by Vincent Alonzo | September 28, 2017
A Fish Tale

As the saying goes, "Give attendees fish and you feed them for a day, teach them to fish and you feed them for life." (Okay that's not exactly how it goes.) But it is a fun group activity -- especially if the fish cooperate. Earlier this summer, I spent a few days at the 400-acre Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa just outside of Austin and had a fishing lesson right on property in its Plantation Pond, which is always kept well-stocked.  

After Jarrod Owens of Renegade Trailhead, the company that manages the property's nature activities, taught this city slicker how to cast and reel, I caught and released about a dozen fish in 45 minutes -- and enjoyed it thoroughly.

"Stocking a lake makes all the difference in the experience," said Owens. "A stocked lake can pretty much guarantee the group is going 'catching' rather than just 'fishing.'"

Windfall


It truly is an ill wind that doesn't blow somebody some good. As Puerto Rico desperately struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria, Hilton Head Island in South Carolina not only missed the brunt of Maria (which unfortunately can't be said for North Carolina), but the destination is picking up several meetings groups that had to relocate because of this very destructive hurricane season. 

"It's not the way anyone wants to get a piece of business, and our hearts go out to our colleagues in the hospitality industry and the people in the communities affected," said Bill Miles, president of Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce during a visit to the Successful Meetings office.

There are a lot of new infrastructure developments waiting for groups visiting Hilton Head. 

The Grand Pavilion at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa just opened a month ago. Right on the beach, the venue can do seated functions for up to 200. 

The Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa has also just completed a renovation that has given the property a new lobby and brand new restaurant. 

Last year saw the debut of Montage Palmetto Bluff Resort & Spa, which features 200 rooms, six restaurants, three pools, and Spa Montage. Lastly, Air Canada has announced plans to begin offering service into Hilton Head Airport.

Visit unicefusa.org help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria.

President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama working the crowd
Panamanian Strong Man


Last week, I was at the Four Seasons Hotel New York, the day after the United Nations General Assembly ended, to attend Panama Fest, a celebration of all that country has to offer groups and tourists: 1,500 miles of beaches and some of the best ecotourism in the world. As Panama President Juan Carlos Varela told those in attendance, "Panama is for the adventurous who are looking for a unique cultural experience.

After working the New York crowd by dropping the name of a Panama native son and legendary Yankee, Mariano Rivera, much to the delight of the crowd, President Varela noted how pleasant it was to end the week at the Four Seasons after spending most of it at the United Nations listening to a certain leader threatening to "bomb this country, and ban that country." 

This wasn't the first time Varela has taken a swipe at President Trump. He proved he was more than Trump's match at verbal jousting when the two met in the Oval Office in June. Trump opened the exchange by boasting about what a great job the United States did building the Panama Canal, to which Valera quipped: "Yeah, 100 years ago."