Nothing beats the feeling of staying in a good boutique hotel, where you can feel like you’re being pampered while having that homey feel. Join your hosts Todd Bludworth and Andy McNeill as they share some of their favorite boutique hotels where you can have your gatherings. So pack up your things and start planning that business trip because these hotels are not to be missed. Start living elegantly on these dream destinations today.
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Top Notch Boutique Hotels For Small Meetings
A truly good boutique hotel will make you feel like you’re at home while being pampered and spoiled. This experience is like no other.
In today’s episode, hosts Todd Bludworth and Andy McNeill list down some top-notch boutique hotels you can go to for small meetings, gatherings, and whatnot.
These boutique hotels usually come from the big branded ones. But today, Todd and Andy will talk about the more independent boutique hotels.
Kimpton Pittman Hotel
Located in downtown Dallas, the Kimpton Pittman Hotel is near all your important amenities. From McKinney Avenue, you can go to the Design District for all your shopping and food dining. There’s even a wonderful little place called the Think Tank Boardroom. This is the perfect spot for all your small little gatherings or executive meetings.
The Foundry Hotel
Located at the Block neighborhood in Asheville, The Foundry Hotel is another great one on the list. Asheville is mostly known for being a small town but it’s also home to one of the greatest boutique hotels in North Carolina. Believe it or not, this hotel is actually a restored steel factory. Also, its on-site restaurant is Benne On Eagle, led by 5-time James Beard-nominated chef John Fleer.
Brazillian Court Hotel
Located at Palm Beach, Worth Avenue is the Brazillian Court Hotel. It’s a small 80-room property but it’s right there on Worth Avenue. You’ll probably be a block away from the beach and all the shopping and food. Imagine living near the beach, that is what it feels like to be in the Brazillian Court Hotel.
Across the other coast from Palm Bech is Hotel Drisco. This hotel resides in the prestigious Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. It’s a 1903 Edwardian boutique hotel. It marries traditional elegance with modern-day luxury. It’s the perfect spot for your executive retreats or board meetings. They also serve chocolate-covered shortbread cookies. How can you say no to that?
The Maven Hotel
Then located right in the lower downtown part of Denver, near their fantastic airport is The Maven Hotel. If you’re going in and out of Denver this is the boutique hotel for you. It’s elegant and modern. Its loft-like design will make you feel right at home.
To summarize, some good boutique hotels would be the Kimpton Pittman Hotel, The Foundry Hotel, Brazillian Court Hotel, Hotel Drisco, and The Maven Hotel. These are only some of the best and top-notch boutique hotels that you need to go to right now. Start planning that business trip, family trip, or honeymoon, and get right into some of these hotels.
Thinking of traveling to Philadelphia but don’t know where to start? Andy McNeill has brought in experts to help you straighten out your Philly travel plans! Chef Jose Garces is an Iron Chef, father, husband, James Beard Award-winner, entrepreneur, and food innovator. As a child of immigrants and a leader in the diverse and inclusive hospitality industry, the well-being of his community in Philadelphia has always been dear to Chef Garces’ heart. He shares his favorite spots in the area and where you can visit him for top-tier Spanish and Latin-American food. JoAnn Wrenn is the General Manager of The Logan Hotel and oversees all day-to-day operations of the 391-room address on Logan Square in downtown Philadelphia. Tune in as she shares her favorite vacation spots and fun activities you can try out even within their hotel premises. Find out why Philadelphia might be the ideal place for your next event destination.
Watch the episode here
Philadelphia: For The Culinary And Art Enthusiasts With Chef Jose Garces And The Logan Hotel’s JoAnn Wrenn
For the first part of this Philadelphia episode, Andy McNeill chats with Iron Chef, James Beard Award-winner, entrepreneur, and food innovator Chef Jose Garces about his work in the area, not only in the culinary space but for the community as well. Chef Jose discusses his culinary journey, having Ecuadorian ancestry, growing up in Chicago, working in New York, and ultimately becoming a chef in Philadelphia and earning the title of Iron Chef.
Chef Jose Garces Restaurants To Add To Your Bucket List
With famed success in his field, Chef Jose has numerous restaurants to choose from and enjoy a quality culinary experience. Here are some of them:
Rustika Pollo A la Brasa (virtual; ghost kitchen) – Peruvian rotisserie chicken concept
Up-and-Coming Areas And Favorite Spots
Philly has a lot to offer for culinary travelers. East Passyunk is a cool pocket of up-and-coming chefs and restaurateurs who’ve created a niche neighborhood with fun bars and restaurants. On the other hand, there’s a huge Ethiopian population welcomed in the West end as well.
