What Travel Was and Will Be

Travel used to be an adventure, but we’re all a little bit rusty now, still in the “relearning to travel” stage. Except that this is going to be harder than just getting back on the bike and peddling again.

Read More

What’s the Buzz about The Alfond Inn?

One of our local gems, the Alfond Inn at Rollins, has been singled out as one of the Top 100 Hotels in the World by readers of Travel & Leisure in the poll known as World’s Best Awards 2017. Pretty impressive, right? Well, I’d have to agree, and here are just some of the reasons why I, too, love this little boutique property that is owned by Rollins College and found right here in our own posh backyard, aka Winter Park.

Read More

Things Were Just Great at the OK Corral!

Sometimes you just gotta step out of your comfort zone, and that’s exactly what husband and I did last weekend when we took a road trip down to Okeechobee, FL for a visit to the OK Corral. More specifically, the OK Corral Gun Club. Yep. You read that correctly, but before I give you the details, let me just set this little road trip up for you by saying this was for a family reunion celebrating a special birthday. And since the hosts of this event live in Okeechobee their venue choice made perfect sense. But still, the ‘back-story’ is worth telling because, well, it went something like this:

I receive a IM message with the initial invite. My response: “Ok, we’re in. Where and when?”

Reply: “Here, at the OK Corral,” which I, being an uniformed Orlando City Slicker, thought was just a cutesy name for their homestead in Okeechobee.

Read More

Are You Overbooked?

I know I am, and I’m guessing you are, too.

But let’s suppose for a minute that we’re a hotel or restaurant that is filled to capacity.  Then the term ‘overbooked’ is a good thing, right?

Well, maybe not always.  At least that’s one chain of thought as presented in a book I’ve just finished reading titled, appropriately, “Overbooked – the Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism.”  Written by Elizabeth Becker, a former NY Times correspondent as well as a Senior Foreign Editor at NPR, the book puts forth a different vision of the industry that many – approximately one of every ten people around the world,  myself included – call home in terms of the job market.

Read More

Stop ‘Wine-ing’ – Drink More Beer!

And I know just the place to start doing that. Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill at the Rosen Centre Hotel is now hosting a series of beer-pairing dinners, Harry’s Brewmaster Series, that are both fun and incredibly educational, even after you’ve sipped and slurped and tasted your way through five complete meal courses and six exceptional beers. That’s right, I used the words ‘fun’ and ‘educational’ in the same sentence; but did you also notice that I’m talking about drinking beer? Kudos to the culinary braintrust at the Rosen Centre who concocted this unique event, which actually is an extension of their still very popular Vine and Dine at Rosen Centre which I’ve also written about here. Except that having attended one of each, I have to admit that the beer pairing seemed to hold the edge on the fun factor. Why? I don’t know, just trust me on this one. Maybe it was the combination of the more casual but chic, poolside location of Harry’s Bar & Grill. Maybe it was because when your first course is Steamed Pork Belly Buns and your last course is Beer Battered Granny Smith Apples (with a chocolate rum dipping sauce) it’s just more fun to talk about. And eat. Or, maybe, possibly it’s just because drinking beer itself tends to invite more colorful conversations (even without having a ball game blasting away in surround sound on ten different TV screens). Whatever the reason, the night was lively, and at only $50 per person it’s a steal of a dining out deal. Here’s the review in pictures and all photo credits go to professional photographer, Richard Pabis (what, like you thought I could be trusted with a camera while eating and drinking all this?):

Read More

Faces of Hunger – Right in our Own Backyard

Many of us are already up to our turkey necks with food prep for the big holiday ahead, so reading another blog post about pumpkin pies and cranberry sauce might not seem too important right now. Go ahead and thank me for avoiding same because that’s not what this story is about. Instead, I want to focus on a different food issue. The one some people turn a blind eye to.

Hunger.

More specifically, hunger in our own neighborhoods, in people we meet and pass each day within our own communities.

If you’re reading this right now you probably aren’t worried about where your next meal is coming from. In fact, you might be hard pressed to even remember what it feels like to be hungry, and I’m not referring to that gap between your last Starbucks and the chicken salad you bought for lunch. I’m talking about to honest to goodness hunger pains that start to take over your stomach first, then your mental state of mind when you’ve only had one meal in the last two days. Or, maybe none at all.

Read More

Bone Shaking Fun With Skeletons this Halloween

This is the week – Halloween is here! Have you heard enough about it yet, or can you stand a little more?

If you’re not into the whole HHN freak out at Universal, and yet Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party doesn’t quite do it for you either, here’s another option, Skeletons: Animals Unveiled! It’s ‘under the wheel’ at the Orlando Eye complex and for sure it’s the real deal with over 40 exhibits featuring more than 400 real animal skeletons in poses and dioramas that will give you a whole new perspective (dare we say, um, the actual inside scoop?) on our friends in the animal kingdom. Plus, the price of this one might not rattle your bones as much as those other options with current ticket prices at $19.99 per adult and $12.99 for kids ages 3-11.

