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FEBRUARY 2014


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Tourists shop, stroll and gawk on the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk.

Atlantic City Shopping has taken its place aside gaming as a must-do pastime in New Jersey’s favorite seaside destination

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tlantic City not only is the East Coast’s gaming capital but also one of its top shopping magnets, offering everything from luxury boutiques to kitschy souvenir stores on the famous Boardwalk. And there’s no tax on clothing and shoes.

Tanger Outlets The Walk, a 15-block retail, dining and entertainment

venue located between the Boardwalk and convention center, features upscale retailers with downsized prices. Among the outlets: Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Chico’s, H&M, DKNY, Adidas and Eddie Bauer, to mention just a few of the national chains. Casino hotels provide many of the shopping opportunities in Atlantic

Touches of Old Havana charm shoppers at The Quarter at Tropicana.

City. The Pier Shops at Caesars showcases high-end boutiques featuring designer clothing and baubles. Prestigious tenants include Burberry, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. Catch the hourly water, sound and light show in the towering atrium. The Quarter at Tropicana is a three-level, vibrantly-colored complex with 30 shops under one roof at the Tropicana Resort and Casino. Along Old Havana-inspired streetscapes are stores like Swarovski, White House/Black Market and The Old Farmers Almanac General Store, plus restaurants, a comedy club, karaoke bar, IMAX theater and other entertainment options. Other casino hotel shopping options include The Waterfront, a marble galleria at Harrah’s; The Shoppes at the Water Club at the Borgata; and Spice Road at Trump Taj Mahal. The Atlantic City Boardwalk offers more traditional temptations, including saltwater taffy, fudge, beachwear and T-shirts emblazoned while you wait. Hamilton Mall, the area’ s largest indoor mall, is just off the Atlantic City Expressway in Mays Landing, offering 140-plus stores and restaurants. LeisureGroupTravel.com

Spice Road at Trump Taj Mahal features eateries and specialty shops.


12 VOL. 24, NO. 1 • FEBRUARY 2014

contents COVER STORY

ON THE COVER:

Smart tour operators know a shopping mall visit brightens any group itinerary. (Cover photo by ©iStock.com/Lighthaunter)

12 Retail Revelry Swings Into High Gear BY CAROLYN FEIMSTER

Brand new shopping malls and major expansions of existing favorites offer fresh options for travel groups

COLUMNS

6

FEATURES

8

On My Mind BY JEFF GAYDUK

Mission: Shopping

10

BY VANESSA DAY

On Tour BY MARTY SARBEY DE SOUTO

18

Heritage Clubs International Sets Sights on Laughlin

22

Texas Celebrates

28

10 Top Caribbean Beaches

30

Discovering Central Connecticut

34

Grand Strand Shopping Spree

BY DAVE BODLE

38

Missouri with a French Accent

BY RANDY MINK

42

10 Oklahoma City Must-Sees

44

Seaside Virginia’s Culinary Bounty

46

Top Casino Picks

51

On Marketing BY DAVE BODLE

BY RANDY MINK

BY RANDY MINK

BY RANDY MINK

BY DAVE BODLE

22

The iconic statue of Big Tex greets visitors to the Texas State Fair in Dallas.

4 February 2014

LeisureGroupTravel.com


NUMBER CRUNCHING

200 Approximate number of food locations at the Texas State Fair

ON LOCATION Singing the Praises of Nashville Publisher Jeff Gayduk stopped by to visit the folks from the Grand Ole Opry during the recent American Bus Association Marketplace in Nashville, TN.

60 Miles of beaches in the Myrtle Beach area

WHAT’S ONLINE? SAVE UP TO 77% ON HOTELS

1907

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ith an improving economy, group planners are getting squeezed on hotel rates. Hungry revenue managers seek to curtail group discounts, threatening any price advantage you have. Don’t be a victim, post your next group trip on LeisureGroupTravel.com’s automated group hotel RFP engine. It’s a huge time and money saver! Post your destination, desired travel dates and rooms needed and we’ll contact hotels on your behalf. Compare rates, amenities and perks on your own terms. You’ll save time, and are guaranteed the lowest group rate available. Visit www.LeisureGroupTravel.com and click on the Planning Tools tab.

44

The year Oklahoma joined the Union

8 Wineries available for touring in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri

OUR BAD

Virginia Beach CVB

T

Seafood reigns supreme on coastal hops in Virginia.

o make good on errors in the 2014 Group Travel Directory, we provide the following information: • The description in the listing for Das Dutch Village in Columbiana, Ohio was for a similarly named attraction. To set the record straight, Das Dutch Village has a restaurant, country inn, gift shop and a new year-round theater. Check out the shows at dasdutchvillage.com • The correct website for Owatonna (Minn.) Tourism: www.visitowatonna.org

Dallas CVB

LeisureGroupTravel.com

447,021 Population of Virginia Beach, the largest city in Virginia

800 Rose varieties at Elizabeth Park Rose Garden in West Hartford, Conn.

12,000,000 Approximate number of shopping center jobs in the U.S.


O N MY M I N D

By Jeffrey Gayduk

Vol. 24, No. 1 February 2014

Rising Tides “IT’S FUN TO BE able to breathe again,” a tour operator colleague shared with me during the recent ABA Marketplace in Nashville. He was referring to the improved economy and the positive effects it had on his business. Indeed, rising tides raise all ships, but it doesn’t mean we can put our business on cruise control. With three years of headwinds at our back, here are five tips to get better results in 2014. #1 CLEAN YOUR DATABASE It’s a fact of business - nobody buys something from someone they never heard of. That being the case, what explains the bad emails, dead contacts and stacks of business cards that never made it into your database? If you want to do better in 2014, start by tackling your database. Strapped for time? Hire a local college student or recent graduate who can take on this task as an internship or for a nominal project fee. They’ll get experience and you’ll get someone who can run rings around you on the pc. #2 KNOW WHEN TO BE A FARMER AND WHEN TO BE A FISHERMAN Consider the difference between farmers and fisherman. Farmers plant their crops in the spring, care for them all summer and bring them in in the fall. Fishermen wake up in the morning hungry, so they get the rod and reel out and bait up. What plagues people is that they go from one deadline to the next without looking down the road. In other words, they don’t think like their prospects think. Dedicate one day a week to farm. Evaluate your trip calendar. How does it jive with your customers’ planning habits? Get emails, calls and brochures to key prospects. Plant those seeds. What you’ll find is that being a better farmer makes you a better fisherman because the seeds you plant in the spring will ripen in the fall, and your last-minute reservations result in a bumper crop. #3 BECOME AN EXPERT…AT SOMETHING We have been preaching about the rise of niche and affinity travel for the better part of the last decade. Being that it’s the future of group business, what can you specialize in? #4 STOP BEING SOCIALLY AWKWARD Every day it consumes news coverage, floods your inbox and is on virtually every website. Yet when I ask tour planners about social media, you’d think they just drank sour milk. 2014 is the year you recognize the significance that social media plays in your customers’ lives. Ask them what social network they use and commit to it for six months. #5 BE FUNNY, CREATIVE, MEMORABLE Do your voicemails sound like recorded scripts? Do you talk someone’s ear off without letting them come up for air? The average person is exposed to 3,000 advertising messages a day – how does yours stand out? With an improved economy, pent-up consumer demand and scores of revitalized destinations, 2014 can be your best year ever. Follow these tips and your boat will be cruising faster than the rest of the fleet.

Editorial & Advertising Office 621 Plainfield Road, Suite 406 Willowbrook, IL 60527 P 630.794.0696 • F 630.794.0652 info@ptmgroups.com

Publisher – Jeffrey Gayduk jeff@ptmgroups.com

Associate Publisher – Dave Bodle dave@ptmgroups.com

Managing Editor – Randy Mink randy@ptmgroups.com Director, Design & Production – Robert Wyszkowski rob@ptmgroups.com

Regional Business Development Managers Northeast & Eastern Midwest/Canada – Harry Peck P 330.830.4880 • F 630.794.0652 harry@ptmgroups.com

Mid-Atlantic/New England/ Wisconsin/Arkansas – Ellen Klesta P 630.794.0696 • F 630.794.0652 ellen@ptmgroups.com

Southeast/West Coast – Cheryl Rash P 563.613.3068 • F 815.225.5274 cheryl@ptmgroups.com

Frontier & Mountain West/ Illinois/Minnesota/Southwest – Linda Ragusin P 630.794.0696 • F 630.794.0652 linda@ptmgroups.com

Florida & Caribbean – Eric Moore P 352.753.0736 eric@ptmgroups.com The publisher accepts unsolicited editorial matter, as well as advertising, but assumes no responsibility for statements made by advertisers or contributors. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information published, but the publisher makes no warranty that listings are free of error. The publisher is not responsible for the return of unsolicited photos, slides or manuscripts.

Leisure Group Travel (ISSN-1531-1406) is published bi-monthly by Premier Travel Media, 621 Plainfield Road, Suite 406, Willowbrook, IL 60527. The magazine is distributed free of charge to qualified tour operators, travel agents, group leaders, bank travel clubs and other travel organizations. Other travel-related suppliers may subscribe at the reduced rate of $12.00 per year. The regular subscription price for all others is $18.00 per year. Single copies are $4.95 each.

Send Address Change to: Premier Travel Media 621 Plainfield Road, Suite 406 Willowbrook, IL 60527

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Happy traveling,

publication

All rights reserved. Materials may not be reproduced in any form without written permission of the publisher.

Jeff Gayduk, Publisher

6 February 2014

LeisureGroupTravel.com


WE TH THOUGHT HOUGHT T OF IT. IT T. T. YOUR Y YO OUR O UR GR GROUP ROUP EN ENJOYS NJOYS NJO OYS IT OY IT. T. T. S ISE LE! U CR L AB 5 1 I 20 AVA W NO

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Shopping MISSION:

For girls’ groups, The Shopping Co. wraps retail recreation and travel adventure into one neat package DIANA FORD Owner of The Shopping Co.

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By Vanessa Day hen it comes to women and travel, shopping is usually

ping seemed like a great place to start.

on the agenda. In fact, shopping has become syn-

“I wanted to focus on women’s trips and girls’ trips because

onymous with girlfriend getaways. But Diana Ford and

those have always been so fun for me,” Ford says. New York was

her team at The Shopping Co. want to offer more than just desti-

an obvious choice to include in The Shopping Co.’s travel pack-

nation retail therapy—they want to provide a truly memorable ex-

ages, since it is a place many people want to visit, but are intimi-

perience for tour groups.

dated by, she says. So, she made it more accessible by providing

“The Shopping Company is called The Shopping Company, but

a hassle-free trip—completely organized by her company—to

it’s really for real women who want to have a fun girls’ trip,” says

show tour groups the highlights of the city. “And not just the

Diana Ford, owner of The Shopping Co. “So, there’s always a shop-

touristy things, I give you the insider look at New York, so you live

ping component, but it’s really about experiences.”

more like a local,” she says.

