Nice Hotel Touches That Often Surprise!

The Broadmoor magically lit up for the holidays in Colorado Springs, CO.

Because I travel a lot, I get to stay in and explore many different types of hotels. In fact, you could say I’ve seen the good (Hello, JW Marriott!), the bad (did I actually stay at a beach dump called the Very Pleasant & Happy Hawaiian Inn?), and the exceptional (please don’t make me go home Mr. AAA and 5 Diamond Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs! I can’t bear to ever leave you…)

And even though many things in a hotel room are predictable, I’m still frequently pleasantly surprised when exploring a new room, even if the hotel is part of a standard chain where you would expect consistency in every room you visit. But I’ve found that what sets most hotels apart are the small unexpected touches that make you stop and pause, many times with a smile.

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

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?].

Read More

Hospitality Trends for 2017

Do you consider yourself trendy? I can’t say that I generally fall into that category (pause while wondering exactly what I was thinking when I bought into the bellbottoms and hot pant fads way back when. . .), but – professionally speaking – I do try to stay on top of what’s hot and what’s not as it pertains to the hospitality industry because I make my living planning meetings and events. So it’s important when clients ask me, “Hey, what can we do that’s different this year?” that I don’t respond with “teambuilding!” [hint: that’s so last year!] Or, “how about a corporate social responsibility project!” [ditto] While there is nothing wrong with either of those activities, if you’re working the meeting circuit well, been there/done that.

So, now that we’ve crossed over into 2017 (do I hear a Halleluiah? Yes I do!) for anyone in the meeting industry here in Orlando we are gearing up fast and furious for a busy convention season ahead. Heck, even as I write this I’m juggling no less than seven large meeting projects that will all take place within the next six weeks. And three of them are full week long programs making for a very tight and busy schedule for this planner. Which is why I’m finding myself doing some research on food trends so that I can make some snappy banquet decisions with the (hopeful) end result of impressing my clients.

So, what am I choosing?

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

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.

Read More

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.

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

Heads in Beds and Other Front Desk Tales – A Book Review

Ever had one of these babies hurled at your head? Just finished reading a rather ‘juicy’ book called Heads in Beds, and it brought back so many fun memories of my days working the front desk of a major Orlando hotel.  At the time I was there (many moons ago, ahem. . .) 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

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.

Read More

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.

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

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

The Four Seasons – Luxury, Ambience and a Food Truck?

That’s right, a food truck.  Who knew?  For most people (myself included) familiar with the Four Seasons message of over-the-top luxury, the tag-along of a food truck would never be in the same sentence.  Yet here I am writing about both.  One from the standpoint of ‘been there, experienced that’ and the other, well, guess […]

Read More

Would These Events Scare You?

Having some fun this week in the spirit of Halloween, so I’m sharing some shortened versions of “scary event stories” that have happened to professionals, myself included, who work in this industry. To be clear, these stories are all true. But, in the spirit of ‘protecting the innocent’, I’m not divulging any names/places. Not now. Not never!

What I can tell you is that as a veteran planner in this industry, there’s no need to make this stuff up because crazy things really do happen all the time, everywhere meetings and events are held. And yes, even here in Orlando. Just ask any one of the over 200,000 hospitality employees that live and work here.

Read More

Welcome to the Experience Economy

Keeping up with industry buzzwords, I learned recently that we have left the SERVICE economy behind us and are now in the EXPERIENCE economy.  (Technically, this happened a few years back.  For data and details, check out the book The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore that was last updated in, um. 2011. Full Disclosure:  Not the first time I’ve been late to the party. Just sayin’ .) Anyway, here in the wonderful world of hospitality we still believe that service is king, oh yes we do! But, the current challenge is to find more and better ways of providing excellent service experiences at the same time that we’re embracing unemotional systems, policies and procedures.

To put it in a hospitality-hotel nutshell, if you’re smoking your iPhone and are addicted to technology (yes, you out there, currently tapping your thumbs on your you-know-what), do you really want or care about that smile delivered with your room key at hotel check in, or would you prefer to bypass human interaction at the front desk and unlock your room with an app that you’ve downloaded on your very own hand-held piece of legal crack (aka iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Nokia Lumia, or whatever you’ve got)?

Read More

Which Way to the Lobby Bar?

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I do love me a good hotel lobby bar, and yes, living here in Orlando we’ve got a plethora of great ones to choose from, so lucky us!  But I wonder how many locals take advantage of this chic and oftentimes cultured opportunity?  What’s that, you’re asking?  Where’s the ‘opportunity’ in a local having to shed the flip-flops (please?) and drive all the way out to park themselves in the middle of the insanely populated tourist and convention flow (eeuw!)  just to pony up to a bar?  Let me count the ways…

Read More

Do You Work In the Hospitality Industry?

I do, and in fact every job I’ve had during my adult professional career has been grounded in it. Further, each job I’ve held has allowed me to conquer the learning curve, and then provided a springboard to the next opportunity; and that seems to be the pattern of everyone I know who is gainfully employed in the wonderful, sometimes wacky world of hospitality. The job possibilities are [almost] endless, especially here in Orlando, and since I’m a perfect example of going all over the map in this industry, I’ll share with you some of the more interesting positions I’ve held…

Read More

The Good, Bad and Downright Ugly About This Industry

GOOD= interesting jobs, great opportunities for upward movement, nice perks (when you get them), pretty darn good (mostly) work environments.

BAD= lower hourly pay (until you reach management level), potential for odd hours as we are a 24/7 industry, repetitious dealing with crazy tourists who are (sometimes) hot-tired-sunburned-angry at having to wait in another line-dressed like tourists who actually don’t care what they look like (and for the most part, we can’t argue with that belief, right?), etc., etc., etc.

UGLY= repetitious dealing with crazy tourists.  Oh, did I already mention that?  Well, it’s worth repeating.  Again.

Read More