Read More

What Do Women Want in Hospitality?

Last month I wrote a post about Chinese travelers – specifically about 1.4 billion of them that could be showing up very soon at a hotel or restaurant near you right here in Florida.  Today I’m “narrowing down” the discussion topic a bit more by talking about only 49.6% of the total world population, aka women, the single largest target market in the hospitality industry.  Specifically, the most recent stats show there are 3.52 billion women on this planet (roughly half the population).  And yes, I know that tittle you see up above is a loaded question but seriously, even though women are only about half of the world’s population, by some estimates we still account for 92% of the vacation decisions.  Using those numbers it’s destined to be a hot topic in this industry which in turn makes it super important to Orlando, so let’s just let those stats sink in for a minute.

You read that correctly – 92% of vacation purchases including airline decisions, hotel selections and restaurants as well as buying all those precious souvenir tchotchkes are made by women, and even I was shocked by the estimated dollar volume this accounts for because, are you ready for this? In some reports, women are shown to be responsible for a whopping expenditure of, drum roll please, $7 TRILLION dollars annually related to vacation purchases. Just in the USA. (Notice I didn’t print that in numericals because frankly I’m not really sure how many zeros to use.)

Read More

Curious About Cuba? Part Two of two

Welcome to Cuba!

In my last post on Cuba, I introduced you to an industry professional that has already logged plenty of travel miles in her Cuban business endeavors, and Renee Radabaugh of Cultural Explorations Cuba has managed to confirm what the rest of us have only just begun to suspect – that there’s no sign of this being a passing fad in the travel and tourism market.  With multiple daily non-stop flights from both Miami and Orlando, and additional ones being constantly added from other locations around the United States, it’s becoming more convenient to get there and that’s the first measure of a good trip.  But don’t buy your ticket just yet, because we still have a bit of a learning curve before we can grab our passports and pack our bags.

Read More

Curious about Cuba?

I know I am, and if you think you’ve already heard enough about that tropical island sitting a mere 100 miles [+-] due South of us here in Florida you need to get ready to hear more – lots more, because this new détente between our two countries is serious business.  Especially in the hospitality industry.

Why?  Well, let me illustrate what I mean:  imagine you’re an explorer discovering an island, unchartered territory if you will, that has built-in mystique and appeal to tourists who (because living here in Central Florida) we know absolutely positively will buy anything and go anywhere and endure any hardships whatsoever in the name of travel.

Read More

Do You SunRail?

Have you been on board yet? Yes, I’m talking to YOU out there. With an average daily passenger count of around 3700, that leaves roughly 2.1 million [+-] of you that don’t ride SunRail. Yet. And, before June 23rd, I was one of you, but now I’ve crossed over and am happy to report what a great experience it was.

Read More

Has Orlando Embraced “Brooklynization?”

What’s that you say? Never heard of that word? Well let me explain:

BROOKLYNIZATION= a city/entity (Brooklyn) wanting to go in exact opposite of, for example, New York City (think capitalism, corporate imperialism, unchecked corporate greed and you get the full picture here, right?). Turning instead to local artisans, hand-made/home-made anything, small batch [fill-in-the-blank], nurturing a successful environment for entrepreneurs, etc. IN PLAIN ENGLISH: empowering the creative class in your own area to help grow local identity.

Ah yes, now it makes sense!  But what’s the connection with the Hospitality Hive?  Glad you ask!

For some time now, we’ve all noticed an increase in the words or terms such as locally grown – locavores – farm to table – craft made and many more just like those.  These are all ways of referring to areas embracing it’s own local community by purchasing, using, and helping to spread awareness about products from your next door neighbors.  In the world of Orlando hospitality, the best example would be the plethora of hotels owned by Harris Rosen, which can only be found locally, as opposed to those hotels also found here but that are affiliated with a national chain such as Hyatt, Marriott and so forth.  It’s not rocket science to understand this concept, but circling back to our hospitality community at large, there are just so many wonderful examples of establishments that do go out of their way to connect with the local community and I find it pretty cool that it all started with the ‘Brooklynization’ concept that began as a

Read More

All Eyes Now On the Orlando Eye

And to be clear, they are ready for it! Last week’s media opening of the IDrive 360, aka The Orlando Eye, was followed by the public invited-guests-only opening on 4/29; and by the time you read this post the doors, err, I should say ‘pods’, will be officially open to the world. And that’s a very good thing. Want to know why? As Scott Maxwell said in his ‘Taking Names’ column in the Sunday, May 3 Orlando Sentinel, “this is what I-Drive needs – an innovative, high-tech addition that’s garnering national attention.”

That’s due to more than just the stand-out size of this project which can be seen from numerous locations in and around Orlando. It’s also due to the prestigious comparisons being made between this attraction and similar successful ones already in place in London and other world class global destinations.

