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The Whitby, a stylish new hotel in midtown Manhattan, NY

HOT DEALS!

Time is running out to book a stay at Gran Meliá Nacional Rio de Janeiro and receive both a 20% discount with MeliáRewards, plus $200 in resort credit. Stay by August 31 at this beautiful São Conrado beach location.

www.melia.com ; 1-(844) 425-9969.

Whimsically-colorful, cozy and being within walking distance to Central Park and Broadway, are just a few factors that make The Whitby, a new hotel and one of the latest additions to Design Hotels’ Collection, a charming treasure for small groups. It’s one of the few midtown Manhattan hotels with numerous balconies, several private event rooms, and its own and a 130-seat state-of-the-art cinema. The Whitby has 86 rooms and suites spanning 16 floors. The rooms range from 330 to 1,845-sf. Contemporary interior design is by Kit Kemp. The Whitby is the second New York property owned by Firmdale Hotels. Book now Read the rest of this entry »

Halloween approaches and the call came for Natasha, The Psychic Lady to get her spook on!

Halloween approaches and the call came for Natasha, The Psychic Lady to get her spook on!

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 Read the rest of this entry »

Anchor Bar, original creators of Buffalo wings, is crammed with memorabilia.

Anchor Bar, original creators of Buffalo wings, is crammed with memorabilia.

In Part 1, Architectural Icons Were Examined

Before I met my husband Russ, I would have looked at ornately-designed buildings or décor and thought, “How pretty” and likely that would have been the end of it. Married to someone who has taken me travelling internationally and domestically just to admire fine, sleek lines or fanciful carved motifs or intricately-patterned ceilings and has made a career from his knowledge and creative building skills, has turned my passing admiration into deeper appreciation for the art, skills and craftsmanship necessary to erect these structures. That so many cities have managed to preserve, restore and renovate buildings that could never again be (cost-effective) to be built in our lifetime is worthy of recognition. Buffalo is one such city.

Of course, having walked and gawked all day, one must eat to refuel energy. Just as architects and patrons of the arts have left their imprint on Buffalo, so have culinary artists who have created legendary dishes, such as Buffalo wings, that are (likely) known across the globe.

RESTAURANTS WE RECOMMEND

Panorama on Seven in the Buffalo Marriott Harborcenter was one of three places A Chamber of Commerce woman suggested we’d find the best Beef on Weck sandwiches in the area. What separates these three, including Schwabl’s and Bar-Bill Tavern, from others is that the seasoned meat is slow-cooked for hours, contrary to places that import frozen beef and then reheat at the last minute. For those of you not from Buffalo, Beef on Weck is a signature sandwich. Mounds of thin-sliced roast beef are piled onto a Kümmelweck bun, which is salted and caraway-seeded. The Panorama’s were served on sliders. Russ enjoyed the sliders and was eager to try the sandwich at Schwabl’s.

Schwabl’s began serving German-styled cuisine and Beef on Weck sandwiches 1837. Their current West Seneca restaurant is a step back in time. The waitresses might call you honey, the tables are close together, and you watch the chef slicing the meat on a counter, after Read the rest of this entry »

The Silver Chalet Dome at St. Louis Union Station wants to be your group party venue

The Silver Chalet Dome at St. Louis Union Station wants to be your group party venue

In this issue: Vintage Trains roll on in St. Louis and Napa Valley
Making Moonshine: the new teambuilding event guaranteed to bring smiles
Exotic destinations and discount offers
HOT DEALS!!!!!
Exotic getaways that offer discounts or incentives is always exciting, but Design Hotels, has cranked up their summer offerings. Take for instance, the chance to enjoy a three-course set menu dinner in The Dining Room, a trendy new restaurant at Blakes Hotel in London, UK. The South Kensington couture hotel designed by former Bond girl, Anouska Hempel, features individually-styled boutique furnishings in each guestroom. No minimum stay requirements. At the Nakar Hotel in Palma De Mallorca, Spain you will have to book at least three nights, but you get great rates, free breakfast and WiFi, and the chance to be on Avinguda Jaume III, one of the area’s liveliest shopping streets. The 57-room hotel is fashioned from local materials and the onsite restaurant serves authentic “urban Majorquine” cuisine. Of course, if you’re looking for a relaxing, food-driven stay without all the

