Marcus Hotels Press > Press Coverage

08.23.17

U.S. News & World Report

7 Perfect Mini-Moon Getaway Ideas for Newlyweds

By Sheryl Nance-Nash

Increasingly, couples are opting to delay taking a traditional honeymoon. Instead, they’re retreating on whirlwind escapes after walking down the aisle to enjoy some instant rest and relaxation. Mini-moons, or three or four-day postnuptial getaways, also appeal to cost-conscious soon-to-be brides and grooms who are looking to rebuild their funds and go off on their dream vacation in a few months or later in the future. Whether you’re looking for an enchanting escape, a rustic getaway or a full-on outdoor adventure, here are ideal places to plan a mini-moon with your better half.

Charleston, South Carolina

This southern city is known for its romantic atmosphere. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride or plan to bike and picnic along the waterfront. After taking in the city sights, you can dig into the city’s famous Southern cuisine (think: gumbo and shrimp and grits) at classic institutions like Husk. What’s more, it’s easy to swoon over Charleston’s enchanting hotels and inns. Take for example The Spectator Hotel, which recalls the extravagance of the Roaring ’20s and is set in the heart of Charleston’s Historic District. At the property, there’s an emphasis on quality service and amenities, with personal butlers and locally sourced in-room breakfast menu options, snacks and beverages. Plus, you can enjoy complimentary vintage bicycles to make your way around the city before retiring to one of the city’s best speakeasy bars showcasing Prohibition-era cocktails, The Bar.

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Lake Geneva is ideal for a romantic duos craving foliage, lake views and cozy restaurants on a long weekend escape. Take walks along Lake Geneva’s 26-mile Shore Path, which boasts striking views of historic mansions. When you’re ready for more activity, Dan Patch Stables at Grand Geneva offers guided 45-minute horseback riding treks through hundreds of acres of lush landscapes. And for couples looking to hit the links, The Brute and Highlands golf courses offer flowing fairways. The award-winning Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, a 1,300-acre resort in Lake Geneva, recently opened 29 new villas with amenities such as an outdoor swimming pool, as well as six fire pits. The villas also offer in-room spa treatments. When hunger calls, favorite local spots include Ristorante Brissago, Lake Geneva’s premier Italian restaurant, with its handmade pastas and comprehensive wine selection, along with The Geneva Chophouse and Tuscan Tavern and Grill.

 Lake Placid, New York

Outdoorsy couples will love Lake Placid’s beaches, which are rife with opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, boating, hiking and taking sunset cruises. If you two just want to chill, settle into a reclining beach chair on a white-sand beach before delighting in the area’s excellent cuisine. Lake Placid offers a variety of cuisine, from traditional American barbecue at the much-raved-about Smoke Signals restaurant to organic, fine dining to Simply Gourmet, an eatery featuring 46 different sandwich options named after the 46 High Peaks in New York state. Top-notch resorts such as Lake Placid Lodge and the Whiteface Lodge offering a woodsy yet elegant experience. Vacation days can be spent communing with nature, exploring Olympic village or popping into quirky local stores.

Indian Wells, California

Newlyweds looking for a memorable wedding weekend getaway should consider escaping to this desert oasis in the Coachella Valley. Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa, with its California palms and mountains, offers an especially romantic atmosphere. Explore the San Andreas Fault by private Jeep tour or cruise to Joshua Tree National Parkto take in an abundance of natural wonders with a rock-climbing session. After a day out in the desert, unwind on the balcony of one of the property’s many Mediterranean-style villas featuring sweeping views of the Santa Rosa Mountains. As the evening draws near, pamper yourselves at the newly renovated Well Spa, where you and your better half can take a dip in one of the salt pools or soothing eucalyptus steam rooms. The Well Spa’s Pittura Festa treatment encourages couples to a paint each other with a palette of colorful, healing muds, while sipping champagne before receiving a custom couples massage. Afterward, cozy up to cocktails at Miramonte’s oversized outdoor fire pits as the sun sets before closing the day with a candlelit dinner at the recently remodeled, Citrus & Palm Restaurant, for a farm-to-table dining experience.

