Hospitality Hive

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

7 easy-peasy random acts of kindness to brighten the holiday season

. . .and, here in the Hive, we believe that’s always a very good thing.  Of course, ‘RaK’s’ are welcome any day of the year, but for some reason as we approach the twin goodness of Thanksgiving and the mother-of-all holidays that closely follows, it seems even more pertinent to acknowledge the need to pay it forward – if only in the tiniest of ways – as much as possible.  So, in the spirit of being grateful for a multitude of things, how about trying a week’s worth of random acts of kindness?  To get you started, here are seven easy ones that are basic and inexpensive but could leave lasting impressions:HH Gift Cert small_41850038
1. Purchase some $5 gift certificates from your favorite fast food establishments, place them in individual envelopes and keep them in your car where they will be easy to pass on to someone in need as you pass them on the street.  Even better if you’ve also written a personal note of encouragement to that nameless person who will maybe be able to have one hot meal that day.

HH teacups small__24090698622.  Have a cup of tea and a little conversation with a housebound neighbor.  It’s only one cup, but it could be the deed that finally brightens their day and takes the weight of loneliness off, if only for that brief visit.  Bonus points if you bring some home made cookies or cake along with those tea bags.

HH conversation small_55052291733.  Make a point to actually listen and be present for an entire conversation with someone you love, and try really hard to do this in a zone of non-judgment.

HH liter pickup small__3479670845
4.  Take a garbage bag with you on a daily walk and just do what needs to be done to make Mother Earth a better place.

HH stary night small_4297456429

5.  Speaking of Mother Earth, wrap yourself up on one of these cool nights and spend some time silently staring at the stars.  This random act is for you and your weary, overworked soul.

HH notecard small_68434069556.  Send a card, note of encouragement or thanks to someone who needs a lift.  Even an email delivered via cyberspace holds weight if it says something meaningful.

HH  baby dolls small_5874227016

7.  Buy a favorite game or toy that you identify with good memories from your youth and put it in the Toys for Tots (www.toysfortots.com)  bin in honor of the joy it once brought you; then say a little prayer that the good karma of your own happy memories travels along with it to new owners.

The possibilities for your own combination of RaK are endless, and hopefully these simple ideas are already sparking some personal ones of your own choosing.  Whatever you do, make sure it’s done with intention.  Selfless acts can have positive effects on so many levels, now and any time of the year, so pick your season, remove the noise in your life, and perform a simple miracle or two.  Maybe even load up with a week full.

Remember that every day, we’re creating with both our actions and inactions,  the world in which we live.

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

That’s right, a food truck.  Who knew?  For most people (myself included) familiar with the Four Seasons message of over-the-top luxury, the tag-along of a food truck would never be in the same sentence.  Yet here I am writing about both – www.fourseasonsorlando.com AND www.fourseasonsfoodtrucktour.com One from the standpoint of ‘been there, experienced that’ and the other, well, guess I’ll have to wait until that food truck rolls back into Orlando again because by the time I got wind of it, the Fours Season’s Sponsored Food Truck was well on its way to rollin’ down the highway to another destination.  Yes, I know what you’re thinking now.  Pity me.  It means this story is mostly about my recent dining experience at the recently opened Capa (www.fourseasonsorlandocapa.com), located on top of the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World, aka the newest addition to Orlando’s luxury hotel scene.

Capa, New Rooftop Restaurant Venue at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Capa, New Rooftop Restaurant Venue at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Yeah okay, it was a bit of a rough night. . . . .

And by that I’m only referring to the drive out there and actually finding the place.  (Hey, it was slightly dark and this hotel is in a rather ‘mysterious’, newly designated area called Golden Oak at WDW, only accessible via a gated entrance.) Once we arrived and went inside, well, pity me no more.  Let’s just say it was a truly lovely experience dining in the two-week-old rooftop restaurant Capa, billed as a contemporary Spanish steakhouse, with both indoor and outdoor seating.  And yes, if you time your reservations right you can view the fireworks from this glorious perch that one might also refer to as a safe haven from all those tourists ‘out there’.

