Archives for posts with tag: Florida

HOSPITALITY GROUPS STEP UP THEIR CHARITABLE GIVING AFTER NUMEROUS NATURAL DISASTERS

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

Here’s a unique way of aiding victims of the devastating earthquakes in Mexico while also enriching your personal knowledge of the country’s rich cultural history. Book the last two places available on Journey Mexico’s Escorted Group Day of the Dead Tour in Oaxaca and the travel company will donate 50% of the $4,377 trip fee (per person) to relief efforts in the Isthmus. The 14-member tour group trip is set for October 28 to November 4.

www.journeymexico.com

LEGOLAND® Florida Resort is donating 18,000 theme park tickets to the UNICEF Kid Power Schools program and 2,000 tickets to Citrus Center Boys & Girls Clubs in Winter Haven, Haines City and Lake Wales.  “As a resort built for kids, Read the rest of this entry »

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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, Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Exploration Tower's ode to the ocean hanging sculpture. photo by Karen Kuzsel

Exploration Tower’s ode to the ocean hanging sculpture. photo by Karen Kuzsel

This begins my new “column” called Florida Fun. I realized when I was on this overnight getaway to Melbourne and Port Canaveral that I have written about many wonderful day trips, events, restaurants, adventures and venues, without drawing attention to them as tourist and group destinations within Florida and without including theme parks in the same breath.

Not that I don’t write about theme parks elsewhere in my blog or for magazines. I love theme parks. I consider myself a theme park-aholic without being obsessive, but I also realized how many Florida places I visit that perhaps others would enjoy knowing. So, here it is, the premiere of Florida Fun.

My husband and my recent 30-hour adventure began when he booked us into the Residence Inn Melbourne, located near Read the rest of this entry »

Two little apple lovebirds sitting in a  watermelon of love. photo by Karen Kuzsel

Two little apple lovebirds sitting in a watermelon of love. photo by Karen Kuzsel

Chef demo of making a Christmas tree completely of chocolate, including the glittery balls. photo by Karen Kuzsel

Chef demo of making a Christmas tree completely of chocolate, including the glittery balls. photo by Karen Kuzsel

Sea life centerpiece. photo by Karen Kuzsel

Sea life centerpiece. photo by Karen Kuzsel

Oh, and while you’re at it, do it within a specified time limit under the watchful eyes of judging chefs and other culinary world volunteers who are making sure you’re following the guidelines set forth in the Orange County Public Schools Annual Hospitality and Culinary Competition. After all, with 220 competitors registered for the hospitality or culinary portion of this 5th annual competition, each student will want to showcase his or her specialized skills for the maximum benefit.

As one of the judges who has watched this competition grow each year, I am in awe of the talent and training our future hospitality and culinary staff are receiving. Sure, they’re competing for trophies and awards that honor their school program as well as their own abilities, but what’s at stake could also be scholarships to college programs. The first year I judged, I tasted about 20 desserts beginning at 10 am. Let’s just say I was happily shifted, and where I’ve remained each year, to judging the final presentation of edible centerpieces. I watch them carve fruits, craft shapes and create vignettes from apples Read the rest of this entry »

Elevate your palate in Elevage, the fine dining restaurant in the new Epicurean Hotel in Tampa, FL. Amy Pezzicara, Pezz Photo/Epicurean

Elevate your palate in Elevage, the fine dining restaurant in the new Epicurean Hotel in Tampa, FL. Amy Pezzicara, Pezz Photo/Epicurean

The weather may be putting much of North America in a deep freeze, but across the globe, hotels opening or in transition are heating up the environment. There are so many hotels changing owners or under construction that it’s difficult for me to keep track of property names, but as folks often check out my blog before doing site visits, booking groups, or even booking their own vacations, here are some of the latest of my discoveries.

HOTELS ARE DEFINITELY HAPPENING!  