Vail, Colorado

Vail is an idyllic village tucked into the Rocky Mountains. In winter, enjoy pastimes such as skiing, snowboarding and tubing. And in the warmer months, you can enjoy biking, hiking, fishing, boating, golfing, paddleboarding and horseback riding. When you’re ready to unwind, join a yoga class around town or make your way to the spa. And when hunger sets in, there’s no shortage of excellent cuisine. You won’t want to leave Vail without eating at Pendulum, Matsuhisa, Sweet Basil, Vintage and Mountain Standard. If you’re looking for luxurious accommodations, treat yourself to a stay at The Sebastian – Vail, a Timbers Resort. The property boasts a pools with mountain-views, hot tubs, a spa, excellent cuisine at its restaurant, Leonara, and great cocktails at The Frost Bar. Another excellent lodging choice for couples is Sonnenalp, which boasts a variety of restaurants, a spa, a tranquility pool and even an oxygen bar.

 Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Then there’s charming about Cape Cod with its vibrant clam shakes and New England cottages. You might want to celebrate your newlywed status by staying at the only five-star resort on Cape Cod, Wequassett Resort and Golf Club. Swim in the oceanfront pool, enjoy myriad water sports, or partake in a round of golf or tennis. You won’t want to skip checking out the nearby town of Chatham, where you can shop at boutiques, enjoy people-watching and feast on oysters paired with your beverage of choice.

Big Sky, Montana

For an off-the-beaten-track escape, consider stealing away to Big Sky Country. At the Collective Yellowstone at Moonlight Basin, you can get a luxury tent at an alpine lake, equipped with a wood-burning stove, a private deck with Adirondack chairs, a private bathroom and a king-size bed with luxurious linens. And you’re sure to get a good night’s rest after spending the day hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, paddleboarding, canoeing, fly-fishing or hitting the links with your partner. Soothe any sore muscles with a private, in-tent massage. Best of all, breakfast is complimentary, picnic and boxed lunches are available and a three-course farm-to-table meal prepared lakeside is available for dinner.

08.23.17

Money Inc.

Six New Resort Villas to Put on Your Travel List

By Matt Kirouac

From Alpine slopes to Thai pools, villas are a surefire way to up the ante on luxury travel, and elaborate new versions are popping up all over the world. Decked out with multiple rooms and amenities, villas are all about capturing that ultimate escape, immersing guests into a faraway world while still making them feel right at home. Here are six of the most noteworthy new and upcoming villas to put on your international itinerary.

Grand Geneva Resort, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Hidden away in the serene Wisconsin woods a couple miles from downtown Lake Geneva, historic Grand Geneva Resort has been a popular draw for Midwestern Americans for decades — the hotel originally served as the Playboy Club, ca. 1968. It’s come a long way over the years, implementing new attractions, incredible restaurants, activities and expansions, all while maintaining the warm hospitality and woodland comfort that’s always made Grand Geneva so endearing. Chief among those expansions is a brand-new set of familial villas. Tucked along a private stretch of roadway, the villas offer the ultimate peaceful escape for families, couples and groups of friends looking for a sense of home with the added bonus of luxury and Lake Geneva proximity. Villas range in size from studios to three bedrooms, each one elegantly appointed with ample living areas, full kitchens, private bedrooms, grocery delivery, washers, dryers and furnished outdoor patios. Exclusive to villa guests are a couple fire pits and pools. Depending on what size villa you’re after, various options include lofted bedrooms, stone countertop kitchens and soaking tubs. Just outside the villas is a nature trail that weaves through the woods, offering a fun way to explore the grounds. While you’re here, be sure and book a reservation at Geneva Chophouse. The steak- and seafood-centric restaurant in the main resort building fills up fast, thanks to its quality food and views overlooking the ground and golf course.

Banyan Tree Cabo Marques, Acapulco, Mexico

Banyan Tree Cabo Marques is already one of the ultimate destinations for villas, what with its 45 private enclaves housed on stilts and surrounded by mountains and Acapulco coastline. Now there’s even more to fawn over with the introduction of the resort’s latest, the jaw-dropping Villa Cerezo, a 4,500-sq.-ft., three-story villa nestled over cliffs along the Pacific Ocean. With enough room for up to 15 guests, the sprawling space features five ocean view bedrooms, eclectic artwork, a full kitchen, 43-inch HD LED TV screen, an office and an outdoor space with heated swimming pool, ocean views, a solarium and garden.

