Journey Mexico is “dying” to take your group on a Day of the Dead cultural tour.

ADVENTURES FOR VIP CLIENTS GOES SOUTH!

This is one incentive trip that your VIP clients may be dying to do! Journey Mexico offers a group tour for up to 14 guests to discover the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) in Oaxaca, Mexico, October 28 – November 4.  The tour combines education, historical knowledge, and an exploration of the UNESCP World Heritage city of Oaxaca as the community prepares to welcome their loved one’s spirits back to earth. Highlights include visits to exhibition, festivals and cemeteries to understand the significance of Day of the Dead elements, such as the cempasuchil flower and the objects that adorn the alter, or to visit the tombs populating the ceremonial sites. Guests will experience the art of Mezcal production and taste the “Pan de Muertos” a special bread only made during the season of Día de los Muertos.

info@journeymexico.com

Chopping cilantro and garlic with Chef Enrique Silva at Huerta Los Tamarindos. I was there with a press group.

Several years ago, I had the distinct pleasure of not just visiting Los Tamarindos, an Organic Farm & Restaurant located just one mile away from the Sea of Cortez and San Jose Del Cabos’ estuary, but I was one of the journalists cooking alongside the chef for an intimate cooking class. We toured the 17-acre farm with its organic fields and the recently renovated historic Farm House built originally in 1888 as part of our coverage of Los Cabos. The Farm, the first to grow and export organic produce, offers orchard tours, cooking classes and a vine-topped outdoor venue for events and meetings for up to 400 guests. An excellent teambuilding event, the “students” gather the ingredients for the planned four-course meal, prepare, eat and take home the recipe book.

www.lostamarindos.mx/

HOT DEALS!

Celebrate any special occasion with a booking by April 30 to any Gaylord Resort and save big. Stay by October 31 and receive $100 resort credit per night at Gaylord National or $50 resort credit per night at Gaylord Palms, Gaylord Opryland and Gaylord Texan ($100 max per stay). Ask for promotional code ZJL.

www.marriott.com; (800) GAYLORD

HOTELS & RESORTS PRETTY UP

Mainsail Lodging & Development is putting on more than a coat of paint to freshen up three of its top properties: Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina in the British Virgin Islands, Epicurean Hotel in Tampa and Mainsail Beach Inn on Anna Maria Island, the latter two located in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. Renovations include artwork, furnishings and lighting to outdoor amenities and landscaping. Also in the works: three new Florida properties have been added to the Mainsail Lodging & Development collection. They are Waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club on Anna Maria Island (May 2017), Fenway Hotel in Dunedin (2017) and a hotel in downtown Fort Myers (2018). www.mainsailhotels.com.

Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina: Donovan’s Lounge, landscaping, a historic walk and garden tour and Flex Boats(to explore the waters of Scrub Island, Marina Cay, Great Camanoe and Trellis Bay for up to 4 ) are all being added to the private-island, AAA Four Diamond resort. Donovan’s offers Caribbean styled cocktails. Landscaping has been enhanced around the resort’s luxury villas, with colorful flora. The new history walk, originating from the Grand Pavilion, enables guests to discover the island’s adventurous past – from Christopher Columbus’ discovery and early Dutch settlers, to plundering pirates and present-day facts on how the resort was developed. Also new: the award-winning Ixora Spa has introduced a new Ayurvedic menu of wellness treatments. Developed thousands of years ago in India, Ayurveda is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance of mind, body and soul. Menu highlights include Abhyanga, a whole-body massage with herbal oil; Shirodhara, a treatment of warm herbal oil poured directly onto the forehead and scalp; and the Herbal Poultice Massage, with warm essential oils drizzled over the body. (888) 678-8912; www.ScrubIsland.com.

Epicurean Hotel: Located in the trendy Hyde Park historic district of South Tampa, the food-focused Epicurean Hotel is cooking up something special for its rooftop lounge, EDGE Social Drinkery. Upgrades include a 60-inch TV, computerized ambient lighting, new artwork and refreshed seating areas in colors of gray, blue, orange and cream. Food and beverage options have expanded. Wine and beer selections doubled and edgy new craft cocktails such as the Soccer Mom (with Stoli Elit, St. Germain, fresh lemon juice and fresh berry reduction) have added to the menu. Desserts will be offered for the first-time and are accompanied by a list of ports, sherry and madeira. (855) U-AWAKEN (829-2536); http://www.EpicureanHotel.com.

