Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Royal Caribbean Recognized As Top Innovator In The Hospitality & Travel Industry By Informationweek

Cruise Line also Ranked 18th Overall of the Top 500 Companies

MIAMI, Sept. 25, 2012 – Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. received top-honors during the recent 24th Annual InformationWeek 500 Conference – jumping to No. 18 in the coveted list of 500. Known for its innovative information technology practices, Royal Caribbean also was the only cruise line honored in the Hospitality and Travel category for its Guest Portal iPad application deployed onboard its recently revitalized, 1,804-guest ship, Splendour of the Seas.
            “We are thrilled to be honored again in the InformationWeek 500,” said Bill Martin, vice president and Chief Information Officer, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “Royal Caribbean is a firm believer in applying the latest technology aboard our ships to enhance onboard safety; find efficiencies for our crew; and create real value and an enhanced vacation experience for our guests aboard our ships. These accolades recognize Royal Caribbean’s innovative spirit and passion from everyone across our entire organization to deliver the best vacation experience.”
            InformationWeek recognized Royal Caribbean’s deployment of Apple iPads to every suite onboard the newly revitalized Splendour of the Seas – an industry first. The tablet empowers guests with a mobile integrated solution, with which to receive, retrieve and act on information during their cruise vacation. With a touch of the screen, guests are able to access the daily Cruise Compass of events and activities; personal daily itineraries, including shore excursions, and spa and dining reservations; monitor their onboard account; order room service; view restaurant menus; access the internet; and watch movies on demand.  The iPads also offer guests the convenience to access all of their information, not only from the comfort of their staterooms, but anywhere aboard the ship through bow-to-stern Wi-Fi connectivity.
            InformationWeek 500 recognizes business technology teams that have made a notable improvement to how their companies operate. The annual survey tracks the technology, strategies, investments and administrative practices of some of the best-known organizations in the country.
             Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 22 innovative ships, calling on more than 270 destinations in 72 countries across six continents. The line also offers unique cruise tour land packages in Alaska, Canada, Dubai, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand.
            Royal Caribbean provides a world-class vacation experience with a wide range of signature onboard amenities, entertainment, and award-winning family programming. The cruise line has a 40-year history of giving guests the Royal Advantage – the most innovative cruise ships, exciting itineraries to popular destinations, and world-renowned friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service. Royal Caribbean has been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for nine consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Readers’ Choice Awards. For additional information or to make reservations, call your travel agent, visit www.RoyalCaribbean.com or call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN. Follow Royal Caribbean on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/RoyalCaribbean or on Twitter, @RoyalCaribbean. Travel professionals should visit www.cruisingpower.com or call (800) 327-2056. Media can find information at www.royalcaribbeanpresscenter.com.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE/OSX: RCL) is a global cruise vacation company that owns Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur, Azamara Club Cruises and CDF Croisières de France, as well as TUI Cruises through a 50 percent joint venture.  Together, these six brands operate a combined total of 40 ships with four under construction.

Azamara Club Cruises Announces 2014 Voyage Programs

Hallmark Late Night and Overnight Stays Offer Up-market Travelers Immersive Adventures at Destinations Larger Ships Cannot Reach

