Monday, October 26, 2009

Candy Land



A very popular signature environment for Bat Mitzvahs is Candy Land. We had the opportunity of interpreting the perennially favorite game for a Bat Mitzvah this past weekend at the DuPont Country Club and incorporated the Bat Mitzvah girl's favorite colors in centerpieces, linens, place cards and table cards as well as her Sign-In Board. The ever popular water pearls were a big hit with all in the "just-enough-different-from-each-other" kids' and adult's centerpieces with custom over sized lolli-pop bouquets.

Monday, October 12, 2009

This brought a smile

Classic Singing Telegrams

I received a Singing telegram from Classic Singing Telegrams today. A cute guy named Kevin, dressed as a Bell Hop, arrived bearing mylar ballons and sang several songs in a fabulous voice. It was a great way to start the day and I also received a framed "Telegram" and Godiva chocolate truffles. A cute guy, chocolate and song- what else could a girl ask for except maybe money and a cosmopolitan.

Interested in delighting someone with a singing telegram? Call (856) 217-2422

Great for any Special Occasion: Birthday, Anniversary, Get Well,Good Luck, Congratulations, Engagement & Wedding Shower, Bachelor & Bachelorette
Check out the website: www.classicsingingtelegram.com
I read this today: 5 Industries that are doing work

Finance
This time last year, the finance industry crashed big time. Now we're happy to say that the marketplace is making a comeback and events are ramping back up. Look to the big banks as potential customers, with smaller institutions coming into the fold in mid-2010.

Medical
The medical industry has been holding strong this year. Associations, bio tech, and pharmaceuticals are big business no matter what the economic climate. Consider these folks as potential clients in the coming months.

Large Charities
Social need is greater than ever and the larger non-profits are ready to make a difference. Expect to see a rise in charitable giving in 2010. Try linking up with the major charities for their benefits and fundraising galas.

Education & Training
Particularly strong this quarter have been training events and seminars. As people gear up for doing business in this new landscape, organizations are hosting more educational events than ever. Also, be on the lookout for an uptick in university events as the new year unfolds.

Government
Take advantage of expanded government programs as they host more events and meetings this year on both a national and state level. And don't forget the steady stream of campaign needs when seeking new business — there's always a new election coming up.

Looking for Something New to See on Vacation?

World's Strangest Monuments

From a 25-foot shark crashing through a roof to Mongolia’s giant statue of Genghis Khan, the world’s weirdest monuments display local quirks.

By Lyndsey Matthews

Charge your camera batteries before visiting these monuments: You might need photographic evidence to prove that they’re not just a figment of your jet-lagged mind.

Saint Wenceslas Riding a Dead Horse
Prague

What It Commemorates: Saint Wenceslas, Bohemia’s patron saint.

What Makes It Strange: For almost 100 years—even during the dark days of Communist rule—the grand sculpture of Saint Wenceslas in Prague’s Wenceslas Square has been a source of national pride. But today, even the revered saint isn’t spared from the Czechs’ irreverent senses of humor. Sculptor David Cerny’s parody of the St. Wenceslas statue, hanging in the Lucerna Palace mere yards from the original, is of Wenceslas mounted atop the belly of a dead horse that’s been strung upside down.

Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue
Tsonjin Boldog, Mongolia
What It Commemorates: The infamous founder of the Mongolian Empire, known locally as Chinggis Khaan.

What Makes It Strange: The 131-foot-tall, 250-ton stainless steel statue, unveiled in 2008 and located an hour’s drive from Ulaanbaatar, is the world’s largest equestrian statue. Visitors can take an elevator to the viewing deck on the horse’s head and look out on the expansive Mongolian steppe. Until 20 years ago, Mongolia’s Communist government banned any celebration of the military leader, but in a surge of nationalism, Mongols have slapped his image and name on everything from an airport to a university and bottles of vodka. The statue is part of a planned theme park featuring nomadic lodging and restaurants serving horsemeat.

Duke of Wellington Statue
Glasgow

What It Commemorates: Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington and commander of the British forces that defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.

What Makes It Strange: For the past 20 years, this innocuous statue—erected in 1844 on Glasgow’s Queen Street—has been a magnet for late-night pranksters, who scale the statue and top it with traffic cones. Locals argue that the cones are an integral part of the statue, as well as the city’s identity. The government doesn’t agree. City workers knock off the cones with a high-powered water jet, and police have threatened to prosecute the pranksters. But since the public has ignored these warnings, anyone caught putting cones on the Duke is simply told to move on.

Fengdu Ghost City
Fengdu, China
What It Commemorates: This necropolis is modeled after the Chinese version of hell.

What Makes It Strange: During the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), two court officials named Yin and Wang moved to Mount Mingshan to obtain enlightenment. Combined, the surnames of this mystical pair sound like “King of Hell” in Chinese, and ever since, locals deemed this a gathering place for spirits. The Ghost City that developed is a complex of Buddhist and Taoist temples adorned with macabre demon statues dismembering humans as they guard the entrance to the netherworld. Landmarks bear frightening names, such as “Last Glance at Home Tower,” “Nothing-to-Be-Done Bridge,” and “Ghost Torturing Pass.” Ironically, the area is literally a ghost city now because of the massive Three Gorges Dam project, completed in 2009, which flooded the town and forced the region’s residents to relocate. Mount Mingshan is now a peninsula that is visited mostly by tourists on Yangtze River cruises.