So, it all began with this:

Specially created by  Includes Scottish gin, edible flowers, raspberry, red apple, Key lime, fennel fronds and juniper berries and was created by the team at Michael Chiarello’s restaurant, La Coqueta, it includes Scottish gin, edible flowers, raspberry, red apple, Key lime, fennel fronds and juniper berries.

Capa’s Signature Gin and Tonic

Moved on to this:

Yeah, baby!

40 day dry aged, 16 oz., Bone-In Prime Rib Eye

Followed up by this:

Dessert at Capa Nov 2014

Fancy-schmancy dessert presentation, and trust me, it was yummy!

No. Complaints. At. All.  Nor should there be when someone else is paying (DISCLOSURE, since I know you’re curious, this dinner was not hosted by the Four Seasons), and you are gourmet-dining in a restaurant that overlooks a magical kingdom where both mice and men (and zillions of hyper-active kids who are literally out of their minds with happiness, sigh) rule the world.  But on the 17th floor of the Four Season’s Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World there was only peace and quiet, appropriate atmosphere music with an international flair, ambience and hospitality galore, along with incredible smells coming from the open kitchen grill area.  Oh yes, and delicious food that was delicately prepared and artfully presented.  Here is another example of the true meaning of ‘artfully presented’:

Jamón de bellota, cured for 36 months in Spain and fed only acorns during the last period

Jamón de bellota, cured for 36 months in Spain and fed only acorns during the last period. And the Chef shaves it for you right there on the counter.

And truthfully, those are the expectations of most people when they think of the Four Season’s brand.  But, how about that food truck business?  How on earth does the affluent international hotel empire go from, well, uber luxury to a traveling food truck?  Glad you asked, and here’s the simple answer:  it’s a brilliant marketing concept to bring that indulgent brand down to the people.  And that, my friends, is what hospitality is all about.  Finding and meeting needs.  At its best, this includes service with a smile at an affordable price.  And since many will never be able to afford an actual stay at a Four Season’s resort (check out their hotel room rates and you decide), that traveling food truck is bringing a taste of their experience to everyone.  In fact, the tour is also known as the Four Season’s Taste Truck Tour, successfully bringing this message to the masses.  Did I mention I think that is brilliant on their part?  I did?  Well there, I said it again.

Here’s what the food truck’s very own website has to say about the launch of year two for this take-it-to-the-people road show:

     “After a great run down the West Coast last year, we are thrilled to kick off our East Coast tour,” said Guy Rigby, Vice President of Food & Beverage, Americas. “The food truck concept allows us to pair our commitment to innovation and quality with a dynamic setting that provides Four Seasons chefs an opportunity to share their creativity, craft and passion for food with the local community.”

Plus, a portion of the food truck revenue will be donated to a local charity in each participating location furthering their cause of goodwill marketing and community brand awareness.

So as we circle back to the beginning of this story, maybe now you see how I finally got comfortable with using the words luxury and food truck in the same sentence, and don’t you agree?

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Would These Events Scare You?

Shocking Stories!

Shocking Stories!

 

Say what????

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

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

So there follows, strictly for your amusement, a couple of fun stories that might put a smile on your face as you learn a little more about challenges faced by meeting planners:

  1. WHAT HAPPENED TO MY WAITERS?

  “One time I had a group of about 2000+ attendees in a convention center [IMPORTANT NOTE:  NOT ORLANDO!] that was experiencing union labor issues.  As a result, all the wait staff walked off the floor to join the union protest prior to the start of my food function, and before long our banquet hall was invaded by newly hired (er, should we say, newly drafted?) workers that turned out to be inmates from a state work-release program.  We knew this to be true due to their, umm, orange uniforms and (gulp) the connecting chains we found that had been shed in a back hallway prior to them being released into my ballroom to complete the job.” (Quick, hide the knives!) 

  1. "Uh, welcome to the work force?"

    “Uh, welcome to the work force?”

2. ROCK STARS AND FOOTBALL PLAYERS – NOT A GOOD MATCH! 

“My VERY famous celebrity entertainment had a VERY good time in the locker room after their afternoon rehearsal in the football stadium we had rented for our corporate show.  Let’s just say this involved not only my well-known and highly paid talent but also some football players who were not even supposed to be there since they obviously had no scheduled game that night.  I know what went on for many reasons, not the least was that I could smell the incredibly pungent smoke as we got close to the locker room prior to the show, and then found plenty of tell-tale signs that ‘interesting stuff’ had been going on in that locker room!” (Yeah, get ready to rumble with good times in the entertainment world)

The locker room DID NOT look like this when my group was done with it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  OMG – WHO TRAINED THESE PEOPLE?