C-hotel, Lake Como, Italy

C-hotel, Lake Como, Italy

glamorous décor, check out C-Hotel & Spa in Cassago Brianza, Lake Como, Italy. You can smell the rich chocolate notes of freshly ground coffee the moment you step in to the stone-clad lobby that emanates from the family-owned 18-room hotel’s Italian bar and confectionary shop. Incentives include breakfast and those tantalizing dishes made from locally-sourced products.
http://www.DesignHotels.com
Omni Hotels & Resorts knows you work hard and wants to reward your efforts by using your work travel as a vacation opportunity when staying at one of their luxury hotels. Group guests (at participating Omni properties) can extend their stay by two days either before or after the original stay dates at an exclusive rate. Simply apply the promo code EXTENDG for 15 percent* off the best bar rate. Omni will also send a “reminder” email two days after a room reservation to notify the guest that the reservation is eligible for the exclusive rate extension. The offer only applies to reservations that are originally less than six nights. There are other restrictions but you can check Read the rest of this entry »

The beauty of Patagonia outside our hotel window in Torres del Paine National Park

The beauty of Patagonia outside our hotel window in Torres del Paine National Park

Google Patagonia, Chile and the iconic picture that pops up is likely of The Masif. Photos of the 10,000 foot high giant rarely do it justice, especially when you’re staring at its snow-bald cap under a startling blue sky streaked with puffy white clouds. Few get to see The Masif preening in all its glory. Mostly the base is visible under a heavy blanket of fog or grey rain. Once again, the weather gods were kind to our intrepid group.

We’d seen the Masif in the distance, but our six-hour bus ride from Punta Arenas (where we’d disembarked from our ship, the Stella Australis) brought us up close and personal. For the next few days, the rustic 95-room Hotel Rio Serrano, located near the entrance of Torres del Paine National Park, would be our home. Our

An early morning rainbow bursts from the mountain in Torres del Paine area, just outside of our hotel. photo by Russ Wagner

An early morning rainbow bursts from the mountain in Torres del Paine area, just outside of our hotel. photo by Russ Wagner

Smithsonian Journeys-arranged lodging backed up to a horse farm, green and gold grasses, glaciers glinting in the sunrise orange sky and a rainbow bursting from the cracks of steep craggy Read the rest of this entry »

BOG Hotel in Bogota, Columbia... just one of the Shopaholic Holiday hotels on sale by Design Hotels

BOG Hotel in Bogota, Columbia… just one of the Shopaholic Holiday hotels on sale by Design Hotels

In this issue: HOT DEALS ON RESORT STAYS YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS!

If you ever thought a Hawaiian vacation was unaffordable, think again. With this tropically enticing offer from Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii, the longer you stay, the more you save… up to 30% for booking five or more consecutive nights. You must book by April 30, but the offer is good for stays through June 15.

(866) 443-4763 or call your travel agent with promo code 1734B ; www.aulani.com

Hotel Santa Fe The Hacienda & Spa adds a Traditional Native American Blessing by the Governor of the Picuris Pueblo to a 5% discount for any group meeting that spends at least $12,000 and is held by June 30. Additionally, for a $12,000+ booking, the group also receives a private wine reception at this famed Santa Fe luxurious resort. If the booking is between $6,000 and $12,000, you still receive 5% off the master bill, but must choose between the blessing and the wine reception.

http://hotelsantafe.com/

Hawaii blesses the Aulani pool at night with tropical warmth

Hawaii blesses the Aulani pool at night with tropical warmth

Shula’s Hotel and Golf Club takes a swing at the meetings competition with group rates difficult to beat. Book a minimum of 10 rooms per night at this newly renovated property in the heart of Miami Lakes, FL and receive rates of $109 for single/double occupancy and $65 per person for a complete meeting package. With a minimum of 25 rooms per nights, many concessions are optional, from complimentary room for Planner or a round of golf or spa treatment to no resort fees, a complimentary drink for each guest on arrival, or discounted golf rates at The Senator Course at Shula’s Golf Club. Many more options.

Maria Pellitero (305) 820-8053; maria.pellitero@donshulahotel.com

Omni Hotels & Resorts Summer of Music offers are so sweet you may find yourself singing out loud. Planners who book and complete a qualified group meeting by Sept. 27, with a minimum room spend of $15,000 and who successfully complete the Omni Meetings University course will receive one of the following and be entered into a grand prize drawings. Clients who spend $15,000 minimum in F&B are eligible for the same benefits. The Summer of Music grand prize includes the choice of $1,000 cash or two tickets to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on April 22 – 24, 2016. It includes two round-trip airline tickets to New Orleans and a two-night stay at the Omni Royal Orleans.