Calder Mercury Fountain
Barcelona

What It Commemorates: The siege of Almadén, one of the largest mercury mines in the world, by Franco’s troops during the Spanish Civil War.

What Makes It Strange: Keep your hands away from this one. Poisonous liquid mercury pours through a series of iron and aluminum troughs, splashes against a metal piece that sets a mobile in motion, and cascades into a circular pool of deadly metal. American sculptor Alexander Calder designed the fountain as an anti-fascist tribute for the Spanish Republican government for the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris (where it was displayed opposite Picasso’s Guernica). Calder eventually donated his fountain to the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona, where it is encased behind glass.

Headington Shark
Headington, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
What It Commemorates: The dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

What Makes It Strange: Officially called Untitled 1986, the 25-foot-tall beast known commonly as the Headington Shark appears to have crashed headfirst through the roof of a quaint British home. House owner Bill Heine commissioned the work as a reaction to nuclear power and as an expression of someone “ripping a hole in their roof out of a sense of impotence and anger and desperation.” Made of metal, polyester resin, and plaster, among other things, the shark was originally viewed as an incongruous eyesore that the city council desperately tried to remove. Today it is accepted as a landmark.

Georgia Guidestones
Elberton, Georgia
What It Commemorates: The monument serves as a set of directions for rebuilding civilization after the apocalypse.

What Makes It Strange: Designed and commissioned by an anonymous group, the Georgia Guidestones consist of five 16-foot-tall granite slabs, arranged in a star-shaped pattern, that function as a compass, calendar, and clock (drawing comparisons to England’s Stonehenge). Some local Christians deem the creations the “Ten Commandments of the Antichrist” for their unsettling nature. (One guide reads, “Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.”) The stones have their fans though, including covens of witches and Yoko Ono.

Memento Park
Budapest

What It Commemorates: Hungary’s Communist past.

What Makes It Strange: Most Eastern European countries ceremoniously destroyed Soviet-era relics once they gave occupying forces the boot. However, rather than demolish all vestiges of a painful past, the city of Budapest removed 42 statues from prominent locations and placed them in a suburban park. Statues of Lenin, Marx, and Engels are all displayed, along with the Boots, a 1-to-1 replica of the remainder of a 27-foot-tall Stalin statue that an angry crowd tore down in 1956.

Underwater Gallery
Grenada
What It Commemorates: Reef ecosystems.

What Makes It Strange: This series of sculptures in the clear, shallow waters off the coast of Grenada has one highly unusual characteristic: it is accessible only to divers (though it can also be viewed through glass-bottomed boats). Sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor created the works, a series of human figures in various groupings and settings, as the world’s first underwater sculpture park, which also serves as an artificial reef to promote conservation awareness.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Don't Want to Fly Coach?

A Flier's Guide to Snagging an Upgrade Now

by Scott McCartney
Monday, October 5, 2009

provided by
wsjlogo.gif

You want a first–class upgrade on your next trip—who doesn't? But airlines have made it more expensive—and more confusing—to snare one.

In recent months, many big carriers have changed their upgrade rules, adding more restrictions and upping fees. More changes have already been announced for next year. So now is a great time to take a close look and compare airlines' programs.

Continental Airlines Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. fliers should pay particular attention because Continental is leaving its SkyTeam partnership with Delta this month and joining the Star Alliance with UAL Corp.'s United Airlines and US Airways Group Inc. That means customers of Delta and Northwest will lose some opportunities to earn miles and will see their reward trip options shrink. United and US Airways partisans, however, stand to gain. New York will be a prime battleground since Continental and Delta customers will likely want to choose one or the other, but the changes may lead to frequent–flier program jockeying across the country.

"I fully expect Continental to bring not only their frequent fliers but also some of their former colleagues' frequent fliers as well," said Glenn Tilton, chairman and chief executive of United.

Some airlines say competitors have even been surreptitiously dropping promotional cards in their airport clubs trying to entice travelers to switch. If you want to switch, airlines will match your elite–level status in a competitor's frequent–flier program.

Picking the right program can depend on a host of factors, from the service each airline offers at your hometown airport to the size and reach of the carrier's alliance network so you can earn and burn miles wherever you like to go. But for many road warriors, upgrades are by far the most enticing reward in a frequent–flier program: They are a better value than redeeming miles for tickets, and they greatly improve your travel experience.

The rub: Some airlines make it easier to upgrade than others. Here's a guide.

International Upgrades

The apple of most every traveler's eye is the international upgrade—moving to a cushy business–class seat that lies flat for sleeping without spending many thousands of dollars. Under financial pressure, airlines have made international upgrades more expensive, just as they have upped the price for checked baggage or reservation changes.

AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, Continental and US Airways have all added "co–payments" to mileage awards, charging frequent fliers both miles and cash for upgrades. United will add co–pays in January.

US Airways is among the more–expensive for trans–Atlantic upgrades, charging 30,000 miles plus $300 for a one–way upgrade to Europe. Continental charges only 20,000 miles plus a $100–to–$500 co–pay, which varies based on the fare you paid for the coach ticket. The cheaper the fare, the higher the co–pay.

