Friday, June 29, 2012

Booking, Meeting, and Leaving Green

1The Kandalama Hotel in Sri Lanka is world renowned as one of the first 
environmental hotels in Asia.        

Being ‘GREEN’ has exponentially become the way of life. In order to sustain a steady flow of incoming clients in the hotel business it is a necessity to adapt your services to the ‘GREEN’ lifestyle. When you’re traveling, whether it’s for work or play, it’s not always easy to find hotels that offer accommodations that match up with your green ideals. Luckily for you, there are an increasing number of resources available to help you stay green wherever you travel.

Many wonder, “what makes a hotel green?!” Hotels are going green by being more energy efficient in countless areas of their day to day operations. Energy efficiency is a strong stepping stone towards becoming green. The way to go green involves simple changes such as using compact fluorescent light bulbs, to health related green improvements, like switching to green cleaners or like using VOC free paints and furnishings, to systems improvements, like LEED or Energy Star-ratings for the entire building.

Good green hotels will have a mixture of many of these green substitutions. Hotels want to give you a home away from home feeling, and when that feeling encompasses being green hotels will make sure to engage in many of the same actions you do at home. In the bathroom, for example, amenities like low flow showerheads have been a must in every hotel, they now give you the option to re-use your towel every day to reduce water usage, they have even provided eco-friendly soaps and shampoos. Hotels end up reducing costs by being energy efficient, saving on their electric, and supplies, water bills. Ultimately, if the hotels are saving money then maybe we can too with reduced prices for future bookings.

Finding green hotels has never been easier for meeting planners, resources such as Green Hotels Association, Green Hotel Reviews, and Environmentally Friendly Hotels have been helping tree huggers everywhere find green accommodations all over the world. With resources like these you can take being ‘green’ on your travels, instead of leaving it home like the old days. So spread the word and help these hotels and organizations, which are still flying under the radar, become recognized. 

For more information, click here or here!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hotel Paradox, Santa Cruz

Located in the heart of Santa Cruz, California, The Hotel Paradox is a precious gem!  This new boutique hotel has everything one would need for a fun getaway vacation with your family, your next annual conference, your wedding day, or even a romantic weekend with that special someone.

Hotel Paradox is not only a perfect spot for your next meeting with the biggest ballroom and meeting space in downtown Santa Cruz, but also has numerous attractions at an arm’s length that would meet any interest and any age.  Just a few blocks away you will find quaint downtown restaurants and shops, the famous boardwalk, nearby beaches, several state parks, and the beautiful Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.If you’re so inclined, you can also go visit the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium which is about 40 minutes away. However, should you want to relax on location the hotel offers a full-service restaurant, indoor-outdoor bar, pool with cabanas and cozy fire pits, and modern décor and amenities that incorporates the outdoors inside. 

This boutique prides itself on supporting their local growers.  Featuring the freshest foods from local farmers to vintners and brewers you will get a full Santa Cruz experience through every aspect of your stay! This unique boutique can meet your needs in so many ways you will want to keep coming back to experience all Santa Cruz has to offer.   

For more information please visit:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer Lovin’

With the arrival of summer, bathing suit and barbecue season has officially begun. While you are celebrating the season with friends, crazy cocktails will be passed around and enjoyed by all – but no one wants a beer gut in a bikini! All of these delicious, guilt free cocktails make the perfect pairing for your summertime parties and meetings. With a little something for everyone, you can share these drinks with all of your friends and colleagues at your favorite beach, barbecue, or board room. If you are having a summer sales meeting, these drinks can add a fun twist to your reception and leave all of your attendees happy. Now take out your cocktail shakers and have some fun! 

Put on your big sun hat and enjoy this new twist on the classic Kentucky Derby cocktail, the Mint Julep – the Ginger Julep! 

1½ ounce Bourbon 
3 mint leaves, divided
2 lemon wedges
2 ginger rounds (made by slicing the ginger root into 1/8-inch-thick rounds)
¾ ounce simple syrup

Muddle the ginger and lemon wedges in a cocktail shaker. Add the mint and lightly crush. Combine the Bourbon and simple syrup, and shake with one ice cube. Strain the mixture over crushed ice into a julep mug and garnish with the remaining mint leaf. 

For tequila lovers, there’s no need to break out those crazy sugary margaritas or subject yourself to shots – try the Agave Royale! 