DoublePool Villas by Banyan Tree, Phuket, Thailand

Proving itself to be quite the expert on all things villas, Banyan Tree also operates a boutique establishment in Phuket’s Bang Tao Bay anchored by some pretty incredible poolside villas. There’s an impressive 24 of these villas, each one wholly immersive, transportive and distinct, surrounded by gardens and a lagoon. Villas range in size from one- to three-bedroom, decked out with sleek, contemporary Thai decor and cozy comforts. Most striking is the floating bedroom pavilion, a sleep space surrounded by tall glass windows over a private wading pool. It doesn’t get much more zen than this. Outside, each villa also has its own personal infinity edge pool and a Thai sala, a thatched roof pavilion that’s great for spa treatments or stargazing. In addition to resort dining at French-Vietnamese restaurant Tré, guests can also utilize in-villa dining programs, including breakfasts prepared by villa hosts and optional meals and events conducted by a private chef.

Hôtel Le Toiny, St. Barth’s

Come December, the most iconic hotel on St. Barth’s is getting a major upgrade with the addition of eight new villas to the 25-year old property. The villas are capping off an extensive series of multi-phase renovations for the hotel, whose hillside locale overlooking Toiny Bay has long marked it as one of the most beautiful vantage points on the island. Guests can expect four one-story one-bedroom villas, three two-story one-bedroom villas and one two-story two-bedroom king villa. In line with the rest of the resort, each villa will be totally secluded and freestanding, with private infinity pools and terraces looking over the Caribbean Sea.

Milaidhoo Island Maldives, Maldives

Private villas are the name of the luxury game at Milaidhoo Island Maldives, an immaculate property that opened late-2016 over 13 acres in the Baa Atoli’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Altogether, there are 50 villas on the grounds, each one meticulously designed by a local Maldivian architect. Accessed via seaplane from Maldives International Airport, the villas are exquisite in their beautiful natural surroundings, boasting 180-degree outdoor views. Inside, each one is bedecked with contemporary art pieces and custom-made furnishings. While remote, each one is easily accessible to restaurants, water sports, yoga and other activities, with private freshwater pools on the sun deck, day beds, soaking tubs, rain showers and hanging Maldivian swings called “undhoali.” Guests can ultimately choose from one of two styles of villa, a water pool villa or a beach pool. The former consists of thatched-roof villas situated on stilts over the ocean, with steps leading right into the water and a glass wall shower that affords views into the ocean. Then there are the beach pool villas, located on the white sand beach amid a shroud of palm trees.

Blockhaus, Lucerne, Switzerland

Nestled high in the hills overlooking Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne and the Alps, Blockhaus is the quintessential mountain villa. Located on-property of the new Bürgenstock Resort, it doesn’t get more pleasantly isolated than this. The car-free resort feels preserved in time, free of congestion and clamor, with a focus on natural inspiration, utilizing earthy elements that give the space the feel of a lavish ski lodge. It’s accessed via catamaran from Lucerne, which drops visitors off at the resort’s dock where they then ride the funicular railway directly into the lobby of the Bürgenstock Hotel. Elsewhere on the resort, guests can enjoy a 66-seat private cinema, Lakeview Bar & Lounge, Spices Kitchen & Terrace and the indoor-outdoor Bürgenstock Alpine Spa. Beyond Blockhaus, the resort also has 10 Lakeview Residence Suites, which consist of private villas ranging from 5,791 to 8,762-sq.-ft., each with views overlooking the lake and mountains.

08.22.17

WGN-TV Lunchbreak

Lunchbreak: Tomato and basil caprese and wood oven baked sea scallops, prepared by Grand Geneva Resort and Spa chef Jason Poole

Jason Poole, Executive Chef

Ristoranté Brissago

Grand Geneva Resort and Spa
7036 Grand Geneva Way
Lake Geneva, WI
(800) 558-3417
www.grandgeneva.com/

Tomato and Basil Caprese

Ingredients:
6 heirloom tomatoes
6 buffalo mozzarella
6 basil leaves
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive Oil
Fleur De Sel
fresh cracked pepper

Directions:
Cut tomatoes according to individual sizes. Cut mozzarella in half. Gently fold tomatoes and basil leaves with oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in center of plate and place mozzarella in middle, season mozzarella, and drizzle balsamic

Wood Oven Baked Sea Scallops

Ingredients:
6 ounces of sea scallops (fresh and cleaned)
1 teaspoon of garlic
6 pieces of cippolini onions quartered
2 ounces of White Wine
1 ounce of Parmesan cheese
half of a fresh squeezed lemon
2 oregano sprigs
1 ounce of butter

Directions:

Place oil into the pan, add onions and garlic and caramelize. Add sea scallops, season with salt and pepper, and brown on both sides.  Once scallops are browned, add lemon juice and white wine and reduce by 2/3rds.  Finish dish with cheese, butter and herbs. The cheese and butter will thicken the sauce in the dish.

