Whether you reside in the United States or anywhere else in the world where there are newspapers, magazines, radio, television and access to social media, you are likely aware of the turmoil that has beset America since the 2016 presidential election. As an active participant in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings and events, and yes, even in the world of journalism, the discussions have been pervasive as to the ramifications on travel, meetings, and tourism.
I know how recent upsets affect me personally. I find myself more assertively political, whereas before I sat back on the sidelines and strove to be merely objective as I covered events. As an entertainer, I am concerned events will be smaller, less frequent, or hosted last minute while planners survey how visas will be honored or rejected for international attendees or whether the unstable nature of business will create havoc on budgets and extraneous expenditures. I live in the Orlando area, so tourism and conferences are huge to the area’s bottom line. I’m near the bottom of that trickledown effect, but nonetheless, personally impacted.
I want to know about you. Are you impacted? How? How do you see our future industries evolving to cope with current and future directives? Please do let me know. I will use your name only if you give permission.
Meanwhile, here are the latest happenings and promotions of possible interest.
Luxuriate in a villa along the ocean just outside Tulum, Mexico in an area recognized by UNESCO as a Natural World Heritage Site. Stay by June 30 and receive 30% discount off select villas in Sian Ka’an, a six-acre biosphere reserve. Villas offered by JourneyMexico in the Sian Ka’an Reserve are the Casa Nalum, Hacienda Chekel, Casa Ikel and Casa Ixchel. The villas sleep between eight and 12.
www.journeymexico.com; 1 800 513 1587
Take 30% in savings and $200 in Reward dollars when you book three nights at Gran Meliá Nacional Rio, the newest hotel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Stays must be completed by December 28. The cylindrical and glassed 34-story building designed by Oscar Niemeyer sits oceanfront on Sao Conrado Beach.
Who wouldn’t enjoy staying in an exotic location and enjoy a hefty discount? If your answer is “Me!” then check out Hôtel Les Roches Rouges, a new addition to the Design Hotels’ Collection in Saint Raphael, France. This seaside sanctuary on the Provence coast between St. Tropez and Cannes on the French Rivera comes with a 25% off special offer for bookings and stays from now through May 4. The 50-room hotel has been refurbished to reflect its original 1950s-early 1960s architecture. Picture you or a group of your conference attendees splashing in a natural seawater swimming pool with a swimming lane cut directly into the coastal rock or relaxing in décor that authentically reflects the area. There are other new hotels in the Design Hotels Collection, each with promotional discounts. How about the 18-room Torre de Palma Wine Hotel in Alentejo, Portugal? Book and stay between now and December 12 in this area that celebrates the Roman passions for wine, olive oil, horses and spas. The vineyards and bones of the hotel date from 1338, while the interior combines is a mixture of elegance and quirky knickknacks. You might also try the first boutique hotel in Chattanooga, TN. The Dwell Hotel offers a 15% discount off bAR and more for bookings and stays from now through December 31. Thee may only be 16 rooms, but this prime property has an in-house pastry chef baking daily treats, a renovated restaurant and a new cocktail bar.
If you’ve ever visited a theme park, you know that the experience is immersive. So will it be when Universal Orlando Resorts opens Volcano Bay, its third theme park May 25. Enter the world of fabled Waturi islanders. Don your TapuTapu wearable bracelet that puts you ahead of other Pacific Islanders vying to try the daring Krakatau™ Aqua Coaster, a four-person canoe ride that ends in a watery plunge, or the Ko’okiri Body Plunge, a 70-degree fall through a drop door. There are tamer activities, of course. The TapuTapu bracelet means no waiting in lines.