MIAMI, Sept. 25, 2012 – Offering more late-night and overnight stays in port, the award-winning Azamara Club Cruises today announced the 2014 deployment of its twin boutique ships Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest. Up-market travelers can choose among 72 new voyages, ranging from four to 17 nights and visiting 240 fascinating destinations in 66 countries throughout Europe, the Far East, Central and South America, the Caribbean and the Western U.S. coast. The cruise line’s new 2014 program enables guests to experience the nightlife of compelling destinations around the world that larger ships cannot reach, and includes a record-45 maiden port calls, such as the UNESCO World Geopark Langkawi, Malaysia; Maura in the Sultanate of Brunei; and the charming island-village Vila do Abraao, a favorite Brazilian getaway.
            “Azamara’s staff and crew stand ready to deliver our authentic and personable service along with immersive experiences to up-market travelers,” said Larry Pimentel, president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises. “One hundred percent of Azamara’s 2014 voyages feature late night and overnight stays in port to offer guests the opportunity to enjoy the nightlife of some of the world’s most vibrant places. There is no better way for travelers to immerse themselves in a destination than with Azamara.”
            Most of Azamara’s voyages are designed so travelers can combine two or more consecutive voyages for an extended travel experience and not repeat a port call. Azamara Journey will sail 12- to 17-night voyages throughout the East and South China seas from January through April 2014, alternating departures from Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai and Chennai. On these voyages, guests will visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as Halong Bay, Borobudur, Parambanan and Sangiran, and revel in the nightlife of worldly cities, such as Tokyo, Shanghai and Bangkok to name a few, during their overnight stays. The ship then repositions via the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal to arrive for its Europe season in May.
            For its part, Azamara Quest will offer a pair of trans-Panama Canal voyages between Miami, Fla., and Costa Rica, plus a new series of Sea of Cortez and Central America voyages, ranging from 10 to 14 nights. A unique eight-night Coastal California Wine Country voyage departs roundtrip from Los Angeles on February 10, 2014, to explore the 31st State’s famous wine region plus a three-day call at San Francisco.  Azamara Quest also will sail an 11-night voyage to less-trodden, jewel-islands of the Caribbean, such as St. John’s, St. Barth’s, and Virgin Gorda, before returning to Europe in April.
            Both Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest will again sail European waters throughout summer 2014, offering travelers immersive adventures at some of the region’s most exciting destinations and cultural celebrations.  Azamara Quest will sail a 15-night trans-Atlantic voyage from Miami to Nice, France, while Azamara Journey will reposition via the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal.
            Azamara Journey will sail four- to 14-night voyages, ranging throughout the Mediterranean, North and Baltic seas. On the May 19 sailing, Azamara Journey will rendezvous with Azamara Quest at St. Tropez and Monte Carlo, where, for the first time, guests aboard both ships can join in the excitement of the Monaco Grand Prix. Travelers also can choose among three Baltic voyages of different lengths in July to suit their timing: a seven-, 10-, or 12-night itinerary, which all feature three full days at St. Petersburg, Russia. Gourmands should not miss the 14-night Food and Wine voyage, departing Southampton, U.K., on August 20, which features two-night stays at Nantes (Loire Valley) and Bordeaux, France. Azamara’s ships are ideally sized to sail into more-inland destinations like these so guests need only disembark the ship to shop, dine and join in the nightlife.
            Azamara Quest will sail mainly in the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Aegean and Black seas, on seven- to 12-night voyages. A unique 11-night Mediterranean Easter sailing, departing April 11, offers guests an overnight at Civitavecchia, the gateway to Rome for an opportunity to attend Palm Sunday mass in the Vatican, and at Livorno for Easter Sunday in Florence. Travelers also can choose among a seven-, nine-, and 12-night Black Sea voyage, sailing from Istanbul. The August 20 voyage takes guests on a comprehensive 12-night itinerary throughout the region, including a call at Sochi, Russia, site of the 2014 winter Olympic Games.
            In late November, Azamara Journey will depart from Spain’s Costa del Sol to the beautiful Brazil via the Canary Islands. Travelers can celebrate Christmas and the New Year as they sail from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro. Azamara Quest will retrace the Spice Route to the Far East and ring in the New Year in Hong Kong.
            Guests aboard Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest enjoy more inclusive amenities, such as included gratuities for housekeeping, dining and bar staff; complimentary bottled water, sodas, specialty coffees, and teas, as well as complimentary red and white boutique wines to accompany lunch and dinner; complimentary self-service laundry; English Butler service for suite guests; and shuttle transportation to city centers in ports, where available.
            Azamara Club Cruises is a destination-immersive cruise line for upmarket travelers who want to see not only the places and cultures they visit, but to live them. Azamara’s two intimate, 694-guest ships, Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, with a combination of 347 suites and staterooms, offer a European-boutique hotel ambience with extraordinary service, fine cuisine and wines from around the world, and wellness and vitality programs, all while sailing to a host of destinations larger ships cannot reach. Azamara Club Cruises sails European destinations, including the Baltic and Scandinavia, British Isles, Western Europe, French and Italian Rivieras, Greek Isles, Croatia, Holy Land and Black Sea, as well as Asia, South America and lesser-traveled islands of the West Indies, with more overnight and late-night stays in every region. Travelers also can choose even more immersive experiences with Azamara cruisetours in four of the world’s most exciting destinations, including Buenos Aires, Istanbul, India and China. For more information, travelers can call their travel professional, dial 1-877-999-9553, or visit Azamara Club Cruises at www.AzamaraClubCruises.com. Travel agent professionals also can access more information and make reservations at www.CruisingPower.com.
            Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE/OSX: RCL) is a global cruise vacation company that owns Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur, Azamara Club Cruises and CDF Croisières de France, as well as TUI Cruises through a 50 percent joint venture.  Together, these six brands operate a combined total of 40 ships with four under construction.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Shreveport-Bossier Welcomes Medical Meetings

