This and That – Notes on Orlando Hospitality

Sometimes life needs updating. With sooooo much going on recently, here-there-everywhere, I wanted to provide some updates on a few things I’ve written about (or, intended to write about. . .?) in the past.

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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.

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Earth Day and the Orlando Hospitality Industry

Do you think there’s any connection?

But, of course! Even though some would think that the tourism and hospitality industry here in Central Florida causes only constant traffic congestion, major air pollution, and basic overall mind fog [and yes, I do realize that mind fog is only damaging to oneself, and not the earth in general. Or, is it??] due to the sheer number of water parks, rides, and other brain-and-money-sucking tourist attractions we pride ourselves with [oopsie; did the Hive just admit to those sins???], I’m here to tell you that at least one local organization is a big – make that HUGE – player in the global landscape when in comes to decreasing the carbon footprint of our many central Florida hospitality blessings [there, wasn’t that a better way to refer to all those reasons we welcome tourists here?].

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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.

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Cooking Up a New Career

From time to time I like to write about different jobs in the hospitality industry because, well, there are tons of them.  So many, in fact, that I always tell people if you are unhappy with your current hospitality position you have no one to blame but yourself because all you need to do is look around and spread your wings – fly right,turn left, look up, then down. There is such a variety of jobs under this broad category that I could write about a different one every day of the week and you and I both would still be learning .  But, I’m not going to do that because, well, frankly that might get boring.  Plus, I’m not a headhunter (please don’t start sending me your resumes), so I’m going to spare you the details of Hospitality Jobs 101 and go straight to some of the more interesting ones.  Please consider this part of the advanced course.

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Ready to Get Halloweeny Yet?

This post is about vampires. . .and asylum. . .and James Bond. Oh my! October’s a long, busy month, so for sure it’s a slow build, but when you get to the crazy holiday climax at the end – aka Halloween – it just seems right to let loose then, doesn’t it?  Even if you don’t dress up […]

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Hotels and Hurricanes

As I finished up my work with another convention group here in Orlando today the client mentioned they were heading out to the airport early due to all the hurricane preparations.

“Huh?  Joaquin has already passed Florida and moving on up North” I replied. “Looks like this one is missing us.”

“We know, and now it’s expected to hit us back in New Jersey, so we need to get outta this place right away and get home!”

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Have You Ever Been First?

I’m not talking about those lucky days when there’s no wait in the line at EPCOT for Soarin’ (once, on a dreary Thursday evening in September of 2013 when most of Florida was in a hurricane watch. . .) or on the teensy-weensy outside chance that the Starbucks drive-though is a zip (again once, in the pouring down rain in the middle of a weekday afternoon. . .).  Nope, those aren’t the firsts I’m referring to.  I’m talking about something really big and very important.

The employment line.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Turn Up Your Crazy at Hyatt Regency Orlando on May 24th!

Let’s be honest: Orlando has more than your average amount of options when it comes to making plans for your weekend fun. With not one but three world class theme parks all vying for more and more of your time and attention (notice I didn’t mention $$$$, but they vie a lot for that, too, and usually they win), it can get downright confusing when trying to choose among countless opportunities that all offer endless hours of fun. And, if those expensively printed attraction brochures and advertisements don’t offer enough enticement, just pick up the Friday edition of the Orlando Sentinel and review the weekly calendar section to find even more choices – movies, plays, sports activities, lectures, cooking demonstrations, poetry readings, tarot card readings, festivals, art shows, craft fairs, bike races, and well, you get the picture here. In fact there are usually so many options listed in that Calendar section that I’m exhausted when I finish reading it, which is, in my opinion, why they put the TV listings at the end because by the time you examine and review all those other activities it just makes you want to curl up with the remote control and a bowl of popcorn to stay put on your big comfy couch. Oh, and FYI, the dog prefers you do that, too, because Rambo’s been waiting all week for you to play with him. Plus, he loves the popcorn you drop.

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I Drive 360 Orlando – Top FIVE Know Before You Go

Yes, it’s true.  Some of us are able to get in before the crowds and take a ‘spin’ around. But no, when I use the word spin I’m not referring to having been on the ride already because technically, well, it’s not quite ready and seriously, who wants to risk their lives just for the sake of scooping a story?  Not the HH Maven, although during my days at USF we were privy to many opportunities to ‘ride the rides’ before the flood gates were open to the masses.  But I digress with that little share because this post is not about a [now] 25 year old attraction.  This is a preview post about the latest and greatest attraction that Orlando has to offer, The Orlando Eye.

I know you’re already thinking I’m a lucky gal, right?  Well, yes, I’ll go ahead and agree with you because I’m not going to lie.  It’s a really cool thing to be able to take a hard hat walk-through while the place is still empty and in advance of an estimated 2 million visitors (year one estimate) coming from every nook and cranny of the universe to see what all the fuss is about.  But beyond the ‘cool’ factor I should also point out that I do make my living as a planner so, among other things, that means I like to know details in advance because how else can a planner avoid near disaster if she isn’t properly informed?  Lucky for you I’m happy to share what I was able to learn about the I-Drive 360 which is the official name of what most people will refer to as The Orlando Eye.

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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!

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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?

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Looking for Something to “Wine” About?

Well, here’s some interesting wine news from the hospitality desk: In a recent survey about global wine and travel trends conducted by market research firm StudyLogic, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts discovered that after a long day, one out of every two people would reach for a glass of wine (48%) rather than their smartphone/tablet (15%) or – get ready for this one – even their spouse (15%). Yes, you read that correctly. Having a chat with your spouse was given the same percentage ranking of importance (or lack thereof) as reaching for your electronic device, aka crack cocaine of personal choice. [see previous Hive posting RE more on this phenom at Welcome to the Experience Economy ]

Further, and perhaps even more surprising, were that survey results also showed 23% of the respondents would be willing to give up sex for a week in return for a premium highly rated glass of wine. (Hey, I’m just reporting the facts here. Please don’t diss the messenger.)

So what does that mean to you and I? In broader terms, a lot of us like wine, oh yeah, and we like it real good.

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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?)

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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? . . .)

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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.

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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!

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