Ford founded the business after she

Spa and shopping trips in Scotts-

spent years in the incentive-travel in-

dale, Arizona, are also popular vaca-

dustry taking hundreds of groups all

tions. This itinerary includes adventures

over the world. She wanted to make

like a hot air balloon ride or a cocktail

travel accessible to everyone and cater

night at a swanky bar to make it “a

to people in a unique way, and shop-

whole girls’ trip,” according to Ford. In

The Shopping Co. organizes trips around the world for women travelers, artfully combining shopping and sightseeing.

8 February 2014

LeisureGroupTravel.com


St. Louis, the company organizes resale bus tours, which have become extremely popular, drawing people from all over the country to participate.

memorable experience at any cost. Ford emphasizes that groups hire companies because they want something different, an insider’s tour. The Shopping Co. gives tour

While these tours are the most popular and sell out quickly, Ford is looking to expand The Shopping Co.’s offerings.

groups not only an exclusive look into some incredible destinations, but also manages every aspect of the trip so guests can have a

“We’re trying to broaden women’s horizons,” she says. This means adding new destinations, such as Dallas, Austin and London. Ford is also looking to add Paris to the agenda, as well as some

worry-free vacation they won’t soon forget. For more information on The Shopping Co., visit shopcotours.com. LGT

cities in Italy, such as Milan, Rome and Venice. “There is more and more demand,” says

wynton marsalis, managing and artistic director

Ford. “Women now know that they need to take care of themselves.” Many group tour operators have witnessed this trend, too, and

feelin’

are eager to cater to the growing market.

good

Tour and event planners interested in offering clients a unique experience can look to The Shopping Co. Ford and her team have worked with groups of all sizes, with all budgets. It can organize anything from a luxury, VIP trip in Scottsdale to a budget-friendly New

take your group on a swingin’ adventure. reserve your seats today.

212-258-9875

jalc.org/groups

PHOTO BY MARYLENE MEY AND WHIT LANE

York excursion, showing you can have a

LeisureGroupTravel.com

February 2014 9


By Marty Sarbey de Souto, CTC

O N TOU R

The Right Way to Set Up a Trip Calendar ere we are already into

H

February and I’m wondering how many of you have your

In scheduling your trips for the year ahead, consider a family trip as part of the mix.

tour calendar set, booked

and ready to go for the rest of the year. None of this waiting until October to suddenly decide you’d like to do a year-end holiday tour. No nonsense like thinking in June it would be nice to do a fall foliage trip to New England. In short, if you haven’t got it together for the rest of this calendar year, it’s

trip on short notice. But more likely

Belgian chocolates, in colonial Mexico

already too late!

than not, your travelers like to plan

it was enchiladas. I find that the trips

My goal is always to be a year

ahead. They may need to budget

that folks remember fondly are those

ahead. For a trip next December you’ll

accordingly, verify if their best friend is

wherein they participated in some ac-

need to have the reservations booked,

available to travel with them and plan

tivity themselves, not just watched

costed and published ready for sale

their day-to-day schedule accordingly.

someone else do it.

April 1. That will give you from April l

And, if truth be known, they savor the

to Sept. 30 to market and sell it. And

planning for the trip almost as much

more than just a trip. It can be used to

you’ll then have the last three months

as the trip itself!

raise money for a specific cause (cost

– October, November and December

Booking your trips a year in advance

Bear in mind, too, that a trip can be

the donation into the trip and specify

– to finalize everything. By “finalize

also gives you, the trip coordinator,

that so much per person is being do-

everything” I mean: get final payments

the advantage of assuring that there’s

nated to XYZ organization). Last year

in from travelers, make up rooming

balance in your year’s travel schedule.

I took a group on a half-day walking

lists, pay hotels, go over day-by-day

You’ll want to offer a variety of trips at

tour in Berkeley, Calif. The day was

itinerary with your motorcoach com-

various price levels and lengths of

coordinated by a company called Bay

pany, brief your tour leader and send

time to fit the budget and schedule of

Area Green Tours and it specialized in

out final travel documents to your

your potential travelers. Perhaps you’ll

showing off all the “green” businesses

passengers.

want several one-day local trips, at

in town – ranging from a senior living

And that’s just for ONE tour! What

least one cruise (something different

facility to a rock-and-roll music venue

if you’re doing a trip per month? Or

each year please – not the same old

. . .a fun and educational day.

more! If they’re just one-day trips, not

Caribbean 7-day sailing), maybe one

overseas, and you’ve been there, done

soft-adventure trip for your more active

to fill up the next 50 years. The secret

that before, maybe you can get away

clientele. You may want to include one

is to ferret out those that are truly

with a shorter lead time. In this case,

trip built around music – concerts,

interesting, varied in content, and

of course, it will be less work, less

performances, etc. Perhaps some-

suitable for the ages, budget, and

time spent on pre-trip preparation.

thing for those interested in the arts –

interests of your clientele. Then, take

But it doesn’t necessarily mean that

a new museum or show being curated.

the leap and get them booked NOW –

you can properly market it and do

Maybe a weekend family trip for all

not later. LGT

justice to it if your planning is left to

ages. Trips built around food are

the last minute.

always a success – dine-around, learn

Also, let’s be fair to your travelers.

to cook. When I’m tour escorting inter-

It’s true that there are some folks who

nationally, I always include a lesson –

can drop everything and take off on a

in Belgium it was how to make yummy

10 February 2014

All in all, there are trip possibilities

Marty is a Certified Travel Counselor who designs and leads tours. Her travel industry consulting and educational firm is Sarbey Associates (sarbeyassociates.com). Her e-book How to Plan, Operate and Lead Successful Group Trips can be ordered on groupuniversity.com.


Knowledge is Power Starting to plan a student trip? Confused about the timetable for your reunion? Looking to plan a retreat for your church…or seeking to become a group leader? Our niche travel market experts cover these topics, and more!

Keep Your Competitive Advantage, Break Into New Markets Download dozens of How-to Guides, Whitepapers, E-Seminars and Tour Guides FREE of Charge!

www.GroupUniversity.com A Premier Travel Media Company


Bloomingdales is part of the expansion at Honolulu’s Ala Moana Center. Upscale shopping will highlight the new Buckhead Atlanta development.

Retail Revelry Swings Into High Gear Brand new shopping malls, plus major expansions of existing favorites, offer fresh options for travel groups By Carolyn J. Feimster, CMD, CRX

desirable part of today’s travel is dealing with TSA. Fashion Outlets of Chicago has come to the rescue and formed a partnership with TSA-certified BAGS Inc. for a special concierge program that enables our customers to print boarding passes and check their shopping bags and luggage directly to their final destination.” Savvy tour operators are promoting this program to their clients with high remarks. Having to drive an hour outside a major city to shop the outlets takes an entire day away from the destination, but The Outlets at Assembly Row will deliver the experience in a location just eight minutes from downtown Boston. Andrea Simpson, director, marketing & tourism/corporate communications, explains, “The Outlets at Assembly Row will house your favorite outlet stores, but it is so much more than shopping. Besides stellar dining options and en-

hopping center developers across the country are compet-

S

tertainment, our guests will have options that they do not normally

ing fiercely for the visitor dollar and coming up with some

have when shopping at the traditional outlet centers. For example,

pretty creative experiences to lure groups. No longer can

the only LEGOLAND Discovery Center in New England is here. Vis-

they offer just shops and restaurants with a coupon book and expect

itors have the option of kicking back from shopping and toasting to

you to include their centers in your itineraries. Here we explore what

a great vacation in one of our waterfront restaurants or in our out-

the shopping center industry is doing to attract the visitor and how

door living room, or catch a movie, or bike along the river. It truly is

tour companies can turn the shopping experience into a profitable

going to become the 'not to miss' attraction of the Boston area."

venture. Visitors to a destination are going to shop—that fact has long been established. So the challenge for the shopping destination is

Free motorcoach parking, easy drop-off and group-friendly programs with VIP welcome packets will make Assembly Row an attractive choice for tour operators packaging the Boston area.

to not only get the visitor to stay longer and spend more money, but to find creative ways to encourage tour operators to not just “recommend” shopping but to include it in their packages and itineraries.

Hybrids are Born What do you call a center that is anchored by entertainment and also includes retail? American Dream, located in Bergen County,

The Outlets Rule

N.J. (at the Meadowlands) and strategically located just minutes

Today’s consumer, in this age of overload and overindulgence, is

from midtown Manhattan, is a hybrid. Construction has resumed on

confronted with many choices, so to get his or her attention the key

the 3-million-square-foot center and within 18 to 24 months a new

is to make things simple.

destination will be born. Anchors will include a DreamWorks theme

Jennifer Devermann, tourism director of the recently opened

park, indoor ski slope, water park, performing arts center, observa-

Fashion Outlets of Chicago, said, “The way we simplify the buy-

tion wheel with views of New York City, multi-screen theater, NHL-

ing process for our customer is to offer information and services on

sized ice rink, aquarium and even a miniature golf course. Add in at

what we know they want. For example, it is well known that the least

least 400 retailers, restaurants and services, and visitors to the NYC

12 February 2014

LeisureGroupTravel.com


NAME OF SHOPPING CENTER

LOCATION

# OF STORES AND RESTAURANTS

OPENING DATE

CONTACT INFO FOR TOURISM PROGRAMS

Ala Moana Center

Honolulu, Hawaii

Presently over 290 shops and restaurants, becoming 370 by the end of 2015.

Originally opened in 1959; expansion will be completed by the end of 2015.

480-588-5507 kathy@retailtourism.com alamoanacenter.com

American Dream

Bergen County, NJ at the Meadowlands, minutes from midtown Manhattan

Many entertainment venues

18-24 months following the start of construction

201-340-2919 debbie.patire@americandream.com americandream.com

Buckhead Atlanta

Buckhead, Atlanta

50 stores and restaurants upon completion

Phased opening beginning summer of 2014

678-704-0902 rviniard@olivermcmillan.com buckhead-atl.com

Fashion Outlets of Chicago

Rosemont, IL, just minutes from O’Hare International Airport

130 designer outlets and two sit-down restaurants

Aug. 1, 2013

847-928-7514 jdevermann@fashionoutlets.com fashionoutletsofchicago.com

Mall of America

Bloomington, MN, minutes from Minneapolis and St. Paul

520 stores and restaurants

Aug. 11, 1992, with completion of next expansion phase set for 2015

952-883-8843 millie.philipp@moa.net mallofamerica.com

Palm Beach Outlets

West Palm Beach, FL

500,000 square feet mixed retail and restaurants

February 2014

561-635-8939 lrojas@nedevelopment.com

South Street Seaport

New York City – Lower Manhattan

TBD

Original opening date was 1981 – redevelopment scheduled to open 2016

732-249-6080 carolyn@historicshoppinganddining.com southstreetseaport.com

The Outlets at Assembly Row

Somerville, MA, eight minutes from downtown Boston

Mixed-use neighborhood with 35 stores and restaurants

Last weekend of May, 2014

732-249-6080 carolyn@cjfmarketinginternational.com assemblyrow.com

The Outlets at Tejon Ranch

Tejon, CA, between Los Angeles and Bakersfield

More than 70 stores

August 2014

rswiggum@tejonranch.com tejonranch.com

World Trade Center

New York City – Lower Manhattan

TBD

2015

480-588-5507 kathy@retailtourism.com wtc.westfield.com

area will have to plan at least one day at American Dream.

porating the best that New York has to offer in entertainment, culture,

“Nowhere in this country can someone find so many different ac-

shopping and dining in a development that is economically viable

tivities all in one easily walkable location, not even in the entire city

while effectively meeting the needs of the neighborhood and show-

of New York,” says Alan C. Marcus, president & CEO of The Marcus

casing the Seaport as a treasured part of New York City's past and

Group, Inc. “Think of how many of the 54 million people who are al-

future."

ready visiting New York City annually will now include a trip to American Dream during their stay.”