Delta, including its Northwest Airlines subsidiary, takes a different approach: It severely restricts the discounted coach fares eligible for an upgrade, forcing you to pay hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars more for a coach ticket to qualify for the chance to use miles for an upgrade. Only the three highest classes of coach fares (Y, B and M) are eligible for international upgrades. (And you still have to use 25,000 miles one–way.) For a New York–Paris trip in February, for example, Delta's Web site offers coach fares as low as $592 plus taxes, but if you want a coach fare that's eligible for a 25,000–mile upgrade, you have to pay $2,530 plus tax. (A discounted business–class ticket on the same flights is only $3,312 plus tax.) If you want to make sure you're buying a fare that is eligible for an upgrade, Delta lets you drill down on its Web site to search by specific fare class.

Matthew Bennett, who publishes the newsletter First Class Flyer, says Delta's cheapest upgradeable international fares are often $1,000 or more than the lowest upgradeable fares on other airlines. Sometimes other airlines cost more in miles, but the cash savings makes them more attractive. American, he notes, lets customers upgrade from just about any coach fare.

San Diego tax lawyer Chris Cooke frequently flies Delta and almost always gets upgraded on domestic flights, but international trips are a different story. "Since I virtually never travel in one of those [highest fare] classes, I've never been upgraded on an international Delta flight," he said. On a New York–Dublin round–trip earlier this year, he sat in the coach cabin being knocked by passengers visiting a nearby bathroom and wondered why the airline wouldn't offer one of the many empty business–class seats.

"I got about two minutes of sleep," he said.

As airlines have added co–pays, most carriers have made more fare classes eligible for upgrade. And some have reduced the miles required for upgrades, deadening some of the sting of the cash payments. Continental and other airlines say a big advantage of the co–pay system is that travelers don't have to buy tickets at higher fares just to be eligible, then end up sorely disappointed if no upgrades end up becoming available. Typically, upgrades get confirmed after tickets get bought and at least a day before departure.

"The co–pay is roughly equivalent of buying into a higher fare bucket," said Mark Bergsrud, senior vice president of marketing programs at Continental. But customers only pay the higher price if they actually get the upgrade.

Domestic Upgrades

In general, Continental and US Airways have the best domestic upgrade programs, offering them free to elite–level frequent fliers when seats are available. Delta comes close, but offers free upgrades only to elite–level customers who have tickets in certain fare classes. (But more classes of tickets are eligible for domestic upgrades than for international.) Frequent fliers on American and United can snare upgrades by trading in the 500–mile electronic coupons they earn by flying or buy directly from the airline.

But, like international upgrades, the best way to upgrade on a domestic trip these days is to pay, unless you have super–elite status and are sure to get it for free. You can upgrade coach fares with miles, usually 15,000 one–way, and some airlines require a $50–to–$150 co–pay.

Another way to land in the first–class cabin: Buy a "Y–Up" coach fare that comes with an instant upgrade. Airlines offer coach fares with instant upgrades to help customers evade corporate–travel prohibitions on buying first–class fares. You end up paying several hundred dollars more for a ticket, but usually save hundreds of dollars off a first–class fare.

American's Web site shows fares with instant upgrades, if available, when you search by "schedule and price." FareCompare.com offers a tool that lets you search from your departure city for all destinations.

The cheapest upgrade of all can be the last–minute splurge: Buying an upgrade at the airport. Airlines have been experimenting with selling upgrades to customers at check–in, after elite–level frequent fliers have claimed first–class and business–class seats. Prices vary considerably: American charges $45 for every 500 miles of a flight, so a 1,500–mile flight would cost $135 to upgrade, one–way. United charges $77 for every 500 miles on domestic trips. Delta says its domestic upgrades sold at check–in are priced $50 to $150; Continental says its upgrades start at only $25 for short flights and top out on domestic trips at $250 for routes like Los Angeles–Honolulu and Houston–Anchorage.

Most airlines offer the upgrades only at airport kiosks and counters. US Airways, however, offers a unique deal: You can call 24 hours before departure at the airlines reservation line, 800–428–4322, and try to snag an upgrade. Price: $50 to $250 for domestic flights; $300 to $600 for trans–Atlantic trips.

Scott McCartney: middleseat@wsj.com

Friday, September 18, 2009

From BudgetTravel.com - 8 Thinks an Airline Would Never Tell You

We asked a half-dozen insiders to expose little-known facts the airline industry would rather you didn't think about. They shared some pretty eye-opening stuff.


1. "Airport luggage scales often lie." It's bad enough that the airlines charge a fee for overweight luggage, varying from $39 to $300 per bag industrywide. But it's galling that they may also hit you with the fee by mistake. At JFK last November, New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs found that 14 percent of the airport's scales were not properly calibrated. At Boston's Logan airport, 10 percent of the scales recently inspected gave incorrect readings. The South Florida Sun–Sentinel has discovered numerous busted scales at area airports. And the list goes on. What to do? Stand up for yourself, especially when a scale barely tips the balance into the "overweight" category. Brandon Macsata, executive editor of the D.C.-based lobbying group Association for Airline Passenger Rights advises passengers to weigh their bags at home first, and if the airport scale comes up with a different number, insist that your bags be weighed on a different scale. Yes, it's come to that.


