Archives for posts with tag: Marriott
Northern Lights are visible during the Southern Iceland Tour, led by Big Chill Adventures

Northern Lights are visible during the Southern Iceland Tour, led by Big Chill Adventures

Some of the most interesting gigs I’ve had as my alter-ego personality, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, have come without forewarning. Don’t laugh. I know the irony of not predicting the phone calls. I may not have used my tea leaf reading or tarot card abilities to see into those future bookings, but I actually asked the Universe/higher power… whatever name is used when one puts out call for an exciting opportunity, for both of the situations that popped up within a few days of my “Hello, it’s me and I’d like…” call outs.

Natasha, The Psychic Lady when I was the dancer for the Eastern Gypsy Band, Tzighantzi, at EPCOT

Natasha, The Psychic Lady when I was the dancer for the Eastern Gypsy Band, Tzighantzi, at EPCOT

The first memorable time was me asking to be a featured performer in a Disney World spectacle. I particularly wanted to dance. Mind you, at that moment I was already working as a psychic for the Disney theme parks and corporate events and had been belly dancing for Morocco promotional events even before the Morocco pavilion was erected at EPCOT, but no dance or big show opportunities loomed in the horizon. Within a few days of my thoughts transmitted to the universe, I received a call asking if I’d like to be the dancer for a new Eastern gypsy band forming at EPCOT. Would I? For the months that followed, I was the dancer for Tzighantzi. Looking like and dancing like the embodiment of Esmerelda (at least all the girls holding their Esmerelda dolls and watching me thought so). I also was backup musician/singer/and co-emcee. Six shows a day, rain or hot summer sun. Loved it!

Most recently, I pondered that several of my entertainment friends had been getting TV and press coverage and it had been a while since that happened to me. I wasn’t jealous of their largesse. It just pointed out that my life had transitioned from a higher profile to one less noteworthy of media attention. Less than 24 hours later, I got a call asking if I was available to be on a TV program, analyzing handwriting of the news team’s anchors. Did I mention it would be early the next morning or that this would be live? I also needed to be available to work during the Pen & Inc Fair that the Channel 35 Good Day Orlando’s show was promoting for Sam Flax’ art store that 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 »

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 »

Sink your teeth into the delectable Tuna Tartar at Bistro CloClo. photo by Karen Kuzsel

Sink your teeth into the delectable Tuna Tartar at Bistro CloClo. photo by Karen Kuzsel

In This Issue: Visit Florida Grant Applications yours for the asking

CSR: What has your company done lately?

Hot Luxury Hotel Deals

I heard on one of those end-the-year news wrap up programs that the word “foodie” was as hot as a skiable mountain during the polar vortex. I am as deeply muddled by that pronouncement as I am worried that snow will bury my Florida home during the summer.

I am a foodie. I say that while aromas of warm cookies, spicy sauces, and savory meats ingested during the recent holidays still linger affectionately in my memory. I’m not snobby about being a foodie, nor would I ever want to challenge Andrew Zimmerman for “who can eat the nastiest morsel.” I simply enjoy well-prepared cuisine that’s sits prettily on the plate and is packed with flavour. I also enjoy sharing some of my favourite meals or restaurants with others, which is why I’m telling you about my husband and my latest go-to restaurant, Bistro CloClo in the Dr. Phillips area of Orlando.

You may surmise from the name, it is French in its exquisite renditions of duck a la orange or my hubby’s new fave, steak frites. I actually salivate just thinking about their tuna tartar appetizer, a hefty mound of minced fresh tuna Read the rest of this entry »

Historic. Arty. Modern. It's the H15 Boutique Hotel in Warsaw, Poland

Historic. Arty. Modern. It’s the H15 Boutique Hotel in Warsaw, Poland

IN THIS ISSUE: Richard Petty Driving Experience races you to the finish line.

The London Symphony Orchestra rings in Christmas Holidays with music, dancing and dance.

Hot Deals If I had unlimited funds, I’d travel, travel, travel. At each location, I’d take cooking classes, shop farmer markets (the ones with more than produce), drink lots of locally-produced wines, and luxuriate in all the sensational hotels I see advertised. I get that urge to check out hotels every time I browse the DesignHotels.Com site. The photos of these hotels are meant to entice and intrigue. They’re categorized by country, but also by their individual niche appeal. Is it perfect for a romantic getaway or is the attraction the historical heritage of its architecture and décor? Is the hotel serene or colourfully vibrant? Is it perched atop a mountain or lazily kissing the endless sea? In all cases, it seems that what initially perks my interest are the enticements of incentives. Take for instance, the H15 Boutique in Warsaw, Poland. The 19th century building, originally constructed as a private residence, is located in central Warsaw. Descriptions of the 46-room hotel include that it once hosted secret meetings for Polish independence prior to WWI, was home to a Soviet embassy, and once held the headquarters for the Nazi party. Of course, that’s before the completion of its down-to-the-studs five year renovation that now marries its past through art works with its contemporary image. Best of all, book 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 »

Whimsey meshes with preserved history at QT Sidney in Australia

            If you had an unlimited budget, an adventurous spirit, and the time needed to just explore different parts of the world, would you pick somewhere you’ve never travelled to, or somewhere more comforting in its familiarity? If the former, have I got some thrilling news to share with you.Mention Australia and automatically you might mentally think “Outback.” True enough, but Australia is also rich in culture, history, arts, and fashion. The 200-room QT Sidney capitalizes on history, the arts and cultural by preserving two of Sidney’s most iconic buildings set in the heart of the central business district and then doing a head-to-toe makeover to attract jetsetters. Set within the historic Gowings department store and heritage-listed State Theatre, the QT Sidney honors its past by carefully restoring the original stone cladding, gargoyles, façade detail, and original timber floors on its lower levels. The hotel is in close proximity to Darling Harbour, a tourist and nightlife area, The Rocks, Australia’s finest restored historical district, Circular Quay as well as Chinatown.

Tired of crowds and want something more from your vacation than shopping trips and fighting through mobs of tourists? Then Fabriken Furillen, a lime factory and eco-friendly design masterpiece created by photographer Johan Hellström, may be the destination to remember. Set into the northeastern corner of the Swedish island of Gotland, Furillen was a military area until the early 1990s. Tourists aren’t commonly drawn to its craggy limestone formations, deserted beaches, or sea birds nesting among the ruins of an old gravel quarry. A high-speed ferry or plane from the Swedish mainland drops you off in the medieval city of Visby, Read the rest of this entry »

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