“While my speaker was presenting on stage, our wait staff was busy clearing the tables and scraping food off the lunch plates onto a pile on the floor – yes, floor! – all done up front, stage right in plain view of everyone, including the poor speaker who was actually left speechless until a banquet captain was able to finally stop            the fiasco.” (Uh, I’m speechless with this one, too.) 

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And then the waiter said, “Hey, I can’t help it if these people don’t clean their own plates!”

 

 4. UH, HELLO STAGEHANDS?  CAN ANYBODY SEE ME UP HERE?

“My talent was rigged to perform in the ballroom from a flying-over-the-audience stance, and something went terribly wrong during his last minute lift so that he was actually hanging upside down when the curtains were opened.  But to his credit, he sang his heart out in that position and completed the number in character while the audience got an even better than expected show!” (Took the term, ‘the show must go on!’ quite literally, don’t you think?) 

"No seriously, they couldn't have mentioned this part in rehearsal?"

“No seriously, they couldn’t have mentioned this part in rehearsal?”

And that’s just a sampling of interesting you-won’t-believe-this-really-happened stories.  There’s plenty more where these came from, and yes, I’m already working on compiling some of the best into a book.  Puts a little different meaning to the term ‘scary event’, but this is the reality of working in this industry, and as mentioned, I’m only sharing in the spirit of this week’s holiday.

Who knows – maybe something scary will happen at your Halloween party?  Planners beware. . .

 

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Can Airline Safety be Sexy?

Whether or not you’re a frequent flyer or just occasionally visit ‘the friendly skies’ (I know use of that quote dates me but seriously, that’s what we used to call them and hey, news flash – before 9/11 many flights actually were consumer friendly and enjoyable), you’ve probably seen some of the recent safety videos offered up by most of the major carriers.  Although I’m not sure who went first, I think it might have been Virgin Airlines with this sexy, funky, crazy version released last year and now seen by over 9 million people:   

For the purists among travelers, this was quite shocking.  Not because of the content (dancing nuns, and kids putting out cigarettes – oh my!) but because they were, well, having some fun with safety.  Which poses the question, can safety be funBetter yet, should it be?  Since almost every mainstream airline now has it’s own version of this, some even with holiday offerings (thanks, Delta, for this cutie):

Many passengers are appreciating this new use of humor.  On the other hand, it is scaring the BeJesus out of some who think there is absolutely nothing fun or whimsical about strapping yourself into a 80 ton bomb (average weight of a 737) loaded with explosive fuels and about 150 (+-) strangers, many of whom are jacked up on all forms of high, low, and medium pharmaceuticals. Yeah, I thought you might see it my way.

I can almost hear the dialogue at those first marketing meetings when the concept was being pitched to airline executives:  “But seriously, if we can’t have a little fun with a passenger safety video. . .”

Say what?

Apparently every public airline out there has already answered this question by issuing their own video versions of ‘sexy safety’ because we all know that sex sells, right?  Maybe/maybe not.  One thing we do know is that these videos are providing on board entertainment as passengers settle in as opposed to the blatant ignorance many continue to show when flight attendants perform the mandatory pre-flight safety instructions and demonstrations.  Admittedly, even I’ve had an occasional flight when I was a busy fuss-budget in my seat whilst said demos are taking place, but in my defense, I’m a former flight attendant so I’ve been through the drill a few thousand times.  But as I look around me and see so many others in various stages of boredom, business, and/or just plain ‘don’t give a damn about the safety issues’, I sometimes just want to scream out loud and say, “That FA you’re ignoring right now could be your best friend if we crash this puppy!”

Gosh that felt good.

So, what do you think?  Should airline safety include some amusing and entertaining aspect, or have the airlines got it all wrong once again?  You really can’t blame them for attempting to get even a couple heads to turn and pay attention during those critical opening announcements.  But maybe some have been pushing the envelope just a little too far with their in-your-face-fun while trying to gently remind us that flying is very serious stuff.  For my money, I think that the always classy United Airlines has the right idea with their newest version of the safety video, appropriately entitled, Safety Is Global.  Watch this and see for yourself:

There now, wasn’t that a calmer, more sensible approach before launching that aforementioned 80 ton explosive bomb into the friendly skies?