2. "Our air may make you sick." The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating whether potentially harmful fumes have been circulating in airplane cabins. Between 1999 and 2008, air became contaminated on 926 flights, reports the FAA, without specifying any possible health risks. Currently, the agency is looking at a particular type of "fume event" that involves "bleed air," or air that's been compressed by the airplane's engines. If there's a malfunction in plane equipment, the air that's fed into the cabin can be contaminated with chemical residues from engine oil — specifically TCP, or tricresyl phosphate. "Passengers may have symptoms like tremors," says Clement Furlong, a research professor of genome sciences and medicine at the University of Washington. So far, federal reviews of the research have been inconclusive about whether bleed air actually endangers the health of passengers and flight crews, though two civil lawsuits about fume events are under way.


3. "That nonstop flight you booked? We can add a layover to it—without explanation." Think you scored a sweet fare on that transcontinental flight? Think again. You may be making a previously unscheduled layover. Airlines can cancel your nonstop and rebook passengers onto flights with connections, which are obviously less desirable. Advises Brett Snyder, author of The Cranky Flier and a former pricing analyst at America West: As soon as you find out that your nonstop flight has been canceled, check to see if there's another nonstop option. If there is, call the airline and ask — nicely — to be put on it. But if nonstop service on the route has disappeared, threaten to switch to another carrier for the trip. Major airlines will typically agree to refund your money without any fees if you refuse to accept a new, multistop flight that will arrive at your destination more than two hours later than you were originally scheduled.


4. "We wouldn't tell you right away if there's an emergency." The FAA leaves it up to the airline to decide if it wants to tell passengers about an engine failure or other significant crisis. And many flight crews opt to keep their lips sealed. The reason? Flight crews don't want to scare passengers or say something they'll regret later. "In one recent emergency, the cockpit crew was faulted for making a public announcement before some of the required procedures were accomplished," explains Kent Wien, a pilot for a U.S. carrier. So attendants tend to err on the side of being secretive to avoid trouble. Last June, passengers traveling from Brussels to Newark on Continental Airlines were not informed when the captain died during the flight. The plane continued along its scheduled route with nary a peep from the rest of the crew, beyond a cryptic question: "Is there a doctor on board?"


5. "When we let you pick your seat assignment, we were only joking." As the airlines decrease the number of seats they fly in an attempt to eke out a profit, they're swapping out larger planes for smaller ones more often. Whenever fliers are put on a new plane, seat assignments are scrambled. A traveler may end up in a middle seat he or she would never have selected. If it happens to you, there's not much you can do — airlines aren't obligated to honor any seat assignment. "Passengers are actually purchasing a fare and not a seat," says Macsata of the Association for Airline Passenger Rights. Checking in online 24 hours prior to departure is often the best you can do to boost your chances of getting the seat assignment you want. Print your boarding pass with your seat assignment on it before you get to the airport as proof in case you need to argue with a gate agent over a last-minute switcheroo.


6. "Our planes are antiques." Compared to the rest of the world, we're flying the airplane equivalent of grandma's Cutlass Supreme — except Uncle Sam isn't interested in paying cash for these clunkers. American owns 268 MD-80 class airplanes, with an average age of 18 years old. Meanwhile, thanks to a geriatric fleet of DC-9s, Delta and Northwest's average fleet age is 13 years old. In contrast, Emirates has an average fleet age of about 5 years. Singapore Air's is 6 years. And, while Ryanair is often faulted for lacking basic amenities, its planes average less than 3 years of age. Luckily, U.S. airlines aren't having problems maintaining their aging aircraft from a safety standpoint, notes Bill Voss, president and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation. "There's no real indication of anyone cutting corners," says Voss. "Planes don't age like wine, but they do remain flight-worthy with proper maintenance." The FAA doesn't have a maximum age limit for planes, though it does require more frequent inspections for planes that have flown for more than 14 years. But aside from safety there's just plain old comfort. If you've ever wished you had a personal seatback flat-screen TV instead of having to share a view of a cathode-ray tube in the aisle—well, now you know the reason.


7. "Our crew is totally exhausted." Airline jobs are famously hard on the Circadian rhythms, and flight crews simply aren't getting enough rest. Pilot fatigue has been a factor in crashes that have led to over 250 fatalities in the past 16 years, including the recent crash of a Colgan Air flight to Buffalo, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The night before that accident, the copilot commuted from the West Coast to Newark while the pilot slept on a couch in a crew lounge at the airport. Crews on reserve (that is, crews readily available for service on short notice) don't have it much better. "On reserve, we don't have control over what we're doing," says Heather Poole, a flight attendant for a U.S. carrier and a contributor to travel blog Gadling. "One day we're flying a 5 a.m. departure, and the next day we're working a red-eye. Do this for a few trips in a row — add the delays in there — and that's when it gets bad." Working reserve can stretch crews to the limit. "Once during a terrible reserve month, I remember staring at my emergency exit door, thinking, Is it armed? Is it armed? Is it armed? I could see that it was, indeed, armed (the evacuation slide was attached to the door properly). But it wasn't clicking in my brain because I was so tired."


