Monthly Archives: January 2009

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts Forges Global Agreement with International Spa Brand, Nectar

Spa Concept Customized Exclusively for Sheraton to be Offered at Properties Worldwide, As Part of an Ongoing Effort to Enhance the Brand and Differentiate the Guest Experience

WHITE PLAINS, NY ? January 27, 2009 ? Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. and Spatality Holdings, Ltd. announced today that they have entered into a multi-year agreement under which Nectar Spa LLC and its affiliates will make the upscale Nectar Spa brand available at Sheraton properties worldwide beginning in 2009. The new spa experience is part of a brand-wide effort to enhance the iconic Sheraton brand, which includes an investment of over $4 billion in new hotels, upgrading 100 hotels in the U.S. ? nearly half its North American portfolio ? renovating 50,000 guestrooms and re-designing more than 100 new lobbies.

The Nectar spa brand was developed specifically for the hospitality industry and customized exclusively for the Sheraton brand to offer both business and leisure guests an upscale, approachable spa experience. Nectar?s complete program of treatments includes a variety of signature massages, body treatments, facials, manicures/pedicures as well as custom options developed specifically for the Sheraton brand.

Nectar was developed by the international spa management and brand delivery firm, Spatality, as a proprietary concept that offers an experience based on ?high design/low ego” and which is uniquely suited to Sheraton. Research reveals that the Sheraton guest values the quality of luxury, but not the pretense often accompanying it. Eight out of 10 Sheraton guests are likely to consider using spa services when traveling, including male guests, the majority of which prefer to visit spas only when traveling.

?Nectar will be an invaluable, welcome addition to the Sheraton guest experience,” said Hoyt H. Harper, II, senior vice president for Sheraton. ?We know our guests will value an exceptional spa experience with a welcoming atmosphere. With this global agreement, we plan to make spa a cornerstone of the Sheraton brand experience, one that guests will truly embrace as part of their lifestyle.”

?We are quite honored that Nectar will play a part in the revitalization of Sheraton, the most recognized hotel brand in the world,” said Richard Dusseau, CEO of Spatality Holdings and Nectar LLC. ?When we created Nectar, we certainly had the upper upscale hospitality segment in mind, but it was pure serendipity that our brand proposition dovetails so well with Sheraton. The placement of Nectar into Sheraton hotels will help create additional brand loyalty by delivering an exceptional spa experience.”

The new relationship with Nectar Spa will offer a significant enhancement for the Sheraton brand. Other notable enhancements that the Sheraton brand is currently implementing include a new lobby environment, re-designed guest rooms and a revolutionary new health and fitness program. Nectar will make the new spa offering available under license/franchise agreements to current and future Sheraton owners.

?Spatality?s expertise in the spa field will bolster our ability to help Sheraton properties worldwide create more comfortable and memorable guest experiences,” said Mia Kyricos, Director, Spa Development for Starwood. ?This relationship also underscores Sheraton?s commitment to the business of spa which is increasingly impacting rate and occupancy at upper-upscale hotels worldwide.”

Helping guests make connections at more than 400 hotels in 75 countries around the world, Sheraton is revitalizing its iconic brand while continuing its aggressive international expansion by adding 54 hotels and 20,000 guestrooms by 2009. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with more than 930 properties in approximately 97 countries and 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis?, The Luxury Collection?, W?, Westin?, Le M?ridien?, Sheraton?, Four Points? by Sheraton, and the recently launched AloftSM, and ElementSM. Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit www.starwoodhotels.com .

Spatality is an international spa management and brand delivery company with offices in Denver, Colorado (U.S.A); Bangkok, Thailand; and soon Dubai, U.A.E., offering spa solutions, brands and management services to hoteliers and developers throughout the world. By bringing together key performance indicators used in the hospitality sector, Spatality offers high-yield spa management solutions to the industry and focuses on delivering bottom-line results and enhancing the value of the asset. For more information, please visit www.spatality.com .

The LCVA Is Accepting Nominations for Tourism Awards

Leesburg, VA?The Loudoun Convention & Visitors Association (LCVA) announced today that it is accepting nominations for the 2008 LCVA Annual Tourism Awards.

The LCVA Tourism Awards Program showcases the work, service, creativity, and contributions of individuals and organizations as it relates to tourism promotion in Loudoun County. All award entries must be for individuals, organizations, or programs, and recognize accomplishments for activities or events that occurred or were completed during 2008.

