I am always looking for new adventures. Cooking, travelling, and exploring what makes others smile. Here I am on a farm in Hungary, rolling out strudel dough just like my relatives taught me.

Welcome to the New Year. No matter where you are in the world, change is going to be the most overused word of the year. Even those of you who choose to ignore political news stories or who prefer to see the glass as always half full will realize how nothing remains as it has been, is, or will be. So welcome to the Year of Change. What will remain consistent is that I intend to provide you with the latest in destination deals, informational entertaining stories of my travels, reviews of products. Food and wine, and to know that I listen to you. I pledge to honor your diligence and faithful reading of my blogs and promise to do my best to be truthful. May this year be better than the last and not as good as the next. Peace.

Four Season will open this year on Bajas East Cape in Los Cobos, Mexico.

NEW HOTELS FOR THE NEW YEAR

Los Cobos, Mexico, is one of the prettiest locations I’ve visited. The area has weathered severe hurricanes and hotel shattering winds, but it has not impeded the growth of new hotels. Here some you can expect to open in 2019. Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos, a part of the exclusive Costa Palmas resort community, will feature a private marina and members-only beach and yacht club along a two-mile stretch of the white-sand beach of the Sea of Cortez. Hard Rock Hotel Los Cabos expects to open its doors in May. The all-inclusive beachfront property will have five pools. Opening in the East Cape Cabo area and containing the largest saltwater swimming pool in the world, Residence Grand Luxxe Los Cabos is such a huge project that it will open in phases. Artificial reefs will be built for snorkeling, scuba diving, Kayaking and paddle boarding. And from a partnership fronted by Robert De Niro and Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, comes Nobu Hotel Los Cabos. The 200-room beachfront property blends contemporary Japanese minimalism with locally-sourced natural, Mexican materials and finishes. The 260-suite Villa Valencia will include studios and villas from one to three bedrooms and penthouses. The resort will join the Villa Group’s collection of existing properties in Los Cabos, including Villa del Palmar Cabo San Lucas, Villa La Estancia and Villa del Arco. The crown jewel of the property will be its signature reef-inspired pool, which is also slated to showcase numerous in-pool aquariums featuring fish and sea life indigenous to the area.

Embassy Suites by Hilton St. Augustine Beach Oceanfront Resort, a partnership between Embassy Suites by Hilton and Key International, has opened near the Anastasia State Park, the iconic St. Johns Country Ocean Pier, Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, and the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. The 175 all-suite property has more than 20,000 sf of meeting space, including a 5,200-sf oceanfront ballroom with outdoor terraces. Embassy Suites by Hilton St. Augustine Beach Oceanfront Resort participates in the Hilton Honors® loyalty program, which is open to all guests and free to join. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of Points and money to book a stay, an exclusive member discount, free standard Wi-Fi, as well as digital amenities that are available exclusively through the industry-leading Hilton Honors app. In celebration of the recent opening, the property is offering 1,000 Honors points per night until February 28, 2019.

www.embassysuites.com; (904) 461-9004.

HOT DEALS!

Book your next meeting by March 31 at Shula’s Hotel & Golf Club in Miami Lakes, FL and receive a $169 room rate with complete meeting packages starting at $60 per person including breakfast, lunch, AM and PM breaks. The deal is based upon availability and must be a minimum of 15 rooms per night with a two-night minimum along with F&B.

Maria Pellitero, Group Sales Manager, (305) 820.8053; Maria.Pellitero@GrahamHospitality.com

Check out the $25-million renovation and redesign project at The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, FL and receive potential incentives for booking your group. Select three of the following options: 15% room block attrition; Personalized daily delegate packages starting at $130++; sponsored 30-minute ice cream break; and Group room rate waived for meeting planner hotel stay. Also, Complimentary unlimited basic WiFi in the General Session Room; Hosted one hour beer and wine reception; and a Credit of 3% of actualized room revenue to the master account. The resort features 32,000 sf of outdoor and 43,000 sf of indoor function space. Must be a new booking for at least 25 rooms per night or more and subject to availability.