View segment here.

08.22.17

Daily Herald – August 13, 2017

Nearing 50, Grand Geneva’s beauty remains stunning and its future even brighter

By Len Ziehm

With the big tournaments held recently at Erin Hills and Whistling Straits and the opening of Sand Valley, it may seem that luster could be off the Wisconsin golf destination that started all those good things.

Don’t you believe it, though. Grand Geneva is doing just fine, thank you.

Dave Hallenbeck, director of golf at the Lake Geneva resort, has seen it all in his four decades there. He’s impressed with the changes in golf throughout Wisconsin as well as what’s gone on at his home base.

“Blackwolf Run (Kohler), The Bull at Pinehurst Farms (a Jack Nicklaus design in Sheboygan Falls), Erin Hills, Sand Valley. These are world-class golf properties that I never would have expected in Wisconsin. Geneva National has been very successful. They have a wonderful facility over there,” said Hallenbeck. “Keeping up was our biggest challenge.”

But Grand Geneva has more than kept up with all the improvements in the Badger State, and that goes for neighboring Illinois as well. The resort is an easy drive from all parts of the Chicago area and its courses are well-known to players from that area.

Coming up in 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the resort and the 25th anniversary of its ownership by Marcus Corporation. Both milestones are meaningful, because no Wisconsin destination has the history that Grand Geneva has, and that has been beautifully chronicled in a coffee-table book, “A Grand Tale: The History of Grand Geneva Resort,” published by Nei-Turner Media Group.

The first attraction:

The building of the Playboy Club-Hotel started it all. It was completed in 1968 and brought visitors by the droves to Lake Geneva. Hugh Hefner was, of course, the man behind that.

Hallenbeck first arrived during the Playboy days. At age 19 he was a lifeguard at the Playboy Club’s swimming pool, one of the first heated outdoor pools anywhere.

Now 63, he returned after college to work as an assistant under the late head golf professional Ken Judd 40 years ago. Golf wasn’t part of the equation when Hefner started the Playboy Club. Skiing was available when the resort opened. Golf arrived shortly thereafter when architect Robert Bruce Harris designed The Brute — a course way ahead of its time when it opened.

“At the time it was massive, and that’s what Playboy wanted,” recalled Hallenbeck. “Big greens, big bunkers, one of the longest courses at 7,300 yards from the tips. In the 1960s that was unheard of.”

There’s still a mystique about The Brute. It’s always been very near the top of my frequently changing list of favorite courses. The most amazing thing about it now is the fact that the course still operates with its original greens. Hallenbeck acknowledges that something will have to be done at some point.

“Over 50 years the greens have settled, and we’ll have to address those issues,” he said. “We’ve got to tear them up, but that’s a whole year project, and that’s hard to do when you’re packed every day. Overall, The Brute has withstood the tests of time, which is amazing.”

The Brute was built after the resort was under Playboy Club ownership. Playboy departed in 1981, selling the resort to Chicago-basked Americana Hotels Corporation. The resort endured two foreclosures before Chicago’s JMB Realty Corporation took ownership in 1988 and present owner Marcus came on in 1993.

Marcus took a resort that had fallen on hard times and revitalized it with golf a big part of the process.

Beyond The Brute:

Grand Geneva’s other course is more historically significant than even The Brute. It opened as the Briar Patch, a joint design effort by legendary designer Pete Dye with a then-young Jack Nicklaus functioning as a consultant. Nicklaus was at the height of his storied playing career, having won the 1965 and 1966 Masters tournaments before being brought to the resort before the Briar Patch’s completion in 1967.

The Briar Patch was Nicklaus’ introduction to golf architecture, but won’t go down as one of his premier architectural efforts. Architect Bob Cupp was brought in for a 1996 renovation.

“He redid the whole course,” said Hallenbeck. “From a playability standpoint it’s a very nice golf course.’’

The course was renamed The Highlands after Cupp completed his work, which included the development of fescue fields. The end result is a beautiful course, one different from The Brute, with exceptional greens. Both are popular with visitors, many of whom don’t share my clear preference for the older course.

Charities at home:

Unlike Blackwolf, Whistling Straits and Erin Hills, the Grand Geneva courses haven’t made a splash hosting big tournaments. They won’t, either. Instead of being a tournament venue, The Brute and Highlands are popular destinations for charity events, and that’s been great for Hallenbeck.