Another famous spot is the Reading Terminal Market which offers around 30 vendors and farmers and their goods that range from jams, jellies, donuts, fishmongers, fresh produce markets, coffee shops, etc. One of Chef Jose’s favorites is a crepe sandwich shop called La Creperie.
On the Southside, Ardmore Farmers Market is another burgeoning food scene. Chef Jose also recommends checking out college town, Manayunk, and a great park with walking trails in Wissahickon Valley Park. The main streets of Manayunk also offer tons of restaurants like The Landing Kitchen and Winnie’s, and great coffee shops such as Volo Coffeehouse.
Chef Jose Garces also briefly shares his Iron Man journey, and his nonprofit work with Garces Foundation, which focuses on helping out the immigrant community in Philadelphia and the non-documented restaurant workers looking for healthcare benefits.
JoAnn Wrenn On The Logan Hotel
For the second part of this Philadelphia Special, Andy and Todd sit down with JoAnn Wrenn. JoAnn is the General Manager of The Logan Hotel, where she oversees all day-to-day operations of the 391-room address on Logan Square in downtown Philadelphia. She is also a recipient of the Sage Hospitality Eagles Award, the highest honor you can receive at Sage Hospitality.
Philadelphia’s Art Scene
The Logan Hotel is home to 1800 pieces of art located throughout the hotel’s lobby level, meeting spaces, and guest rooms. At every turn, you can enjoy amazing paintings, statues, art installations, and more. JoAnn’s personal favorite is the Elite Silhouettes chandelier you can see as you look up from the lobby.
Unique Events At The Logan
The Logan offers an array of fun and creative activities for guests to enjoy, including Live Logan, an event programming initiative aimed at the local community with the goal of treating locals and guests to fun experiences. The Live Logan program covers a lot of things:
Mimosas and Massages for Mother’s Day
Bring Your Own Makeup
Holiday Wreath Making
International Women’s Day Flower Making and Postcard Sending
Yoga With Puppies
The Logan Hotel also has an unbelievable outdoor courtyard for special events. During the pandemic, it became a “micro” wedding haven for couples who wish to get married but have had all their plans squashed by unexpected circumstances.
Art In Residence Program
The hotel also offers a special program for artists where they donate wall space to artists and organizations to showcase their work. This is an important program for them to build community connections and really highlight Philadelphia’s art scene.
About Chef Jose Garces
Iron Chef, father, husband, James Beard Award-winner, entrepreneur, and food innovator, Chef Jose Garces is known as a leading culinary authority on Spanish and Latin-American food. From the Spanish tapas at Amada, his first restaurant, to the exciting flavors of Mexico City at Distrito, Chef Garces continually pushes the boundaries of culinary excellence While he maintains his successful career owning and operating full-service restaurants, Chef Garces is also looking toward the future, with an increased focus on bringing restaurant-quality experiences to the homes and businesses of culinary enthusiasts in new and interesting ways. From enhanced home delivery options and virtual online cooking demos, to live online cooking classes, Chef Garces is excited to connect with both fans of his work on television, as well as the home cook who’d like to experience “chef life” in their own kitchen.
As a child of immigrants and a leader in the diverse and inclusive hospitality industry, the well-being of his community in Philadelphia has always been dear to Chef Garces’ heart. To help provide ongoing and actionable assistance to the immigrant community, Chef Garces co-founded The Garces Foundation in 2011. The Garces Foundation provides services, including community health days, English language skills classes that target the restaurant industry, and most recently, an increased focus on procuring and providing food supplies to the food insecure.
About JoAnn Wrenn
JoAnn Wrenn is the General Manager of The Logan Hotel, where she oversees all day-to-day operations of the 391-room address on Logan Square in downtown Philadelphia, including departmental management, sales and marketing, recruitment, and ensuring an authentic hospitality experience for guests inspired by the heart and soul of the city.
Wrenn arrived at The Logan from JW Marriott Denver Cherry Creek, whereas General Manager for four years she cultivated a collaborative team and created a climate of creative thinking, innovation, and superior service. The hotel was the second in Denver to tap Wrenn’s talents: She also spent four years first as Area Director of Sales & Marketing, then as General Manager of The Curtis Denver – A Doubletree by Hilton Hotel.