Additionally, a new tenant is moving into the Fulton Market Building, formerly home to Bodies…The Exhibition and Gap. iPic Enter-

Remaining competitive in New York City is always a challenge,

tainment has signed an agreement for an eight-screen, 505-seat

especially if you are located in a district where it is important to main-

luxury movie theater to open in the second quarter of 2015. This in-

tain the historical integrity in any new shopping center development.

theater dining concept is a first for NYC and will complement the en-

Howard Hughes, Inc., owner of South Street Seaport, is accom-

tertainment planned for the Pier 17 building, which will include

plishing this with its redevelopment program that proposes not only

shopping, a rooftop Amphitheatre, world-class restaurants and out-

a new Pier 17 building but also a new marina, restoration of the his-

door bars. All of this will elevate the Seaport from a favorite place for

toric Tin Building and a mixed-use tower, as well as a plan to ensure

groups to enjoy lunch and shop to a “must-see” destination for any

the long-term future of the Seaport Museum and its tall ships.

visitor to Manhattan.

"The re-envisioned Seaport District will be a vibrant, highly-engaging area while providing a critical catalyst for the revitalization of

Luxury is King

Lower Manhattan," said David R. Weinreb, CEO of the Howard

The World Trade Center, just a short walk on Fulton Street to the

Hughes Corp. "We are creating a one-of-a-kind experience incor-

West Side, rounds out Lower Manhattan’s retail development with

14 February 2014

LeisureGroupTravel.com


the 2015 opening of Westfield Group’s 350,000-square-foot, worldclass shopping, culinary, and entertainment component of the giant office complex. Part of this new development includes The Oculus, a passageway between the World Trade Center and another retail development that will have 150-foot-high ceilings and vertical windows ribbed by white columns—all leased to fashion tenants. Buckhead Atlanta will soon rival Madison Avenue and Rodeo Drive as a new six-block neighborhood is redeveloped. Offering over 800,000 square feet of customizable space, including luxury retail, restaurants and cafes, office space and two high-rise residential towers, Buckhead Atlanta conveys the ultimate street-scene dynamic. Rocell Viniard, regional marketing director for OliverMcMillan, ex-

American Dream will become a visitor magnet in metropolitan New York.

plains, “Our company has been traveling the world seeking international brands that will make their Atlanta debut at Buckhead Atlanta.

ment that will attract international and North American visitors as

And because our customers will expect amenities not found any-

well as Hawaii’s local residents.”

where in the area, our full-service concierge will accommodate them including offering a full-time Personal Shopper.”

Technology Rules

Looking for the largest open-air shopping center in the world?

Minnesota’s Mall of America is a great example of using tech-

Honolulu’s Ala Moana Center with its 370 stores and restaurants

nology to make shopping easier. MOA’s recent introduction of an

will claim that position when its latest redevelopment is completed by

Enhanced Service Portal (ESP) improves the digital and physical

the end of 2015. Scott Creel, senior marketing manager, said, “Ala

shopping experience of its 42 million annual guests. It integrates

Moana Center is continually evolving to maintain its position as a

all the communication channels through which consumers contact

world-class international shopping destination. With Bloomingdales

Mall of America into a unified service.

already announced as one of two major anchor retailers, the ex-

According to Doug Killian, senior director, international tourism

pansion will feature a mix of exciting stores, dining and entertain-

for Mall of America, “ESP, with its state-of-art technology, brings together our website, social media channels, telephone, text and dispatch teams, guest services and security into a newly designed high-tech space that allows the ESP staff to actively listen to consumers and retailers and promptly respond to them. Consumers can check in on Four Square and begin interacting with the ESP team before arriving to get driving directions and information about parking or events. ESP also helps consumers with anything from basic requests, such as bag checks and information about specific retailers, to more personalized needs, such as dining and shopping recommendations.” Tour operators will hear firsthand about this new service when they meet with Mall of America reps at upcoming trade shows. They also will learn about the next part of the mall’s ambitious expansion plans, which will include a second hotel, an office tower, grand event space and 150,000 square feet of retail space. With new mega, outlet and upscale centers opening across the country, and existing centers stepping up their game, shopping promises to become a larger component of the group travel mix for the generation to come. LGT

16 February 2014

LeisureGroupTravel.com


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on trade shows ❖

Heritage Clubs International Sets Sights on Laughlin

Annual Peer Group Conference features top speakers, trade show and entertainment Las Vegas News Bureau

The Colorado River flows past eight casino hotels in fun-loving Laughlin, a desert oasis where southernmost Nevada meets Arizona and California.

H

eritage Clubs International (HCI), the national loyalty organization for community banks, is setting its sights on Southern Nevada for its annual conference and market-

place. Slated for March 10-14 in Laughlin (90 minutes south of Las Vegas), the event brings together bank travel club managers with destinations and tour operator partners. Heritage Clubs is the original—and with the recent exit of Bank Travel from the market—the only organization dedicated to the nation’s community bank travel clubs. The annual Heritage Clubs Peer Group event is known for having a strong line-up of educational speakers and this year is no exception. The headliner is Randy Hellrung, instructor from the Muriel Clark

Randy Hellrung

International Tour Management Institute. He will share his exten-

Social Media Expert

Instructor, International Tour Management Institute

sive knowledge of the various mobile apps available to tour direc-

18 February 2014

LeisureGroupTravel.com


tors while out on tour. Hellrung has delighted Heritage Clubs members in previous sessions. “I could have listened to Randy all day! As club directors we could relate to his experiences,” said Myra Horton of Iowa State Bank, commenting on a recent seminar Hellrung gave to HCI members. “He was an excellent presenter with so much knowledge and insight.” Social media will also be a main focus with social media expert Muriel Clark discussing successful strategies and pitfalls when developing social media programs. With a strong background in banking, Clark will point out obstacles that confront banks when they begin using social media and how to overcome them. She will also discuss the right social media platforms for banks, how to use them, finding time for social media and creating unique content. In a session titled “Building an Emergency Reference Guide,” bank club directors will collaborate to achieve a uniform process to provide an emergency reference guide for

Las Vegas News Bureau

HCI club directors in the event of an emergency or disaster.

Lively Trade Event Suppliers are encouraged to decorate their booth and display literature in an open trade show format. Bankers are inThe Colorado Belle hotel resembles a Mississippi River paddlewheeler.

LeisureGroupTravel.com

centivized to visit all booths, allowing for unrestrained time to

February 2014 19


on trade shows ❖ find new destinations and discuss building itineraries. The tight

under the Laughlin/Bullhead City Bridge to Davis Dam and

ratio of suppliers to bankers avoids oversaturation.

ending with lunch at a brewery. Evening functions include a culinary event hosted by

Working Hard, Having Fun

Laughlin, Nevada partners at the Aquarius Resort and

After a full day of learning, this group is ready to have

Casino. And after a great week of working hard, Peer Group

some fun! Good thing there are plenty of sightseeing tours

attendees will hang loose on the white sandy beachfront of

and social functions to round out the activities. Tours include

the Colorado River at Harrah's Laughlin in a closing event

a visit to Don Laughlin’s classic car collection at the River-

sponsored by Globus Family of Brands. As has become tra-

side Resort. Nearby Oatman, Ariz. features wild burros,

dition, the closing night event will include HCI’s awards and

staged gun fights and lunch at the famous Oatman Hotel,

recognition ceremony. For more information, contact Her-

where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard honeymooned. At-

itage Clubs International at 877-881-0229 or visit heritage-

tendees also enjoy a cruise on the USS Riverside, traveling

clubs.com. LGT

2014 Launches Three New Regional Trade Shows for the Group Market he trend this year is relevant regional travel shows that spotlight local destinations and more face-time between buyers and sellers. Leisure Group Travel is a proud sponsor of the following events:

T

showcasing group-friendly destinations across the region. A post-fam is scheduled to Pensacola, Fla. Spotlight Travel Network (STN) is an informal group of travel professionals throughout North America who value and

Midwest Marketplace Adds Post-Event Fam Trip Response has been overwhelming for the inaugural event, which takes place May 4-6 near Madison, Wis. Destination representatives from seven Midwest states will meet with tour buyers in one-on-one appointment sessions. A post-fam will visit The Fireside Theatre and Milwaukee attractions. For fam details, contact Wendy Dobrzynski at Visit Milwaukee, 414-287-4222. Registration and show information is available directly from Circle Wisconsin, 800-223-0652.

Spotlight Travel Network Adds Southeast Event Spotlight on the Southwest Conference is now in its 16th year with the 2014 event expected to be more popular than ever. It takes place April 27-29 at the Grand Canyon South Rim in Arizona. 2014 heralds the arrival of the Inaugural Spotlight on the Southeast, Aug. 11-13 in Biloxi, Miss. Sponsored in part by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional CVB and Visit Mississippi, the state’s tourism authority, the event promises a strong Southern flair in

20 February 2014

seek mutually successful business relationships. The group seeks to build open and honest relationships, pursue growth and learning, and adhere to a family spirit. Spotlight combines educational seminars, networking functions and a trade show. Tour operators are primarily domestic and Canadian, ranging from small operations to large receptive companies. The ratio of suppliers to operators is never more than 2.5 to 1. For more information, visit spotlighttravelnetwork.com.

New England Travel Showcase Looking to create incredible New England itineraries? The New England Travel Showcase aims to help. Set for Nov. 1-3 in Springfield, Mass., the show will give tour operators the opportunity to meet with qualified suppliers during prescheduled eight-minute appointments, networking sessions, meals and social events. The show’s organizer, Chris Donnelly, said, "I have been a member of the New England group travel industry since 1985. I started as a sales representative and have attended shows all over the United States and Canada but have never attended a group show in New England. Fifteen years ago, a good friend of mine, Jack O'Neil, and I thought it would be great to offer a show in New England, and I have had this on my desk for that long. Other regional shows have been very successful, now is the time to bring one to New England." Expected to attend the November event are more than 200 exhibitors from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire. In planning New England’s only trade show for the domestic group travel industry, the organizers aim to make sure time and investment produces results. In three days tour planners will learn about new products and spark new ideas to create sellable itineraries. Find out more by calling 888-889-8681 or visit newenglandtravelshowcase.com.

LeisureGroupTravel.com


Little did you know “VIP” stood for Very Important Planner.