Finally, the long-awaited Epicurean Hotel opened in Tampa in December. The 137-room boutique hotel, with a focus on fine foods and fine arts, is located across from the renowned Bern’s Steakhouse. The new hotel’s 80-seat restaurant, Elevage, is joined by Chocolate Pi (a patisserie, or for those who don’t speak French… a bakery), a Bern’s Fine Wines & Spirits shop on the first floor, and the Epicurean Theatre, a culinary classroom I hope to find myself dicing and splicing in very soon in the future. The Grand Awakening Weekend is coming up January 17-19 and stars the hotel’s Chef, Chad Johnson, and celebrity chefs such as Norman Van Aken. Developed by Mainsail Lodging & Development in collaboration with the legendary Bern’s Steak House, Epicurean Hotel is the first newly-constructed property in the United States to join the prestigious Autograph Collection® of Marriott International, Inc.www.EpicureanHotel.com; (855) 829-

Two new Tampa hotels are slated to open this year. What do you call a former Mercantile Bank building when it’s been converted into a 130-room boutique hotel situated along Tampa’s famed Riverwalk? You get Aloft Tampa Downtown. It’ll feature a terrace pool deck overlooking the Hillsborough River, the picturesque University of Tampa minarets, and downtown Tampa. Aloft won’t be the only boutique hotel to emerge from an historic property. Once a 108-year-old Federal Courthouse building,  Le Meridien Hotel gains new life as a 130-room hotel with 4,800 sf of meeting space, including a 2,200-sf ballroom set in the old courtroom with 18-foot ceilings, two breakout rooms, and a board room that seats 12.

There’s a “No Strings Attached” policy being offered by The Langham Huntington Pasadena, located nine miles north of Los Angeles for groups who book before March 31 and arrive through December 31 of 2015. The historic property can accommodate up to 350-person conferences. Lots of indoor and outdoor space, a resort style setting, no resort fees, no attrition and no F&B minimums. Industry specific offers are available for Pharmaceutical, Financial, Insurance, and Associations. www.alhi.com/LanghamHuntington

Omni Hotels & Resorts just bought its 6th property from KSL Capital Partners, LLC, a leading private equity firm. The reflagging of the Montelucia Resort & Spa as theOmni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia extends the Omni’s Read the rest of this entry »

Hoo has personality!

Hoo has personality! photo by Karen Kuzsel

If wishes were dreams that come true, being able to take culinary classes in high school would have been near the top of my list. As easy as it would be for me to be envious of the 193 students who participated in the competition segments of the Orange County (FL) Public School’s 4th Annual Hospitality and Culinary Competition, I am instead grateful to have once again witnessed the incredible creative and skilled talent they exhibited.

The December competition held annually at the Orlando World Center Marriott broadens the number of categories and participating schools and tech centers each year who offer culinary and/or hospitality training. Competition categories include: gourmet meals, desserts, knife skills, decorative centerpieces, edible centerpieces, and waiter’s relay. The hospitality portion, which I didn’t see, includes room inspection, case study analysis and project presentation.

This was my fourth year of judging. The first time I agreed to sample desserts in the early morning. As lovely as some of those sweets were that crossed my lips and went straight to my hips, I have happily judged the presentation of edible centerpieces for the past three years if for no other reason than to stand in awe of what these students craft in an hour.

penguin holiday

penguin holiday. photo by Karen Kuzsel

The Marriott prepared an amazing buffet in multiple stations for the judges and students and then awards are presented for the top places in each category. After smelling the aromas of gourmet meals and desserts being prepared tableside across the cavernous ballroom for a few hours, you can understand why there’s a mad rush for the buffet tables when given the OK signal.

Before I name the participating schools, tech centers and winners, I encourage anyone who would like to witness or impact future generations of hospitality and culinary stars to contact Patricia Breeding for next year’s team of volunteers. 407-317-3200,ext 2690 or  Patricia.breeding@ocps.net.

Don’t take just my word that this program is beneficial. Dave Robitaille, MS, MT (ASCP) and Program Specialist and Administrator for the Health Science Career and Technical Education at OCPS says, “The data overwhelmingly shows that students enrolled in CTE programs have a greater chance of completing high school and going to college than non-CTE students. So, CTE programs should not be looked at as an alternative for students not bound for college. On the contrary, if parents want their children to go to college, they should encourage them to enroll in a CTE program.”