Previously, Wrenn rose in management on the sales side at luxury and upscale hotel and resort properties, including as Director of Sales at The Paramount Hotel, an Ian Schrager property in New York City; Director of Sales & Marketing at Wyndham Bristol Hotel in Washington, DC; and Director of Sales at Wyndham Dublin Hotel in Ohio. Wrenn got her start in the industry as a Front Desk Associate at Wyndham San Antonio Hotel in San Antonio, Texas.
A native of Philadelphia, Wrenn has received several recognitions for her professional prowess over the years. During her turn as GM of JW Marriott Cherry Creek in 2016, Condé Nast Traveler ranked property #9 among Top Hotels in the American West. In 2020 Wrenn was awarded Sage Hospitality’s highest honor- the Eagle Award. Presented to the team member who exhibits outstanding overall leadership not just within their location, but across the entire portfolio. Her perseverance, resourcefulness, and grit are in no doubt contributing factors to The Logan’s continued inclusion on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hotels in Philadelphia list as well as the property’s current nomination for Travel & Leisure’s 2021 World’s Best Awards.
Looking for corporate incentive travel tips? In this episode, Todd Bludworth sits down with Alex Malebranche to discuss their favorite travel and beach destinations! Alex is the founder of PlaneAhead and has traveled in about 30 countries—and counting! His love for travel was also what inspired his company, PlaneAhead, where he helps his customers get the best airline prices for their trips. Tune in as he discusses how you can save on your next flight!
Watch the episode here
Top 5 Beach Destinations With Alex Malebranche (Spotlight Episode)
In this episode, host Todd Bludworth sits down with PlaneAhead Founder Alex Malebranche to discuss their favorite travel and beach destinations. Alex has travelled in over 30 countries and has been a frequent flyer since he was young. According to him, “The world is such a cool place, I need to go see different parts of the world.”
Favorite Travel Spots:
In the 30 countries that Alex has been to, he lists some of his favorite locations. The Maldives is the most amazing from a water perspective. The Maldives is hundreds of islands and you need to travel via seaplane. From an architectural perspective, Dubai is probably the most incredible thing you’ll see where you’ll think of buildings that aren’t supposed to look like that.
The Idea Behind PlaneAhead
The serendipitous occasion that sparked the idea for PlaneAhead was simple. Alex’s sister was getting married but because of COVID, it got pushed back. He persistently checked in with his local airline and when he found a sale, Alex received $700 back in credit. And he used that credit to bring his family, and then a newborn baby, for a vacation at the Hilton. Fast forward to him messaging more of the entourage for his sister’s wedding and them saving a total of $2,500 of credit. There was no reason why this kind of system shouldn’t exist so Alex made it so through PlaneAhead.
Benefits of PlaneAhead
Aside from the huge cost savings from using the platform, there are many more features and benefits to using PlaneAhead. Here are some of them:
Serves both corporate and individual customers
Runs on a membership model
Triggers your personal email for changes
There’s no one else like them
Top 5 Beach Destinations
Saving on one trip means you have more to spare for the next one! Here are Alex’s top five beach destinations for your next event destination travel!
About Alex Malebranche
Alex Malebranche is the founder of PlaneAhead. He is a passionate traveler and has traveled to about 30 countries! He is a husband and father of 2 beautiful girls! Alex grew up in Chicago, IL, and was raised by his Haitian immigrant single mother. As a first-generation immigrant, he was inspired by his mother and determined to make a difference. Alex is a graduate of Miami University, where he studied Accounting all while serving in the US Army. After his time studying, Alex worked for innovative companies and worked in a fast-paced work environment such as Amazon. He was the first employee on the delivery team at a WiFi-driven tech unicorn, Plume.
His passion for travel started when I studied abroad in Australia. As he visited other countries, he started to learn about different cultures and developed a sense of awareness, empathy, respect, and curiosity for people around the world. Alex founded PlaneAhead in March 2021 during the pandemic. Driven to make a change in the travel industry, Alex is devoted to innovating the way we travel and creating opportunities to make traveling the world more accessible.
Food is at the heart of any travel experience. In this special episode, Andy McNeill & Todd Bludworth list their top four chefs from all over the world that they’ve featured over the last two seasons. Check-in and get to know who made the list and where you can visit their restaurants for an out-of-this-world, local cuisine dining experience. Stay tuned!
Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing hotels in Hong Kong to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.
Watch the episode here
Local Cuisine With Award-Winning Chefs From Our Last Two Seasons
Our Favorite Award-Winning Chefs and Their Top Cuisine
Andy McNeill & Todd Bludworth list their top four favorite chefs from all over the world, featured in the last two seasons of Destination Everywhere.