 Local industry strives to offer exceptional care

Shreveport-Bossier City, La. – At the forefront of healthcare in the three-state region of Northwest Louisiana, East Texas and Southern Arkansas, Louisiana’s Other Side boasts premiere medical facilities and top-tier providers in a variety of disciplines.
But Shreveport-Bossier also offers the infrastructure and services highly-sought by the industry professionals that bring their meetings and conferences to the sister cities annually.
Among this year’s events, the Hilton Hotel Shreveport will host the Louisiana Society of Health System Pharmacists’ annual conference, Oct. 20, and Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino Shreveport will welcome the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association for its 2012 LVMA Equine Committee Annual Meeting Sept. 23-25.
Visitors won’t have to look far to see the influence of the medical industry in Shreveport-Bossier. The cities are home to three hospital systems that strive to enhance the quality of life of scores of residents throughout the region.
Among them is the LSU Health Shreveport.
LSU Health Shreveport has operated in the community since 1876, and now has nearly 6,000 employees. As Louisiana’s first teaching hospital, LSU Medical Center is a major referral center that provides advanced healthcare services to residents in north Louisiana, east Texas and southern Arkansas. The public university hospital and medical school complex is one of only 120 institutions in the U.S. qualified for the designation of academic health sciences center.
“We are both the safety net hospital and the tertiary care provider,” said Sally Croom, Executive Director of Communications for LSU Health Shreveport. “We care for the needs of a special population, the underserved, and the specialty needs of the entire population.”
From a charity hospital, the facility has grown to include an academic medical center with a school of allied health professionals, a medical school and a facility that boasts research and patient care activities, Croom said.
“Healthcare has benefitted from innovation and technology changes,” she said. “Our academic medical center is now a tertiary care hospital with experts in many specialties and the region’s only Level 1 Trauma Center.”
Also operating in Shreveport-Bossier are CHRISTUS Schumpert and Willis-Knighton Health Systems.
According to the Louisiana Hospital Association’s Hospitals and the Louisiana Economy, 2011 report, the healthcare sector in the Shreveport-Bossier metro area, including DeSoto Parish, provided jobs for 31,727 employees and accounts for 11.8 percent of healthcare employees statewide. Regionally, hospital employees make up 10.6 percent of total employment.
“By engaging our local legislators and major business entities we now have support from community, state, and business leaders for our vision,” said LSU Health Sciences Center Chancellor Dr. Robert A. Barish. “Our mayor has said we want to be the “next great city of the South,” and I say you can’t achieve that unless you have a great academic health center.”
Plan your next meeting in Shreveport-Bossier City
Conveniently located in the northwestern corner of the state, Interstates 20 and 49 intersect at Shreveport-Bossier City, making the destination easily accessible by car, and the award-winning Shreveport Regional Airport is serviced by American, Allegiant, United and Delta.
Shreveport and Bossier City boasts nearly 10,000 hotel rooms, a multi-purpose, state-of-the-art convention center, five riverboat casinos and a horseracing track and a host of unique, alternative meeting sites ready to suite your needs.
Located in the heart of downtown, the Shreveport Convention Center features more than 350,000 square feet of meeting space and an a conveniently attached 313-room Hilton Hotel. Flexible in its design, the facility can be tailored to meet any group's needs, from major conventions and trade shows to intimate gatherings such as wedding receptions and banquets – while also having the capacity to support several different groups at one time. For a more intimate affair, your group can enjoy dinner, an IMAX show and access to more than 200 hands-on exhibits at Sci-Port: Louisiana's Science Center or meet amid the beauty of more than 30,000 roses at the American Rose Center – just to name a few.
For more information about planning your next meeting on Louisiana’s Other Side, call 800-551-8682 or visit www.louisianasotherside.com/meetings.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Royal Caribbean Rewards Loyalty With Bonus Commission