Mainsail Beach Inn: Lush new landscaping, fresh exterior paint and upgraded pool furniture, with guest room upgrades coming soon. Two additional units are being built, bringing the total number of boutique two- and three-bedroom residences to 14. A new website lets users browse the property, explore things to do in the area, and book their next trip with just a few clicks. (888) 849-2642; http://www.MainsailBeachInn.com.

New owner, new management, but the amenities just keep getting better at The Shores Resort & Spa, the only AAA Four Diamond oceanfront resort in Central Florida.Now owned by UHON Inc and managed by Pyramid Hotel Group, the 212-room boutique hotel upped its image with amenities such as chilled champagne or sparkling cider upon arrival or the complimentary Shores S’mores kit to enjoy around the oceanside fire pits. The new pool concierge is available with speciality drinks and spa cabanas can be rented to experience spa treatments or to relax with food & beverage options. A pet-friendly resort, in-room doggie beds can be reserved for overnight stays. The certified Florida Green Lodging resort has more than 20,000 sf of indoor and outdoor adaptable function space for meetings of up to 400 guests.

(866) 934-Shores; www.ShoresResort.com

Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resorts, located on a 2.5 miles stretch of pristine white beach on the Pacific Ocean and just a 10-minute ride from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, began in 1987 with one hotel. When I visited there several years ago as part of a press familiarization, I marveled at the beauty of lush landscapes and the range of restaurants, accommodations and pools on the massive, sprawling complex. The resort has expanded several times in the past few years, with the latest being The Towers at Pacifica, two buildings that can only be accessed with a special guest key and features 47 elegant Club Level suites and rooms, including a Presidential Suite and six suites with private plunge pools. Ripe for an incentive or executive group looking for a retreat, The Towers at Pacifica guest rooms include 24-hour British Butler Institute-certified butler service. All of The Towers at Pacifica suites have a dedicated butler per suite, and The Towers at Pacifica rooms have one butler per every three rooms. A third building features new gourmet restaurant, Peninsula, which serves traditional Baja cuisine with a strong emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients; a bar and beach lounge on the first floor; state-of-the-art fitness center on the second floor; and a Whale Watching VIP Lounge on the third floor, accessible exclusively to guests of The Towers at Pacifica. Also new since February is The Market at Quivira, a unique culinary concept unlike any other in Los Cabos. The 15,000-square-meter facility, built at a cost of $5.5 million USD, offers a food hall experience and open communal seating for more than 450 diners. The Market’s open-floor complex features several distinctive restaurants as well as a coffee shop and a bar. These include: 1950’s Diner (classic American food and décor); El Asiatico (Asian);  La Creperia & La Heladeria (24 flavors of homemade ice cream, gelato, and crepes; El Deli (New York-style deli); El Italiano; La Huerta (organic foods);  El Mexicano (traditional fare from native to central Mexico);  La Chocolateria; and  El Bar (circular bar with 360-degree panorama of the restaurants and food stalls and offers artisanal beers, selected wines from Mexico, Italy and California, and a range of spirits.

www.pueblobonito.com

Montreign Resort Casino in Town of Thompson in Sullivan County, NY is expected to become rebranded a Resorts World property in March, 2018. The rebranding is part of a $1.2 billion four-season destination resort currently under construction. The resort casino is expected to include an 18-story hotel with 332 all-suite luxury rooms (including 12 penthouses, eight garden suites and seven two-story villas), a casino floor exceeding 100,000 sf — which will include a designated VIP/high limit area, and 27,000 sf of multi-purpose meeting and entertainment space. Also expected: 10 diverse restaurants and a 2,000 seat event center.

www.empireresorts.com; www.monticellocasinoandraceway.com.