8. "Your ticket might not be with the airline you booked." Two airlines may sell seats on the same flight, a sales strategy called code sharing. You may think you'll be traveling on one airline, but you actually fly on another. The situation seems harmless enough but can cause major headaches for passengers. For example, most major airlines farm out their short, commuter flights to regional airlines. "By and large, you haven't heard of Chautauqua or Republic, but you may be flying them when you click to buy a ticket on Continental," explains Randy Petersen, publisher of InsideFlyer. "With two airlines involved, there's a constant passing of the buck. Worse, many regional carriers operating on code shares are exempt from reporting their on-time statistics. And God forbid if you need to file a claim with them for lost baggage."


See photos of 8 Hotels You Won't Believe at BudgetTravel.com


Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Facebook

Ok ... we are back on the Facebook train!

Check out our facebook page with new pictures, useful tidbits and updates!
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Friend us! Follow us! Get more fabulous!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I think I need a Pigmy Parrot as my next pet ... so cute and tiny! Look how little it is!!!
















So ... maybe it's a rare bird that was only recently discovered living in the mount of an extinct volcano in Papua New Guinea. I totally need one. It's going to be the newest "it" accessory. I can tell. :)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Where Are YOU Vacationing?

The 10 most expensive hotel suites according to Wealth Bulletin's survey for 2009 are:

Four Seasons
The library of the Ty Warner Penthouse at New York's Four Seasons Hotel.

1. The Royal Penthouse Suite, President Wilson Hotel, Geneva -- $65,000 per night

Complete with a cocktail lounge, the Royal Penthouse Suite at the President Wilson is so exclusive that bookings reportedly have to be made through the hotel's chairman. The suite occupies the entire top floor of the hotel. It is reached by a private elevator, has four bedrooms overlooking Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc and comes with six bathrooms. Equipped with bulletproof windows and doors, it is almost exclusively reserved for celebrities or state heads, ideal with the United Nations headquarters a five-minute drive away.

2. Ty Warner Penthouse, Four Seasons Hotel, New York -- $35,000 per night

Business at the Ty Warner Penthouse at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York has remained as buoyant as when the suite opened in 2007, according to a spokeswoman. The nine-room suite has walls inlaid with thousands of pieces of mother-of-pearl. There is an indoor-outdoor Zen garden, a private spa room with a screen of living bamboo and a book-lined library, which has a grand piano at its centre.

3. The Presidential Suite, Hotel Cala di Volpe, Costa Smeralda, Sardinia -- $34,000 per night

The Presidential Suite at Hotel Cala di Volpe near Porto Cervo, averages around $34,000 a night, although during the peak summer season will cost as much as $45,000. Located in the hotel tower, the multi-level Presidential Suite sprawls across 2,500 sq ft and has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a private gym, a steam room and a wine cellar. It is crowned by a rooftop terrace with an outdoor saltwater swimming pool.

4. Villa La Cupola Suite, Westin Excelsior, Rome -- $31,000 per night

Villa La Cupola Suite in Rome's Westin Excelsior embodies all things Roman and excessive: a cupola, a Pompeii-style Jacuzzi, frescoes and stained glass windows detailing allegories of a mythological figure paired with a modern one, such as Atlas and Television, Hypnosis and Neurosis, Hermes and Marketing and Hermaphrodite and Fashion. Located on the fifth and sixth floors, the suite covers 6,099 sq ft and has an additional 1,808 sq ft of balconies and terraces overlooking Via Veneto.


Ritz-Carlton
The Presidential Suite at Tokyo's Ritz-Carlton.

5. The Presidential Suite, Ritz-Carlton Tokyo -- $25,000 per night

The Presidential Suite, on the top floor of the city's tallest building, has spectacular views of Mount Fuji and Roppongi Hills, as well as an expansive vista of Tokyo's impressive cityscape. It occupies 2,368 sq ft. For refreshments, guests may enjoy the $18,000 Diamonds-Are-Forever Martini, which comes with a one-karat Bulgari diamond at the bottom.

6. The Bridge Suite, The Atlantis, Bahamas -- $22,000 per night

The 10-room Bridge Suite is actually a bridge spanning the two towers of the Atlantis Hotel. The 23rd-floor suite is decked with marble floors, a grand piano and a 22-carat gold chandelier. It was known in former times as "the Michael Jackson Suite" because of his regular stays. Prices have come down from $25,000 last year and fees are negotiable. Nevertheless, the suite is so exclusive the hotel does not even advertise it.

7. The Imperial Suite, Park Hyatt Vendôme, Paris -- $20,000 per night

The Imperial Suite at the Park Hyatt in Paris provides guests with an "in-suite-spa" concept -- with the bathroom/spa comprising a whirlpool bath, a steam shower room and a massage table. The 2,500 sq ft penthouse suite has a huge living room, a dining room, a kitchen and a work area.


Burj Al Arab
The Royal Suite at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.

8. Royal Suite, Burj Al Arab, Dubai -- $19,600 per night

Since it was built in the mid-1990s, the Burj Al Arab has become one of the world's most instantly recognizable hotels with its billowing sail-like structure stretching out on an artificial island into the Gulf of Arabia. The Royal Suite on the 25th floor has a marble-and-gold staircase, leopard print carpets, its own private lift and a rotating four-poster canopy bed.