Travel Agents Armed with Complimentary Upgrade Offer to Boost Business

MIAMI, Sept. 20, 2012 – Royal Caribbean International, known for its history of steadfast support of travel agents, is again re-affirming its dedication to travel agents by offering an additional two points of commission on all new 2012 bookings made from Sept. 21 – Oct. 5, 2012. Additionally, furthering its Loyal to You Always commitment, the cruise line is arming travel agents with a complimentary upgrade offer on select Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas’ sailings or short Bahamas cruises aboard Monarch of the Seas or Majesty of the Seas. Together, the offers will help Royal Caribbean’s valued travel agent partners boost their end-of-year sales by driving customers to their doorsteps and meet their business goals.
 “Royal Caribbean has been and continues to be dedicated to fostering the success of travel agents,” said Vicki Freed, senior vice president of Sales, Trade Support and Services for Royal Caribbean International. “We are always developing opportunities to support the travel agent community and empowering them with the tools they need. The two additional commission points and consumer upgrade offer is another way we are helping travel agents generate more bookings; increase profits; and grow their business. Nothing is more important to us.”
            U.S. and Canada travel agents who book their clients on Monarch of the Seas or Majesty of the Seas  departing October 2012 through January 2013 will be able to sell their clients an outside stateroom for the cost of an inside stateroom.  Those clients interested in sailing a longer, seven-night itinerary can experience a Central Park- or Boardwalk-view balcony for the cost of an outside stateroom. These upgrade offers are applicable to new bookings only. At the time of booking, travel agents should ask for the UPG price program to be added to their client’s reservation. For more information on the offer, please visit http://www.RoyalisLoyaltoYouAlways.com.
Royal Caribbean has always been loyal to travel agents and reaffirms that through its Loyal to You Always commitment that consists of four principles:  Personal interaction and support; Valuable resources that get results; Increasing profits for travel agents; and Award-winning travel agent education and development programs. For additional information, please visit http://www.RoyalisLoyaltoYouAlways.com.
            Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 22 innovative ships, calling on more than 270 destinations in 72 countries across six continents. The line also offers unique cruise tour land packages in Alaska, Canada, Dubai, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand.
            Royal Caribbean provides a world-class vacation experience with a wide range of signature onboard amenities, entertainment, and award-winning family programming. The cruise line has a 40-year history of giving guests the Royal Advantage – the most innovative cruise ships, exciting itineraries to popular destinations, and world-renowned friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service. Royal Caribbean has been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for nine consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Readers’ Choice Awards. For additional information or to make reservations, call your travel agent, visit www.RoyalCaribbean.com or call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN. Follow Royal Caribbean on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/RoyalCaribbean or on Twitter, @RoyalCaribbean. Travel professionals should visit www.cruisingpower.com or call (800) 327-2056 or visit Vicki’s Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/VickiLovesTravelAgents. Media can find information at www.royalcaribbeanpresscenter.com.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE/OSX: RCL) is a global cruise vacation company that owns Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur, Azamara Club Cruises and CDF Croisières de France, as well as TUI Cruises through a 50 percent joint venture.  Together, these six brands operate a combined total of 40 ships with four under construction.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Spokane, Washington Set To Host Exclusive Meetings Industry Conference

Spokane's sustainability efforts and hospitality 
teamwork causes destination to shine

(September 11, 2012, Spokane, WA) - Spokane has been selected to host the 2013 Convention Industry Council's Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) Conclave, an exclusive annual meeting of the foremost certified professionals in the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industry. Visit Spokane Vice President and Director of Sales Keith Backsen says, "I'm so proud of how well Spokane's industry partners work side-by-side to win prestigious business like the CMP Conclave. The high visibility of the Conclave will give Spokane invaluable exposure and lead to future convention business."

Convention Industry Council Chief Executive Officer Karen Kotowski says she chose Spokane for a variety of reasons. "Before my site visit, I had never been to Spokane and it is a hidden gem. Spokane has a rich cultural history, a lively arts community, plenty of green space and activities for the outdoor enthusiast, outstanding wine rooms and restaurants showcasing Washington State's excellent culinary and oenological communities and most importantly, sustainable and service-oriented meeting facilities and hotel partners. The Spokane meetings community has demonstrated that it will pull out all the stops to welcome our CMPs and make this one of the best Conclaves ever."