 

The high schools who participated are: Colonial, Cypress Creek, Freedom, Wekiva, Winter Park, Oak Ridge, Gateway School, and Dr Phillips. Tech centers include  Mid Florida Tech, Westside Tech, and Orlando Tech. Sponsors included the Marriott, Keiser University, Johnson and Wales University, and the CFHLA.

The edible Christmas tree and friends. photo by Karen Kuzsel

The edible Christmas tree and friends. photo by Karen Kuzsel

 

 

Event

 

School Home School Student Name
Non – Edible Centerpiece      
First place Cypress Creek HS   Riani Pokipala
Second place Dr Phillips HS   Cassidy Brown
Second place Dr Phillips HS   Sofia Fernandez
Second place Dr Phillips HS   Madison Fitch
Second place Dr Phillips HS   Tia Humphries
Edible Centerpiece      
First place Mid Florida Tech University HS Christine Hernandez
Second place Mid Florida Tech Edgewater HS Kristopher Davis
Third place Mid Florida Tech Cypress Creek Jamie Pena
Dessert High School      
First place Gateway School   Heriberto Lopez
First place Gateway School   Josue Cabrales
Second place Cypress Creek HS   Grant Baldinger
Second place Cypress Creek HS   Jessica Butler
Third place Winter Park HS   Daniella Sauri
Third place Winter Park HS   Raham Elsayed
DessertTech Center      
First place Westside Tech Wekiva HS Zakoya Hall
First place Westside Tech Evans HS Devante McDonald
Second place Westside Tech West Orange HS Kristi Caruana
Second place Westside Tech West Orange HS Lauren Harms
Gourmet Meal      
First place Winter Park HS   Melissa Morales
First place Winter Park HS   Antonio Cepero
First place Winter Park HS   Angelique Allison
Second place Winter Park HS   Joey Goldberg
Second place Winter Park HS   Laura Johnson
Second place Winter Park HS   Foley Flood
Third place Winter Park HS   Caleb Johnson
Third place Winter Park HS   Julie Phicien
Third place Winter Park HS   Amber Negron
Gourmet MealTech Center      
First place Westside Tech West Orange HS Angela Cippilone
First place Westside Tech West Orange HS Brandon Santiago
First place Westside Tech West Orange HS Abby Johnson
Second place Mid Florida Tech Cypress Creek Emmanuel Arboleda
Second place Mid Florida Tech University HS Raquel Amador
Second place Mid Florida Tech University HS Desiree Perez
Knife Skills      
First place Orlando Tech Winter Park HS Yafreicy Rodriguez
Second place Mid Florida Tech Dr Phillips HS Fransheska Whittington
Third place Westside Tech Wekiva HS Latasha Morris

 

Waiter’s Relay      
First place Freedom HS   Luis Alvarado
First place Freedom HS   Ysenia Palomino
First place Freedom HS   Lourdes Sanchez
Second place Colonial HS   Christine Ortiz Hernandez
Second place Colonial HS   Nathaniel Morales
Second place Colonial HS   Angel Dones
Third place Orlando Tech University HS Jessica Rivera
Third place Orlando Tech University HS Gabrielle Tursi
Third place Orlando Tech University HS Adrianna Colon

 

A cantelope tiki hut shields birds of a feather. photo by Karen Kuzsel

A cantelope tiki hut shields birds of a feather. photo by Karen Kuzsel

 

Hospitality Competition Winners

 

Event School Home School Student Name
Hospitality Competition      
First place – Overall Dr Phillips HS   Tia Humphries
First place Dr Phillips HS   Cassidy Brown
First place Dr Phillips HS   Madison Fitch
First place Dr Phillips HS   Sofia Fernandez
Second place- Overall Colonial HS   Yarissa Pena
Second place Colonial HS   Meagan Ojeda
Second place Colonial HS   Noe Hernandez
Second place Colonial HS   Lesly Lopez
Third place – Overall Mid Florida Tech Lake Nona HS Angie Grunskyte
Third place Mid Florida Tech West Orange HS Jadia Johnson
Third place Mid Florida Tech Cypress Creek HS Sasha Gatti
Third place Mid Florida Tech Wekiva HS Deja Miller

 

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 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.

 

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