 

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Welcome to the Experience Economy

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

See that smile?  Proof that handing over room keys makes front desk clerks happy!

See that smile? Proof that handing over room keys makes front desk clerks happy!

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

That’s just one of the new engagement technologies that’s being tested and offered in hotel prototypes.  But in that scenario, who would give you directions to the pool and health club (maybe), or lobby bar (yes!).  What’s that, you say?  You prefer to use that hotel app your swift fingers just downloaded on your hand-held crack machine, OR you could possibly/maybe just wander around and find it on your own?  Okay, but what if I, Ms. Hotel Hospitality, genuinely want to help you find it? As always, the answer lies in finding the happy medium between the ‘old fashioned’ way of providing service with a smile and meeting the new needs of technology-addicted consumers.

The latest technology in the "experience" economy at Disney World.

The latest technology in the “experience” economy at Disney World.

Speaking of ‘meeting the new needs’, most everyone has heard of the new Walt Disney World Magic Bands (are you or are you not a fan?) but is everyone embracing their use?  Not yet, but stay tuned.  And while the verdict is still out as to whether or not they are universally well-received, the point is those bands are now on the forefront of the experience economyYou ask for it and you got it.  Now, do you like it?

Your answer probably depends on your age.

So, how about you?  What other ways have you already encountered the experience economy in your life, and was it a thumbs up or down in the process? On the learning curve of happiness in hospitality, there’s one thing we know for sure – if you’re a tired, weary traveler who’s already been on the road too long and now you’re schlepping your own luggage up to the 14th floor to save a dollar only to find the lock on room #1421 won’t open no matter key nor app nor Harry Potter’s magic wand, someone is going to have to show up in person to let you into that coveted room.

Hopefully, said rescue employee will arrive with a smile and a little humility, but preferably also with a drink coupon for the lobby bar to turn this back into a more positive service experience. (Hint-hint to all you hotel employees out there.)  And let’s just hope they don’t try to send a malfunctioning security robot to do the job, at least during my lifetime.

 

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photo credit: DebMomOf3 via photopin cc

One of Orlando’s (many) Hospitality Heroes

Some have theme parks named after themselves.  Others, hotels. Some refrain from using their personal moniker when naming their creations, at least until the time is right.  Robert Earl is one of them.

Orlando Hospitality Hero, Robert Earl, CEO of Planet Hollywood International, Inc.

Orlando Hospitality Hero, Robert Earl, CEO of Planet Hollywood International, Inc.

Known in Orlando (mostly) for being the British brains behind Planet Hollywood, many are surprised when they hear his empire includes Buca di Beppo (www.bucadibeppo.com) , Earl of Sandwich  (www.earlofsandwichusa.com) shops, and so much more.  Today we’ll cover part of the ‘and more’ because now Robert can add TV show to his resume.  And apparently, the time is right since he’s chosen to call it Robert Earl’s Be My Guest (http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/shows/robert-earls-be-my-guest.html ).  Premiering this very month on the Cooking Chanel, Be My Guest follows Robert’s continual quest to take us on culinary excursions, but this time we’re leaving Orlando (although not in every episode) and doing some traveling.

http://realscreen.com/2014/08/11/planet-hollywood-ceo-to-host-cooking-channel-show/

The first in the series, Keep on Truckin’, premiered on September 8 and covered, well, as the name would hint, food trucks.  So instead of taking us to an exceptional restaurant experience, in this episode Robert showed how the food is coming to us.  And, the showcase city for this topic’s coverage was Los Angeles, one of the most mobile cities in the USA.  Future  editions will cover Robert’s Perfect Meal, partially filmed in Las Vegas, Cross Country Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner (REMINDER TO SELF:  take notes on how he creates the ‘Fat Elvis Waffle’!), and Mangia Italiano, where savvy locals will not be surprised to find he makes a visit to long time Orlando Italian favorite, Enzo’s on the Lake (www.enzos.com).  For a complete listing with dates and times, consult the Cooking Channel link listed above.

