book by June 30, 2017. Package details include (among many options) three meals a day, all taxes and gratuities (including bellman and maid), welcome beverage and towel, a la carte dining options, concierge service and 10% commissionable Package rate on rooms and F&B. Prices and discounts vary per resort and availability.

http://www.paradisemeetingsbymarriott.com/all-inclusive-packages.html

Save 35% when you book Luna2 Studiotel in Seminyak, B, a Design Hotels resort

Save 35% when you book Luna2 Studiotel in Seminyak, B, a Design Hotels resort

It’s not too late for a beach getaway, especially to exotic locales such as in Italy, Bonaire, Thailand and Greece. Best of all, book some of the offered beauties from Design Hotels and get 35% off the bill. Take for example the Luna2 Studiotel in Seminyak, Bali. You get 35% off, comp WiFi and breakfast. The 14 studio apartments feature one of four bright accent colors. The 1960’s inspired façade is covered in circular forms and the wall-mounted installation in the lobby reimagines Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. You owe it to yourself to check out all the latest offerings by Design Hotels.

www.DesignHotels.com

EMERGING PROPERTIES

 Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center opens in late 2018 but here’s a peek at what the property, 10 minutes from Denver International Airport, will offer to groups meeting in the Denver, CO area. With views overlooking the Rocky Mountain foothills, the property will have 1,501 guest rooms, over 485,000 sf of flexible meeting, convention, outdoor, exhibit and pre-function space, which includes up to 81 breakout rooms and three ballrooms.

http://www.marriott.com/gaylord-hotels/meetings.mi

Exterior of new Gaylord Rockies, opening in 2018

Exterior of new Gaylord Rockies, opening in 2018

Look for May, 2017 as the completion date for the Benton Convention Center in downtown Winston-Salem, NC renovation. The multi-million dollar reinvention has thus far updated the lower level of the 100,000 sf venue with reclaimed wood accents, metallic signage and pops of orange. Additional pre-function space, increased flexibility of the space, significant structural, design, and technological upgrades are being constructed even as the Center remains open. www.VisitWinstonSalem.com/Benton-Convention-Center

Think modular furnishings that can be moved at a guest’s discretion. Then add in a six-floor hotel with 20 suites, art gallery, café, spa and 980 sf terrace with views over the Montréal’s Quartier des Spectacles and you have Boxotel, Montréal, Canada’s latest hotel. Environmentally friendly, the hotel is using regionally-crafted products to reduce their carbon impact while simultaneously supporting local business. Automation of room temperature, solar thermal panels for hot water and an architectural design maximizes efficiency. Inside Boxotel, the 175B gallery is a fresh, multidisciplinary space ideal for events and expositions. The gallery’s focus promotes contemporary works of Québec and Canadian artists, but the space is available for events.

info@boxotel.com

WHAT TO SEE AND DO

Here’s an interesting incentive for groups who love ocean creatures and adventures that don’t have to remove you from the famed beaches. The Los Cabos Tourism Board says that from approximately December 15 to April 15, more species of whales migrate to Los Cabos than anywhere else in the world. Each year, early in the winter, hundreds of whales migrate from the icy waters of the Arctic to the cool currents of northern Mexico. The whales journey 19,000 kilometers, stay along the Mexican coasts during the winter, and begin their return trip at the end of March. Pleasant weather, shallow waters, and abundant marine life make the Baja California peninsula a perfect place to give birth and raise their calves. Of the 11 species of whales known in the world, eight come to Mexican coasts, including Minke, Bryde, Sei, humpback, gray and blue whales. They can be observed in tour groups aboard inflatable speedboats or even from the beach with a good set of binoculars.

www.visitloscabos.travel

This three day antiques show is the perfect lure for groups who want to relish period furnishings, try on vintage jewelry, or meet some superstar designers such as Martha Stewart, Mark D. Sikes, Alex Papachristidis, Tom Scheerer and Timothy Whealon. The Charleston Antiques Show runs March 17-19, 2017. Proceeds support Historic Charleston Foundation’s mission to preserve Charleston’s architecture, history and culture. The show is presented by The Cassina Group, LLC, Real Estate.

www.HistoricCharleston.org/CAS;  (843) 722-3405

National Geographic listed the Nights of Lights in St. Augustine as one of the 10 best holiday lighting displays in the world for two consecutive years. Who am I to argue with my esteemed journalistic colleagues? I had occasion to visit the nation’s oldest city last week and the array of more than three million white lights is certainly dazzling. So are the multitude of events designed to offer holiday memories for couples, families or groups.  Transportation options run from the free shuttle rides through December 24 to the Red Train Nights of Lights Tour, the Nights of Lights Wine & Carriage Tour, or board the Schooner Freedom Moonlight Sail. All the details and pricing are available at www.floridashistoriccoast.com

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 ILEA 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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