9. Royal Armleder Suite, Le Richemond, Geneva -- $18,900 per night

The Royal Armleder Suite at the Le Richemond Hotel is named after the wealthy family who used to own the famous hotel before Rocco Forte bought it in August 2004. The three-bedroom suite, which stretches over 2,500 sq ft on the seventh floor, has a 1,000 sq ft terrace with panoramic views of Lake Geneva, a real log fire and floor-to-ceiling bulletproof windows. Olga Polizzi, Rocco Forte's sister and well-known hotel interior designer, designed the suite.

10. The Ritz-Carlton Suite, The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow -- $16,500 per night

To stay at the best suite in Moscow's Ritz-Carlton would cost around $16,000 a night -- $500 less than last year. Furnished in Russian imperial style, the 2,370 sq ft suite has views of famous Moscow sites including the Kremlin and Red Square. The suite comes with that necessity for the security-conscious Russian billionaire -- a panic room with its own energy and telecommunications facilities.

Research for this survey was compiled during mid-August. Prices are rate per night including taxes.

From Financial News at www.efinancialnews.com

Friday, August 28, 2009

How to Get you Attendees to Book under your Block!

I found this great article/post on an industry discussion board and thought I'd share it with you all. These are great ideas to get your attendees to book under your contracted room block!

HOW TO ENCOURAGE ATTENDEES TO BOOK WITHIN YOUR ROOM BLOCK

POINT SYSTEM...Offer points to those who book within the hotel room block and give the companies who have the most registrants and "points" preferred exhibit locations and headquarter hotel upgrades/comps

MARKET THE BENEFITS...No full payment required, easy to change reservations, increased networking opportunities, support of your organization and one stop shopping

"NO SOUP FOR YOU"...Don't allow an attendee to register for the meeting without booking a guest room within your hotel room block

MO' MONEY...Charge a higher registration fee or exhibit fees for those who don't stay within the hotel room block

PARTNER...Work with your hotel partners to provide special discounts on local attractions, restaurants and hotel merchandise

SUPPORT...Explain why and how an attendee's choice affects your organization

TWO ROOMS PLEASE...Require that two rooms be purchased within the hotel room block for every 100 net sq ft of exhibit space rented

Hope these work for you and your clients!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It only takes two seconds

See you can get some useful information from e-harmony:

Whether you like it or not, people decide how they feel about you in the first two seconds of seeing you, or hearing you, if it’s on the phone. If they like you, they will unconsciously tend to see the best in you and look for opportunities to say “yes.” If they don’t like you, the opposite is true.

The first thing someone notices about you is the quality and the level of energy you give out. That means your attitude (including your posture). The second thing they respond to is your clothes. In fact, the impact is made so quickly it’s as if they see both things at the same time, and then form their first impressions about you. Your attitude tells people if you are open or closed, charming or alarming. Your posture is an indication of your overall health: humans are hard-wired to seek out healthy mates. Your clothing speaks volumes. It tells people what kind of person you see yourself as. It also can reveal a lot about your socioeconomic status, whether you’re conventional or flamboyant, sexy or modest, trendy or traditional. Take a good hard look at your wardrobe and see if it makes the statement you want.

A penny for your thoughts...

I received this email forward last night and haven’t stopped laughing! I think many of these thoughts apply to us all in one way or another.

More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can
think about is that I can't wait for them to finish so that I can tell
my own story that's not only better, but also more directly involves
me.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you
realize you're wrong.

I don't understand the purpose of the line, "I don't need to drink to
have fun." Great, no one does. But why start a fire with flint and
sticks when they've invented the lighter?

Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you're
going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to
be going? But instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the
direction from which you came, you have to first do something like
check your watch or phone or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to
yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area thinks you're
crazy by randomly switching directions on the sidewalk.

I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was
younger.

There is a great need for sarcasm font.

I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear
your computer history if you die.

Was learning cursive really necessary?

I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

Whenever someone says "I'm not book smart, but I'm street smart",
all I hear is "I'm not real smart, but I'm imaginary smart".

How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod
and smile because you still didn't hear what they said?

I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up
to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong!

Every time I have to spell a word over the phone using 'as in'
examples, I will undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete
idiot. Today I had to spell my boss's last name to an attorney and
said "Yes that's G as in...(10 second lapse)..ummm...Goonies"

What would happen if I hired two private investigators to follow each
other?

MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I
know how to get out of my neighborhood.

I find it hard to believe there are actually people who get in the
shower first and THEN turn on the water.

Bad decisions make good stories

If Carmen San Diego and Waldo ever got together, their offspring
would probably just be completely invisible.

Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go
around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly
nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I'm from, this shouldn't be
a problem....

You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work
when you've made up your mind that you just aren't doing anything
productive for the rest of the day.

Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don't
want to have to restart my collection.

There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are
going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me
if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I
swear I did not make any changes to.

I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello?
Dammit!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and
goes to voicemail. What'd you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone
and run away?

As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers,
but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.

Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still
not know what time it is.

I wonder if cops ever get pissed off at the fact that everyone they
drive behind obeys the speed limit.

I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

The other night I ordered takeout, and when I looked in the bag, saw
they had included four sets of plastic silverware. In other words,
someone at the restaurant packed my order, took a second to think
about it, and then estimated that there must be at least four people
eating to require such a large amount of food. Too bad I was eating by
myself. There's nothing like being made to feel like a fat bastard
before dinner.