Robert Earl as seen on his new show on The Cooking Channel

Robert Earl as seen on his new show on The Cooking Channel

So, you might be wondering where’s the Orlando connection with this post?  Glad you ask because, despite being a bonafide world class jet-setter, since the late 1980’s Robert Earl has been right here in OTown working his magic in and around so many projects directly connected to our hospitality industry it’s a wonder more people don’t even realize he’s one of us.  Admittedly, he was born elsewhere but gosh, where have we heard that before when speaking of Orlando residents?  And, if you’ve lived in Orlando for at least 15 years (which by many standards means you’re now calling yourself a native and this is your home) you’ll remember seeing the name Robert Earl pop up with lots of other projects, some memorable (Hard Rock Café, sold in 1998 with an estimated value at over $100 million), some not (“hello, King Henry’s Feast?”).  At one point, his long arm of hospitality reached all the way out to Las Vegas where he purchased, renovated, revived and then in 2010, sold the 2600 room Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino (formerly known as the Aladdin) to Caesar’s Entertainment.  Yeah, this man knows his way around a deal or two. (www.planethollywoodresort.com)

Circling back to the theme of Orlando’s hospitality heroes, I think it’s safe to award this title to Mr. Robert Earl even though, technically, he hails from England.  I believe anyone that provides hundreds of local service industry jobs, not to mention brings in $$$$$ by the ‘Planet’full (pun intended) to our area economy, should be called a Hospitality Hero in our community.

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And, Speaking of Lobby Bars. . .Heeerrreee’s Harry’s!

As mentioned in a previous post, I do love me a good hotel lobby bar, and get particularly excited when the inbox contains an invite to a new opening.  For so many reasons, the August 19th opening of Harry’s Poolside Bar and Grill at the Rosen Centre Hotel ( www.rosencentrehotel.com ) certainly did not disappoint!  Before I give you my ‘High Five for Harry’s’ review, I’ll let you in on a secret. . .

When I first heard the name, I did a little happy dance in my mind while remembering a most fabulous experience I once had at THE Harry’s Bar ( http://harrysbarvenezia.com), you know the really famous one in Venice, as in Venice, Italy, right?

The ORIGINAL Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy

The ORIGINAL Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy

 

Being that the original was a favorite haunt of Hemingway, Orson Wells, Ari Onassis and friends ‘back in the day’, I knew it was a must-see during my first Venetian visit a few years ago.  Except for the outrageous price – as compared to the actual size- of their namesake cocktail the Bellini (recipe found on Harry’s Bar Venezia website listed above),  it did not disappoint.

Trust me, it's one luscious peach adult beverage!

Trust me, it’s one luscious peach adult beverage!

HINT:  don’t ask, just order and enjoy.  In fact, get a couple, then you’ll soon forget all about that outrageous price for one because you naturally expect a bigger bill when you order multiples, and after a few of them who can figure out the Euros per drink anyway?  Arriving in front of it via the traditional Venetian gondola, one can’t go wrong with enjoying the entire experience of being in the original and sipping that peach delight down to the very last drop of it’s European goodness.  So I was a little worried that enjoying Harry’s Bar, Rosen Centre Orlando, was going to be a tad anti-climatic.

This is how you arrive at Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy.  NOT the Harry's Bar in Orlando!

This is how you arrive at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy. NOT the Harry’s Bar in Orlando!

But now I’m 99% positive (still 1% relying on the yummy and potent Mojito they gave me at the entrance) that this Harry’s Bar will do just fine when I can’t grab my passport and suitcase (along with a gondola full of money) in a jiff and rush back to Italy when I feel the need for a visit to ‘a’ Harry’s.  Yes, it’s that good.

So as promised, here’s my list of best reasons to suffer through the I-4 traffic and make your way to the Rosen Centre Hotel, specifically to enjoy the new bar:

Harry's Poolside Bar and Grill at Rosen Centre Hotel Orlando

Harry’s Poolside Bar and Grill at Rosen Centre Hotel Orlando

5)  It’s poolside/ it’s inside, so your Northern friends can sit outside and enjoy the 135+- temp (100% humidity included at no additional charge) while you grab a comfy seat inside to stay cool as a cucumber.