Give people a dinner party and they’ll probably give you a smile. Give people a dinner party overlooking the Colorado River and a chartered dinner cruise, kayaking, waterskiing, championship golf 300+ days a year and spa facilities, all at an incredible value, and they’ll write a song about you. Plan a winning get-together by calling our Laughlin sales staff or filling out an RFP at VisitLaughlin.com/meetings/rfp.


on location: west ❖

TEXAS

CELEBRATES Annual special events across the state, from ethnic parties to rip-roarin’ rodeos, give group tour organizers some festive options By Randy Mink

San Antonio CVB

Big Tex has been a Texas State Fair fixture since 1952. Dallas’ Fair Park is home to the Cotton Bowl.

Parades highlight Fiesta San Antonio, the city’s biggest event of the year.

22 February 2014

LeisureGroupTravel.com


B

ecause it has a personality and

Texas Ranch Roundup, Aug. 15-16, Wichita Falls. This

cultural fabric all its own, Texas

event showcases top historic Texas ranches, the hard work of

looms large on the tour-planning

the real working cowboy and every facet of ranch life.

landscape, offering a diverse variety of

Ranches will compete in chuck wagon cooking, cowboy art,

sights to see, both urban and rural.

and rodeo events like bronc riding, calf doctoring, team brand-

Scheduling a fair, festival or

ing and wild cow milking. Also check out more than 200 booths at the Bit, Spur & Western Collectible Tradeshow. (texasranchroundup.com) National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration, Sept. 47, Lubbock. The largest gathering of cowboys in the world, now in its 26th year, celebrates and preserves Western heritage and

other special event is one of the best

cowboy culture at Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. Included are

ways to enrich your tour and tap into the

entertainers, poetry and storytelling, Western author panels, film

Lone Star State’s inimitable way of life.

and movie seminars, a Youth Wild West Day, horse-handling

Here is just a sampling of major events

demonstrations, a horse-themed parade, Native American In-

that may show up on the radar of tour plan-

dian activities and presentations, the Chuck Wagon Cook-

ners working on Texas itineraries:

off, exhibits of Western artworks, and merchandise for sale.

Fiesta San Antonio, April 10-27. San

(cowboy.org) State Fair of Texas, Sept. 26-Oct. 19, Dallas. The grounds

parades, carnivals, balls, art fairs, concerts

of Fair Park become the Fried Food Capital of Texas for 24 days

and food. Highlights of this 2014 ABA Top

as concessionaires cook up everything from the signature corn

100 Event include the big Battle of Flow-

dogs to fried grilled cheese sandwiches, fried Nutella and

ers Parade, which attracts 350,000 spec-

chicken-fried meatloaf. Guests at the fair, one of the biggest and

tators, and the Fiesta Flambeau Parade,

longest-running state fairs in the country, also enjoy free con-

one of the largest illuminated parades in

certs, livestock competitions, carnival rides and an auto show

the nation. Along the River Walk mariachi

featuring 2015 models. The 212-foot Texas Star is the tallest

groups serenade guests from colorful

Ferris wheel in the Southwest. A ride up Top o’ Texas Tower pro-

Dallas CVB

Antonio celebrates its diverse cultures with

floats and one night it’s the Texas Cava-

vides panoramic views of the DFW Metroplex. The park is the

liers River Parade. A Night in Old San

year-round home of the Music Hall, Cotton Bowl and eight mu-

Antonio takes place several times in the

seums. (bigtex.com)

La Villita historic quarter, the site of 15

Oktoberfest, Oct. 3-5, Fredericksburg. The three-day cel-

cultural zones comprising 200-plus food

ebration of Fredericksburg’s German heritage features more

and drink booths and more than a dozen

than 50 varieties of German, domestic and Texas beer and tons

entertainment stages. Dates in 2015: April 16-26. (fiesta-sa.org)

LeisureGroupTravel.com

February 2014 23


on location: west ❖

Obtain Texas visitor guides and itineraries and contact groupfriendly suppliers directly at leisuregrouptravel.com/instant-info

of food booths serving up German favorites like strudel, potato pancakes and sauerkraut. Oktoberfest also features live music on four different stages all weekend long, including oompah at Amarillo Convention & Visitor Council

its best. (oktoberfestinfbg.com) Texas Rose Festival, Oct. 16-19, Tyler. This 2014 ABA Top 100 Event, a tradition dating back to 1933, is highlighted by the grand floral Rose Parade. Festivities also include the Queen’s Coronation, the Rose Show and Queen’s Tea— amidst a backdrop of brilliant roses. An art show, arts and Bronc riding at the World Championship Ranch Rodeo, Amarillo.

crafts fair, horticulture workshops and grape stomp at Kiepersol Winery are other crowd-pleasers. (texasrosefestival.com) WRCA World Championship Ranch Rodeo, Nov. 6-9, Amarillo. This four-day blowout celebrates all things cowboy. Twenty ranches from across the US and sometimes Canada qualify for this event. More than 25,000 people make their way through the turnstiles at the Amarillo Civic Center to catch the rodeo action, enjoy cowboy art and music, and shop for everything from saddles, boots and tack to jewelry, clothing and ranch accessories. (wrca.org) The Polar Express™ Train Ride, Nov. 14-Dec. 30, Texas State Railroad, Palestine and Rusk. This six-week event, based on the book and movie, is the railroad’s largest and most popular trip. Encouraged to dress in pajamas, guests ride the rails between Rusk and Palestine while enjoying hot chocolate and cookies and listening to the story read by actor Liam Neeson. Singing and dancing chefs and attendants add to the festivities, which are highlighted by a visit from Santa and his elves. (texasstaterr.com) Christmas Capital of Texas, Nov. 14-Jan. 4, Grapevine. Officially designated as the center of all things Christmas by the Texas State Senate, Grapevine puts on more than 1,400 events over a 50-day period, including Christmas stage shows at the historic Palace Theatre, the Light Show Spectacular at the Town Square Gazebo and a night parade down old-fashioned Main Street, which is decorated with a million LeisureGroupTravel.com


on location: west ❖ lights. The Grapevine Vintage Railroad offers North Pole Express runs, plus Christmas Wine Train excursions for adults. Another focal point of yuletide fun is the massive Gaylord Texan Resort, whose ICE! attracSteve Rawls

tion showcases colorful ice sculptures inside a refrigerated tent. The resort’s Lone

Oktoberfest celebrates Fredericksburg’s German heritage.

Star Christmas display fills

26 February 2014

three atriums with elaborate decora-

Rodeo® features events like bull and

tions, from giant snowmen, candy

bronc riding, steer wrestling and barrel

canes and nutcrackers to a life-size

racing. Outside Will Rogers Coliseum,

gingerbread house. (grapevinetexas-

the Carnival Midway offers rides and

usa.com/christmas)

food, while regional bands entertain in

Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo,

the Rodeo Roadhouse. In downtown

Jan. 16-Feb. 7, 2015. Established in

Fort Worth on the first Saturday of the

1896, the nation’s oldest livestock show

show, the All-Western Parade is horses

attracts one million people from around

and wagons only—no motorized vehi-

the world. The World’s Original Indoor

cles allowed. (fwssr.com) LGT

LeisureGroupTravel.com


Top 10

Caribbean Beaches T

he Caribbean has some of the best beaches in the world, so selecting the best of the lot is a little like having to choose your favorite chocolate. Armed with snorkels and swimsuits, the editors of Caribbean Journal have selected their Top Caribbean beaches. Lighthouse Bay, Barbuda Lighthouse Bay is a paradisiacal sliver on quiet Barbuda, an island home to less than 2,000 people. Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman With what might have the Caribbean’s warmest waters, Seven Mile Beach is a haven for diving, snorkeling, and doing nothing at all. Cabbage Beach Paradise Island, Bahamas This public beach, on the north side of Paradise Island down from the Atlantis Resort, boasts the whitest of sand and an unmatched turquoise that only the Bahamas can deliver. Maundays Bay, Anguilla Maundays Bay is one of the jewels of tiny Anguilla. Trunk Bay, St. John The white-sand Trunk Bay is part of the Virgin Islands National Park, a nature preserve that covers much of this U.S. island. 28 February 2014

Le Carbet Beach, Martinique Le Carbet is notable for its very soft sand and incredible sunsets. Pinney’s Beach, Nevis Home to the world-famous Sunshine’s Beach Bar, Pinney’s Beach is amileslong stretch of sand beginning at the Narrows, which passes between St. Kitts and Nevis. Frenchman’s Cove Port Antonio, Jamaica Frenchman’s Cove is frequently used for movie locations, most recently the Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz flick Knight and Day.

Grand Anse Beach, Grenada This beach fronts a number of top hotel properties, and the wide stretch of sand represents the best of laidback Caribbean beach vibes. Long Bay Tortola, British Virgin Islands Notable for its spectacular scenery featuring the famous green, hilly humps that dot the British Virgin Islands, along a half-mile slice of sand. Courtesy of caribbeanjournal.com. LeisureGroupTravel.com


CARIBBEAN NEWS MMGY Reports Strong Interest in Caribbean Travel According to MMGY Global’s 2013 Portrait of American Travelers, the Caribbean outranked Europe, Mexico and Canada with mid-income consumers considering an international leisure trip in the next two years. The report ranked destinations according to annual household income, with the Caribbean coming out on top with consumers earning less than $125,000 annually, while Western Europe trended higher with consumers making above $250,000.

Bahamas to Welcome New Mega Resort Construction is in full swing at Baha Mar, the largest single-phase resort development in the history of the Caribbean.

The Baha Mar resort complex is set for completion by this December.

This $3.5-billion development in Nassau in the Bahamas encompasses 988 acres along one of the world’s most beauti-

Water sports will abound — snorkel, scuba, windsurfing,

ful white sand beaches. Once finished in December 2014,

sailing or simply relaxing on the over half-mile-long beachfront.

Baha Mar promises astonishing surprises and artful luxury

Resort amenities include a 100,000-square-foot casino, a sig-

unique to the Caribbean—a distinctive melding of world-class

nature, 18-hole championship golf course by Jack Nicklaus

hospitality and authentic Bahamian culture through four dis-

and a private island experience via a short 15-minute boat ride

tinguished hotel brands: Rosewood, Mandarin, Grand Hyatt,

where groups can enjoy fully catered affairs or simple picnics

and the centerpiece of the resort complex, The Baha Mar

on an exclusive piece of paradise. For more information, visit

Casino & Hotel.

bahamar.com. LGT

LeisureGroupTravel.com

February 2014 29


on location: northeast ❖

John Groo for The Mark Twain House & Museum

S

© Elizabeth Felicella, 2012

Derek Dudek/visitNewHaven.com

tretching from the Massachusetts border to Long Is-

River and offers a number of sites for groups inter-

land Sound, a distance of less than 60 miles, Central

ested in art, architecture and history. Options include

Connecticut is a compact vacationland loaded with clas-

a tour of the gold-domed State Capitol and, in adjacent

sic colonial villages, tranquil farmlands and two major cities with

Bushnell Park, a whirl aboard one of the 48 hand-

thriving cultural scenes. Much of this delightful slice of New

carved wooden horses on the antique carousel,

England lies along the Connecticut River, which starts

which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

near Canada and flows into the sea at Old Saybrook.