“My goal was to raise $1 million for charities in my career,” he said. “That was my goal 40 years ago. At the end of this year, we will have raised $25 million.”

Grand Geneva hosts about 25 charity events each year. The Easter Seals Golf Classic and National Italian Invitational celebrated their 40th anniversaries this year. Juvenile Diabetes, United Way, Make-A-Wish — they’ve all benefited from hosting tournaments at Grand Geneva.

“I’ve been on up to 20 charity boards,” said Hallenbeck. “When I started on them I was the kid. Now I’m the senior member, and I’m working with the grandkids of some of the people I had worked with on some of these charity committees.”

He calls children’s charities “my passion,” and worries that there’ll be no one ready to pick up those projects when he retires. That’s a concern for later on, plus — with his two children getting married this fall and already settled in the area — Hallenbeck doesn’t plan on straying very far.

Looking ahead:

For now the immediate issue is what will happen at Grand Geneva as it heads into its second 50 years.

“I suspect the newest thing will be just trying to be as competitive as we are with everything,” said Hallenbeck. “Marcus is so good at doing what they do. They’ve already expanded the villas.”

Grand Geneva also offers more activities and dining opportunities than most Midwest golf destinations, and the views are stunning throughout. That suggests the second 50 years could be even better than the first.

• For more golf news and golf travel stories, visit lenziehmongolf.com.

08.09.17

Real Milwaukee: This Milwaukee man has become a bit of a celebrity for getting big name hotel guests

The Pfister Hotel’s bellman, Harold Lewis, has become quite the local celebrity with his contagious smile, friendly personality and commitment to both guests and local visitors at the hotel. He has even been honored as the model of the utility box outside the Pfister, featured in a Bon-Ton advertisement and surprised with a proclamation in his honor from Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. See him in action and hear what drives Harold to be his best every day on WITI-TV’s Real Milwaukee here.

07.27.17

OnMilwaukee: 3 dishes: Kenneth Hardiman of Mason Street Grill

OnMilwaukee featured Mason Street Grill’s new executive chef, Kenneth Hardiman in a recent article and highlighted three of the restaurant’s best dishes. Read the full story here.

OnMilwaukee features Kenneth Hardiman from Mason Street Grill

07.19.17

Daily Herald

Midwest travel: Sky High Silent Yoga takes over Skydeck Chicago

By Jacky Runice

Chicago

Upward facing dogs

Yoga followed by beer sampling is nothing new. Combine those on the 99th floor of Willis Tower at Skydeck Chicago, and your mountain pose takes on a whole new tenor. Yoga Six guides a Sky High Silent Yoga class, ideal for all levels: Slip on the provided headphones to receive instructions during the class while listening to background music set by a DJ. Immediately following the class, get to the 103rd floor for a beer tasting and stunning views of Chicago and four states from The Ledge, which is 1,353 feet up in the air. 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, July 13, in the Willis Tower, 233 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago. Tickets cost $45 and include a one-hour yoga class, headphones, beer tasting and access to Skydeck Chicago and The Ledge. Bring your own mat. Tickets are available for purchase at theskydeck.com/plan-a-visit/upcoming-events/.

Far East on the South Side

Get immersed in Chinese culture at Chicago’s 38th annual Chinatown Summer Fair. The neighborhood festival features a colorful Lion Dance procession plus Asian cultural entertainment from music to dance. Try one of Chinatown’s many restaurants and browse the unique gift shops, Chinese arts and crafts exhibits, the children’s area and street vendors selling a variety of merchandise during this daylong family event. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, July 16, on Wentworth Avenue from Cermak Road to 24th Place, Chicago. (773) 868-3010 or chicagochinatown.org/event/38th-annual-chinatown-summer-fair/.

Peek a Blu

Treat the youngsters to a big city Kids Kamping Package at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. The package includes accommodations for two adults and two kids; breakfast for two adults and a special kids’ breakfast for two kids each morning in Filini Restaurant; a kids’ tent to sleep in in-room and to take home; a toy and coloring book upon arrival; special chocolate amenity for the kids on the day of arrival as well as a s’mores kit; and valet parking for one car per night. Get to the third-floor terrace for s’mores over the fire pit; take a short walk to Lakeshore East Park to explore its special kids’ area; and enjoy the countless summer activities in Chicago. Book through Dec. 31, 2017, at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, 221 N. Columbus Drive, Chicago. Book at (312) 565-5BLU or radissonblu.com/en/aquahotel-chicago/hotel-deals/kids-kamping-package.