This is the only conference for CMPs providing advanced education, networking and exam development sessions. More than 14,000 individuals in 36 countries and territories have earned the CMP designation since the program's inception. "Hosting the CMP Conclave is exciting for Spokane," says Cheryl Kilday, Visit Spokane President and CEO. "This is a rare opportunity to showcase our destination to a targeted audience of industry professionals, of which 70% are meeting planners."

The 2013 CMP Conclave will be June 8-10, 2013 with nearly 300 attendees expected in Spokane.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Spokane's History Set To Take Center Stage At Upcoming National Convention

Preservation leaders from across the country are coming to Spokane

National_trust_conference(September 10, 2012, Spokane, WA) -  Spokane will make history when the city hosts the National Preservation Conference (NPC) this fall. The National Trust for Historic Preservation brings its most prestigious conference to the Inland Northwest for the first time when Spokane hosts the NPC, October 31 - November 3, 2012. Spokane is believed to be the smallest city to ever host this highly regarded gathering of preservationists. "The City of Spokane is proud to host the National Preservation Conference this fall," says Spokane Mayor David Condon. "We may be the smallest city to ever host this conference, but our commitment to preserving our historic structures is big.  A walk through our downtown provides an illustration.  From the Fox Theater to The Steam Plant to the grand Davenport Hotel, our past lives for our citizens and visitors today."
Visit Spokane's Convention Sales team, local hospitality members and Spokane's robust preservation community worked together to win this conference, a process that started five years ago. "Representatives of the National Trust were impressed with our vibrant, walkable downtown with its wealth of historic buildings," said Paul Mann, Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. "They loved our historic neighborhoods and parks and our beautiful natural setting. But they were especially impressed with the dedicated individuals they met here."
Kristen Griffin, City of Spokane Historic Preservation Officer, says the conference is already having an impact on the preservation community. "So many organizations, businesses, institutions and individuals have pulled together to help plan the conference.  We hope that these new relationships will continue to work together on new shared goals. For example, helping promote Spokane as destination for heritage tourism," says Griffin.     
There are opportunities for the public to get involved. On Thursday, November 1, 7-10pm, historic South Hill homes will be open for the Candlelight Tour of Historic Homes. Many of the historic homeowners have never made their homes available to the public before this conference. Follow this link for ticket information. The NPC's Opening Plenary and Closing Plenary will also be open to the public. See a full schedule of public events by clicking here.
The conference is expecting as many as 2,000 people from around the country. Many attendees are influential in their own communities and will likely return home with a new respect and fondness for Spokane.The economic impact in the region will likely reach $4 million.

Boycott Protests Force Hotel Industry Group Back To Negotiating Table With Disability Community

Recent Protest by Grassroots Disability Advocates Prompts AH&LA to Continue Discussion with Meeting Offer for Week of September 10th