MONTRÉAL CELEBRATES 375 YEARS BY ERECTING LEGACY PROJECTS

Cite Memoire open air museum in Montreal celebrates 375th anniversary

Legacy projects are plans Montréal, Canada is making to ensure a vivid participatory future for visitors, such as Cité Mémoire turning Old Montréal into a giant, metaphorical open-air museum. The work, which consists of some 20 video projections on trees, walls, and the ground, takes place all over the old city and invites passersby to meet some of the characters who’ve colored Montréal since its inception in 1642. Another project bridges the old city and the modern one by erecting a new public space atop none one of the city’s busiest highways. Located beside the Champs-de-Mars metro (celebrated for its famous stained glass), this 1.8 hectare, green public gathering space will span a lengthy section of the Ville-Marie Autoroute, effectively reconnecting Old Montréal with downtown. Yet another of the many projects is the Parc Jean-Drapeau amphitheatre on the current site of international-calibre outdoor music festivals Osheaga, Heavy Montréal and ÎleSoniq. The long, broad central pathway leading to the amphitheatre, and connecting the Biosphère to the Calder sculpture (L’Homme), will also be completely redeveloped.

http://www.tourisme-montreal.org/meetings/2017/01/26/375th-anniversary-legacy-projects

ROAD TRIPPING ACROSS THE COUNTRY

Road Trip Gems from ReservationCounter.com

My husband and I love to road trip. Unlike some of our friends who follow the Drive-Ins and Diners suggestions, we go more for architecture, natural rarities, and sometimes just really unique venues and vicinities. Of the places suggested in this graphic by www.ReservationCounter.com are ones we’d definitely check out when in those parts of the country. I can tell you we’ve been to Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA twice and each time we were stirred by the beauty and magnitude of this Mediterranean revival mansion. It’s a real Wow-ser!https://www.reservationcounter.com/hotel/uncover-these-hidden-road-trip-gems/

LEGOLAND GOES QUIET!

Parents of young children, especially those visiting to Central Florida, have flocked to Legoland Florida Resort in nearby Winter Haven. The theme park especially appeals to children 112 and under, and now, with their latest addition, the park will be of greater benefit to those with autism spectrum disorders. A special pass allows those on the autism spectrum to bypass long lines with a “Blue Hero Pass.” Noise-cancelling headphones, weighted blankets, squishy toys and LEGO® building tables are some of the complimentary resources available. A similar space also is available within Guest Services at Legoland Water Park. A training & development team has created “social stories” that offer an illustrated, step-by-step walkthrough of every ride and show, so guests won’t be surprised by periods of darkness, loud noises, and bright lights.  Specially equipped spaces have now been designated “quiet rooms” Throughout April, during Autism Awareness Month, Legoland Florida Resort will contribute $15 of the proceeds from each ticket sold to the North and Central Florida chapter of Autism Speaks. Through May 31, Autism Speaks supporters can purchase print-at-home theme park tickets at a discounted rate.

www.LEGOLAND.com/florida; (877) 350-5346; www.autismspeakswalk.org

SHOWGIZMO’s NEW EVENT TECHNOLOGY IS APP(T) TO PUSH BOUNDARIES

Six years ago, ShowGizmo launched a product designed to make events more awesome and help event organizers better connect and create value for their attendees,” said ShowGizmo CEO, Marie-Claire Andrews. “Today we create a platform with an extensive suite of features to suit organizations of every type; from internal teams to associations and one-off events.” The new suite includes: A low priced ‘Essentials’ option for single events that need simplicity without compromising on service; a ‘Premium’ package with access to next-level engagement features; and the ‘Professional’ platform for the ever increasing base of customers working on engagement all year round. ‘The Banoffee Release’ includes the ability for event managers to customize app features themselves, promote upcoming events with an event ‘lobby’ and a digital swag bag. Dott Nemeth, the Melbourne, Australia-based Customer Success and Production Manager notes that “Today’s event marketer is looking for proactive assistance to save time and stress – and looking for that to be local,” adding that ShowGizmo has team members on hand for advice throughout the USA, Australia and New Zealand.

www.showgizmo.com

TRADEWINDS ISLAND RESORTS’ FIRST BIKEFEST DONATES DOLLARS TO ATHLETES FOR HEARTS

TradeWinds Island Resorts will host the first-ever St. Pete Beach (FL) Bikefest, November 15 -19, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Athletes for Hearts, an organization that provides financial aid to families with children in need of medical treatment specific to a heart condition and to fund advancements in medical technology for the treatment of heart disease. The four-day celebration hosted by TradeWinds and Guy Harvey Outpost, is presented by Bert’s Barracuda and Bert’s Black Widow Harley Davidson®. There will be competitions, events and free nightly concerts on the beach. Special packages are available.

(800) 360-4016; http://www.stpetebeachbikefest.com

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. 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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