Groups may want to schedule a stop at

In small towns, groups can have a field day tour-

Elizabeth Park Rose Garden in West Hart-

ing historic houses and museums. Shops along vin-

ford, especially in June/July when the roses are

tage waterfronts and idyllic town greens brim with antiques, crafts and gifts. Outlet shopping malls lure groups to the state’s southern shoreline. For urban pleasures, Greater Hartford and Greater New

in full bloom. The oldest and third largest muTop sights include the Mark Twain House, Yale University Art Gallery and Yale’s Peabody Museum. The Mark Twain House & Museum

Haven abound with crowd-pleasing choices.

nicipal rose garden boasts 800 rose varieties. The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, a Hartford treasure house dating from

1842, is said to be the nation’s oldest continuously operated pub-

Hartford, the state capital, rests on the banks of the Connecticut

lic art museum. Among its most impressive holdings are Baroque

Discovering Central Connecticut Hartford, New Haven and the entire Connecticut River Valley offer New England charm and lessons in American history By Randy Mink

From New Haven, sail into Long Island Sound aboard the double-masted schooner Quinnipiack.

30 February 2014

LeisureGroupTravel.com


Obtain Connecticut visitor guides and itineraries and contact groupfriendly suppliers directly at leisuregrouptravel.com/instant-info

and Impressionist masterpieces, colonial furniture and Hudson

that recall favorites like Popeye, Batman, the Flintstones and

River School landscape paintings. Gallery goers will see works by

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Each item is marked with its esti-

Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, O’Keeffe and Dali.

mated value, though none is for sale.

Hartford’s exclusive Nook Farm neighborhood has the homes

New Haven is best known as the home of Yale University;

of two nationally known 19th century literary figures. The gabled,

many places of tourist interest revolve around the Ivy League

red-brick Mark Twain House & Museum showcases the 19-room

school. Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History has every-

Gilded Age mansion where Samuel Clemens penned some of his

thing from dinosaurs and diamonds to meteorites and mummies.

most famous works, such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, in

You can see pieces of Mars and moon rock, marvel at impressive

the third-floor Billiard Room. Built in 1874, the Victorian Gothic

dioramas of North American mammals, and learn about Native

home features Louis Comfort Tiffany-designed interiors trimmed

Americans and other cultures. Yale University Art Gallery, with

with elaborate stenciling and carved woodwork. Save time for the

paintings by masters such as Monet, Picasso and Van Gogh, is

Ken Burns film on Mark Twain in the museum building.

the oldest university art museum in the Western Hemisphere,

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, not far from the Twain house, has items that belonged to the author of the anti-slavery

versity Collection of Musical Instruments and Yale Center for

novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, written in 1852. She lived in the home

British Art. The Quinnipiack Schooner offers excursions in New

from 1873 until her death in 1896.

Haven Harbor and Long Island Sound.

Hartford’s lively arts scene includes Broadway shows and sym-

The lower Connecticut Valley abounds with charming maritime

phony concerts at the Bushnell Center for Performing Arts, a

towns where groups can shop amid the historical surroundings.

1930s Art Deco jewel that claims the country’s largest hand-painted

Essex (pop. 6,500), with its white clapboard houses and riverside

mural suspended from the ceiling. Behind-the-scenes tours are

marinas, looks much as it did at the height of its shipbuilding pros-

available.

perity in the mid-19th century. A Fodor’s guidebook calls Essex “a

East of Hartford, groups can travel back to the 1700s in Wethers-

dream of a New England waterside town,” and it’s popular for

field, the state’s largest and most picturesque historic district, with

movie shoots. The Essex tour agenda often includes a visit to the

50 houses built before the Revolutionary War. Stroll the brick sidewalks of Main Street and pop into vintage homes and warehouses that house one-of-a-kind shops. Choose from a wide variety of flower, vegetable and herb packets at Comstock Ferre, the oldest catalog seed company in the Northeast, or across the street at Hart Seed. Several homes are open for tours, including the 1752 Joseph Webb House, which served as Gen. George Washington’s headquarters in May of 1781. In Rocky Hill, near Wethersfield, Dinosaur State Park’s giant geodesic dome covers 500 well-preserved dinosaur tracks embedded in ancient sandstone. An exhibition center has dioramas and interactive displays, and the park’s arboretum features plant species from the age of dinosaurs. Childhood memories come to life at Barker Kindra Clineff/visitNewHaven.com

founded in 1832. Other campus museums include the Yale Uni-

Character, Comic and Cartoon Museum in Cheshire, a repository for more than 80,000 cartoon-themed items, from lunch boxes and bobble heads to toys, books and board games. Visitors revel in California Raisins advertising props, Star Wars action figures and collectibles LeisureGroupTravel.com


on location: northeast ❖ Connecticut River Museum and lunch at the 1776 Griswold Inn, one of the country’s oldest continuously operating inns; chicken pot pie and sticky toffee pudding are signature menu items. The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat combines a 12-mile, roundtrip train ride with a Connecticut River excursion aboard the Becky Thatcher, a replica Mississippi-style riverboat. Traveling in vintage coaches pulled by a steam locomotive, passengers take in quintessential New England scenery as they travel over bridges and trestles, rivers and creeks. They board the riverboat in Deep River Landing for a 1¼-hour cruise, then get back on the train for the return trip to Essex’s 1892 railroad station. Another sightseeing highlight in the Lower Connecticut River Valley is Gillette Castle State Park. Built of fieldstone from 19141919, the whimsical, medieval-style home was personally designed for its owner, William Gillette, an eccentric actor/playwright best known for his portrayals of Sherlock Holmes. There are builtin couches, a movable table on tracks and 47 doors, each with a different, hand-carved latch. The hilltop estate overlooks the Connecticut River. Also set along the river is the Goodspeed Opera House, an 1876 Victorian landmark in nearby East Haddam. Famed for developing new musicals, it was the birthplace of the original productions of Man of La Mancha, Annie and Shenandoah. The 2014 season (April-December) will feature Damn Yankees, Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn and Fiddler on the Roof. The artistic theme continues in Old Lyme, a Connecticut River town where American Impressionism blossomed in a boarding house (now the Florence Griswold Museum) that was the home and studio of artists at the turn of the 20th century. Groups can combine a visit to Old Lyme and Essex with a 1½-hour journey across the river on Connecticut River Expeditions’ vessel RiverQuest, a 50-passenger, twin-hulled pontoon boat. The shoreline towns of Central Connecticut, between New Haven and Old Saybrook, draw beach-goers in summer and shoppers year round. Located off I-95 are two factory outlet malls—Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets in Clinton and Tanger Outlets in Westbrook. Boutique shopping is the pastime in Guilford, whose tree-shaded town green, flanked by steepled churches and clapboard houses, is one of the prettiest in New England. Madison also has a town square with smart shops and is home to Hammonasett Beach State Park, the state’s most visited attraction with over a million guests annually. Connecticut may be the third smallest state, but it packs a big punch. Happily for groups, the short distances between towns Elizabeth Park Rose Garden is a beauty spot in West Hartford, Conn.

32 February 2014

makes touring Central Connecticut a breeze. LGT LeisureGroupTravel.com


What do 500 butterďŹ&#x201A;ies sound like?

Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s it like to feed a stingray? From learning Irish dance moves to face-to-face encounters with stingrays, Columbus is full of unforgettable hands-on experiences perfect for groups of all sizes. Start planning your Columbus visit today at experiencecolumbus.com/tours or call 800-354-2657.

What do they serve at 125-year-old dinner parties?

What will you experience?

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on location: south â?&#x2013;

Grand Strand

Shopping Spree From outlet malls to theater gift nooks, shopping rates high as a group tour activity in the Myrtle Beach area By Dave Bodle Broadway at the Beach, a Myrtle Beach retail/entertainment hub exuding a youthful vibe, offers 75 shops. Left: Step out in style from Dixie Divas at The Market Common.

34 February 2014

LeisureGroupTravel.com


R

Obtain South Carolina visitor guides and itineraries and contact group-friendly suppliers directly at leisuregrouptravel.com/instant-info

egardless of the reason that brought us to

area’s original mix of shopping, dining, entertainment and

South Carolina’s Grand Strand, there’s one

nightlife. With 16 restaurants including Greg Norman’s Aus-

common activity on our “to do” list. Sure,

tralian Grille Waterfront Restaurant and the Flying Fish Public

getting to the edge of the continent and eat-

Market & Grill, we’ll find something to please every palate. And

ing some of the area’s great seafood is cer-

there’s much to do when the sun goes down.

tainly on the agenda. However, what we’re talking about here is

Opened in 1993, Alabama Theatre brings live entertainment

shopping. It’s hard to imagine any shopping destination shining

with ONE The Show, regular celebrity appearances and the

brighter than the Myrtle Beach area.

South’s Grandest Christmas Show. Gaylord Entertainment, no

Shopping malls with major store anchors, no problem.

stranger to the bright lights of show business, produces these

Quaint areas with unusual specialty shops, that’s certainly avail-

award-winning signature shows. The Guest Artist Concert Se-

able. Outlet malls with hundreds of

ries brings in top touring acts

stores, take your choice of two.

weekly. Of course, nightlife and

There’s more than one shopping,

great food are alive at the House of

dining and entertainment complex

Blues. Both venues have out-

here. Don’t forget the beachwear

standing gift shops.

stores that only seem to be on

We came to Barefoot Landing

every corner. The sports enthusiast

to shop, and there is an abun-

is not forgotten with five huge

dance of specialty stores that are

golf/tennis choices and the leading

sure to fit any style. From acces-

outdoor adventure store.

sories, apparel and gift shops to

Where to begin shopping is

jewelry, shoes and more, those

about as challenging as what to

perfect finds are waiting for us.

buy. Let’s begin our shopping jour-

With plenty of places to eat and en-

ney with a look at some of the large

tertainment filled with memories in

special interest stores and dispel a

addition to shops, let’s plan to

myth. The two mega golf stores in

spend more than a few hours at

North Myrtle Beach are the PGA

Barefoot Landing.

Superstore and Golf Dimensions. These two stores and the area’s newest addition, Golfsmith, have lo-

Talk about convenience, just Coastal Grand Mall, the Myrtle Beach area’s largest indoor shopping center, offers national chains and local favorites.

south of Barefoot Landing at the intersection of Highway 17 and 22

cations in Myrtle Beach, too. Conveniently placed between the

is the Myrtle Beach Mall, which offers a perfect blend of retail-

two communities at the Myrtle Beach Mall is the Bass Pro

ers you’ll certainly recognize and some intriguing specialty

Shops Outdoor World. Here’s where we dispel the myth! There

shops. In addition to Belk’s Men and Belk’s Women, Books-a-

are more major brand men’s, women’s and kids casual clothing

Million and JC Penney, you’ll find Victoria’s Secret, Bath and

and accessories than what you’d find in some major department

Body Works and Hallmark. Islamorada Fish Company at the

stores.

Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and Ruby Tuesday are good

Now that we’ve pinpointed special interest stores, let’s make

lunch or dinner stops.

room for the shopping bags and begin our trek in North Myrtle

You might be asking, “When are we ever going to get to our

Beach. Quite a few of the events that take place off the beach

first outlet mall?” Right now! Almost directly across the highway

happen on North Myrtle Beach’s Main Street. Festivals, con-

and with easy access from the Myrtle Beach Mall is Tanger

certs and parades are all part of the story. Here in the home of

Outlet Highway 17 N. This is one of two Tanger Outlets in the

South Carolina’s state dance, the shag, you’ll find some charm-

Myrtle Beach area. If one is good, then two must be great. Both

ing specialty shops. In fact, at one stop we can find all of our

offer group services for 15 or more. They’ll provide us a meet &

shagging music and dancing shoes. We’ll certainly find beach-

greet, a complimentary coupon book, merchandise rewards at

wear and souvenirs. The men and women’s boutiques have

host stores and a gift card bonus if we stay a minimum of one

smart fashions, and, as you’d expect, there’s a gift shop that’s

hour. Of course, we’re staying for more than an hour. There are

sure to have exactly what we want.

100 stores at each Tanger location, including Coach, Polo Ralph

Situated between the Intracoastal Waterway and Highway 17 South in North Myrtle Beach sits Barefoot Landing, the LeisureGroupTravel.com

Lauren Factory Store, OshKosh B’gosh and Old Navy Outlet, to name a few. February 2014 35


on location: south ❖ You’re probably getting the picture that the Myrtle Beach area is a shopping mecca, but we still haven’t gotten to the area’s largest shopping-dining-entertainment complex, or the largest enclosed mall. And let’s not forget the area’s specialty shops and theater gift shops. We’ll check them out in just a few minutes, but let’s get to the big one first. We really can spend a full day (or even two!) visiting Broadway at the Beach. Checking out the website prior to arrival

The Myrtle Beach area has two Tanger Outlets, each with 100 stores.

for valuable coupons is a good idea. Upon

to go hungry, and we certainly will not be

arrival let’s stop at the Visitor Center to get

lacking entertainment options. In addition

a welcome greeting and map to plot our

to a dozen spots to listen to live music,

shopping strategy.

comedy and karaoke, Broadway at the

When ready to take a break from exploring the 75 shops, there are plenty of

Beach is home to two live entertainment theaters.

restaurants (24!) offering everything from

The Palace Theatre Myrtle Beach is

hot dogs to sushi. Hard Rock Cafe, Planet

host to Hot Jersey Nights, a walk down

Hollywood and Landry’s Seafood, among

memory lane with the Four Seasons and

others, welcome groups. We’re not going

their perfect harmonies. Also new are Illusions of Magic, an amazing show for all ages, and Jersey Nights Christmas Special. Legends in Concert Myrtle Beach features the “World’s Greatest Live Tribute Show.” A live band and dancers back up tributes from today and yesterday. Enjoy both theaters’ gift shops. The Carolina Opry has entertained groups for 28 years, and today it’s hard to choose between the four fabled shows in this single theater – The Carolina Opry, The Good Vibrations Show, The Carolina Opry Christmas special and LIGHT See the Music. CDs from cast members along with photos and souvenirs, T-shirts and hats capture the memories. Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament offers an entertaining evening of skills demonstrated by knights in the Battle of Champions. The feast alone is reason enough for our visit. It’s a four-course meal fit for a king and his majesty’s court. Like me, though, your favorite cast members just might be the magnificent stallions. Yes, we’ll have time for the gift shop. I’d be happy to share a few tales of pi-

36 February 2014

LeisureGroupTravel.com


rates along the Carolina coast, but it’s better to see them in action. We’re headed to Pirates Voyage Dinner Attraction to witness two competing pirate camps battle for lost treasure. All the action takes place on the deck of their pirate ship, in the 15-foot-deep lagoon and above the ship. Regardless of the victor, we will enjoy a delicious fourcourse feast. The soup is delicious and it’s available in the gift shop. Do not leave the building without some. Hang on to your seats—we still have two more shopping stops. We’ll find the Myrtle Beach area’s largest indoor mall—Coastal Grand Mall—on the south end. With Dillard’s and Belk serving as anchors and JC Penney, Sears and Dick’s Sporting Goods as the supporting cast, will we need more? Absolutely. My favorite, Jos. A. Bank, is there along with Abercrombie & Fitch, Lane Bryant, Bed Bath & Beyond, Ethan Allen, La-Z-Boy Galleries, Men’s Wearhouse and a host of other national brands and local specialty stores. After shopping hard, we’re going to be hungry. Do we eat at the area’s largest food court, or do we dine at one of the restaurants adjacent to the mall? We’re sure to find something to please every appetite. What happens when the U.S. Air Force decides to close the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base? Many of us saw good friends transferred and the community lost a great neighbor. By 2008, though, a new village setting emerged. The Market Common, a shop-

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ping, dining and living center, is a community within itself and one we want to visit. Here’s where we go to find the area’s only Barnes & Noble, Tommy Bahama, Orvis and CityMac Apple Specialist Store. When we get hungry let’s choose between Travinia Italian Kitchen and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro; both are on the top of my list. I’m delighted you could come along while I show off the shopping extravaganza found in the Myrtle Beach area. Using the worn out adage “shop till you drop” may not be appropriate, but frankly I’m exhausted. LGT LeisureGroupTravel.com

February 2014 37


on location: midwest ❖

In the rolling hills around Ste. Genevieve, wineries like Chaumette Vineyards offer tours and tastings.

Missouri

With A French Accent

Laid-back, artsy and oh-so-historical, Ste. Genevieve captivates groups with small-town pleasures

C

By Randy Mink ute, charming, quaint. Hidden gem. Oozing with character. They’re clichés that usually make me cringe, and I try to avoid them. But all fit Ste. Genevieve. It’s just that kind of place. Those overused descriptions came to mind

as I walked the narrow streets of Missouri’s oldest

town, a place that I had always heard about but never visited, even

though I was in the general neighborhood on several occasions. I’d been aware of its claim as the oldest European settlement west of the Mississippi and pictured it being right on the banks of Ol’ Man

River. Well, the town was waterside at one time, until a devastating 1785 flood forced residents to move to higher ground two miles away. Steeped in French colonial heritage, Ste. Genevieve is a National Landmark Historic District with restored homes, antiques and gift shops, art galleries, inviting restaurants and atmospheric bed-and-breakfasts—a perfect setting for a girlfriends getaway, a mystery tour or any group tour. Old-time street lamps set the tone in this town of 4,440, just an hour’s drive south of St. Louis. Ste. Genevieve’s earliest inhabitants were French-Canadians who in the 1740s settled a region known as Illinois Country, part of a vast territory held by France. Though Spain acquired the territory in 1762

ter. Many Germans arrived in the mid-19th century, and they also contributed to the cultural fabric, as did the famous art colony that flourished here in the 1930s. Ste. Genevieve celebrates its heritage with several themed festivals throughout the year, including Jour de Fete in August, the French Festival in June and Rural Heritage Days in October. 38 February 2014

LeisureGroupTravel.com

Missouri Division of Tourism

and Americans of English and other descents moved in after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, the town kept much of its French charac-


Ste. Genevieve Tourism

The French militia appears at Ste. Genevieve festivals and can perform for groups as well.

Several buildings from the French

Church, an imposing red-brick building

colonial era, with their fenced-in gardens,

dedicated in 1880 and surprisingly large for

wide porches, steeply pitched roofs and

such a small town; church tours can be

walls of vertical, hand-hewn logs, are

arranged. All these historical sites are

reminiscent of those found in Quebec,

within easy walking distance of each other.

Normandy and Louisiana. The Louis

The best place to start your group’s day

Bolduc House, built in 1792 by one of the

is the Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center,

richest men in Ste. Genevieve, is one of

operated by the town’s tourism depart-

the best preserved such houses in the na-

ment. Exhibits and a 10-minute video shed

tion and a group-tour staple. Also on the

light on the town’s history. For groups

circuit is the 1792 Bauvais-Amoureux

larger than 15, the center can arrange a

House, 1806 Jacques Guibourd House

discount rate for admission into the historic

and 1818 Felix Valle House State His-

homes. It also can furnish costumed

toric Site, the latter a limestone building

guides, arrange outings to nearby winer-

featuring an authentically stocked mercan-

ies, and schedule special performances by

tile store and the owner’s living quarters.

the French carolers and French militia.

The Ste. Genevieve Museum provides

For accommodations, Ste. Genevieve

another window onto local history. Many

has the 48-room Microtel Inns & Suites

groups visit Ste. Genevieve Catholic

on the outskirts of town. Smaller groups

R. Mueller

Visitors can be serenaded in French by Les Petits Chanteurs, a children’s singing group.

February 2014 39


on location: midwest ❖ might consider splitting up among the historic district’s bed-

Obtain Missouri visitor guides and itineraries and contact groupfriendly suppliers directly at leisuregrouptravel.com/instant-info

and Me Lunch Cafe and Station 2 Cafe.

and-breakfast inns. The graciously restored Southern Hotel,

For visions of Mark Twain, have your bus drive down to the

the largest B&B, offers eight rooms appointed with Victorian

ferry landing, where you might see the boat that takes pas-

antiques. Built as a hotel in 1805, it was renowned for its fine

sengers, cars and even motorcoaches across the Mississippi

food, gambling rooms and pool hall. The Inn St. Gemme

to Illinois. The nearest bridge is a half hour’s drive at Chester,

Beauvais also has eight rooms, plus a private cottage; its can-

Ill. Magnolia Hollow Conservation Area, 10 miles north of

dle-lit restaurant on Fridays and Saturdays offers a classic

Ste. Genevieve, offers the best river lookout point.

French dinner open to the public. Other group-friendly restaurants include the Genevieve

Also outside of town, in the rolling hills of Ste. Genevieve County, await several wineries that offer tours and tastings.

Cafe, located outside the downtown historic district;

Chaumette Vineyards & Winery, more like a wine resort, com-

Audubon’s of Ste. Genevieve, opening this spring in a for-

mands a stunning setting with views of the vineyards and Ozark

mer hotel; and two venerable places on the courthouse

foothills. It has a restaurant, spa, gift shop/art gallery, wedding

square—The Anvil Saloon and Historic Old Brick House.

chapel and villa accommodations. Crown Valley Winery and

The latter claims to be the oldest brick building (1785) west of

Weingarten Vineyard also can handle large groups. In down-

the Mississippi. Both the Old Brick House and Anvil Saloon

town Ste. Genevieve, wine enthusiasts pursue their passion at

offer buffet options for groups and are known for their fried

Ste. Genevieve Winery and the Show-Me Shop, a gourmet

chicken. One local specialty on their menus is liver dumplings,

foods store with Missouri-made wines, cheeses and sausages.

a German-inspired side dish much like the noodle-like spaet-

To round out a Ste. Genevieve itinerary, groups might con-

zle. The Anvil Saloon, with high ceilings, exposed brick walls,

sider a tour at Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary, a rescue facil-

vintage photos and original maple floor, boasts an exquisitely

ity for exotic cats that have endured neglect or abuse. A

carved maple bar that has been in place since 1855, when a

permanent home to five tigers and a lioness, it offers 40-minute

steamboat struck a local sandbar and needed to unload some

general tours and longer specialized tours.

of its weight. The apple and peach crumb pie are both loaded

For complete tourist information, contact the Ste.

with big chunks of streusel. An upstairs room can seat groups

Genevieve Welcome Center, 800-373-7007; groups@visitste-

up to 60. Other downtown dining options are Sirro’s, Stella

gen.com; visitstegen.com. LGT

Southeast Missouri history comes to life at the exquisitely restored Southern Hotel, the town’s largest B&B, and the Ste. Genevieve Museum.