?Tourism in Loudoun County is an important sector of the business community including large and small businesses, not-for-profits, and significant volunteer efforts; the LCVA Tourism Awards Program enables us to honor the people and organizations who have contributed to its growth and success,” said LCVA President and CEO, Cheryl Kilday.

Nominations for the following award categories will be evaluated by the LCVA Tourism Awards Committee in February 2009:

Employee of the Year
Volunteer of the Year
Tourism Event of the Year with attendance over 3000
Tourism Event of the Year with attendance up to 3000
Tourism Promotion/Campaign of the Year
Humanitarian Award
Judy Patterson Tourism Award

For the first time this year the Tourism Event of the Year will be divided up into two categories: events with under 3,000 people in attendance and events with over 3,000 people in attendance. Events held in Loudoun range in size from large annual fairs and festivals to smaller first time events such as meetings or sports tournaments, and those nominated for Tourism Event of the Year are normally all placed into one category for the tourism awards nomination process. ?The new sub-categories will enable the smaller events to feel like they are competitive in a field that fits them.” said Cheryl Kilday, LCVA President and CEO.

The 2008 LCVA Tourism Awards will be presented at the LCVA?s Annual Meeting and Tourism Awards Luncheon on March 31, 2009.

LCVA Tourism Awards entry forms and judging criteria can be accessed online at www.VisitLoudoun.org/lcva/industryrecognition . Entries must be received at the LCVA Office at 222 Catoctin Circle, SE, Leesburg, VA 20175 by Tuesday, February 17, 2009.

For further information or questions, please contact Greg Harp, LCVA Director of Program Operations at 703-771-2170 ext. 14, or by email at harp@VisitLoudoun.org.

Orlando Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Destination-Wide Meetings Incentive Offer

More Than 25 Area Hotels Offer 2.5% Event Discount for Meetings Booked and Held in 2009

Orlando, Fla. ? The Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc. (Orlando CVB) is celebrating 25 years as a meetings and conventions destination with a special program designed to thank the meetings community for its support and to invite planners to join in the 2009 celebration. Through the Orlando CVB 25th Anniversary Savings Celebration, any meeting booked by May 1, 2009 and held by Dec, 31, 2009 will enjoy a 2.5% discount off the master account at any one of 30 Orlando-area meetings hotels.

?While a challenging time for the meetings industry, it is also an exciting time for the Orlando meeting and convention community as we celebrate being the #2 meetings destination in just 25 short years. Not only do we have a lot to be proud of looking back, but we have a lot to look forward to as $2.2 billion in new hotels and attractions sets the stage to transform Orlando into the future,” said Gary Sain, Orlando CVB president and CEO. ?Our 25th Anniversary program is designed to celebrate our successes, show our thanks to meeting planners for their support and encourage efforts to keep the industry robust.”

In addition to the main offer, many of the hotels are offering additional benefits ranging from complimentary wireless internet access to complimentary opening receptions to double award points.

Participating hotels include: Arnold Palmer?s Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa, Caribe Royale, Crowne Plaza Orlando Downtown, Crowne Plaza Orlando Universal, Doubletree Castle Hotel, Doubletree Universal Orlando, Embassy Suites Lake Buena Vista, Embassy Suites Orlando-Downtown, Florida Hotel and Conference Center, Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando, Holiday Inn International Drive Resort, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, International Plaza Resort and Spa, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando, Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando, Orlando Airport Marriott, Orlando World Center Marriott, The Peabody Orlando, Renaissance Orlando Airport, Renaissance Orlando SeaWorld, Rosen Centre, Rosen Plaza Hotel, Rosen Shingle Creek, Royal Plaza ? Walt Disney World Resort, Sheraton Orlando North, Sheraton Safari Hotel & Suites, The Westin Imagine Orlando, Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa and Wyndham Orlando Resort.

Transportation partners Air Tran, Jet Blue and Dollar Rent-A-Car are also supporting the program with special pricing offers to qualifying meetings.

