Hospitality Hive

Updates, opinions, and news for anyone working in Orlando's Hospitality community

Bone Shaking Fun With Skeletons this Halloween

This is the week – Halloween is here!  Have you heard enough about it yet, or can you stand a little more?

If you’re not into the whole HHN freak out at Universal, and yet Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party doesn’t quite do it for you either, here’s another option, Skeletons: Animals Unveiled!  It’s ‘under the wheel’ at the Orlando Eye complex and for sure it’s the real deal with over 40 exhibits featuring more than 400 real animal skeletons in poses and dioramas that will give you a whole new perspective (dare we say, um, the actual inside scoop?) on our friends in the animal kingdom.  Plus, the price of this one might not rattle your bones as much as those other options with current ticket prices at $19.99 per adult and $12.99 for kids ages 3-11.

Wondering why you should load up the car and take the family to go see a bunch of bones?  Here are just a few compelling reasons:

  • It will get you in the Halloween mood at a price point that won’t spoil the fun (like all that bad stuff that the yummy Halloween candy does to your teeth. . .)
  • FREE parking, plus it’s easy to get to located right off International Drive at the Orlando Eye Complex
  • It’s educational but in a way that the kids might not realize they are actually getting educated – make sense?  It will.
  • There’s a two headed cow on display, and you know you’re curious about it, right?

I could say more but instead I’m going to show you some fun pictures I snapped during my visit a few months ago. Mind you I was with an adult group and every one of us thought it was a blast, so I can only imagine what taking a group of kiddies would be like, but I’m guessing they’d say things like “awesome!” and “euwww” (meant in a good way. . .) and “that’s what my dog looks like under the skin?”  Yeah, it’s way cool.  See for yourself.

Ever wonder what Skeletons do when the museum closes and the party begins?

skeleton centaur

This Centaur still can’t figure out what he is – man or horse, or both?

The skeleton cowboy was still havin’ a good ole’ time!


skeleton gator bones

I liked looking at this gator better than the real deal that creepy-crawled his way into my neighborhood one night.




Why? Because we just can’t miss a photo opp, right?

So this Halloween, try something different to get you into the spirit of the season.  It will certainly give you a new perspective of the 400 everyday animals and amazing creatures on display!  And oh, by the way.  Aren’t these the coolest attraction uniforms around? 

skeleton crew tee shirt



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Ready to Get Halloweeny Yet?

This post is about vampires. . .and asylum. . .and James Bond. Oh my!

October’s a long, busy month, so for sure it’s a slow build, but when you get to the crazy holiday climax at the end – aka Halloween – it just seems right to let loose then, doesn’t it?  Even if you don’t dress up or party, sometimes just watching the entire build up of orange and black decorations appearing everywhere right alongside those bottomless bowls of creepy candy is enough to put a smile on your face and help you get started on the slide to the finish line of yet another calendar year.  And while I know this post about the October 31 holiday is a bit early for some, I’ve received some really cool offers in my inbox recently, and I think they’re worth sharing.

First up is a vine and dine event this Friday at Rosen Centre Hotel with a very clever Halloween twist.  “Love at First Bite” just screams like a gathering of vampires, and yet anyone is welcome to attend.  And check out this menu, a ‘dangerously delicious’ five course meal with openers like a Death Door Cocktail and Oysters with Bloody Mary Mignonette followed by a Blood Orange Sorbet to um, cleanse your bleeding mouth?  But wait, you’ve got to see the rest of the menu because it’s not only incredibly creative, but the wine pairings are bloody awesome:

Grilled Filet Cloaked in Tapenade Served with a Sinful Pinot Noir Sauce and Accompanied with Phyllo Custard Potato and Batonette of Vegetable
Insurrection Shiraz/Cabernet Blend 2014
South Eastern Australia

Grilled Hellish Habanero Chilies with Sleepy Hollow Pumpkin Mousse and Brandied Cherries
Quady Electra 2014

Yeah, I thought you’d get a kick out of seeing that.  But don’t wait a minute longer because the event is this Friday, October 9th, starting at 6:30PM (I know, a bit early for some of the walking deads, but try to make the effort to dress up and get out a little, okay?).  Plus, the price is very reasonable for this type of unique event at $75 per person including valet parking at the hotel on International Drive.  Call 407-996-8551 right now and tell them a ‘Hospitality Spirit’ whispered this news into your ears. . .

Now, if this week is still a bit early for you to strut out your cloak and cape don’t worry, the next two events I’m highlighting don’t happen until the end of the month.  I’ve written about the rockin’ times you can have at Velvet Sessions out at the Hard Rock Hotel before, but this month they are really spot on with the entertainment because you’ll be doing the Monster Mash to music by Soul Asylum.

Soul Asylum
Soul Asylum – all ready for their Halloween-themed appearance at the Hard Rock Hotel’s next Velvet Sessions on October 29.

Plus, it’s an adults-only costume party with the winner getting a two night stay in the plush Hard Rock Hotel Graceland Suite which, as you can imagine, has most likely seen some hard rockin’ itself over the years. Sayin’The date is October 29, and tickets pre-purchased on line are $50.  Details can be found here, Velvet Sessions, or by calling 407-503-2401.