Read More

You Be the Judge – It’s Not JUST a Pie!

TRUE CONFESSION: I’m writing this at the end of a weekend wherein I taste-tested over, um, gulp, 27 different pies.

There, I said it, and yes, I’m a pie butt, albeit this past weekend I was officially one for a very good cause. You see, I was honored/happy/over the moon when I recently found out that I had ‘made the cut’ (oye-now starts the pie puns. . .) to be an official judge at the recently completed National Pie Championships sponsored by the American Pie Council, whose purpose is “committed to preserving America’s pie heritage and promoting America’s love affair with pies.”

Yea, there really is, and you betcha, I really was!

Read More

Do You Like Free?

I know I do, and this week I’m sharing an awesome website about all kinds of things that happen in and around Orlando each week, and many of them are free as in F.R.E.E. I know it’s hard to believe given that we live in the land of [yawn] $100 per day tickets to you-know-where [sigh], but maybe that’s what makes this information even more sweet. We all know there are hidden gems in and around OTown, and I’m always happy to share news about any of them that I can. So check out this website called, appropriately, Orlando at Play, and tell me you don’t just love the areas that scream “FREE Events”?

I’m waiting. Are you channeling the love?

Read More

Looking for Interesting Work in the Field of Hospitality?

If so, there’s plenty to choose from, especially here in Orlando.  And in particular if you’re one of the many, many people who actually put this sentence on your resume or job application:  “I’m such a PEOPLE person, I know I’ll be perfect for this job!  People just LOVE me!”  Well go ahead, gag all you want, but some people, and you know who you are, really do put this on their job application.  But good news for all you people-lovers, because guess what?  Seriously, what kind of jobs are out there that don’t require some form of interaction with actual live human beings at some point?  (Okay, I do recognize that there are a lot of virtual workers in the world now; but still, even those jobs must require just a tad of  playing-nice-with-people-when-necessary, right?)

Read More

50 Shades – Is Orlando Ready?

Okay, stop rolling your eyes! Before you judge me, this IS NOT another random commentary for or against “Fifty” that, like it or not, has only just begun to push it’s way into our sub conscience. Like a tidal wave that’s been churning out in the ocean searching for a landing spot on which to explode, once the movie is released in another week, http://www.50shadesofgrey.com, even the two people left on this planet who have never read the books by E. L. James , http://www.fiftyshadesofgrey.com will now be forced into discussions and conversations about red rooms, blindfolds, and, um, “oh my”, what people do with those whips in the bedroom.

Lucky for you that’s not what this post is about. (Pause for disappointing sighs from some readers who now feel mislead by this blog title. I guess this is where we say goodbye? . . .)

Read More

Woof-woof! Is That a Dog I Hear In the Room Next Door?

Well, if you’re staying at any number of local hotels, it very well could be. You see, Orlando has definitely embraced the newest members of the traveling world, that being the pampered pet community. Yes, hotels have gone to the dogs. And cats. And while I hesitate to think of what other types of animals people travel with these days. . .for now, let’s just concentrate on the ‘normal’ ones and leave the exotic and creepy pets where they should stay which is in the wild, or at the very least a zoo. I mean, at home with their owners. Yeah, that’s what I meant.

So, let’s suppose you have a beloved dog or cat and can’t leave home without this pet. And let’s also assume you travel in style so, of course, Fido/Princess/Lassie/Boo would expect nothing less for his or her vacation either, right? Where to go? No seriously, where should you go, specifically here in Orlando? Believe it or not, we have plenty of choices. Some that may even surprise you.

Read More

Pig on a Plane?

Here in Orlando, it would appear that we have a corner on the weird and wacky market known as tacky tourists.

Read More

Do We Have Enough ICE in Orlando for Everyone Yet?

I think not, because everywhere you turn this time of year you discover a new ‘ice thingie’ here in town.

In the mid 70’s when I first arrived on the Orlando scene, it was just the occasional tiny ice rink that would pop onto the scene around the holidays, kind of like those Teflon ones you find on some of the cruise lines. Then RDV opened their Sports Complex in Maitland including the Ice Den and voilà, next thing you know we have an actual hockey team here in Otown. Soon, the great, big sprawling Gaylord Palms Resort Hotel opened and immediately began featuring an incredible annual ICE! exhibit which just gets more creative and bigger (and more expensive, as a fellow Hype Orlando blogger recently posted) every year, followed by the city of Winter Park adding their popular ice rink for public skating. Next up not one, but two ice bars in the tourist corridor on International Drive. Ice Bar Orlando, located right on the Drive, and Minus 5 Ice Bar, which you will find at Pointe Orlando. So, what next? An ice show with professional skaters for all to enjoy based at a local hotel? RC_Holidays on Ice logo

Why yes, thank you!

Read More