4)  The menu is full of tropical and Caribbean awesomeness (www.rosencentrehotel/harrysbarmenu/ )  including yummy things at lunch like Chef’s special bar-b-que chips made with deep fried Russet potatoes and served with chili aioli ($8) and little Havana Sliders (3 @ $12) served on a sweet island bun with a side of Yucca fries, and if you go for dinner check out the giant Hurricane Platter ($19)  with enough goodness to get you through, well, you figure it out.  Plus it’s affordable fun, especially when there’s live entertainment.

Inside Harry's Bar at Rosen Centre - told you it was cool and refreshing, right?

Inside Harry’s Bar at Rosen Centre – told you it was cool and refreshing, right?

3)  As always, service at any facility with Mr. Rosen’s name on it is delivered by a smiling member of a well trained staff who appears to enjoy the job and be grateful that they work within the ‘Rosen empire’ given the exceptional benefits that come with those jobs. (If you don’t believe me, check that out yourself at  www.rosenhotels.com/careers/ )

2) Parking is FREE if you tell them Harry sent you!  Well, the free part is valid, but you don’t have to actually ‘know’ Harry to qualify.  To be clear, what you need to do is go to the guard shack at the self parking entrance and tell them you’re local but want to enjoy Harry’s Poolside Bar and Grill, and then they will waive the magic guard wand and let you into the parking garage, so really it’s just like knowing Harry, right?

1) Harry’s = Harris Rosen.  High standards.  Exceptional service.  Convenient location.  Functional space. Excellent product.

Oh, and about that name.  It was really sweet to hear Mr. Rosen himself explain the details of how his great grandfather, Harris Rosenkofsky, had immigrated from the Ukraine back in the early 1900’s through Ellis island with whatever his suitcase would hold.  If you’ve lived in Orlando for any length of time you know the rest of this success story behind the Rosen name. (Feel free to do your own Google search on it, and also don’t forget to check out this little gem of his, http://hospitality.ucf.edu, along with all those hotels that bear his name.) But in a sign that the times they are a changing, during the opening we also met a couple of the Rosen siblings who have quietly been working their way into the empire that is Rosen.  (And by into we mean in, under, around, and through the entire system – aka the old fashioned way – just like their hard working family patriarch has always done). But honestly, no need for ‘Harry’ to worry about someone taking his name off this bar, at least anytime soon.  Now approaching his 75th birthday, Harris Rosen is very much still the Don of all that is Rosen.

Harris Rosen is joined by Staff and VIP's while cutting the ribbon at the Aug 19 Grand Opening of Harry's Poolside Bar and Grill, Rosen Centre Hotel, Orlando.

Harris Rosen is joined by Staff and VIP’s while cutting the ribbon at the Aug 19 Grand Opening of Harry’s Poolside Bar and Grill, Rosen Centre Hotel, Orlando.

So, what are you waiting for?  Invitations, along with 25% discounts have already been issued in recent editions of the Orlando Sentinel’s Friday calendar section, so bring one of those but leave your passport behind.  Unless you’re heading to ‘the other’ Harry’s Bar, where believe me, no discounts will be found!

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Which Way to the Lobby Bar?

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

  1. A chance to experience the ambience of international travel without leaving home, no passport (or TSA lines) needed.
  2. The feel of sophistication (most hotel patrons in the lobby bar are at least one jump ahead of the ‘let’s shed the normal clothes and show this town what real tacky tourists wear!’), jet setting (almost everyone has arrived from parts unknown), and just a little mystique (“where do you suppose they came from?”) as you sip on your properly made cocktail.
  3. A properly made cocktail.  In fact, most customary or standard cocktails can trace their origin to some famous hotel lobby bartender who invented it for some famous hotel patron.
    Fancy Schmancy Bartender Mixing a Proper Manhattan

    Fancy Schmancy Bartender Mixing a Proper Manhattan

 

4.  A smartly uniformed bartender who (for the most part) appreciates his/her well-heeled patrons and knows exactly what type of service will meet or exceed their expectations (RE encourage the guest to return for another visit each night during their stay).

5.  Built in entertainment, with or without any music, via the revolving glass door of interesting patrons (although it should be noted that many a hotel lobby bar does indeed provide musical entertainment “for your listening pleasure”, meaning one can actually converse and hear a conversation while said entertainment is performing).