James Bond Spectre 2015

Seriously, he doesn’t really need any introduction, does he?


Finally, it’s quite possible I’ve saved the best for last, especially for the James Bond fans who are already shaking their martinis waiting for November 6 US release date of Spectre.

Flemings Restaurants are jumping on the Aston Martin theme-night express and offering an excellent opportunity to live out your double agent fantasies by dressing the part and eating, well, let’s just call it stuff that’s good enough for 007 himself starting with an authentic Belvedere 007 Martini, shaken, not stirred of course, and then followed by other proper cocktails like the Clandestini and Bang and Burn. (Wouldn’t you just love to be in on the taste testing and name-that-cocktail for this event?) This “Evening of Espionage” is planned on the big night, Saturday, October 31, and the invite specifies that “M requests your presence” so really, it would be so rude to say no to this one, right?  It also says, “come dressed to kill – any 007 character will do, villain, agent, leading lady”,  with prizes awarded (and I don’t think they’re referring to best clown costume).

Halle Berry as Jinx

Do we have any takers for this costume? Halle Barry as ‘Jinx’, the James Bond muse in Die Another Day.

And oh yes, that menu?  Let’s just say it ends with a Black Tie Soufflé, so whatever is served before that has got to be incroyable, oui?  This one is $95 per person but come on, James Bond will be there, so what’s not to love about this rogue mission!



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Hotels and Hurricanes

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

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

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

Image acquired February 19, 2010: Tropical Cyclone Gelane had sustained winds of 125 knots (230 kilometers per hour) and gusts up to 150 knots (275 kilometers per hour), according to a report from the U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) on February 19, 2010. The JTWC reported that Gelane was roughly 315 nautical miles (585 kilometers) east-northeast of Port Louis, Mauritius, and was forecast to travel toward the southwest, weakening slightly as it moved. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image on February 19, 2010. Gelane’s spiral arms span hundreds of kilometers over the open ocean. Credit: NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Michon Scott. Instrument:  Aqua - MODIS For more details and a higher res file of this image go to:

Credit: NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Michon Scott.

And just like that the conversation reminded me of how many times over the years I’ve been involved with hurricane preparation both on the home front and while out traveling.  So I thought I’d share a few details about what happens at hotels behind the scenes while the wind is howling and the waves are wildly crashing and the unsuspecting guests are, um, in the middle of hurricane mania, usually for the first time in their lives.

For starters, most hotels have some kind of disaster management plan in place whether it’s for hurricanes or heart attacks, or as can often be the case, heart attacks that happen during hurricanes.  And this is especially true for beachfront hotels that have to weather the brunt of the storms.  Considering that guest safety is first and foremost, pool and lawn furniture quickly gets picked up and moved inside before becoming the next beach side launch missile.

But many hotels also have plenty of balcony furniture to deal with, too.  A friend found herself in the thick of things in Los Cabos, Mexico during this past summer when hurricane Blanca was stirring, and suddenly preparations were under way for an evacuation. As a side note, this area had just taken a huge hit during the 2014 Hurricane season thanks to Odile, and some hotels there had still not even reopened yet.  Anyway, this time hotels were more prepared, even slipping frequent updated notes under guests’ doors to give the latest details and help calm the tourist panic.  My friend told me the hotel was doing just a super job in every possible way including turning the ballroom into a makeshift restaurant for all guests remaining (the airport had closed) once the gusting winds made it impossible to eat outside or anywhere close to glass-enclosed restaurant areas.  But, there was a brief moment of potential meltdown due to language challenges between her and the hotel maid that was frantically knocking on her door one afternoon apparently motioning to get out on her balcony.  She cautiously followed the maid and realized she had been instructed to move all the balcony furniture into the safety of the hotel room and well away from the windows.  Okay, then.

Cancun hurricane 2005

Uh-oh. Who’s going out after all that beach furniture?

And yet another friend sent me this picture of the hotel ballroom where she was staying during Hurricane Wilma when it hit during a 2005 business trip she was on to Cancun, Mexico (yes, people do take business trips to Cancun).  This ballroom was filled with cots for guests to sleep on while they rode out the storm, although it should be noted that she said most from her group of professionals weathered the storm from the safety and security of the comfy-cozy lobby bar (and yes, business can be conducted in a lobby bar in Cancun).

This ballroom was turned into a different type of guest room when filled with cots to sleep on during Hurricane Wilma.

This hotel ballroom was turned into one giant guest room when filled with cots to sleep on during Hurricane Wilma.

Living in Florida we’re quite familiar with the hurricane preparation drill.  But next time you’re hunkering down in whatever location you’ve taken refuge, try to imagine what it would be like from the standpoint of an unsuspecting tourist in town to find some sunshine and magic to help them forget about the hardships of daily life during their brief time here.  All our friends in the hotels, attractions, and tourism complexes have a huge job on their hands whenever storms hit because there’s nothing very hospitable about starting your vacation at the same time as a monster storm!

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