Missouri Division of Tourism

40 February 2014

Fred Lynch

LeisureGroupTravel.com


OKC

Must-Sees

10 Top Attractions

O

By Randy Mink

klahoma City is not only the capital of Oklahoma but takes pride in the title “Horse Show Capital of the World,” as it hosts more national and international equine events than any other city. But even if your group doesn’t get to a rodeo or horse show,

there are many year-round attractions that display the state’s cowboy roots and Native American heritage.

Groups can find plenty to do downtown, including a night out at Chesapeake Energy Arena, home of basketball’s Oklahoma City Thunder.

In addition to Western swagger, visitors discover that Oklahoma City abounds with urban flair. First-rate dining and entertainment options, along with thought-provoking cultural sites, provide plenty of fuel for itinerary planners. Here are 10 ideas on what to include on a swing

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

Bricktown Entertainment District Enjoy a night on the town in this former ware-

through Oklahoma’s largest city:

house area, a beehive of activity just east of downtown. Choose from music

The country’s wild ’n’ wooly past comes alive

clubs, sports bars, cafes,

at this home to one of the world’s most compre-

fun shops and dozens of

See newscasts, witness rescue efforts and

hensive collections of

restaurants, many with

hear survivor accounts of the horrific April 19,

Western and American In-

outdoor patios. Stroll or

1995 terror bombing of downtown’s Alfred P.

dian art and artifacts. Pop

take a water taxi cruise

Murrah Federal Building.

culture rears its head in

along the mile-long canal that flows below street

Then head outside to

the nostalgic exhibits on

level, catch a minor league baseball game at

the Field of Empty Chairs

TV and movie cowboys.

Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark or visit the Ameri-

overlooking a reflecting

Also explore the Rodeo Hall of Fame and Prosper-

can Banjo Museum. (welcometobricktown.com)

pool. Each of the 168

ity Junction, a replica `frontier town with store-

bronze-and-stone chairs

fronts and walk-in buildings. Save time for the

represents a life lost. Also note the Survivor Tree,

awesome gift shop. (nationalcowboymuseum.org)

tionalmemorial.org)

Myriad Botanical Gardens & Tropical Bridge Conservatory

In this historic commercial district that is home to the Oklahoma National Stockyards Com-

an American elm dating back to 1927 that miraculously withstood the blast. (oklahomacityna-

Stockyards City

Oklahoma History Center

pany, shop for cowboy

This Smithsonian affiliate, located across from

boots, enjoy a great steak

the State Capitol, tells the story of Oklahoma in

and witness real cowboys

galleries filled with thousands of artifacts and

at work at the world’s

more than 200 hands-on

largest live cattle auction

Take a break from frenetic city life at this 17-

audio, video and com-

beginning every Monday

acre downtown oasis just west of the Cox Con-

puter activities. Besides

morning. Groups will have fun browsing the

vention Center. The cylindrical, steel-and-glass

touching on cowboys and

Western wear shops on South Agnew and Ex-

conservatory, known as

early pioneers, the mu-

change avenues. Have dinner or rib-stickin’ break-

the “tube,” houses more

seum spotlights aviation,

fast grub at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, an OKC

than 2,000 plant vari-

World War II, the oil industry and the state’s lo-

eties in two distinct cli-

cation in Tornado Alley. One gallery spotlights all

mates. Be sure to leave

39 Indian tribes of Oklahoma. (okhistory.org)

time to walk the grounds, which include a lake, innovative water features, sculptures and flower gardens. The Great Lawn and Band Shell host concerts and other special events. (myriadgardens.com) 42 February 2014

Making friends at the Oklahoma City Zoo

institution since 1910. (stockyardscity.org)


on location: west ❖

Obtain Oklahoma visitor guides and itineraries and contact groupfriendly suppliers directly at leisuregrouptravel.com/instant-info

Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum Named the 2008 Best New Attraction in Oklahoma by the Oklahoma Travel Industry Association, the museum spotlights famous and not-so-famous Oklahomans through high-tech, touch-screen

Science Museum Oklahoma

displays. It houses the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, which honors native sons

Explore hundreds of interactive exhibits, visit the

and daughters like Gene Autry, Reba McEntire, Will Rogers, Jim Thorpe and

planetarium, navigate a Segway obstacle course

Mickey Mantle. The stately building is the former home of the Mid-Continent

and enjoy a larger-than-life movie experience in

Life Insurance Co., and tours of its president’s office as furnished in the

the Dome Theater. Amateur

1920s are available. (oklahomaheritage.com)

sleuths are taken through a crime scene and forensics lab in Whodunit: The Science of Solving Crimes. Also popular are entertaining shows that focus on scientific fun, plus the exhibits on space and aviation. The museum is home to the Oklahoma Space and Aviation Hall of Fame and International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. (sciencemuseumok.org)

Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Garden Across the parking lot from Science Museum Oklahoma are the expansive grounds that 2,000 animals, including 50 endangered or threatened species, call home. Highlights include the state-of-the-art Elephant Habitat and Great EscAPE, a rain forest environment with gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees. The Oklahoma Trails section has creatures native to the state, including bears, bison and bobcats. Also

PA S T

PR ESENCE

FROM OUR RUGGED WESTERN PAST TO THE MAJESTIC PRESENCE OF OUR CITY’S EVER-CHANGING SKYLINE, OKLAHOMA CITY IS THE PERFECT BLEND OF HISTORICAL PRIDE AND FORWARD PROGRESS. IT’S BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL …

catch a sea lion show and check out the Cat Forest, Lion Overlook and Children’s Zoo. (okczoo.com)

Frontier City Oklahoma City’s only theme park, set in a replica 1880s Western town, is an all-day fun kingdom offering rides, attractions and theater shows. Roller coasters include the Rodeo Round-Up, Silver Bullet and Wildcat. Prepare to get wet at Wild West Water Works activity area or while riding Renegade Rapids and Mystery River Log Flume. Make sure to catch the gun-

VISITOKC.C OM

fight stunt show. (frontiercity.com) LeisureGroupTravel.com

February 2014 43


on location: south ❖

I

Obtain Virginia visitor guides and itineraries and contact groupfriendly suppliers directly at leisuregrouptravel.com/instant-info

t has been said before, but worth repeating: Like an army, groups move on their stomachs. Touring Virginia, there’s no end

to dining options for your group travelers. Virginia certainly has a rich tradition of food and drink. In the early 1800s founding father Thomas Jefferson planted and cultivated grapes. Today Virginia wineries utilize the fertile grounds in more than 225 locations. Local distillers and craft breweries are also springing up throughout the Commonwealth.

this very morning.

SEASIDE VIRGINIA’S CULINARY BOUNTY

The first official Thanksgiving

For dessert we’ll venture to Cape Charles’ quaint downtown and the Cape Charles Coffee Shop, housed in a former bank and clothing store. Remnants of the latter’s architecture are still prevalent. A visit to Virginia’s Eastern Shore is complete with a stop at Chatham Vineyards. The owner provides insight into the business with a tour of this award-winning winery. Afterwards enjoy a tasting and some refreshing palate cleansers.

in America took place at Berke-

We’re headed back to the Vir-

ley Plantation in 1619. The menu

ginia mainland over the Bay

is long gone, but it’s a good bet a

Bridge-Tunnel. It is still considered

catch from Virginia’s abundant

“One of the Seven Engineering

waters was on the table.

Wonders of the Modern World.”

Enough history, though. Let’s

Consider the Barbecue on the

fast forward to the present and

Bay option at Virginia Originals,

take a look at one of Virginia’s

the only restaurant on the Bay

treasures. The “Coastal Harvest

Bridge-Tunnel, and save time for

Feast,” an itinerary offered by

shopping in the gift store.

the Virginia Beach CVB, is a de-

On our way to the Virginia

lightful taste of seaside Virginia

Beach Farmers Market the next

communities. From the Atlantic

morning, there are plenty of fun

Ocean and Chesapeake Bay through the area’s rich agricultural heritage, you’ll enjoy a true taste of the region. Our arrival in Virginia Beach begins with an introduction to some of the city’s best group-friendly restaurants. Off the beaten path on Rudee Inlet you’ll experience a pro-

From ham to clams, the “Coastal Harvest Feast” tour dishes up a smorgasbord of tasty options By Dave Bodle

gressive tasting at Rudee’s on the Inlet and

things to do. The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Museum defines the importance of Virginia’s abundant waters, while the Military Aviation Museum shares the area’s rich aviation history. The region’s largest farmers market is a showplace for farmers and their harvest. Be ready to sample everything from ice cream to seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Rockafeller’s Restaurant. A nice finish to the evening is a stroll in

For lunch and an afternoon of exploring, we’re off to Smithfield.

the gentle sea breezes on Virginia Beach’s famous boardwalk. Just

The Virginia Landmarks Register states Smithfield is “perhaps the

off the boardwalk on Atlantic Avenue is the Seaside Raw Bar,

best preserved of Virginia’s Colonial seaports.” Here history and,

which serves up good oysters and clams.

yes, hams blend seamlessly into a charming small town.

On day two we depart Virginia Beach and roll across the Chesa-

We’ll start our visit with a delightful lunch at the Smithfield Inn

peake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Our first stop

Restaurant & Tavern. Enjoy Chesapeake Bay favorites and Smith-

will be the Cherrystone Aqua Farm for a tour that takes us through

field Ham on a yeast roll. The afternoon goes by quickly as we visit

the development of both oysters and clams. Virginia oysters have

the Smithfield Museum and browse the shops on Main and Church

a regional flavor. In fact there are seven regions and each has a

streets in Smithfield’s Historic District. Taste of Smithfield is a cafe

distinct salinity and a rating by saltiness, sweetness and but-

and gourmet grocery featuring Smithfield Hams and all varieties of

tery/creaminess. Our visit today borders on the Upper Bay and

Virginia peanuts.

Lower Bay Eastern Shore regions.

A short drive leads to Darden’s Country Store, where we step

Lunch with an incredible view is at the Aqua Restaurant in

inside a wooden shed and have the host share the process of tra-

Cape Charles. You know the oysters we’re enjoying are fresh.

ditional Virginia ham curing. It takes about a year for the ham to be

They were harvested and sent from the Cherrystone Aqua Farm

cured, seasoned, cooked and sliced thin.

44 February 2014

LeisureGroupTravel.com


ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: For a look at culinary-themed itineraries throughout Virginia, see Dave Bodle’s article at http://tinyurl.com/mbrug37

Make Room for the Memories.