WASHINGTON, DC – As a direct result of a national boycott and subsequent grassroots protests and direct actions by disability rights groups, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) is coming back to the negotiating table to “continue this discussion” regarding the ADA requirement for hotel swimming pools to be made wheelchair accessible by January 31st, 2013.
In an email, Kevin Maher, Senior Vice President for Governmental Affairs at AH&LA, extended an offer to come back to the negotiating table and “continue this discussion” with the disability organizations regarding hotel industry noncompliance with the ADA’s pool lift regulations. Maher’s email comes weeks after four national disability groups – the American Association of People with Disabilities, the National Disability Rights Network, ADAPT, and the National Council on Independent Living – launched a boycott of hotels represented on the boards of the AH&LA and the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association (AAHOA).
The meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place the week of September 10th.
During the launch of the disability groups’ boycott in July, leaders from the community outlined four distinct requirements that needed to be met by the hotel industry in order for the boycott to be suspended:
  • AH&LA and AAHOA will cease their efforts to promote bills in Congress that eliminate their responsibilities to provide accessible lifts, including bills to amend the ADA and to de-fund the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.
  • Provide fixed lifts at all hotels.
  • Educate their member hotels about their obligation to comply with the DOJ’s rule and the tools that they can use to do so – including tax incentives for investments in accessible facilities.
  • Issue a public statement that they are taking the above actions.
“We’re happy to see AH&LA come back to the table, but make no mistake ­– lip service is no substitute for real reform in this area,” said Bruce Darling of ADAPT.
Mark Perriello, President and CEO of AAPD, commented: “Although we welcome AH&LA’s offer to come back to the table and discuss these issues, we remain cautious as we enter this meeting. The disability community is looking for answers from AH&LA and it is our job to keep the industry accountable. AH&LA should have no doubt that if we come out of this meeting with no change from their side, this boycott will be sustained and continued.”
"It's really a shame that the hotel industry continues to refuse to accommodate those of us who are wheelchair users," said Kelly Buckland, Executive Director of the National Center on Independent Living. "We worked for years to get the Americans with Disabilities Act passed back in 1990, but we continue to fight for equal access to facilities to this day. But we will not simply go away or sit on the sidelines in this fight -- we will keep working and keep organizing until Americans with disabilities truly have equal access in this country."
In 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) clarified a rule on access to hotel pools, asking hotel owners to provide access to swimming pools in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Like all ADA requirements, this rule would have some flexibility for existing pools that could not be retrofitted and businesses for whom this would be a burden. However, the AH&LA refused to agree to a mutually-acceptable compromise. Even after the DOJ clarified that hotel owners had significant latitude to choose whether to install a fixed lift, and also grandfathered pools that already had portable ones, the AH&LA chose to spend millions of dollars on high-paid lobbyists to roll back the recent rule requirement -- thereby rolling back civil rights legislation. Rather than spending money to ensure equal access regardless of physical ability, the AH&LA is pushing for legislation in Congress that would amend the ADA to exclude pools lifts or ensure the DOJ did not have the funds to enforce any final rule.
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is the nation's largest cross-disability organization. AAPD promote equals opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation for people with disabilities. AAPD’s members, including people with disabilities and our family, friends, and supporters, represent a powerful force for change. See more online at www.aapd.com.
ADAPT is a national grassroots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom. See more online at www.adapt.org.
The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is the longest-running national cross-disability, grassroots organization run by and for people with disabilities. Founded in 1982, NCIL represents thousands of organizations and individuals including: Centers for Independent Living (CILs), Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), individuals with disabilities, and other organizations that advocate for the human and civil rights of people with disabilities throughout the United States. See more online at www.ncil.org.
The National Disability Rights Network is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAP). Collectively, the P&A/CAP network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States. See more online at www.napas.org.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Rock 'N' Rollin In Memphis

If you think you know Memphis – think again!
There is so much art, music, dance, history, culture and scrumptious food to be found that when it comes to discovering all that this southern city has to offer, it’s hard to know where to begin.
You like Memphis, but you don’t know whether to make the city your next meeting destination?    Well, that’s a no-brainer and here are just a few reasons why.
    Lets start with Memphis being the Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
    In 2000, Memphis, which has more than 60 tourist attractions, made major league strides in the world of professional sports, as the city opened
AutoZone Park, a brand new retro-style ballpark for the AAA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, the Memphis Redbirds.


    Memphis International Airport (MIA) is the largest air carrier airport in the Mid-South region, servicing more passengers than Nashville, Jackson, MS or Little Rock, AR. Memphis
International is also a hub for the new global airline Delta Airlines/Northwest.  MIA, reportedly a leader of on-time departures and arrivals, has the shortest connection time of any connecting hub in America for both domestic and international connections.


Need a host hotel? The Peabody (www.peabodymemphis.com), considered the South’s Grand Hotel, is another no-brainer. It’s a one-stop shop!

Located only 20 minutes from the Memphis International Airport and literally two blocks from the famed Beale Street, this national historic landmark, which has been considered the south’s grand hotel for more than 14 years, will probably surpass all a group’s needs.

The convention facilities offer 80,000 sq. ft. of ballrooms and meeting spaces, which can accommodate groups from 10 to 2000.  The Grand Ballroom: 16,000 sq. ft., divisible into six separate meeting rooms, seats over 1,200 banquet-style and 2,100 theater-style; the Continental Ballroom: junior ballroom, over 4, 200 sq. ft., Mezzanine Level room and breakouts: eleven spaces on the ballroom level.  The Peabody Executive Conference Center: specially designed to fit small meeting needs, from 300-1,100 sq. ft.