The Orlando CVB 25th Anniversary Savings Celebration criteria and restrictions include:

Interested groups should complete an RFP available online at orlandoconventions/com/25 or by calling 800-646-2087

Meeting must be booked by May 1, 2009 and actualized by Dec. 31, 2009

Program is not available to meetings already contracted

Discount will be applied directly to the master account

Qualifying groups must book a minimum of 25 rooms on peak night

Booking representative must reference the ?Orlando CVB 25th Anniversary Savings Celebration” to qualify

Implementation and execution of the discount and other benefits will be between the specific hotel and the meeting planner directly

More information about the Orlando CVB 25th Anniversary Meeting Promotion is available online at orlandoconventions/com/25. For general information on Orlando meetings and conventions, visit orlandoconventions.com.

About the Orlando CVB

The Orlando CVB is the branding, sales and marketing organization responsible for positioning Orlando as the destination of choice for leisure and meetings business for the economic benefit of the Orlando region. The organization celebrates 25 years of destination management excellence in 2009.

United Nations Applauds Global Principles for Socially Responsible Associations & Nonprofits

WASHINGTON, DC?Less than two years after the launch of the Global Summit on Social Responsibility, ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership have presented the new Global Principles for Socially Responsible Associations & Nonprofits to the top leaders of the United Nations. The Principles, which align closely with UN Global Compact?s 10 sustainability principles signed by more than 5,000 corporations worldwide, were crafted and widely vetted by a diverse group of association leaders after the 2008 Global Summit for Social Responsibility.

At the meeting, ASAE & The Center formally invited UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to attend a presentation ceremony of the Principles and the growing list of ?pioneer signatories” during the 2009 Annual Meeting & Exposition, August 15-18 in Toronto.

Other topics covered at the meeting included the following:

? Global Compact leaders agreed to send the new Principles to their list of association signatories, encouraging them to consider the added value of signing these new Global Principles specific to the association and nonprofit sectors.

? Participants discussed the aspiration of post-summit project teams to develop an online Social Responsibility Resource Center, including a clearinghouse that would match professional and trade organizations and individuals with projects and people who need help solving environmental, social or economic problems.

? The UN encouraged the association sector to view Global Compact signatory support materials and information as models for development of their own tools and resources. Georg Kell, executive director of the Global Compact, also reiterated his personal support of ASAE & The Center?s Social Responsibility Initiative.

?I applaud your initiative and hard work toward a more socially responsible future,” said Kell. ?We are especially pleased that the Global Compact has been such a strong model for you in your efforts to become a more socially responsible community. A set of strong principles, combined with real action and effort, can go a long way toward improving both the world and the businesses operating within it, as our thousands of corporate signatories can attest.”

?This visit is another important step in the efforts of associations and nonprofit organizations to learn from and partner with other sectors to promote greater social responsibility in our community,” said ASAE & The Center President and CEO John H. Graham IV, CAE. ?We thank the Global Compact staff and the United Nations for their helpful counsel as we continue to grow our movement.”

ASAE and The Center boards approved the voluntary Principles in November 2008, opening the door for associations and nonprofits to sign and integrate them into their own sustainability strategies.

ASAE & The Center?s ongoing Social Responsibility Initiative is supported by the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, The Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau and collaborative online partner iCohere. For more information, visit http://www.asaecenter.org/ or contact Chris Wood, director of social responsibility, at cwood@asasecenter.org or 202.326.9554.

Lorien Hotel & Spa, A Kimpton Hotel, Deputs in February 2009

Urban Retreat to Emerge as Kimpton?s Crown Jewel in the Washington DC Metropolitan Region with Spa & Three Robert Wiedmaier Culinary Venues

ALEXANDRIA, VA ? On Feb. 12, 2009, the $50-million Lorien Hotel & Spa will debut in Alexandria, VA as Kimpton?s crown jewel of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region. Owned and developed by the DSF Group and managed by Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, the 107-room urban retreat will bring an elevated level of style and service to historic Old Town, Alexandria with a full-service spa, world-class interior d?cor by acclaimed designer Vicente Wolf, and three culinary venues by celebrated chef Robert Wiedmaier.

?The Lorien Hotel & Spa will be a destination all its own, with a level of service that is unsurpassed,” says Don Anderson, general manager and Alexandria native. ?We are in the unique position to offer the comfort and intimacy of a boutique hotel, with the amenities of a resort, to deliver a four and a half star-caliber hotel experience. This is a highly anticipated opening for Kimpton and Old Town alike.”