After returning to our hotel for a brief rest, we’re off to the Virginia Beach Town Center. The area’s hottest destination is a mix of shopping, dining and entertainment options all within walking distance. Enjoy dinner at one of 17 restaurants. Culminating a culinary tour of Virginia Beach is a Harvest Feast at Cellars Restaurant Bar & Lounge at Cherry Point Manor Bed & Breakfast, where the chef specializes in “French country with a Southern flair.” Local aqua and agricultural seasonal products are always featured. Many of the items you might just recognize from your travels the past few days. Thanks for joining me on this tasty adventure and do remember–Virginia is for Food Lovers! LGT

An adventure of historic proportion is waiting for your groups—at two living-history museums that explore America’s beginnings. They can board replicas of colonial ships. Grind corn in a Powhatan Indian village. Try on English armor inside a palisaded fort. And join historical interpreters at a Continental (YT`LUJHTWTLU[MVYHÄYZ[OHUKSVVR H[ [OL 9L]VS\[PVU»Z LUK ;HRL WHY[ PU guided tours and hands-on programs. Tell them not to forget their cameras. Because the history here is life size. And their memories will be even bigger!

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ecadent buffets, electrifying entertainment and the chance to strike it rich inject any tour itinerary with high-stakes fun, immersing travelers in a magical world that seems light years away from the ordinary. Highlighted here are gaming meccas that will make your groups feel like they’ve won the jackpot:

D

Scioto Downs Racino Columbus, Ohio cioto Downs has brought gaming to the

S

Columbus community for over 50 years.

Ohio's first Racino brings Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) gaming and harness horse racing together. The gaming floor has more than 2,100 of the industry’s most popular games. Also enjoy seasonal harness horse racing every May-September and daily simulcast wagering, experience live entertainment and dine in one of four restaurants, including The Grove Buffet with its seven food stations. Scioto Downs Racino is open 24/7, 365 days a year. (sciotodowns.com)

Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park Northfield, Ohio

T

his brand new casino opened Dec. 18 at Northfield Park, a popular spot for live

harness racing and simulcasting year-round. Featuring 2,200 Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) machines, the massive gaming and entertainment complex between Cleveland and Akron sizzles with a rock vibe and offers live shows with multiple stages and areas for concerts and events. Decorated throughout with a priceless collection of rock and roll memorabilia, the Rocksino has four restaurants, including a Hard Rock Cafe and Kosar’s Wood-Fired Grill. (hrrocksinonorthfieldpark.com)

46 February 2014

46 February 2014

LeisureGroupTravel.com


GROUP MOTORCOACHING WILL GE T YOU RESORTING TO MORE FUN THAN EVER! Reasons to book your motorcoach group to Harrahâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cherokee Casino Resort TODAY: s 7ERETHROWINGALOTMOREFUNATYOUWITHCARDS CRAPSANDROULETTE TABLEGAMES s 'REATRESTAURANTOPTIONSLIKE0AULA$EENS+ITCHEN THE&OOD#OURT ANDTHE SEAT#HEFS3TAGE"UFFET s -OTORCOACH,OBBYCOMFORTABLYSEATS s $OUBLEDGAMINGSPACEFORMOREFUN s ,OADINGUNLOADINGAREAINCOVEREDDECK!.$ADRIVERSLOUNGE s /VER GREATROOMS"OOKYOUROVERNIGHTSTAYTODAY s 'ETREADYFOROOHINGANDAAHINGWITH-ANDARA3PA s *AW DROPPINGSHOWSANDFREEWEEKENDENTERTAINMENTIN %SSENCE,OUNGE s ,OCATEDIN#HEROKEE .#ATTHEENTRANCETO THE'REAT3MOKY-OUNTAINS For more information or to book your group, call toll free 1-877-778-8138 or email bwebb@cherokee.harrahs.com.

-USTBEYEARSOFAGEOROLDERANDPOSSESSAVALIDPHOTO)$TOENTERTHECASINOmOORANDTO GAMBLE+NOW7HEN4O3TOP"EFORE9OU3TARTŽ'AMBLING0ROBLEM#ALL    !N%NTERPRISEOFTHE%ASTERN"ANDOFTHE#HEROKEE.ATIONš #AESARS,ICENSE#OMPANY ,,#

Harrahâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cherokee Casino Resort Cherokee, North Carolina

H

arrahâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cherokee Casino Resort is an enterprise of

the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation and located in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. The Casino offers over 4,000 games including slot machines and traditional table games such as blackjack, roulette and craps. The property also features over 1,100 hotel rooms, 10 restaurants, the Essence Lounge, a 3,000-seat Event Center, Mandara Spa and plenty of shopping. (harrahscherokee.com)

Royal River Casino & Hotel Flandreau, South Dakota

R

oyal Riverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s casino floor features more than 350 slot machines, along with blackjack, roulette and a dedicated poker

room. Guests at the 120-room hotel enjoy spacious accommodations with whirlpool bath tubs, plus a swimming pool and hot tub. Riverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Bend Restaurant is known for its sumptuous buffet. The

HOP ON THE BUS AND SET YOURSELF FREE! GROUP SALES 330.908.7772 GROUP.SALES@HRRNP.COM

Royal Room features nationally known musical artists and comedians. Group tours are welcome, with packages available for both day trips and overnight stays. (royalrivercasino.com)

Circus Circus Las Vegas, Nevada

L

ocated on the Las Vegas Strip, Circus Circus has

100,000 square feet of gaming in four full-size casinos. The resortâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 3,767 guest rooms and 135 suites are housed in three towers and five, three-story 10777 Northfield Road | hrrocksinonorthfieldpark.com

buildings. Circus acts perform on the Carnival Midway, which offers 200

facebook.com/hrrocksinonp | twitter.com/hrrocksinonp

classic games. The five-acre Adventuredome, the largest indoor theme

FOR FREE, CONFIDENTIAL HELP 24/7, CALL THE OHIO RESPONSIBLE GAMING HELPLINE AT 1.800.589.9966.

park in America, has a roller coaster, swinging pirate ship, Ferris wheel

Š2014 Hard Rock International (USA), Inc. All rights reserved.

and FX theater with two 4-D special effects ride films, plus 20 other rides and attractions. (circuscircus.com)

48 February 2014

LeisureGroupTravel.com


Coeur dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Alene Casino Resort Hotel Coeur dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Alene, Idaho

G

uests at this Inland Northwest playground can indulge in a massage or facial at the spa, hit the bingo hall or try their luck at more than 1,600 video gaming machines.

Every month there are more than 1,100 jackpot winners. Another popular amenity is Circling Raven Golf Club, one of the finest new golf challenges in the region. Guests at the 202-room resort can choose from multiple restaurants and bars, including a food

Clipart.com

court, High Mountain Buffet and Chinook Steak, Pasta & Spirits. (cdacasino.com)

50 February 2014

LeisureGroupTravel.com


By Dave Bodle

O N M AR K ET I NG

For Repeat Business, Consider A Customer Loyalty Program

O

ver the past few years I’ve

more than first-time buyers. This fact

dedicated considerable

would seem to make the case for a

space to finding new cus-

tour company to offer product in both

tomers. Hopefully some of

the value and luxury price points.

those thoughts worked and money in-

Okay, this customer retention thing

vested has paid dividends. However,

makes sense, but where do we go

incentives. How many of us in tour

as any astute businessperson knows,

from here. Following are some obser-

& travel have a customer rewards

bringing in a new customer is not the

vations from outside the industry that

program? Of course, we use comps

end game. Today, let’s give some

just may apply.

to incentivize individual tours, but how

thought to marketing ideas that turn

We touched on customer service

many are offering a long-term program

those new customers into repeat,

and recognize its importance, but let’s

that promotes and encourages addi-

long-term, loyal clients.

be certain to emphasize personalized

tional travel? Operators can reward

attention. Throw away the thought that

their groups by mileage traveled,

business is based on relationships.

one size fits all when we think of our

overnight stays or dollars spent. A sup-

We accept the idea that by providing

customers’ interests. Based on buying

plier with a program that rewards oper-

good customer service, they will cer-

habits (both our product and others),

ators over the long-term helps that

tainly come back. That’s a great start.

let’s personalize our customer offers

operator sell more tours to their desti-

However, if you think it’s unnecessary

and communications. I’ve borrowed

nation.

to have a formal customer retention

the term “this is a high-touch industry.”

program, now’s the perfect time to turn

Let’s not leave that thinking on the

series of training workshops for tour &

the page.

marketplace floor.

travel suppliers. I vividly remember my

Let’s be honest. The tour & travel

Years ago a close friend and I did a

For years direct marketing folks

partner saying that the first 30 minutes

of any business, but here are the facts

have known that the best time to sell

of a group’s arrival at the hotel will set

from a SumAll study. They might just

someone is right after they’ve bought.

the tone for the entire tour. If they have

help us understand why customer loy-

When a tour is successful, we must

a bad experience, they’ll be reliving it

alty programs are possibly more im-

have a follow-up offer ready. They

the entire trip. The point is simple.

portant than new customer strategies.

took the tour because the theme and

Whether you’re a tour operator or

New business is certainly the lifeline



Of our first-time customers, 27

accompanying options attracted them.

supplier, make certain that both for

percent will make an additional pur-

Now is the perfect time to offer those

first-timers and loyal customers, their

chase. However, customers that have

very customers something that’s the

very first experience is exceptional

purchased four times will return 60

same, but different. Destinations, too,

and memorable.

percent of the time.

need to be thinking a “series” of same,



Up to 40 percent of our business

revenue can come from repeat busi-

but different itineraries for operators. This past year I’ve visited more than

ness. It’s important to note that this

a dozen states via air, rental car and

revenue comes at a lower cost since

train. I have mileage cards from all of

there is less investment than needed

them, plus hotel and even restaurant

We work hard to get new business. To keep those customers, we need to work even harder. LGT Contact Dave at 843-997-2880 or email dave@ptmgroups.com.

to attract a new customer. 

Looking Ahead To Our

Those businesses on the high-

APRIL ISSUE

end percentage of repeat business experience higher revenue returns







Family Travel Glorious Gardens Theaters/Shows  Minnesota  California  Wyoming Kansas  New York  Pennsylvania  Travel South States  Central & South America

than businesses on the lower end of

 Michigan 

repeat percentages.

See our page-flip edition & past issues at LeisureGroupTravel.com We can help showcase your business to groups. Call us 630.794.0696 or advertising@ptmgroups.com



Repeat customers tend to spend

LeisureGroupTravel.com

February 2014 51


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Your Group

Deserves Platinum

For the 7th year in a row, Collette has

they can trust their travelers to us.

received Leisure Group Travel’s

We have successfully operated guided

Platinum Reader’s Choice Award

travel for 95 years. For generations,

for the top Tour Operator. Not

Collette has been family-owned and operated and has given travelers

only do we deliver extraordinary travel experiences, but our financial stability puts

inspirational adventures around the world.

group leaders at ease because they know

guided by travel

For more information call 800.762.5345 or your local Travel Agent. www.gocollette.com


Feb 2014 Leisure Group Travel Magazine