Hope these funny comments brighten your day!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kate and Liz are ....

finally, officially and confirmed
C
(ertified) M(eeting) P(rofessionals)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Friday, August 21, 2009

Liz's New Favorite Website

www.recyclebank.com

I'm not sure exactly how it works, but I know that I want it in my neighborhood, ASAP!

For planners etc. "Tell me this is not our life!

Kate's cartoon is sooo true and reminded me of this video we received from Michael Cerbelli under the title: :Tell me this is not our life!"

http://www.vendorclientvideo.com/

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Liz's New Favorite Video

Yes, I'm slightly dorky, but I think this is awesome!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What a classic comic strip!

I stumbled upon this comic strip a few months ago and have had it posted on the bulletin board in my office ever since.

Ahhh, the life of a planner!!!

Right here in our hometown!


I'm heading out to meet a client at the Hotel duPont shortly and it made me want to let all our blog followers about this great venue, if you don't already.

The Hotel du Pont was created in a time when craftsmanship, courtesy and elegance ruled the day. The prestigious Hotel du Pont in Wilmington offers sophisticated style and exceptional service to business and leisure guests alike.
Opened in 1913, the Hotel du Pont is a landmark Wilmington hotel. This property is one of the finest examples of European craftsmanship in North America.
We love working there and we know the feeling is mutual.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

South Street Bridge

The City of Brotherly Love is getting a new bridge! Construction has been underway for quite some time now and EVERYONE cannot wait for it to be complete - only another 1.5 years to go!

Here's a sneak peak at the new South Street Bridge!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Factoid of the Day

Ponderosa pines smell like ... cookies?

When the tree reaches 110 to 120 years old (a mere teenager for a Ponderosa pine), it begins to shed its black bark and reveal an inner bark of yellow. There's something else that begins to happen to the tree in the "yellowbelly" phase. Stick your nose into a crevice of the bark and take a big sniff. It may smell like butterscotch or vanilla. The next person who smells it may insist it's more like cinnamon, or even coconut.

Scientists don't know why a closely sniffed Ponderosa smells like baking cookies. The aroma may arise from a chemical in the sap being warmed by the sun. (The Jeffrey pine, a close relative of the Ponderosa, is also known to turn yellow and give off a similar smell.)

And that, folks, is your factoid of the day. Brought to you by the letter P. for Punchy.

Oh JOE!

In the time that Joe, our copier repair guy, has been here we've talked about:

-Freeze dried rose petals
-Various cities in the mid-west
-Pig Roasts
-Spider Orchids and what they're really called
-astronaut meals
-Kate's non-so-out-of-the-ordinary bloody murder screams

funny what we talk about in 20 mintues at PFI.....!!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mad Men


I am obsessed with the AMC program "Mad Men" an its interesting characters especially the lead, Don Draper, played by yummy Jon Hamm. Sunday evening I will be glued to the flatscreen for the 3rd season premier. The show is centered around a 1960's Madison Avenue ad agency and its bizarre staff and their equally strange family, friends and clients. The important thing to notice is that the weird and wonderful thing about the show is that the behavior of these characters wasn't out of the ordinary for the times the program is set in. The excesses of smoking, drinking, illicit sex and the degrading attitude towards women in and out of the workplace (and that's just the daily routine in the office) was common place in the '60's before "women's lib" and Dept. of Health warnings. I am old enough to be appalled but not surprised by the first season's anecdote when a child runs in with a dry cleaning bag completely over her head and face and the horrified Mom says: "Young lady I hope that dry cleaning isn't a mess!" All while smoking and sipping a Martini with her pregnant housewife friend.

Check it out and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bar & Bat Mitzvahs to die for

We love designing and producing Bar & Bat Mitzvahs for our clients. Many are open to the latest design trends and activities that only Planning Factory International can bring to them. We are currently offering incentives to venues that recommend the services of PFI to their Bar & Bat Mitzvah parents that result in business for PFI. This incentive is meant to help with programs such as elder care, or student education and activities available at the venue. This is another way that Planning Factory is able to give back to our community. Click HERE for more information on Planning Factory Bar & Bat Mitzvahs.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Cheryl and Merryl Show Present...

Live from Best of Delaware 2009...







The chickpea is neither a chick nor a pea, discuss amongst yourselves...

PFI's Looking Good

Here's a shot of the PFI Team (minus Ed) at the Best of Delaware Event:


Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.
It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Get hip to the travel game....

like the thrill of outbidding your competitor? win your travel....

http://www.skyauction.com

PFI Sponsors the 21st Best of Delaware


Planning Factory International was proud to be a major Sponsor and participant of the 21st Annual Best of Delaware held at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington, Delaware on July 30, 2009. Planning Factory impacted the planning, design, marketing and production of the event. We presented some new products and concepts never before seen in the region including Sign Spinners, Decadent Dining, Lounge and Seating areas (partnering with CORT Event Furnishings), Lighted Bars and Entertainment (including a live menu!). We would like to thank the following companies for their generous support: Party Rentals Ltd., Kirk's Flowers, Rentals Unlimited.
































































Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sign Spinners is Here!

A hearty welcome to another new member of the Planning Factory family: Sign Spinners! They're coming to visit this week! I'm hoping that they can teach me to spin something ... in all likelihood I'll break something ... but it'll be fun to try!


video

Friday, July 24, 2009

Not using your miles on that obscure aireline?