A highlight and popular attraction at the hotel is the tradition of the famous Peabody Marching Ducks, which began in 1933. Every day at 11 a.m. they are led by the Duckmaster Jason Sensat, down the elevator to the Italian travertine marble fountain in the Peabody Grand Lobby. A red carpet is unrolled and he ducks march through  crowds of admiring onlookers to the tune of John Philip Sousa’s King Cotton March.  The ceremony is reversed at 5 p.m. when the ducks retire for the evening to their palace on the roof of the hotel.

There are several restaurants including Chez Philippe and Capriccio Grill Italian Steakhouse. There is a Peabody Sunday Brunch as well as a Peabody Deli & Desserts that offers quick sandwiches, pastries and coffees.

There are 464 guest rooms, including 15 suites. Each of the guest rooms and suites are architecturally unique, yet all include 24-hour room service, an athletic club, Gould’s Day Spa and Salon, guest parking, concierge service, shopping and more.


Considered one of the nation’s most flexible multi-use convention centers, the Memphis Cook Convention Center offers 350,000 sq. ft. of space designed especially for conventions, tradeshows, and performing arts. The center is located in the downtown convention district on the Trolley Line, convenient to hotels, attractions, shopping, and entertainment, and is only 12 miles from the Memphis International Airport.

The Convention Center hosts more than 500,000 visitors and generates over 100,000 hotel rooms nights annually. The Ballroom is 28,000 sq. ft. and is divisible into five sections. The Special Exhibition Hall is 35,000 sq. ft. and is designed to house exhibitions, small public shows and trade shows.  There are 31 meeting rooms offering more than 70,000 sq. ft. of meeting and breakout space (including the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts) The Performing Arts Center is a 2,100 seat state-of-the-art, acoustically superior center designed as the permanent home of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and an ideal location for
theatrical productions, concerts, the ballet, convention general sessions and large-scale
audio/visual presentations.  There is 190,000 total sq. ft. of exhibition and pre-function show space  and 31 breakout rooms ranging in seating capacity from 10 to 1,000.



If you’re in Memphis, you have to checkout Mirimichi, (www.mirimichi.com) a premier public golf course owned by none other than Justin Timberlake. Located just 15 minutes north of Downtown Memphis, the course is beautiful and challenging. Have a lot of fun with a Virtual Long Drive Contest and/or get analysis of your swing by one of Mirimichi’s pros.


Memphis is known for its good food – especially it’s BBQ.

There is no shortage of BBQ in the city. Whatever way you want it, you’ll find it.

Corky’s Ribs & BBQ (www.corkysmemphis.com) is known for serving some of the finest hickory-smoked ribs and BBQ. The family-friendly restaurant is a local delight as well as a tourist favorite.  Get beef, shrimp, pork, chicken or catfish. Lots of odds-n-ends, including Italian spaghetti, tamales & chili and more. Thankfully they are not stingy with the grub. You get lots of food. Desserts do not disappoint!  There is chocolate fudge pie, karo pecan pie, apple or peach cobbler, homemade banana puddin’ and double fudge brownie sundaes.  On this particular occasion the sausage/cheese and potato skins appetizers were incredibly tasty as are the dry rub ribs, cole slaw and beans, eatin while ‘Stubborn Kind Of Fella’ by Marvin Gaye wafted through the air.

You can’t go wrong with a meal at the Majestic Grille, (www.majesticgrille.com) which was built in 1913 in what used to be the Majestic No. 1 Theatre.

Interstate Barbeque (www.interstatebarbecue.com) is crazy good. Ever heard of the Neelys. Yeah, those Neelys. Well, this place was the first to put the Neely name on the Memphis BBQ scene. Specially built pits keep the meat fall-off-the-bone moist.

Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous (www.hogsfly.com) is located in the alley across from the Peabody. The restaurant is known for its unique ribs, which are cooked over charcoal, based with a vinegar “juice” and sprinkled with a special seasoning.



The National Civil Rights Museum (www.civilrightsmuseum.org) is a must see!
Housed in the Lorraine Motel, site of he assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this museum is a walk through history.   Exploring the Legacy adds 12,800 sq. ft. of exhibition space and connects the main campus of the Museum to the Young and Morrow building and the Main Street Rooming House where James Earl Ray allegedly fired the fatal shot the killed Dr. King.  Be warned: this is an emotional experience.