5 blackberries, divided
1¼ ounce silver Tequila
¼ ounce Maraschino Liqueur
¾ ounce lemon juice
¾ ounce ginger syrup
1 piece candied ginger 

Muddle three fresh blackberries in a cocktail shaker. Add the Tequila, liqueur, lemon juice and ginger syrup, and shake with one ice cube. Strain the mixture into a chilled rocks glass and top with crushed ice. Garnish with the remaining blackberries and candied ginger. 

Now with a personal favorite, this light gin based drink includes a splash of yuzu juice. Yuzu is a Japanese fruit that has three times more Vitamin C than a lemon and also contains cell and fat burning properties! It’s the perfect drink to cool down and burn up at the same time – the Gin Lantern! 

1¼ ounce London dry gin 
¼ ounce Bénédictine or other aromatic herbal liqueur 
½ ounce yuzu juice
½ ounce honey syrup (3 parts honey to 1 part water)
Splash of club soda
1 rosemary stalk 

Combine the gin, Bénédictine, yuzu juice and honey syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and pour the contents into a frosted pilsner glass. Top the cocktail with club soda, and garnish with a rosemary stalk 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Flying Coach Is About To get Worse!

Flying is more of a hassle and inconvenience than ever before with many perks being stripped away – in-flight meals, fee checked bags, advanced seat assignments, traditional boarding privileges – now may US carriers are going after seat space, leg room and reducing the angle of recline.  Wasn’t already tight enough?!  For more information click here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Disney California Adventure Opens Cars Land

Make your Disneyland Resort experience even happier with a visit to the newly expanded and reimagined Disney California Adventure Park. Disney stories and Disney Characters bring the California dream to life through amazing attractions, entertainment and dining! With 2 brand new lands — Cars Land and Buena Vista Street — Disney California Adventure Park is ready to shine like never before!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Top Hospitals and Doctors; How Does Yours Rate?

Through a peer nomination process, U.S. News has identified thousands of the nation’s best hospitals and doctors.  Click here to find top doctors in your area.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cheers to Dad!

This Sunday, we’ll all take some time out to appreciate the slightly corny, sometimes silly, and always loveable men in our lives – our dads! We know how much they have done and continue to do for us, so it’s time to give something back to the man who always has our backs. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so how better to show your dad how much you love him than cooking him a fantastic meal paired with an even better glass of wine?

Grilled Skirt Steak with Sun-Dried Tomato and Almond Salsa 

For the salsa:
• 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and finely chopped
• 1/4 cup oil-cured black olives, finely chopped
• 1 medium shallot, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
• 2/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
• 2 tablespoons best-quality red wine vinegar
• 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

At least 1 hour before cooking the steak, combine all of the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and stir well to combine. If making several hours before cooking steak, cover and refrigerate. Adjust seasoning and bring to room temperature before serving. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

For the steak:
• 3 pounds skirt steak, trimmed and cut into 5-inch wide pieces
• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat a grill to medium-high heat or heat a grill pan over high heat until just smoking. Season the meat with the salt and pepper and cook about 5 to 7 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest 5 minutes before serving, with the salsa drizzled over or served alongside. Serves 6 to 8.

Pair this with a full bodied glass of Argentian Malbec, like BODEGAS ESCORIHUELA Malbec Mendoza Don Miguel Gascón Reserva. Dad will feel all the love you have for him with such

Thank you, Wine Spectator for this fabulous recipe and wine pairing.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sailors and Mayor Kickoff Star-Spangled Sailabration in Baltimore

The Star-Spangled Sailabration officially kicked off this morning and runs through June 19 with the USS Constellation firing a commemorative cannon, the Navy’s Blue Angels zipping over the Inner Harbor and many of the more than 40 tall ships and vessels opened to the public for tours. On Saturday and Sunday, the Blue Angels will perform an air show over Baltimore.

For more information, click here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Low Cost Wine Country!

Meritage Resort and Spa

Next time you travel to California wine country, save your splurging for the vineyards by staying at one of these fantastic and affordable hotels.  While there is an abundance of hotels and bed and breakfasts in Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Barbara, these hotels offer a great location as well as wonderful amenities. From guest suites to meeting spaces, each of these four properties offer a distinctive experience of California wine country and won’t break your bank – you can save that for buying bottles!

