MOBILE, ALABAMA CITY BY THE BAY WHERE THE MARDI GRAS BEGAN


Described as “one of the top 50 places to live and play,” according to National Geographic Traveler, Mobile, Alabama is a city filled with hospitality and rich Southern charm. Known for the first Mardi Gras celebration back in 1703, and promoted as “America’s Family Mardi Gras,” Mobile is a special city where the entire community is proud to service and welcome tourists, guests and convention and meeting professionals. “Mobile Bay offers a genuine southern experience in a historic, yet vibrant coastal setting. A top-rated, riverfront convention center anchors a lively, walkable downtown offering world-class accommodations, lush parks and squares, retail shops, restaurants, museums and art galleries,” said Stacy Hamilton, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“This 300-year-old port city is one of the oldest and largest along the Gulf Coast. The Hank Aaron Museum (Aaron’s boyhood home) moved to the Hank Aaron Stadium and is now open for meetings, receptions and tours. The character, architecture, passion and charm complement this fine Southern city by the bay, making Mobile a historical beauty to behold. Mobile Bay offers a lively arts and entertainment district, architecturally significant homes and buildings, beautiful gardens, parks and outdoor spaces, along with fresh local seafood, making it the ideal meeting destination,” said Hamilton. “The Carnival Elation, championship golf, a variety of water activities, one-of-a-kind event venues, city-wide historic tours, and a gracious hospitality community are sure to make your next meeting in Mobile a memorable one.”

The Carnival Elation arrived in Mobile in May 2010, replacing the Fantasy. Elation accommodates 2,000 passengers, offering four, five, and seven-day cruises from the Port of Mobile. “Pre and post-convention vacations are popular options for meeting delegates,” said Hamilton. “Candlewood Suites, an all-suite hotel will be located in downtown Mobile in December 2010. The entire Mobile Bay area offers an easy and efficient hotel and convention center package, with 1,100 hotels rooms within easy walking distance of the convention center, as well as wonderful attractions, restaurants, and nightlife nearby. The best value months to book are July and August, with room rates typically at a 30% discount. The average group rate for the City of Mobile is approximately $75.”

“Mobile has a little bit of everything. Those searching for the center of the social scene will enjoy the downtown area, while others will enjoy an artistic journey only a few miles away and across the Bay in the quaint Town of Fairhope,” said Kevin Hellmich, Senior Vice President of Sales for Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel. “Visitors can enjoy the beach, the pool and spa, or play golf on some of the world’s most challenging golf courses, tour historical monuments or get lost in the harmony of beautiful Bellingrath Gardens. Southern charm and hospitality is a specialty in Mobile where the entire community participates.”

 

ADDITIONAL HOTEL VENUES

Located on Highway 90 West is the Holiday Inn, a 3-Diamond AAA rated hotel, offering 159 guest rooms, five meeting rooms with a meeting capacity for 200 in 2,400 square feet of meeting space. “In July 2010 Mr. Shannon Harris became the Director of Sales. Millard Williams is the new General Manager. “Our location has easy access, with plenty of free parking,” said Shannon Harris. “Customers are the reason why we are here. We provide great Southern hospitality and service by hiring the right people for the right job. Rooms have a coffeemaker, microwave, refrigerator, iron, blow dryer, high-speed Internet access, and complimentary airport transportation with 24-hour advance notice.”

“The award winning Renaissance Mobile Riverview Hotel is perfect for all types of visitors,” said Hellmich. “Considered one of Mobile’s premier hotels, the hotel has 373 guest rooms, 16 meeting rooms, and 44,000 square feet of meeting space and two internationally acclaimed golf courses on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Magnolia Grove. Located in the heart of the revitalized downtown area, the Renaissance invested in a $64 million renovation bringing an air of sophistication to beautiful downtown Mobile. Overlooking stunning Mobile Bay, amenities include coffeemaker and tea service, hairdryer, iron and ironing board, comfortable, luxurious bedding and on-site dining. The convenience and versatility of the meeting space at the Renaissance creates great options for meeting planners. Renaissance Mobile Riverview meeting planners are highly trained to suit the needs of all clients. The Renaissance is involved in many “Green initiatives, including e-sales kits and brochures, linen and towel reuse programs, water conserving fixtures in guest rooms, energy-efficient light bulbs, and the hotel thinks green by buying and supporting local farmers,” said Hellmich. “Connected via a skywalk to Mobile Convention Center, who can resist the stunning sunrises over Mobile Bay, combined with the exquisite service and hospitality.”