Sarah is the owner of Monteverde restaurant and Pastificio in Chicago’s West Loop. She offers Italian dishes influenced by her travels, combining traditional Italian methods with some unconventional delicious ingredients. Our recommended menu? Try the Tortellini in Brodo on your next visit.
Also known as the “Father of Southwestern Cuisine,” Dean hails from further south in Dallas, Texas. He worked as a chef at The Mansion at Turtle Creek for a while and now has his own restaurant called Fearings in partnership with Ritz-Carlton, coined as the number one hotel dining in the U.S., according to Zagat. Dean is a jack of all trades, and on top of being a restaurateur, he is also an author, kitchen designer, and he’s part of a band consisting of local chefs. If you must try anything from his restaurant, we recommend ordering his Tortilla Soup.
Rudi Stefan is a self-taught chef from Sibenik, Croatia. He is the owner of Pelegrini, a Michelin star restaurant and is known for using natural local ingredients. Located across the Cathedral of St. James, the place offers an amazing outdoor experience on top of great cuisine. Check out their incredible seafood menu on your next visit.
Chef Jose is a Portuguese chef whose focus is making Portugal a top gastronomic destination and is considered one of the premier experts in Portuguese cuisine. If you want to visit his restaurant and have a culinary experience you won’t get, visit his two-star Michelin restaurant, Belcanto at Lisbon and Porto. Make sure to book your reservations early because as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world, it’s the place to be for traveling foodies.
Make sure to tune in next season for more amazing chefs, incredible cuisine, and top-notch culinary recommendations that will satisfy your worldly travel cravings.
Located at the southernmost tip of the African continent, South Africa is sure to offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience. One of the destinations to look forward to in a trip to Africa is Cape Town. For this episode, Andy McNeill & Todd Bludworth interview The Wine Fairy, Katie Barratt, a Cape Town wine expert, and a certified tour guide. Sharing the stage with her is Luis Pinheiro, general manager of The Silo Hotel – the standard for luxury accommodation in Cape Town, housing exotic African contemporary art pieces. Tune in as they explore the exotic luxury centered around Cape Town, South Africa.
Watch the episode here
South Africa is the world in one country – it’s like diversity and sunshine in a glass. With 11 different soil types, from the mountains to the rivers, and ocean sea breezes, Cape Town is home to the richest and finest wines in the world. With Cape Town’s great scenery and unrivaled contemporary art, it is undoubtedly one of the must-visit destinations in South Africa.
Katie’s Wine Journey
Moving to South Africa at the age of nine
14-day wine tour on the first year of hotel school
Consultancy business in the hospitality industry
Understanding the wine supply chain
Wine tourism & setting up Wine Fairy Tours
Making her own wine
South African Pride
2,000 wine brands
Different soil types that can cultivate international wine varieties
Locally sourced ingredients
Katie’s Fine Wine Factors
What you’re eating
The company you’re with
Seasons: best in spring or fall
Katie’s Wine Rules
If you like the way it smells, put it in your mouth
If you like the way it tastes, swallow it
If you like the effect, repeat
Katie’s Ideal Itinerary
3 nights in Cape Town
2 nights in Winelands
Head on to South African Safari
Andy and Todd’s Cape Town Destination Favorites
Wine culture in western Cape
Table Top Mountain
Green Point District & Cape Town Stadium
Mandela House in Johannesburg
Oranjezicht City Farmer’s Market
The Silo Hotel’s Accolades
Five-star luxury status
Best City Hotel in Africa 2020 by Travel and Leisure Magazine
Tallest structure in Sub-Saharan Africa from 1930-1960
The Silo Hotel Architecture & Amenities
Four-story in-hotel museum
Bulging 15-feet tall windows
360-degree view of Cape Town
25-meter glass-paneled atrium
Luis’s Must-try Activities
Hiking to the Tabletop Mountain
Getting down from Tabletop Mountain through cable cars
A drive to the Chapman’s peak
Boat ride to Robben Island
Visit the Winelands
Cape Town’s botanical gardens
Hopping on red-top buses to interact with locals
About Katie Barratt
Katie Barratt was born in the UK but has made South Africa her home for 40 years now. South Africa is considered the land of milk and honey, and Katie’s family took this opportunity to spread their wings around its beautiful countryside.
Katie’s wine experience started with a simple wine tour that she absolutely fell in love with. Setting science aside, Katie believes her passion for wine is rooted in the lifestyle, the people, and the stories beyond the glass. As she settled into the beautiful Winelands of Cape Town, she planted her roots and continued to grow and share her knowledge around her love for wine.