www.ALHI.com/Biltmore

LBA HOSPITALITY ACQUIRES MORE HOTELS

LBA Hospitality has added five hotels to their growing portfolio of managed properties throughout the Southeast United States. Branded under Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide and Hyatt Corporation, their latest acquisition adds 584 guest rooms to LBA’s inventory of more than 70+ hotel properties. The five new properties include Home2 Suites (Katy, Texas), Residence Inn and Spring Hill Suites (Lake Charles, Louisiana), TownePlace Suites Miami Airport (Miami, Florida), and Hyatt Place Jacksonville Airport (Jacksonville, Florida). Home2 Suites in Katy is LBA’s fourth hotel in the Houston area. The 92-room, all-suite pet-friendly hotel has full kitchens in each suite, outdoor pool with fire pits, complimentary breakfast at the Inspired Table™ and Spin2 Cycle Center, a unique combined laundry and fitness facility. Two modern meeting rooms can accommodate up to 100 people. The Residence Inn and Spring Hill Suites in Lake Charles total 200 one- and two-bedroom suites. Although the Residence Inn caters to smaller groups, Spring Hill Suites has 3,000 sf of meeting space, with the largest room holding 300 max. Two miles from the main entrance of Miami International Airport, TownePlace Suites Miami Airport is the area’s newest airport hotel, with 165 suites designed for extended-stay travelers. The pet-friendly127-room Hyatt Place Jacksonville Airport is just minutes from the international airport, River City Marketplace, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, the scenic Riverwalk area and Northeast Florida’s pristine beaches.

www.lbaproperties.com.

NEW LUXURY LEISURE SALES PROGRAM LAUNCHED

Associated Luxury Hotels (ALH) has launched the first of its three key initiatives to bolster its presence in the Luxury Leisure Sales arena. The new The Associates Club will by saying “thank you” to luxury travel consultants by offering a variety of exciting rewards ranging from tailor made itineraries, fast track commissions, to a series of customized benefits and authentic local experiences for their clients. It is distinct from other luxury travel consultant programs due to the focus of benefits from both the travel consultant perspective and their client experience when staying in member hotels. The global hospitality and revenue generation company is dedicated to empowering success for upper upscale and luxury independent hotels, resorts and small luxury hotel groups across 50 countries worldwide through its two subsidiaries, the WorldHotels Collection and ALHI Global Luxury Sales. The new Luxury Leisure Sales Program will be comprised of select members of each. “Luxury travel consultants have been at the center of our WorldHotels core business for over 40 years and a key part of our Luxury MICE sales efforts with ALHI Global Luxury Sales for over 30 years. Both of our businesses have enjoyed the strong support of the travel consultant community when serving our luxury clientele and with this program we are further reinforcing and building on our strong relationships and commitment to them, says Josh Lesnick, President & CEO of Associated Luxury Hotels. “The new program will be an invitation-only program offered only to top luxury travel agencies throughout the world.”

BE PREPARED DALLAS. THE WORLD FOOD CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE COMING

Women add spice at the 2018 World Food Championships, which move to Dallas, TX in 2019

“They say everything is bigger in Texas. Well, we’re excited to make this BIG announcement for World Food Championships (WFC) and begin our transition to one of the largest metro markets in America,” commented Mike McCloud, President/CEO of WFC. With sponsorships from Visit Dallas, the Dallas Sports Commission, and others, the event will grow. “When it comes to competitive cuisine, Dallas’ status as a national food destination is on the rise. Recently, we were singled out by GQ critic Brett Martin as the “Next Best New Food City.” Celebrity chefs such as Dean Fearing, Kent Rathbun, and Stephen are keeping the constantly evolving restaurant and entertainment scene attractive and in demand,” says Phillip Jones, President and CEO of VisitDallas. Multiple factors contributed to its relocation from Orange Beach, AL. Texas represents one of the top three competing states in WFC history. Dallas is one of the top five media markets in the nation and has two major airports that allow direct travel access from almost anywhere. Over the course of the event’s history, WFC has awarded more than $2 million in cash and prizes, garnered more than 6.9 billion media impressions and connected 200+ food brands with food fans, food bloggers and food contestants.

www.worldfoodchampionships.com

WHAT’S LOST MAY BE FOUND AGAIN WITH THIS NEW APP

Have you ever left behind your jacket, glasses, laptop or keys at TSA or the last hotel in which you stayed? This new app may have been your key to getting back your property. For the finder, it may mean a reward once the object is returned. I haven’t tried the app, but Stephen Sinclair, founder of the Chicago (IL)-based company Bounte, says the mobile links people who lost a valuable item in a public place with people who are willing to find it.  Bounte combines geolocation technology with proactive messaging and notification to the its parent network and social media sites. Sinclair cited as an example a man who lost a ring in Hawaii and is paying over $100 to whoever may find it. Bounte doesn’t get a cut of the fee until the platform has enough supply and demand to warrant it. He is actively pursuing partnerships with companies that are frequent sources of where objects are left, such as Uber, Lyft, airlines, railways and arenas. He said 12,000 laptops are left at airports each year alone. If you connect, let him know where you read about his app. I don’t receive anything from it but a dose of karma for the future.

http://bounte.net; (847) 881-6310; ssinclair@bounte.net; @bounteapp

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 2018 – 2019 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.