Midwest

Northwestern exposure

 

A visit to Galena/Jo Daviess County is always appealing, especially when artists from three states fill the Northwest Illinois Art Festival with ceramics, clay, porcelain, jewelry, photography, glass, metal, acrylics and oils, wood, printmaking, fiber/textiles, leather, mixed media, lawn art, paper and graphics. Stop in the classroom tents for plein air painting, barn quilt painting and an artworks studio. This year, the festival also features the art of winemaking, brewing and distilling with Massbach Ridge Winery, Squeeze Beverage, Pecatonica Brewing and Galena Brewing Company. Food vendors keep your hunger and thirst in check and there will be jazz on Saturday from Highland Big Band, Migration, Mary J. Harris Swing and Groove Hotel. Sunday features an open mic Music in the Park and other performers. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 15, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 16, in Stockton Memorial Park, 600 N. Pearl St., Stockton, Illinois. Free. (815) 947-2878 or nwilartfest.com/.

Up the creek, with a paddle

Is this the summer you finally get up on a paddleboard or hone your moves on the clear blue water of Northern Michigan? After an introductory lesson on paddleboarding, cruise along Lake Leelanau on a Leland Paddleboard Tour guided along the lake’s most scenic stretch, ending upriver in the quaint fishing village of Leland. There you’ll enjoy a picnic-style lunch overlooking the river and have time to explore Leland’s boutique shops and its historic district, Fishtown. Pictures from along the tour are included, but you can bring a waterproof camera along for the ride, too. 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Friday, now through Sept. 10. The cost is $85 per person and includes paddleboard and life-jacket rental, gourmet picnic lunch (special dietary needs can be met), and shuttle service to and from Suttons Bay and Leland, Michigan. Reservations are required by calling Grand Traverse Bikes Tours at (231) 421-6815 or get details at grandtraversebiketours.com/leland-paddleboard-tour.html.

All mine

What kid hasn’t wished to have a whole water park to him or herself? Lake Geneva’s Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark has launched an all-access water park experience that includes a one-night stay in a suite, four water park passes for a one-bedroom suite (six passes for a two-bedroom suite), one hour of private water park time along with a personal lifeguard for your family (either pre-opening or after closing), a reserved table for one day at the water park, and a $50 dining credit at Hungry Moose Food Court or Smokey’s Bar-B-Que House. The property’s 50,000-square foot indoor/outdoor water park Moose Mountain Falls has pools, slides, lazy river, hot tubs and a new musically inspired water slide Avalanche Falls. Just outside the waterpark’s patio lies a new nine-hole mini golf course. Get comfy in an expansive guest suite equipped with whirlpool baths, private balconies, and a spacious living room and kitchen. Venture across the resort grounds to visit Grand Geneva Resort for golf, hiking trails, rock climbing walls and biking excursions. Valid until Dec. 30, 2017, at Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Package is subject to availability. The starting rate for the all-access water park experience is $559. Learn more and book at timberridgelodge.com.

 

07.19.17

Wisconsin Meetings – Summer 2017

 Mindful Meetings: Adding Wellness to Your Event

By Maura Keller

As meeting and event attendees become more health conscious, crave nutritious foods and request meetings that don’t require sitting for hours at a time, meeting venues and planners alike are working hard to incorporate health and wellness components into their offerings.

According to the recent “Wellness in Meetings and Incentive Travel Study” by the Incentive Research Foundation, 87 percent of planners polled said wellness is a critical focus for their company, when planning events and more than 90 percent of corporate planners were “personally enthusiastic about wellness.”

“We’re all becoming more aware of the benefits of eating healthy and being active,” says Alex Mabry, CHSP, meeting planner and director of catering sales at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, Wis. “A majority of companies are supporting efforts to incorporate wellness in the workplace and they will often carry that into their meetings and retreats.”

Mabry has attended meetings with a group activity or planned “downtime” and has experienced the positive results it offers.

“Taking care of yourself and eating healthy helps create balance and mental clarity; conferences are booked with a purpose or goal in mind,” Mabry says. “Planners offering healthy foods and allowing attendees some time to be active helps everyone to absorb and retain more of the information during the meetings.”

Grand Geneva offers multiple ways for meeting planners to incorporate wellness services into their program agenda. The resort features healthy meal, snack and beverage options and offers multiple group and individual activities.