Decorated with elegance and exquisite Southern charm in mind, the historic Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel and Spa is located one block from Mobile Bay. Travel + Leisure recognized the Battle House as one of the “Top 500 Hotels in the World,” in 2009 and National Geographic Traveler named the hotel one of the ‘Top Places to Stay in North America.’ “Originally built in 1852, the Battle House was restored to its original grandeur when it reopened in 2007,” said Kevin Hellmich, Vice President of Sales, The Battle House. “The décor is reminiscent of a time gone by, where even the smallest event was a formal affair. The Battle House has a mantra of hospitality that flows from management to staff to guest in one fluid motion. The history of the hotel speaks for itself and the Southern charm and courtesy of the staff can be seen within a simple smile and greeting. Offering 238 guest rooms, 20 meeting rooms and 27,000 square feet of meeting space with a banquet capacity of 600, “The Battle House meeting planners are highly trained professionals who invest in making sure that the event is executed to the client’s satisfaction. The elegance of the Battle House makes the venue suitable for even the most elaborate events and the approachability of the staff and comfortable luxury is perfect for a casual gathering. If meeting planners book a meeting before December 31, 2010 and hold the event before December 27, 2011, attendees will receive a $100 credit during their stay. The credit may be used for green fees or merchandise at the golf pro shop, spa services and merchandise, and other credits.” New personnel at the Grand include: Mariluz Hilbun, Director of Catering and Event Management; Edwin Torres, Area Director of Food and Beverage; Jamie Rauch, Catering Sales Manager; Sharon Dixon, Catering Sales Manager; Derrick Williams, Senior Sales Manager; Lydia Ferrill, Executive Meeting Manager; Linda Menshon Dowling, Assistant Director of Sales; and Bailey Mixon, Senior Business Transient Manager.

Honored with the 2009 Environmental Achievement Award by the Baldwin County Commission for their efforts to produce “A Greener Grand,” the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa is highly involved with the Green movement in America. “The hotel installed environmentally friendly lighting and low flow sinks and toilets in addition to efforts to make compost and provide green buffer areas, preserving the natural habitat,” said Elizabeth Hard, Public Relations Specialist. “We are in the middle of a three-year room renovation project, updating all guest rooms. The Grand has won numerous awards including AAA – Four Diamond Award, Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler accolades and it is located in Point Clear, Alabama, across Mobile Bay, only a few minutes from Fairhope. Meeting planners at the Grand ensure that every detail is carried out. Each meeting space is flexible and technologically enhanced. The Grand offers wired and wireless high-speed Internet access in meeting rooms and wireless in public areas. The scenic surroundings of the hotel not only inspire great ideas, but can be enjoyed later. We have 405 guest rooms, 22 meeting rooms with 37,000 square feet of meeting space. The Grand has been entertaining guests, serving as a gracious Southern mainstay since 1847.”

 

HISTORY, CULTURE AND HERITAGE

Standing tall and strong after hurricanes, historical battles, wars, the Gulf Oil disaster and the test of time, The USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park is an amazing, unique venue. The USS Alabama offers a reception on the deck of a 35,000-ton battleship, or dinner inside an aircraft hangar filled with historical aircraft and displays dating back to World War II. The USS Alabama is a great place to host an event where history mixes with special events to make a commemorative occasion. The battle ship features three meeting rooms with a banquet capacity of 800 with 39,000 square feet of meeting space. Located on the Causeway, or what everyone refers to as Battleship Parkway, The USS Alabama is East of Downtown Mobile. “Our staff goes above and beyond to ensure that each event is successful and everyone has a good experience,” said Karen Conner, Director of Sales and Marketing. “We stand out because we are the only World War II battleship on the Gulf Coast. Although our attendance was down approximately 33% during the Gulf Oil disaster, our marketing strategy was to let people know that we are not located on the Gulf of Mexico and oil was not present. Our peak season for visitors is the summer and our peak season for events is fall and spring. At The USS Alabama you will have the opportunity to explore 12 levels of a WWII battleship and you can go below in the oldest submarine on public display.” With such history aboard an amazing historical ship, The USS Alabama is America’s most unique military attraction that will make a stunning commemorative occasion.

The Museum of Mobile, located in historic downtown Mobile explores over 300 years of history and culture where guests can learn about the history of Mobile in a historical landmark building. “The hospitality is genuine and sincere in Mobile,” said Elyse Marley, Special Events Coordinator. “Tables and chairs are included in the rental fee at the Museum of Mobile.” Featuring two meeting rooms with 4,800 square feet of meeting space, the Museum of Mobile can host a banquet of 90. Exhibits change frequently. The Museum is a great place to learn about the history, culture and heritage of Mobile. The Museum provides a hands-on Discovery Room and guests may shop in the Southern Market.

 

QULFQUEST MARITIME MUSEUM ARRIVES IN 2010

Mobile has much to offer meeting professionals and future developments are in the works. “Projected to open in late 2012, GulfQuest will be the first museum dedicated to the Gulf Coast’s rich maritime and cultural traditions,” said Hamilton. GulfQuest is expected to be a signature attraction for Mobile due to the unique shape of the 90,000 square-foot structure, designed in the shape of a ship headed into Mobile Bay. “GulfQuest is only the third interactive maritime museum in the world. Located on the Mobile River, adjacent to the Convention Center, GulfQuest will offer a variety of unique reception and event venues. Looking like a real container ship, GulfQuest will be dockside, making it a stunning architectural setting for the City.