  • A GoPro HERO4 Black Edition Camera
  • Master Account credit of $500
  • Charitable donation of $500

Business travel accounts that increase spending by $15,000 from April 16th – September 27th, over the same period in 2014 will also receive their choice of a GoPro HERO4 or a $500 charitable donation, a $500.00 rebate and will be entered into the grand prize drawing. Just in case you need an added incentive, consider this. Any group meeting the qualifying criteria can also claim Select Rewards and a second entry into the grand prize drawing when booking at one of following 14 select hotels or resorts: Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Omni Dallas Hotel at Park West, Omni Fort Worth Hotel, Omni Jacksonville Hotel, Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, Omni Los Angeles Hotel, Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale, Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, Omni Riverfront Hotel, Omni Royal Crescent Hotel, Omni San Antonio  Hotel at the Colonnade, Omni Severin Hotel, Omni Shoreham Hotel, and the Omni Tucson National Resort.

www.omnihotels.com/meetings; (800) 788-OMNI.

Book and stay at least a one-night at any of four Gaylord Hotels by September 14 and receive an instant resort credit per night. $100 per night at Gaylord National. $50 resort credit per night at Gaylord Palms, Gaylord Opryland and Gaylord Texan with a max of $100 per stay.

(800) GAYLORD. Ask for promotional code ZJL.

Save up to 40% off on Meliá Hotels International beach front destinations. Book by April 17 and travel between June 1 and August 20. Restrictions apply. Two kids up to 10 years old stay for free with two adults. Resort credit can be used for and enjoy a few days in paradise with Kids stay free.  MeliáRewards Resort Credit can be used for room upgrades, YHI Spa services, premium dining reservations, vintage wines and exclusive resort experiences.

www.Meliá.com; (800) 336-3542

If the world renowned festivals don’t lure you to Montréal this summer, the Canadian city has some sizzling discount offers that may seal the deal. Book at least a two-night stay by April 30 on hotels that begin at $99 per night and receive 50% off the second night. You also receive a coupon booklet worth up to $455 to Montréal’s top attractions and activities. There are at least 25 hotels participating. For a full list of properties and prices, http://www.tourisme-montreal.org/Offers/spring. Here are just some of the city’s famed summer festivals.

Digital Spring (March 21 to June 22) -150+ events, ranging from installations to projections to electronic music showcase a daring and innovative digital arts scene, guided by this year’s theme of light.

The Chromatic Festival (May 17 to 23) – multidisciplinary program of visual, audio and interactive experiences high atop Mount Royal and at the Satosphere.

Festival Transamériques (May 21 to June 4) – offers events appealing to fans of contemporary dance and theatre

C2-MTL (May 26 to 28) – a mash-up of business and creativity on the cutting-edge of the next best thing out there. A-list guest speakers include Kevin Spacey, Chelsea Clinton, Andre Agassi, Carolyn Everson (Facebook), Phyllis Lambert and many other luminaries.

MUTEK (May 27 to 31) – mix of music, technology and digital creativity and live performances

MURAL (June 4 to 14) – Montréal’s urban art festival

Festival International de jazz de Montréal (June 26 to July 5) in the city centre.

Osheaga (July 31 to August 2) – rocks out another indie-music spectacular in Parc Jean-Drapeau MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE (July 2 to 12) – reunites the zany, brave and boundary-pushing entertainers, acrobats and aerialists of the circus arts world.

Just for Laughs Festival (July 11 to 25) – street and venue comedy performances

Ten perfect off can buy you lots of souvenirs in many countries, especially if you’re taking advantage of Design Hotels latest offerings. Plan a trip to cities such as Vienna, Istanbul, Hamburg, Stockholm, and Gurgaon in India to Bogota in Colombia to get your shopping on. Most of the properties offer free buffets, free WiFi and an assortment of other benefits if you stay by August 2 and stay at least two nights.

www.designhotels.com/shopaholicholidays

I toast to your travelsKaren 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. She writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, Karen 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

The elegance of Das Stue in Berlin, Germany, one of DesignHotels.com properties

The elegance of Das Stue in Berlin, Germany, one of DesignHotels.com properties

In Orlando, we’ve skipped Spring and jumped straight into 88-degrees of Summer. In Boston, their renowned St. Patrick’s Day Parade had to be cancelled due to impending snow atop already record-breaking blankets of white that have created mountains where once concrete ruled the pavement. No matter where you are and no matter what your weather, escape can be a car, train, boat or plane ride away.
HOT DEALS
DesignHotels.com is one of my favorite websites to ponder when I’m dreaming the dream of exotic travel. Now, instead of having to scroll through each country’s options, Design Hotels has compiled their latest 279 handpicked exotic hotels locations among 178 worldwide destinations into one 500+ page guide that you can peruse at leisure, earmarking the must-dos for your next getaway. There are glorious photographs and behind-the-scenes stories of the Original hoteliers who created them. Pre-order this edition of The Design Hotels™ Book 2015 by March 31, 2015 and you become eligible to win a two-night stay at one of five great Design Hotels™ properties in Stockholm, Berlin, London, Hong Kong, or Read the rest of this entry »

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