At Kimpton hotels, every hotel tells a story, and the Lorien Hotel & Spa will celebrate the story of dreams. The dream story will be brought to life through personalized amenities such as a 24-hour ?dream” button on all guestroom phones, with a direct line to a highly-trained concierge to coordinate all elements of a perfect stay. An extensive ?Dream Service Menu” will make available specialized amenities including comfort foods, soothing bath, aromatherapy and pillow options, that can be delivered to the room to help set the stage for a good night?s sleep and sweet dreams.

With an eye towards offering a heavenly retreat for travelers, world-class designer Vicente Wolf was hired to create the hotel?s d?cor. Artfully blending old with new, Wolf reinterprets American classic design with a modern flair at Lorien Hotel & Spa. The building?s exterior reflects the historic charm of Old Town with its warm coral-hued brick walls and copper rooftops. But stepping inside, guests are welcomed by sleek and elegant interiors that hint at both past and present and evoke a fresh and contemporary feel.

The 107 spacious guestrooms and suites have a warm and residential atmosphere, with a calming palette of robin?s egg blue, gray and white. Custom-made furnishings, such as wingchairs and trellis-style headboards, are reinterpreted with a contemporary flair. Numerous suites and specialty Spa Rooms also boast spacious bathrooms with claw foot tubs and rainfall showers.

All rooms offer a wide range of amenities including 42″ flat panel televisions, a spacious work area, wireless and wired high-speed Internet access, an iHome clock radio, laptop safe, plush robes, and a gourmet honor bar featuring organic and healthy options. Guests can also enjoy signature Kimpton services including in-room yoga, Pilates and meditation TV programming, 24-hour room service, Forgot It? We?ve Got It! travel items, and overnight shoe shine and valet/laundry service

Perhaps one of the most inspiring aspects of the Lorien Hotel & Spa is the hotel?s Terrace Suites. These unique suites offer expansive terraces, some as large as 700 square feet, complete with cozy couches and seating ideal for hosting intimate gatherings for up to 30 people, or for nighttime stargazing. To enhance the experience, the hotel will offer a ?Terrace Menu” with choices that range from private wine tastings and alfresco dining to dance lessons, as well as more playful amenities such as sleeping bags, luxurious blankets, telescopes, and more.

The Lorien Hotel & Spa will be the first hotel in Old Town Alexandria with a full-service spa. The 4,000 square foot spa and fitness center includes five treatment rooms, private locker rooms, two steam rooms and an indulgent dream-inspired treatment menu utilizing organic and paraben-free products from Kerstin Florian that are restorative to the body and in harmony with the environment. The spa?s 24-hour fitness center offers a full range of exercise equipment, free weights, and personal training and private yoga classes are available by appointment.

Lorien Hotel & Spa is also a gourmand?s dream with not one, but three dining venues helmed by celebrated chef Robert Wiedmaier. The foodie trifecta includes a 105-seat restaurant, a 43-seat tasting room, and a wine and cheese retail shop. At the restaurant, Chef Wiedmaier will serve Belgian cuisine with American inspiration and offer a collection of hard-to-find, yet approachable wines and an extensive list of Belgian beers to pair with any meal. The tasting room will provide a more casual, European-style dining experience, where guests can enjoy light fare from the chef?s wood-fired oven and sample wine and other spirits. At Chef Wiedmaier?s retail shop, which will be Old Town?s first gourmet food shop, guests and locals alike can shop for wine, gourmet beer, and various treats ranging from cheese to olives and charcuterie.

The Lorien Hotel & Spa will also feature more than 3500 square feet of sophisticated meeting and event space, including three meeting rooms, a hospitality suite, and functional outdoor venues. Customized meeting breaks, including private wine tastings and chef dinners, can be arranged through the hotel?s team of highly trained professional meeting planners.

Lorien Hotel & Spa is ideally located within steps of the metro, located in the heart of Old Town Alexandria and offers easy access to the surrounding Washington, D.C. area. The hotel is just four miles from Ronald Reagan international Airport, and four blocks from the Amtrak station. For guests who prefer a different mode of transportation, complimentary bicycles are available for a ride to the Potomac River. Chef Wiedmaier picnic baskets, filled with all the makings for a gourmet lunch, can be prepared upon request.

Room rates at Lorien Hotel & Spa start at $329, and special weekend rates are available. Lorien Hotel & Spa is located at 1600 King Street, Alexandria VA, 22314. For more information or reservations, please call (703) 894-3434 or (877) 856-7436 toll free or visit www.lorienhotelandspa.com.