Unlike other destinations where special events and meetings are held, Mobile, Alabama is a city that bounces back quickly from adversity, including hurricanes. “Mobilians truly celebrate and appreciate their coastal way of life each and every day, including picking ourselves up and dusting ourselves off whenever challenges arise,” said Hamilton. “You can find our love of the Gulf Coast in our food, music, festivals and attractions, but especially in our people. I think our love for our historic port city keeps people coming back.” Centrally located between the pristine white sand beaches of Dauphin Island, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, and near the South’s top gaming destinations of Biloxi and Gulfport Mississippi, it is no wonder the city is proud to market Mobile as “America’s Family Mardi Gras” where convention and business offerings cannot be challenged or beaten.

 

GETTING THERE:

By Car: Interstate 10 and Interstate 65 intersect Mobile – just minutes from the Mobile Convention Center

By Air: Three airports – Mobile Regional Airport, Pensacola Regional Airport and the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. Mobile has a total of six carriers with 188 daily flights, including 10,763 daily seats. Car rental service is available at the airports.

The WAVE Transit System is the public transit system, travels throughout Mobile County.

Mobile Bay Ferry transports vehicles and passengers between Dauphin Island and Gulf Shores.

Mobile Bay MODA! These electric trolleys are your connection for complimentary downtown transportation. Trolleys run every 10 minutes on a convenient three-mile route. Be sure to look for the green umbrellas at every stop. Moda maps are available at the Fort Conde Welcome Center. Schedule hours – Monday – Friday 7am – 6pm. Saturday – 9am – 5pm. For more information please call (251) 344-6600.

Taxi Service: Ride inside safe, clean and dependable taxi and shuttle service, available 24-hours-a-day, seven days-a-week in Mobile. Yellow Cab is the largest provider of taxi and shuttle service in the Mobile area. Please call (251) 476-7711 at any time to schedule a taxi service.

 

KEY INFO:

Sales Tax: 9%

Hotel Tax: 14% room tax

Special Event Venues: In addition to the beautiful waterfront convention center, Mobile offers a great variety of special events, including the Mardi Gras Museum, beautiful historic homes and gardens, battleships, aviation museums, sailing schooners, and trendy art galleries and shops.

 

IF YOU GO:

Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel and Spa, http://www.renaissancebattlehouse.com

Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, http://www.marriottgrand.com

GulfQuest, http://www.nationalmaritime.us/about.php

Hank Aaron Museum, http://www.hankaaronstadium.com/

Holiday Inn, http://www.holidayinn.com/mobile-i10

Mobile Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center, http://www.mobileconventions.com/

Mobile Convention & Visitors Bureau, http://www.mobile.org/

Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel, http://www.renaissanceriverview.com

The Museum of Mobile, http://www.museumofmobile.com

The USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, http://www.ussalabama.com

 

 

 

Meeting the Chefs…


As a writer, I targeted this story to many publications, only to discover the restaurant is no longer open for business. Hope you enjoy the read!

MEET THE CHEFS – TRACY ADLER, OWNER – CAFÉ ON THE SQUARE

Café on the Square, Asheville, NC

Located at One Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville, Café on the Square offers appetizing American food in a non-smoking atmosphere. The restaurant opened in 1989, targeting casual, fine dining customers. Artwork, provided by local artists, is on display, complimenting the interior decoration and theme of the restaurant. The lighting is soft. The décor is pleasing to the eye. Tables and chairs are plush and comfortable. Café on the Square is just the place to have a pleasant family lunch or dinner.

Owner, Tracy Adler offers something unique at Café on the Square. After the birth of her second child, Tracy discovered a unique way to snack by using a small four-ounce bowl for snacking purposes, choosing to name the bowl a “Yum Yum Dish.” Promoted on the web site, http://www.yumyumdish.com, the set of four dishes are colorful and safe to use in the microwave, or dishwasher. The Yum yum dishes are great for snacking and dieting since the dishes will only hold four ounces of snacks. Tracy has a passion for children and contributes a portion of the sales from Yum yum dishes to Louie’s Kids, a non-profit organization providing obese children from low-income families an opportunity to attend camps to help them lose weight.

The menu at Café on the Square contains a variety of tempting entrees and appetizers including Cajun Eggplant with Andouille Sausage, Encrusted Chicken with Whiskey Dijon Glaze; Sesame Seared Tuna with Wasabi Vinaigrette, Mountain Rainbow Trout, and a Spinach and Artichoke Au Gratin dip appetizer, served in a Yum Yum dish you get to keep.

According to reliable sources Cafe on the Square is no longer open for business; however, the website, http://www.yumyumdish.com is still available. Visit the website today and purchase the yum yum dishes. They are the perfect size for tasty desserts and snacks.