Archives for posts with tag: #LongForm
Crew Café in Canada offers dedicated co-working space for rent

Crew Café in Canada offers dedicated co-working space for rent

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 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 »

Buffalo City Hall, one of the finest examples of art deco in the world

Buffalo City Hall, one of the finest examples of art deco in the world

“You came to Buffalo for vacation?” was said with undisguised bewilderment each time my husband Russ and I were asked where we were from and why we were visiting Buffalo, NY.

Obviously, even the locals were oblivious to Buffalo being touted by travel publications as booming with resurgent pride. The primary attraction for us was the vast numbers of renovated and recycled historically-preserved architectural masterpieces. Second was the tour guide-worthy acclaim of what to see and especially what to eat, by well-travelled former Buffalo residents (Bob and Dianna Duffy and Mark and Laura Cosgrove) whose opinions we respect. Third, and quite important to Russ, was to tour the Darwin Martin House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and to this day is being slowly and carefully restored to its original design.

Getting around downtown Buffalo is easy. A trolley that runs about every 15 minutes is free from Canalside on the harbor to Fountain Plaza in the center of downtown. Go past that stop and the fee is $2 unless you opt for a city pass. We took the clean, comfy trolley several times, but mostly walked.

Our hotel’s location next to the harbor and across the street from parks and attractions made getting around easy, especially because we had splendid weather all the while.

You enter the Buffalo Marriott Harborcenter on the seventh floor of the building, where registration, lobby and their restaurant/bar Panorama on Seven is located. The restaurant’s floor to ceiling windows overlook Lake Erie and harbor, parks, and decommissioned Navy vessels, now used as museums. For the seven nights of our stay, the bar area was always buzzing with activity.

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/bufbd-buffalo-downtown-marriott/

Before telling you about all the famous original Buffalo dishes we tried (in Part 2), here’s an overview of why we travelled to Buffalo and to report our expectations were not just met, they were exceeded.

Frank Llloyd Wright's Darwin Martin House, his most iconic prairie -styled home.

Frank Llloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House, his most iconic prairie -styled home.

LACK OF MONEY PREVENTED ARCHITECTURAL JEWELS FROM BEING DESTROYED AND MONEY RESTORED THEM TO LIFE!

Many tour possibilities exist to view the six-structure complex of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House.  We reserved the hour tour, which ended up being an intriguing two-hour guided examination of what is considered to be one of Wright’s most iconic Prairie-style homes, finished in 1905. A nine-minute film preceded the tour, illuminating the historic significance of Martin hiring Wright for such a prestigious commission after the architect’s success at designing the Larkin (Soap) Building, where Martin worked. Like the Martin house, The Larkin Building (designed 1903, completed in 1906 and demolished in 1950) contained innovations. The five-story office building had air conditioning, stained glass windows, built-in desk furniture, and suspended toilet bowls. The Martin House is a masterpiece of quality materials. The philosophy for the house was to bring the outside in through design elements. Signature stained glass windows have five distinct patterns, some distinctly flower-like. A porch is glass lined. Exterior staircase entrances are hidden behind decorative walls. Bookshelves Read the rest of this entry »

2016 Holiday Memories at Disney's Coronado Spring Resort-Decor

2016 Holiday Memories at Disney’s Coronado Spring Resort-Decor

Travelling to new destinations, and tasting many new wines along the way, has occupied much of my summer. For those of you who have asked where my August edition of Hotel Happenings and Program Promotions is, well…. This is it. So, stop whining. Will do my best to inform you of the latest deals and entertain you with mountains of information.

WHAT COULD BE BETTER THAN FREE MEETING PLANNING SERVICES IN A FLORIDA RESORT DESTINATION?

You read that correctly. The Bradenton Area CVB is offering free meeting planning services, whether you need help with site selection, itineraries for entertainment, or help with over-flow hotel availability or citywide event planning. The CVB offers complimentary welcome bags (one per room night plus 10 per group), can they can arrange visits to local attractions. They even have a first-time incentive program, but you’ll need to contact them directly about that (and tell them you heard about it in my blog, please!)

http://www.Bradenton Gulf Islands email@ebradentongulfislands.com

RENOVATE, REJEUVENTATE AND CONSTRUCTION OF NEW VENUES

Work continues on the $30 million facelift for the Sheraton Bay Point Resort in the Read the rest of this entry »

It's always a happy holiday with a Christmas tree of Dunham Cellars wine bottles

It’s always a happy holiday with a Christmas tree of Dunham Cellars wine bottles

In Part 1, Yakima Valley Wineries were discussed

All photos by Russell Wagner

Two of the biggest decisions we faced when deciding to visit both Yakima Valley and Walla Walla wineries were where to stay for the easiest travel after a day of exploration and sipping, and which of the many wineries to visit of those we knew or had been recommended to us. There were far more wineries on our list than we could reasonably expect to actually drop into. Where to stay turned out to be Kennewick, because it sits roughly an hour’s drive between the two wine regions along accessible highways.

Next time we go (and after this visit it’s not an if, but definite), we may stay at the historic Marcus Whitman Hotel, a luxury lodging in downtown Walla Walla, built originally in 1927. All of us—Russ, his brother Randy and our sister-in-law Cher, relish historically preserved and revered architecture. This 133-room hotel, restored and reopened in 2001 represents the essence of elegance, sophistication and beauty from an earlier era. We did dine at The Marc Restaurant, named “Restaurant of the Year” by the Washington State Wine Commission, which I will happily rave about at the end of this blog.

With the question of where to stay on our current journey resolved, the next was where to do our tastings. Russ and I have been drinking wines from Walla Walla more frequently, discovering them at various tastings at home in Central Florida. Walla Walla has been recognized as an AVA (American Viticultural Area) since 1984. Two-thirds of the AVA is in Read the rest of this entry »

Laser light shows light up the St. Louis Union Station Hotel every evening. photo by Russ Wagner

Laser light shows light up the St. Louis Union Station Hotel every evening. photo by Russ Wagner

Vintage train travel evokes an atmosphere of retro sophistication, the clacking of wheels rolling over tracks, elegant club cars with linen-covered tables and plush chairs, and where the ultimate goal is less about the destination than the journey. That ode to yesteryear has emerged as one of the most comforting trends in alternative event venues.

One of the most recent to capitalize on that nostalgic environment is the St. Louis Union Station’s nine retrofitted train cars, housed under an open—air steel beam canopy soon to be transformed into an attractions park featuring food outlets, a 200” high observation wheel, light and fire shows, a fountain and an outdoor plaza. Already onsite is a Landry’s seafood restaurant and Hard Rock St. Louis.

On a recent trip to St. Louis with my train-fascinated husband, Russ, we were given a private tour of the four trains Read the rest of this entry »

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