ABOUT KIMPTON

San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is the first and leading collection of boutique hotels, throughout the United States and Canada. Founded in 1981 by Bill Kimpton, every Kimpton hotel features personalized guest services, comforting in-room amenities, specialty rooms and suites, and provides a range of exciting culinary experiences through affiliated top-rated destination chef-driven restaurants. Kimpton takes pride in its commitment to social responsibility and leads the hospitality industry in ecological practices through its innovative EarthCare programs. Privately held, Kimpton received the highest ranking in customer satisfaction scores by the Market Metrix Hospitality Index for the entire year of 2007, exceeding all other hotel companies, including those in both the luxury and upscale segment. Among the company?s newest properties are the Hotel Monaco Alexandria and Jackson 20 restaurant in Virginia, which opened in January 2008, and the Hotel Palomar Los Angeles in Westwood and the adjacent BLVD 16 restaurant, which opened in May 2008. Additional projects are underway in Florida, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Baltimore and Chicago. For more information, please visit www.KimptonHotels.com or call 1-800-KIMPTON.

ABOUT DSF
The award winning DSF Group is a private real estate company making value added investments in multifamily and commercial properties, primarily in the high growth Northeast Corridor, between Washington D.C. and Boston. With over $1.5 billion invested in 4 million square feet since 2000, The DSF Group has quietly become one of the most successful private real estate investment firms in the country. For more information, please visit www.thedsfgroup.com

Westin Beach Resort Fort Lauderdale to Open

After multi-million dollar renovations, the iconic Yankee Trader Hotel reopens in February 2009 as The Westin Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale. Just minutes away from the Fort Lauderdale International Airport, the resort offers business travelers more than 32,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space equipped with high-speed internet access and the most up-to-date audiovisual and videoconferencing capabilities for any size meeting.

With dramatic ceilings and classic decor, the Las Olas Ballroom has more than 10,000 square feet of space, accommodating groups up to 900 people. The elegance of the Atlantic Ballroom creates the ideal environment for medium to large events with close to 8,000 square feet of space. Additionally, the resort includes the Sunrise Terrace with more than 6,300 square feet of inspiring views of Fort Lauderdale Beach and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Westin brand is known for catering to the creature comforts of the business traveler. The 8,100 square foot Heavenly Spa and 24-hour WestinWORKOUT fitness center – including a Westin Running Concierge for guests interested in experiencing the best routes along the beach or the town – provide refreshing breaks from vigorous training sessions. Healthy superfoods, including indigenous citrus dishes, provide stamina for enlightening brainstorming discussions.

If you would like additional information about the rebirth of this legendary hotel and meeting opportunities with the Westin Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale, please contact Jamey Ivey, jivey@zimmerman.com or 850-668-2222 ext. 311.

Spa Toscana, Peppermill’s Crown Jewel Now Open

(Reno, NV) — Spa Toscana, located in the newly expanded Peppermill Reno opened November 15, 2008. This highly anticipated Tuscan-inspired destination offers guests the true definition of SPA (Sanitas Per Aquam) “health through water” and will invigorate all senses. Spa Toscana is an homage to the ancient baths of Roman times with three stories and 30,000 square feet of Tuscan architecture featuring mosaic covered floors, beautiful fountains and water features.Spa Toscana also boasts a stunning Caldarium including an indoor pool, sun deck and Secret Garden. Natural light, soothing baths, cascading waterfalls and peaceful sanctuaries set the tone of an unparalleled spa experience with a focus on holistic rejuvenation and renewal.

Old world tradition with a modern emphasis is what makes Spa Toscana a true jewel. The variety of twenty four treatment rooms that offer massages, facials, Vichy therapy, and dry hydrotherapy is just the beginning. To make the experience a true “get away” all rooms feature 50″ hi-definition plasma TVs and spa treatments that provide So Sound? ART resonating through treatment tables. ART-Acoustic Resonance Therapy integrates the benefits of sound healing with other healing methods not found in traditional spas.

Guests will enjoy Steam and Cedar Wood Saunas, Cascading Deluge, Marble Steam, Finnish Sauna, and Ritual Rooms that include private lockers and spa wardrobe. Experience Showers provide a choreography of color, light, sound, water and steam in a seamless sensory experience. Spazio Romantico Couples Suite features an effervescent bath with a spectrum of color, infrared sauna and more!