One of the more popular offerings at Grand Geneva is the resort’s group yoga class. Planners will schedule a pre-meeting class to help attendees wake up, boost energy and maintain focus for the day ahead.

In addition, all guests at Grand Geneva receive access to its state of the art fitness center, which features group exercise studios for yoga, Pilates, spin, a full-size basketball court, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, and hiking and biking trails, archery and swimming year-round in indoor and outdoor pools. In addition, there is a 35-foot-tall indoor rock climbing wall with 12 routes ranging from beginner to advance, where climbers of all levels can test their skills and conquer the wall.

The resort’s WELL Spa + Salon offers more than 65 spa and salon services, ranging from soothing massages to stimulating body treatments and advanced aesthetics to sophisticated hair styling, luxurious manicures, pedicures and makeup consultations.

The Adventure Center at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa offers a variety of outdoor activities including mountain biking, disc golf courses, hiking trails, sand volleyball courts, archery, picnic and recreational areas.

Recently Grand Geneva hosted a conference which offered attendees three options for an activity, which they selected during their online registration; a massage/body treatment, golf (that they’d assemble foursomes) and the Grand Race, which is a scavenger hunt that takes place throughout the resort’s 1,300 acres, completing challenges at each stop and collecting clues to find the finish line.

A CONCERTED EFFORT

The hardest part in adding a wellness activity is finding the time to incorporate it into a meeting or event. Part of getting everyone to meet out of the normal office environment is to “hit the reset button” and recharge. Allowing time in the morning or afternoon for attendees to relax at a group yoga/meditation class or a group bike ride helps everyone bond, collaborate and come into the next meeting with their blood pumping and ideas flowing.

“I’ll often have requests for activities but the planners don’t set time aside for the attendees to enjoy and participate in them during the day or evening,” Mabry says. “You have to maintain balance to cultivate productivity; block some time for everyone to get out of their seats.”

Whether it’s an activity they did on property, a seminar they attended on stress relief thru meditation or a fresh and healthy meal they ate, attendees leave feeling energized and take those healthy ideas home or back to the office.

STEPS TO TAKE

Healthy meetings have been a growing trend for years, starting with breaks focused on healthy living. From 15-minute nature hikes to meditation sessions and geocaching, Stacey Lucas, sales manager at Paloma Resort Properties, which manages Geneva National Resort, The Ridge Hotel and The Cove of Lake Geneva, has helped plan healthy breaks and team building activities, with an emphasis on outdoor activities.

“Look for a facility that has ample outdoor space for such activities so that the group can stay on track with meeting schedules while attendees have the opportunity to move about and soak up some Vitamin D—a necessary element for Midwesterners,” Lucas says. “I’ve designed longer breaks where the team creates a healthy meal for the group while receiving an education on food that provides energy and keeps you alert and motivated throughout the day.”

Spa Experience.

One way that many meeting planners incorporate healthy options into an event is by offering spa treatments to attendees. Spas come in all shapes and sizes–just like those who visit them. Spas also come with different kinds of strengths, such as fitness or pampering, and their styles run the gamut from Spartan and inexpensive to luxurious and high-priced.

A popular spa treatment helping attendees relax and refresh is massage therapy, which has taken the Western world by storm. It may have started as a seemingly fleeting trend for those looking for a periodic escape into the world of pure relaxation, but massage has proven to have serious medicinal power for millions of men, women and yes, even children. This “healing power of touch” can dramatically rejuvenate an individual’s mind, body and spirit by reducing muscle tension, improving joint flexibility, and promoting faster healing, in young and old alike.

Holistic Exercise Programs.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before overworked and over-stressed men and women discovered the power of holistic approaches to reducing stress. As a result, meeting planners are integrating the mind and body into exercise programs to restore equilibrium to their body and eliminate the negative effects of stress. Yoga is popular for people in search of something new. In addition to increasing your concentration and flexibility, yoga offers a sense of well-being, while stretching, toning and increasing muscle endurance.

“We often go ’off menu’ for our clients to jibe with their event theme—including health and wellness,” says Rob Booth, director of sales and events at Paloma Resort Properties. “On-site, groups will often incorporate morning yoga, mid-day stretches and afternoon nature walks into their schedules.”

Some of the more interesting ways to bring wellness to the forefront is to promote a “steps contest” for the meeting, rent exercise balls in lieu of chairs and teach desk exercises that attendees can incorporate when back at the office.