NEWLY OPENED, REDONE OR COMING SOON
The $4.6 million renovation of 6,500 sf of meeting and event space in the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel & Convention Center in Atlanta, GA has finished. General Manager Joe Uhl says the new design embodies the Renaissance brand’s goal to incorporate indigenous elements of Atlanta into the setting. For example, large murals celebrate a “Georgia on my Mind” theme and cozy nooks outside of the Grand Ballroom capture the images of Atlanta’s history as the jewel of the South. Striking a “Business Unusual” pose, whimsical items have been added to renovated spaces that deviate from a traditional corporate environment. The 14,000 sf Garden Court features large community tables with power connections to stimulate imaginative conversations and breakouts. Smaller meeting spaces use artwork to honor the hip urban vibe of Atlanta. The 65,000 sf of event space is spread across 32 event rooms. The property directly connects to the Cobb Galleria Centre, which has another 320,000 sf of space. The 4-Diamond hotel has a 14-story atrium, multiple restaurants, fitness center, onsite Spa Waverly, and both indoor and outdoor pools.
www.RenaissanceWaverly.com; (770) 953-4500.
Orlando’s latest hotel opening is the 133-all suites Homewood Suites Orlando Convention Center South, with easy access to area theme parks and the Orlando International Airport. The sup-to-nuts one and two-bedroom inclusive suites are developed and owned by Kalson’s Hospitality.
www.homewoodsuites.com; (407) 778-5888
Kingwood International Resorts has purchased the Plantation on Crystal River. The name will remain the same, but Kingwood plans to spend $2.5 million immediately to add amenities and refresh certain areas of the resort, including guest rooms, golf course, food and beverage outlets, the grounds and retail areas. The eco-friendly Plantation on Crystal River is surrounded by the natural springs of King’s Bay and more than 25,000 surface acres of pristine lakes and rivers, as well as wildlife refuges and state parks. On site, the Plantation features a full-service family-oriented dive and tour operation marina, 12,000 sf of meeting and event space, 18-hole golf course, 9-hole executive course, restaurants and an Aveda spa. A golf school and SCUBA certification classes are also available to guests of the hotel and are frequently booked for team building events.
http://www.PlantationonCrystalRiver.com; (800) 632-6262
Meeting in the Northern Norfolk Coast area (U.K) and looking for lodging and meeting space suitable for an executive adventurous group? The six Barsham Barns include six properties with access to Jacuzzi tub and can each sleep from four to 14. Combined together, the six luxurious barns can accommodate up to 52. Outside catering is an option.
http://www.barshambarns.co.uk; 01328 821744
CLEVER IDEAS GEARED TO MEETINGS CLIENTS
Trust Montréal, Canada to earmark interesting spaces perfect for meetings attendees and business travelers to get a little private work done. Six rentable spaces that might not be highlighted on your local map for work time before or after a conference. For instance, imagine yourself settling in at the Crew Café, which was once the head office for the Royal Bank of Canada head office. The Beaux-Arts style building has high ceilings, café, and dedicated workspace. https://crew.co/cafe/ One of the city’s oldest co-working spaces is Gare, in the heart of trendy Mile End. Work privately or partake in one of their diverse training sessions. www.garemtl.com/en. Other spaces include Notman House (www.notman.org), Fabrik8 (www.fabrik8.ca/en), Breather (www.breather.com) and Nexus (www.nexusworkspace.ca/en)
Wonder why it has taken so long for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require motorcoaches to strap in their riders? The time finally arrived in November. EmpireCLS is one of the first to have each of their new 56-passenger luxury motorcoaches be equipped with three-point lap shoulder belts. “We work with many meeting and event planners representing Fortune 500 corporations and other organizations whose primary focus is the ultimate safety and well-being of their participants,” says EmpireCLS Chairman and CEO David Seelinger. The new motorcoaches include features that enhance even short business trips, such as advanced AV equipment for presentations en route, High-Speed Wireless Internet, A/C and USB outlets at every seat and 15-inch HD LCD monitors.
groups@EmpireCLS.com; (800) 451-5466, x2899
Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries. She is an active member of ILEA and MPI and is now serving on the 2016 – 2017 MPI Global Advisory Board for The Meeting Professional Magazine for the second consecutive year. She is also a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. 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. firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.