Spa Toscana is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The spa’s treatment hours run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. An extensive menu provides a variety of services from massages, facials, body treatments, Vichy therapies and more. In addition to individual treatments, Spa Toscana offers a variety of spa packages.

Escape and relax with Spa Toscana’s dry hydrotherapy treatments. Dry hydrotherapy is a quick and easy way to unwind that requires no removal of clothing or even direct contact with water. This pioneering technology utilizes the absence of gravity within a full body water massage to relax the mind while vanquishing tension and stress. A menu of current treatments can be viewed at http://www.spatoscana.com.

Salon Toscana is a full service salon open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and is located on the third floor of the spa. Whether in need of getting a haircut, hair color or looking for a relaxing manicure and pedicure, guests can gaze into their own private 50″ hi-definition television while enjoying services offered at the salon. Specialty hair treatments are also available for Nourishing, Purifying, Volumizing or Rebalancing hair and scalp. Salon Toscana also offers a variety of manicures and pedicures. Arouse the senses with the Mio Piedi Dolce – My Sweet Feet Pedicure. This treat for your feet begins with a hydrating milk soak infused with Italian Mandarin and transitions into a luxurious massage using Fuji Apple, Jasmine and Ginger essential oils.

Other special features include: private lockers, hot & cold plunges, waterfall showers, plush robes and sandals, complementary fruit, juice, water and spa edibles. The Spa and Salon Boutique will carry a complete selection of bath and body products that will include Spa Toscana’s Signature products and a variety of gift items.

The State of the Art Fitness Center is located within a short walk and features Precor Cardio, Free Weights, Resistance Training and more.

Surrounded by stunning panoramic views of snow-capped mountains and the city lights of Reno, the elegant 1635 room Peppermill Resort Spa Casino offers guests a resort setting with Mediterranean architecture, a luxurious spa, Northern Nevada’s newest nightspot Edge, world-class cuisine and all the services and amenities that have become synonymous with the Peppermill name. Located south of the downtown Reno, the resort is just 5 minutes west of Reno Tahoe International Airport.

Located at 2707 S. Virginia Street, Reno, Nevada call (775) 826-2121 or (800) 648-6992, fax (775) 689-7269 or visit http://www.peppermillreno.com for more information or reservations.

Eurail Will Take You to Europ’es Top Destinations in 2009

Utrecht, Netherlands ? As a new year begins, there are several reasons to start making travel plans for 2009. Many European cities have been featured on various top ten lists of worldwide hotspots to visit this year. Here?s a sampling of some affordable destinations that are also easily accessible with a Eurail Pass.

Frommer?s recommends Berlin as an authentic destination that offers something for almost everyone. The historic city is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, making 2009 the perfect year to visit the German capital. Those interested in European history can expect special exhibitions, memorials, tours and walks. Berlin is well connected, and nearly 350,000 train passengers pass through the newly-built, highly-modern glass Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) daily.

The travel website BootsnAll (www.bootsnall.com), aimed at independent travelers, also names Berlin as one of their top choices, claiming that the city is ?noticeably cheaper” than most of Europe?s other popular tourist destinations.

In these difficult economic times, the focus is on more affordable travel deals. The UK?s Herald newspaper recently released a report on the best budget destinations to visit in 2009. Included in this list is Bulgaria, which has just become a Eurail One Country Pass member.

Situated in southeastern Europe, Bulgaria offers a picturesque and varied landscape ranging from towering mountain ranges to coastal towns situated on the Black Sea. Bulgaria?s passenger railway network covers over 6,200 kilometers (3,850 miles) and offers convenient domestic and international routes. Direct trains run from major cities such as Budapest, Bucharest, Thessaloniki and Belgrade. The Bulgarian railways serve 34 million passengers annually.

Another popular destination in Eastern Europe is the Czech Republic, which became a member of the Eurail Global Pass and Eurail Select Pass packages in 2009. The Czech capital Prague is ranked among the top ten tourist destinations in Europe, according to Euromonitor International1.

Traveling by rail is popular in the Czech Republic. Of the more than 6.5 million tourists visiting the country annually, nearly a quarter travel by rail. The dense railway structure, which is continuously being modernized, links Prague to many other interesting cities and villages within the country, and boasts excellent international connections. Other European capitals like Vienna and Berlin can be reached directly in less than five hours.

Undoubtedly, the economy will play an important role on how and where we travel in 2009. However there are clearly some affordable destinations in Europe and with a Eurail Pass offering freedom, flexibility and excellent value, you can be assured of a relaxing and enjoyable trip.