Meritage Resort and Spa – Napa Valley, CA – Built on a private 11-acre vineyard, this 500 room hotel is centered where the Napa and Sonoma wine regions meet – perfect for exploring both areas! With prices around $160 a night, you can experience the Meritage’s tasting room and spa, both of which are built into a hillside cave.  The Meritage is also home to the two largest ballrooms in the Napa Valley as well as an Estate Cave as unique meeting space.

H2Hotel – Healdsburg, CA – H2Hotel, situated in Northern Sonoma Wine County, holds 36 “eco-chic” and prides itself on its sustainability efforts.  These efforts, including reclaimed wood furniture, a solar heated pool, and a rooftop garden designed to collect and reuse rainwater create a green hotel unique to the area.  For those active wine tasters, the hotel offers complimentary bike rentals to take on your tours.

AVIA Napa – Napa, CA – This 141-property room AVIA Hotel in downtown Napa has a location that can’t be beat.   This central location brings guest within blocks of Napa landmarks like the Oxbow Food Market, a plethora of gourmet dining options, art galleries, shopping, and 15 local tasting rooms.  With six distinct small meeting venues as well as event space for weddings and other special events, this hotel will let you enjoy the center of the Napa Valley wine region.

Hotel Corque – Solvang, CA – This 25 year old Santa Barbara wine country hotel recently changed hands; the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians took ownership and revamped the entire property, adding indulgent touches like private balconies with sliding doors and a farm-to-table restaurant, Root 246.  The major renovation project was headed by renowned architect David Bury who created a uniquely modern and elegant boutique hotel with over 7,500 square feet of flexible meeting space and luxurious guest rooms at just around $170.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Get Out and Discover with Renaissance

For today only, 151 Renaissance hotels across the globe are encouraging their guests and the local residents int their communities to "get out and discover their surroundings" with free events. Most events are onsite and include local artists, live music, culinary experiences, and fashion and comedy shows specific to the location.

"The Renaissance brand is all about discovering something new. We want to create unforgettable memories for travelers," said Tina Edmundson, senior vice president of lifestyle brands for Marriott International, Inc., which owns the Renaissance. "Get Out & Discover is our way of bringing discovery to life for guests, allowing them to explore the best of our hotels and their destinations."

Check with your local Renaissance hotel to see what fun and free activities they have planned to help you get out and discover your community.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Off the Beaten Path and Into a Vineyard

If you drive about two hours northeast of San Francisco, you will start to find yourself in one of the more unusual places in Northern California; you’ll find yourself in California’s third largest wine region, tucked away in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  An area that was originally founded during the Gold Rush days, this area has become a prominent wine region in California, encompassing almost 2.6 million sporadically planted acres and a number of subappellations. The Sierra Foothills is described as ‘unpolished and eccentric,’ but these qualities give an unparalleled charm to the small wineries that call this area home.

When the gold rush came to California, many of the European miners who came seeking their fortunes planted vineyards.  However, the gold eventually ran out and the vineyards went the same way. The area began to experience revitalization in the 1970’s when the Sierra Nevada AVA was established.  The Sierra Foothills region stretches from the country sides of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta into the hills of El Dorado Country, where the landscape becomes much more remarkable. This diversity of terrain as well as the unique climate of the area lends itself to an interesting blend of wines. The Sierra Foothills region is ideal for Zinfandel, with many 100-year-old vines proving this stance, along with a nice collection of Syrah, Viognier, Barbera, and Pinot Grigio.

Because most of the family-owned vineyards in the area only produce a small crop, there is limited national distribution of the area’s wines; you would have to stumble your way to California to purchase the unique vintage. The area is quite rustic, so if you require a four star hotel, you may want to make a day trip from Sacramento which is less than an hour’s drive.  If you enjoy the quainter things in life, there are many bed and breakfasts in the area in towns such as Placerville and Amador City. You can also get a feel for the California Gold Rush era in historic towns Sutter Creek and Columbia. 

With authentic, family owned vineyards, the Sierra Foothills region is surprisingly interesting.  So, if you’re a Zinfandel fan looking for a unique experience, head this way.  Just a day trip from both Sacramento and San Francisco, this area is worth the adventure. 

For more information, please visit Wine Spectator.