Whether you’re into music or not, you’ll probably still enjoy the Stax Museum of American Soul Music (www.staxmuseum.com).  The facility is located on the original site of Stax Records and it pays tribute to all of the artists who recorded there.  There is a rare collection of more than 2,000 interactive exhibits films, artifacts, items of memorabilia and galleries.  Included are the original Stax recording equipment, the organ used in the recording of “Green Onions” and Isaac Hayes’ restored peacock-blue 1972 Superfly Cadillac El Dorado.


Beale Street is history! Beale Street is culture! Beale Street is music!!

No visit to Memphis is complete without a trip to the Beale Street Entertainment District (www.bealestreet.com). You can hear the music blaring from the establishments for blocks.  It’s blues, it’s jazz, it’s cool, it’s hot!

Take in a show at the Orpheum Theater (www.orpheum-memphis.com). Regardless of what’s playing, it’s sure to be entertaining. And there isn’t a bad seat in the house.


If you want to know more about the history of Memphis, contact Elaine Turner or Joan Lee-Nelson with Heritage Tours.  She’s a walking encyclopedia filled with incredible knowledge about African Americans in Memphis.  Heritage Tours was founded by two sisters in November 1983 as the first and only African American owned, historical city sightseeing tour agency in the state of Tennessee. Tour highlights follow:


Go to the home of W.C. Handy, who moved to Memphis in 1905. The W.C. Handy Home & Museum is where he and his family lived and where Handy, known as the Father of the Blues, wrote some of his most famous blues songs including: Mr. Crump Don’t Low, Memphis Blues, St. Louis Blues and Beale Street Blues.  The home had been burned out, abandoned and forgotten until Harry Godwin, a blues historian rediscovered Mr. Handy’s Memphis home. Mr. Godwin spearheaded a successful campaign to save the landmark. On October 7, 1985, the home was moved from 659 Jeanette Street to the Beale Street Historic District.



There is also the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum on the Burkle Estate (www.slavehavenundergroundrailroadmuseum.org). 

The home of Jacob Burkle is one of the latest discoveries of Heritage Tours. It has become one of the most intriguing and popular sites on the tour. A German immigrant, Burkle championed the cause of assisting slaves to freedom.

Burkle was a wealthy livestock trader who also opened the first bakery in Memphis. But to his family and fellow conspirators, Burkle was one of the conductors on the "Underground Railroad. "

The old Burkle mansion is now known as Slave Haven.

Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum, located just north of Downtown Memphis, served as an important link in an intricate network of safe houses along various routes of the Underground Railroad. Lining the walls are historical documents and displays which paint a vivid picture of the past and reflect the harsh realities of slavery. A walk through the home reveals trap doors and a cellar that would have been perfect hiding places for runaway slaves. The secret hideaway can be reached by entering a trap door and descending the stairs to a small-bricked cellar. That’s where runaway slaves once huddled waiting for a signal that it was safe to leave on their journey to the north.

Drive pass Clayborn Temple AME Church, a well-known meeting place for civil rights activists in the 1960s. 

“We hope someone will preserve this place with history in mind,” said Elaine Turner, one of the owners of Heritage Tours.

The Hunt-Phelan Home, owned by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, was a haven for slaves who, while there, were taught to read and write and then helped to escape. 

Other tour sites include: Graceland, the Memphis Zoo, Sun Studio, the Memphis Rock n Soul Museum, First Baptist Beale St. Church (built by slaves), Mount Olive CME Church, Cotton Row, antebellum homes, the slave market district, civil war history and black business history.  There is also a Music Heritage Tour that includes Beale Street, Soulsville, Stax Museum of American Soul Music, W.C. Handy Memphis Home, Memphis Rock ‘N Soul Museum, Royal Studio, Sun Studio and BB King and Elvis statues.  There is also a Memphis Civil Rights Tour, which includes the National Civil Rights Museum, sit-in protest locations, Dr. Martin Luther King Memorials and the route of King’s last march. There is also a Memphis City Sights Tour, an Elvis Blues Suede Tour, a Memphis Nightlife Tour and a Beale Street Walking Tour.  For information: www.heritagetoursmemphis.com

How do you like Memphis now?