For some fliers, trading miles is the way to go

By David Koenig, AP Airlines Writer

DALLAS (AP)— Scott Hintz needed more miles with American Airlines to book a free trip to Morocco this spring, and he had several thousand miles from another carrier that he thought might be just the ticket.

The San Francisco travel executive went online, found a willing trader for his Alaska Airlines miles and made a swap. In May he was roaming North Africa.

"I took miles out of some programs I don't use and got some value out of them," says Hintz, who calls himself "a miles junkie."

Frequent flier programs have been around for nearly three decades and billions of miles go unused. Airlines used to prohibit swaps of frequent-flier miles — it's still in the fine print of many loyalty programs. But now some are perfectly fine with exchanges like the one that Hintz made — they collect a fee on every trade.

Hintz used one of the little-known swap Web sites, Points.com, which operates like a crude stock exchange or commodities trading floor.

Users list what they've got — the number of miles and in which airline — and the number of miles they want in another airline. There is no charge for listing, but consumers on both ends of a completed swap pay a fee, most of which goes to the airlines.

Some trades are straight-up — 10,000 miles in one airline for 10,000 at another. But some traders put a higher value on some carriers, such as Delta and American, the two largest.

Another site, LoyaltyMatch.com, lets members sell miles or use them to buy merchandise.

Travelers say mileage trades are a quick and convenient way to add miles in a snap.

But others say they're a bad deal for consumers.

Tim Winship, publisher of frequentflier.com, a Web site dedicated to the use of airline miles, says at current fares travelers get less than 2 cents per mile when they redeem their collection for a flight.

"Keep that per-mile value in mind," Winship says. If you're paying a fee for the exchange, "then you're kidding yourself. Usually when I look at these things, it ends up being a pretty questionable value for the consumer."

Points.com says its trading forum, called Global Points Exchange or GPX, levies fees that match what the airlines charge to transfer or share miles within their own programs.

With American, for example, trading up to 5,000 miles costs $80, rising to $130 for 5,001 to 10,000 miles, and $180 for 10,001 to 15,000 miles. Trading Delta miles costs $30 plus a penny per mile; so exchanging 10,000 miles would cost $130.

Frequent-flier programs started in the early 1980s, when Braniff and American Airlines looked for a cheap way to reward loyal customers and keep them coming back.

From the beginning, airlines limited the transfer of miles. Executives at Points.com owner, Toronto-based Points International Ltd., which provides technology for many loyalty programs, told the airlines that allowing passengers to trade miles would make their programs more attractive and generate fees for the carriers.

Points International President Chris Barnard says the trades are a good value when compared to flying a lot, putting thousands of dollars on your credit card, or spending a few nights in partner hotels to earn miles.

Even critics of the trading programs see a few cases where they make sense: If you have leftover miles with an airline you rarely use; or if you are very close to earning a trip that you want to book right away.

In the latter case, they say, check with the airline — it might be cheaper to simply buy the needed miles or earn them another way.

One problem with the trading sites is limited participation. Points.com has signed up several big airlines, including American, Delta and Continental, but is still missing some big ones — including Southwest.

"I just wish they had a few more airlines," says Hintz, the Points.com customer who is a co-founder of a travel service, noting that United and Virgin America also don't participate.

Winship, the frequentflier.com publisher who spent 20 years working for airline and hotel loyalty programs, also sees a downside to the trading platforms for the airlines.

"If you can exchange American miles for United miles, a United customer has no more reason to fly on United than on American," Winship says. "It pulls the rug out from under the loyalty effect."

It is hard to tell just how much trading is taking place. Points International declined to give figures. Several industry experts think it is still tiny compared to the billions of miles in circulation — a valid conclusion based on the listings.

One day this week on Global Points Exchange, there were 39 bids for Delta miles, 19 for American miles, only five for AirTran and none for Frontier Airlines.

Cashing in miles is often difficult, requiring booking flights months in advance and working around blackout dates. Even with the current travel slump, it's still hard because airlines have cut back sharply on the number of flights. Some analysts say the perception that miles are losing value could hamper trading.

Barnard, the Points International executive, thinks trading miles will follow the course of swapping and selling other things online.

"As they get more used to doing this in other parts of the economy," he says, "people will want to start doing this with their miles."

We LOVE this!

Planning Factory has fallen in love with this fabulous wedding video:



Enjoy!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Flogos by Planning Factory International is HERE!

Check out the newest member of the PFI family: Flogos!


video

Registration Vendors

Does anyone out there have any thoughts on a good online registration vendor? We're currently interviewing SignUp4 and Cvent for the job, since our last vendor turned out to be ... let's call it "less than satisfactory."

If you've had a good or bad experience, let me know!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Cheryl & Merryl Show Present...

Birthday Wishes and Matzah Ball Dishes to the big man himself - Richard Carbotti:


video


Until next time - consider the following:

Rhode Island is neither a road nor is it an island. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer Snapshots

The Planning Factory International team has been feverishly executing events all summer long.

Take a look at a few of the snapshots below which feature fantastic summer fetes:

Bacardi AGM 2009
Gale's Quincenara






PAWS Event




Global Fusion VIP Tent








For more information on these events and more, visit our website.