At the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel in Milwaukee, meeting attendees can participate in Yoga on the Roof—mini yoga breaks focused on stretching, breathing and mindfulness.

“Our Journeyman Backpacks can be used for the day and include well-curated local itineraries of unique things to see and do in the neighborhood,” says Mary Kruse, director of sales and marketing at the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel. “The hotel also offers bikes to rent and yoga mats in room.”

Embracing Nature.

Choosing a resort town with a lot of fresh air and fun is a great way to incorporate health and wellness components into a meeting. “For activities outside of the meeting, we recommend scavenger hunts, cooking classes—in this case, with a healthy twist—high ropes courses, golf, paddle boarding, and walks around Geneva Lake,” Booth says.

Provide opportunities for people to get up and move before, during and after your meeting. Make physical activity part of your meeting agenda and encourage participation through incentives like gift cards and other take home prizes. Fun runs, scheduled morning and afternoon walks or nature hikes are all creative and fun ways to get your group up and moving.

At the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel, groups often gather in a park for team building, walk to the Milwaukee Art Museum along the lake, or kayak on the river.

Healthy Eating.

Meeting planners also are always looking for new ways to offer the sweet treats expected by attendees, while making sure they also have healthy items from which to choose. A “superfoods break” with fresh-made smoothies, super grains and antioxidant shooters is one way to do this.

“Nourish their bodies and minds with foods that will put attendees in the best position to participate fully,” says Harold Samorian, chief member engagement officer at Community Health Charities, who earned a degree in Community Health Education from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. “Carry this theme through your breaks as well. Food is a great gathering tool and has significant meaning in most cultures. Sharing a meal or snack promotes a deeper level of understanding and creates bonds that will transcend the content of the meeting.”

For clients looking to infuse health and wellness into their events, Booth recommends going natural with food and activities. This can be as simple as substituting granola for cookies and coconut water for soda or creating a smoothie bar break and planning heart-wise meals with the venue’s in-house chef.

“Nutrition is probably the top of the list for us, because most groups are here for an average of two nights,” Kruse says. “Chef Heather Terhune at Tre Rivali has designed an amazing menu with healthy options, low carb, locally sourced, house-made, not processed.”

A creative “healthy eating” teambuilding activity offered at the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel features a nutritionist who hosts a mini break out session, followed by a team building activity whereby attendees split up in small groups and head to the nearby Milwaukee Public Market to shop— competing for healthiest and tastiest break snacks. They then present and vote on best break or picnic foods created by each group.

Healthy Environment.

The room or venue in which a meeting or event is held is also paramount to the health and wellness component of the attendees. Is the room too hot? Is the room too cold? Is there enough light? Extending the overall “environment” of the meeting into sustainable practices like recycling helps attendees to be more attentive to what is going on around them and can carry through to your organizational culture.

Limit Presentation Times.

As Samorian explains, there are varying schools of thought on this but presentations, talks or discussions should be no more than 50 minutes without some type of movement, which should last at least five to 10 minutes.

Giving Back Feels Good.

Business volunteerism, often referred to as corporate social responsibility (CSR), can take many forms and it can be a quadruple win. Everyone involved—the organizations that provide the employee volunteers, those where employee volunteers help out, the wider community and the employees themselves—has something to gain. Such efforts offer a lowcost, low-risk, high-impact way of making the knowledge, skills and experiences of the business sector accessible to the nonprofit sector while building understanding, employee skill and community goodwill.

And experts agree that business professionals who volunteer during meetings and events find their experiences inspiring, empowering and sometimes life changing. They are giving the opportunity to practice service and compassion for those who need it most.

“Many groups now perform volunteer activities as part of their meeting,” Samorian says. “The camaraderie, teamwork and sense of purpose are significant ways to unite conference participants and give back to the community. There are a number of groups that can help you with various aspects of your meeting.”

Today, wellness can take many forms. Take time to include different facets of this important concept.

 

07.18.17

Q&A with Joseph Khairallah from Hotel Business

In a career sea change, Joseph (Joe) S. Khairallah in 2013 made a major move, seguing from a 30-year stretch at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts to Wisconsin-based Marcus Hotels & Resorts, where he served as COO. He was then named president/COO of the company in October 2016.

Read the rest of this entry »

07.18.17

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Pastry Chef Sees Sweet Future in Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured Travis Martinez, pastry chef at The Pfister Hotel in a recent issue’s “Fork. Life. Spoon” column. Read the full story here.

Travis Martinez Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Feature



 
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