About Luis Pinheiro
Luis is the general manager of The Silo Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa. Luis’s 39 years of experience drove his desire to look for and be involved in something new and exciting, all of which The Silo Hotel represented. The Silo Hotel is a five-star luxury property in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront located at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art. The Silo Hotel stands in a building established in the 1920s and was then considered the tallest structure in Sub-Saharan Africa until the late 1960s. Luis takes pride in the hotel’s architecture, housing rooms for accommodation and windows showcasing the magnificent South African views and the contemporary works of art that thrive in its four-story museum.
Salt Lake City is a place rich in natural beauty and history. With the right combination of outdoor activities and robust nightlife, it is one of the best destinations for a business event or meeting. Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth delve into the breathtaking landscape of Salt Lake City with professional aerial skier Megan Smallhouse, a resident of Utah, and Chris Erickson, general manager of Grand America Hotel. The hosts also share first-hand experiences about the city through their top ten bucket list. Listen to this in-depth episode highlighting how Salt Lake City blends nature and urban experiences into one exciting journey.
Watch the episode here
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City may be one of the youngest cities in the United States, founded not long ago in 1868, but its rich history is truly mesmerizing. It offers a bit of everything to everyone, especially those looking for exciting outdoor adventure. Salt Lake City is known for its skiing and hiking parks, as well as one of the five National Parks in the country. Sitting down with an aerial skier living in Utah and the general manager of Grand America Hotel, Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth dive even further into the beautiful Salt Lake City.
Professional aerial skier Megan Smallhouse of the US Freestyle Team has been living in Utah for three years now. She trains at the Utah Park six days a week to prepare for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
When not training, Megan enjoys skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. For her, there will never be a shortage of things to do in Salt Lake City. You can be trekking in the mountains in the morning then enjoying the nightlife once the sun goes down. It is also a place every sports fan will love with the many professional sporting events it has to offer.
Megan’s Training Destinations Ahead of the Olympics
Visit a training camp in Finland, which is very close to the Arctic Circle
Participate in two World Cups in China
Join a World Cup in Quebec
Go back to Utah to enter the final qualifying event for the Olympics
Andy and Todd’s Salt Lake Top 10 Bucket List
The vantage point of Mormon Tabernacle
Salt Lake Temple
Great Salt Lake
Uinta Brewing Company
Proper Burger Company
Fisher Brewing Company
Big Cottonwood Canyon
The Grand America Hotel was built to provide world-class amenities for the participants of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Chris Erickson, the hotel’s current general manager, continues to uphold the same level of high-quality services to everyone until today.
Grand America Hotel is a suitable place for different corporate events. It features breakout rooms of various sizes, a 25-000 sq. ft. grand imperial ballroom, and a grand salon. These can all be found on the first floor, making it easily accessible to everyone.
One of the hotel’s noteworthy qualities is its proximity to the airport, requiring only around 10 minutes of travel. This offers the convenience of getting down to your business as soon as you arrive at Salt Lake City. Furthermore, a new world-class airport was opened in November 2020, built from the same footprint as the current one. This $4 billion project is one huge step towards clean, safe, and efficient transportation. It gives Salt Lake City visitors a refreshing experience as soon as they get off the plane.
Grand America Hotel’s Most Notable Amenities
The Grand Spa, one of the only 86 Forbes five-star spas in the whole world
An outdoor infinity pool that serves delicious fish tacos
The lobby lounge, the place to get espresso in the morning, tea in the afternoon, and cocktails in the evening
A hidden gym for those who want a quiet time after a busy workday
An oak dining room, best for a relaxing Sunday brunch
Chris’ Top Ski Park Picks
Snowbird, which hosted skiing events in the 2002 Winter Olympics. Not as crowded as other well-known resorts and offers great food choices
Olympic Park, which houses a little museum that chronicles the history of ski industry attire over the last hundred years
About Chris Erickson
Chris Erickson is a 30 year veteran of the hospitality industry. His career began as a Front Desk Agent in Seattle and ascended to the position of General Manager after experiencing multiple positions within the hotel industry. Chris is the Hotel Manager for the luxury Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. The Grand America team has received multiple accolades during Chris’ tenure including the Forbes Five Star award for The Grand Spa (one of only 86 in the world and the only in Salt Lake City) as well as top awards from Tripadvisor (top #14 luxury hotels in the country) and Trivago. The Grand America Hotel is currently a Forbes Four Star Hotel.
About Megan Smallhouse
Megan Smallhouse is an American freestyle skier who competes internationally. She competed in the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships 2021, where she placed seventh in women’s aerials.