With the addition of the Czech Republic, the Eurail Global Pass is now valid in 21 countries throughout Europe. Eurail also gives you the opportunity to customize your own rail pass by choosing three, four or five adjoining countries. For more specific itineraries, one and two country passes are a great option.

Eurail Passes are available from authorized sales channels: ACP Rail International (www.eurail-acprail.com); Eurail (www.eurail.com); Flight Centre (www.flightcentre.com); Octopus Travel (www.OctopusTravel.com); Rail Europe (North America: www.raileurope.com, rest of the world: www.raileurope.fr), and STA Travel (www.statravel.com).

For More Information:
Eurail Group corporate website and press room: www.eurailgroup.com
Eurail Group Marketing Director: Ana Dias e Seixas, tel. + 31 (0)30 8500 125,

Email: a.diaseseixas@eurail.nl
Eurail photo library: http://eurail.informationstore.net/

Or contact
Brigitta Kroon-Fiorita, Eurail PR Representative New York
Direct: (917) 720-1281, email: bkroon-fiorita@holland.com

New Year, New Alexandria Meeting Opportunities

Meeting choices in Alexandria get better each year. In February 2009, Kimpton’s new luxury boutique hotel, the Lorien Hotel & Spa will open with 107 lavish guest rooms and suites and 3,816 square feet of sophisticated meeting space. Inquire now for special pre-opening rates. The new, 181 all-suites Residence Inn by Marriott at Carlyle opened November of 2008, is perfect for small meetings and extended stays. Celebrating a successful year, the Hotel Monaco and Westin Alexandria offer Four Star guest amenities and meeting options. Several of Alexandria’s hotels have just completed extensive renovations. The Crowne Plaza Alexandria invested $13.5 million and the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites invested $11 million in complete transformations. From chic to charming, budget-conscious to generous, Alexandria is the ideal location for small to mid-size meetings.

With over $236 million dollars being invested in new hotels & upgrades, chef-driven restaurants at the peak of culinary sophistication and unique off-property venues all nestled in years of history, Alexandria is the ideal destination. Only minutes form downtown D.C., Reagan National Airport and National Harbor, Alexandria is sure to rank among the top destinations by meeting planners in 2009.

Celebrate Alexandria’s Inaugural Restaurant Week

From January 17 – 25, dine in one of the 30 restaurants participating in the city’s Inaugural Restaurant Week. Enjoy “Choice of the Presidents” menus at historically special prices. Induldge in a three-course prix fixe dinner or dinner for two, both for $35.

NEW YEAR, NEW LOOK

Changes are happening throughout the city, including at the Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association. Check out the brand new VisitAlexandriaVA.com to submit an on-line RFP or sign up for ” Access Alexandria” to recieve the latest news via email.

Ovation Ireland Scoops Prestigious SITE Crystal Award

Ovation Ireland scooped a prestigious SITE Crystal Award for Most Outstanding Incentive Event at the Society of Incentive and Travel Executives (SITE) International Conference held in Montreux, Switzerland last week.

Ovation Ireland received the award for an event for the Board of Directors of a South East Asian financial institution in collaboration with The Veritas Group, Sydney Australia. The five day program held in Dublin in October 2007 involved 3 Michelin chef catered events, escorted walking tours with a local author and historian, company sponsored day at the races, signature seated dinner in the Gravity Bar of the Guinness Storehouse and an exclusive performance of Handels Messiah with full baroque orchestra during dinner at Dublin Castle.

Managing Director, Padraic Gilligan said ?We constantly strive for excellence and creativity and benchmark our standards against the best companies in the world. We are delighted that Ovation Ireland has been acknowledged by the SITE Crystal Awards judging panel. This award recognises our ability to devise creative solutions to meet specific business objectives on the world stage.”

The Award was accepted on behalf of Ovation Ireland by Gerry Nicholls, DMC Director. In his acceptance speech Nicholls paid special tribute to his colleagues Yasmine Rodriguez, Operations Director and Rob Allidine, Events Director. ?This event required meticulous attention to detail as well as ?out of the box” creativity. Yasmine and Rob did an incredible job”.

The SITE Crystal Awards were established in 1980 as a means to recognise the blending of objectives and imagination that enable motivational programs to be successful in achieving business objectives.