And this is just a starter list.

Now I know in the bubble presently circling above some of your heads there are objections swirling like hotel bars overcharge on their drinks! What if I have to pay for parking? And (a personal favorite that I’ve heard many times before), what’s the point of going to a hotel if you can’t steal the soap?  Well, I really need to find about a dozen more ways to say this, but most hotel lobby bars are just way cool.  So much so in fact that from time to time I author a blog post called appropriately, From the Lobby Bar, and yes, this would be one of those posts.  Sometimes I let you in on my location, and other times I might leave you guessing.

This woman looks comfy but lonely - NOT your typical hotel bar!

This woman looks comfy but lonely – NOT your typical hotel bar!

Today I’ll make it easy for you and share that I’m on the North East end of Orlando (aka Altamonte Springs, although you’ll never see that city listed in the hotel brochures because in the world of hospitality, all hotels that do not have an official Orlando address are given an honorary one in their marketing campaign) in a well-established business hotel that has thrived despite changing names more than a few times since opening many years ago.  This lobby bar even has an official name, Celestial Lounge, although I only knew that from seeing it posted on the website, not from anything posted in the Sheraton Orlando North’s lobby (www.sheratonorlandonorth.com) , which is fine by me because really, a hotel lobby bar is well, a bar.  In my opinion, it doesn’t need anything beyond great barstools or comfy seating, an excellent bartender and servers, and, um, really good bourbon.   (Again, personal preference.)  This lobby bar gets my seal of approval because:  comfy seating, excellent service, and my good friend, Jack Daniels (www.jackdaniels.com) is here.  Also for some cool things like the dancing waterfall and expansive, well-lit atrium area.  And while this place caters more to the business traveler than the attraction-weary tourists, it still has a great vibe and warm environment.  Oh, and no parking charge!

So, if you like to travel and also enjoy a good adult beverage but don’t have the trip money on hand, just take a short drive to any of the fabulous hotels here in Orlando and find a barstool you can take ownership of, at least for a short journey.  Keeping in mind that travel, no matter how near or far, is a strainer for sifting through other cultures and you might enjoy this journey.

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Do You Work In the Hospitality Industry?

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

*Hotel Front Desk Clerk [And yes, I do highly recommend starting here on your career opening round]

*International Flight Attendant [And since you ask, the answer is yes again, another great launch pad with the bonus of a passport full of visas, and even better stories to tell in the end. . .]

*Trip Director [Ever try to corral 140 people plus their +-700 pieces of luggage and personal carry on items into multiple busses and then try to keep their attention while you explain at least 140 times why they should have gone to the bathroom before they got on board? Yes, that’s the glamorous side of being a trip director]

*Meeting Planner [Think of every meeting, event, or convention you’ve ever attended and ponder for a minute just who put the thing together from booking the speakers to printing the name tags, and you’ll have some idea of the tasks covered by this job]

*Attraction Sales and Marketing [No, you don’t get to just enjoy super cool rides all day but yes, you sometimes do sneak out there under the guise of ‘sparking creativity’]

But in between the above there were also the following:  Parking lot attendant [overtime hours, baby!] and speaking of babies, child-sitter for kids of tourists [hey, when the money’s good. . .], running a cash register in, well, one of the busiest spots for running a cash register in the entire universe [yes, it is that busy out there on Main Street], rolling out the red carpet [figuratively and literally] for VIP events and their ‘worldy’ attendees,  escorting VIPs [that sometimes really aren’t so VIP after all but they sure think they are], providing meet and greet services at airports all over the map for travelers [big and small], setting up complicated exhibit booths that frankly could have challenged master engineers [hint, always travel with duck tape if assigned this job], mystery hotel shopper [okay, I admit, that one is fun!], and so much more.  But, I think/hope you get the picture here about the wide variety of jobs and opportunities in this industry.  And I’ve only scratched the surface of what it offers, especially here in Orlando, but also in most every tourist destination around the world.

You see, the hospitality industry is vitally linked to tourism, and these days just about every place on the planet thinks they are the latest, greatest, and most hip travel destination since the skis first hit the water at the [late-great] Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, FL. Case in point, just last summer I had a chance to visit Croatia, yes-CROATIA – and guess what newly formed European country is welcoming huge numbers of annual visitors and spreading out the welcome mat for each and every one of them?  Yep, the correct answer would be Croatia, and prior to my visit I wasn’t even sure where it was let alone what a positive and lasting impression it would have on me.

So, if you already work in the hospitality industry I assume you have some idea of the vast variety of jobs that are within reach, maybe even within 4-5 degrees of separation between where you are now and where you want to be in the future.  And while I’m not saying this industry is for everyone [see previous post about the need for believing in that ‘must like people’ mantra you put on your resume] it certainly does tick off a lot of boxes for those seeking a wider perspective of the universe.  As Jack Kerouac once said, “The road is life,” and in the world of hospitality, it’s the journey on that road that makes getting to the destination so very interesting.

So, what about you?  Do you work in this industry and if so, what’s your position or maybe your dream job?  In this Hive we want to share the opportunities!

 

 

The Good, Bad and Downright Ugly About This Industry

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

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

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

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So, why do so many of us like the wonderful world of hospitality?  Because the good outweighs the bad and ugly.  And because there are so many jobs in this area, not to mention the world at large, in the field of hospitality.  And, mostly because we are all ‘people-people’, at least that’s what we put on our resumes, right? Something to the effect of, “I just looove people, and it gives me great pleasure to be able to service them and be around them morning, noon, and night.” Or, something like that.  But sometimes (and, I’m sure this doesn’t apply to any of you, ahem) we only put it there on our resume because we think that’s what our potential employer wants and needs to see.  There, I said it.  Resumes can lie.  Which is exactly why anyone who is in a hiring position needs to look well beyond the written word (especially if your written words are misspelled on said resume, but I digress with that statement. . .) and look at the person as a whole.  Are they sincere?  Do they look self-assured and happy?  Do they seem like problem solvers, and well, um, people-pleasers?  Because really, what many, many hospitality jobs boil down to are two basic components:

1] Do they really like people, or are they just saying that to get a job? (Perhaps, the difference between, “Have a nice day!” and, “have a great frickin’ day, lady, and please never let me see your sorry face again here!”?)

2] Can this person think on their feet and make an effort to solve a problem or answer a question without reverting to ‘ugly hospitality employee’ tactics?

Of course there are many more components in the job search, but I’m here to tell you that no matter what your position in the hospitality industry you will almost always be dealing with people (and in our case here in Orlando that mostly means tourists and convention goers) in some capacity, so if you can’t get over #1 then it’s fairly likely that you won’t pass the test of #2.   Further, let’s be honest here.  The act of actually liking people is not easily taught.  You either do or you don’t.  (Although, it should be noted that you can be taught to not like people, and that usually happens after you’ve been on the job for a while and then realized that BOOM! People are nuts!  Some of them are downright crazy whack-a-doos, and you don’t want anything more to do with them.  Don’t laugh, it happens all the time!)

So, where am I going with this?  Back to the great land of job opportunity located right here in Orlando, aka the wonderful world of hospitality, which, by the way, basically means friendliness.  So, it stands to reason that a basic tenet for anyone seeking employment in the fields of hotels, travel, tourism, attractions, restaurants, transportation, et al needs to take an oath of truthfulness before starting said job.  Physicians and lawyers do it before accepting their professional designations, so why not the friendliness community?  Something short, sweet and meaningful would be appropriate.

“I hereby accept that it is my responsibility to be friendly to you knowing that you are a tired traveler who has spent lots of your hard earned money to visit [my place of employment], and that by accepting your money I acknowledge that you are paying for my own job, along with those of many others.  Further, as long as you understand that it is always hot here in Orlando and there are always lines for everything including but not limited to the restrooms in every single location that you will visit, then I will do my best to smile and help you along this temporary journey through my little corner of the world.”

There now, that wouldn’t be so bad, would it?  After said agreement is signed you could accept the job offer and be on your way to service with a smile, no matter the hour/day/point in time.

And, at the risk of sounding like Pollyanna, well, isn’t it better to deal with a friendly person than a hostile one?  In the ‘hospitality hive’ we prefer happy people, so there you have it.

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photo credit: Scott Smith (SRisonS) via photopin cc