Author Archives: Katie Miller

Your Next Vacation

Are you ready for a vacation? Today, January 28, is National Plan Your Vacation Day!

Spend some time away from the city lights and daily frenzy!

Here are your top 15 Guest Services, Inc. vacation destinations. From pet-friendly lodging to snowy recreations.

  1. The Lodge at Wakulla Springs, FL: Enjoy a unique stay beside the world’s deepest freshwater spring. Hiking trails, boat tours, swimming. Visit The Lodge at Wakulla and book now!
    wakulla springs
  2. Everglades Florida Adventures, FL: We offer a 10,000 Islands tour so you can see a variety of birds, manatees, dolphins and other wildlife native to Florida. Whether you go on your own in one of our canoes or kayaks or join our guides as we show the beautiful and mysterious Everglades nature will reward you with its treasures. Book your 10,000 Islands Tour!
    boat tour
  3. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, FL: If you’re coming from the West coast or chilly North, plan your escape and visit mermaids down south! Mermaid Shows are scheduled 365 days a year, at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. (Seating is on a first-come basis). Learn More! 😊
    kayaking in weeki wachee
  4. Rainbow Springs State Park, FL: One of Florida’s largest springs, the headsprings of the Rainbow River starts in this beautiful 1,472-acre park. Rainbow Springs State Park is open 365 days a year to dazzle and delight your entire family! Plan your visit!
    rainbow sprnigs
  5. Flamingo Adventures at Everglades National Park, FL: Flamingo Adventures is the ONLY place in the USA where you can stay in a Houseboat, Eco-Tent (now OPEN!), or both as your one-stop adventure spot! Feel free to bring Buddy or Daisy at no charge while you camp in an Eco-Tent under the palm trees or hook up your RV to the group site. Reserve now!
    eco tents
  6. Bear Mountain, NY: Traveling to escape the city? Bringing your pet? We have a limited number of canine-friendly guestrooms in our Overlook Lodge.  To reserve, please call the hotel directly at 845.786.2731 or Bear Mountain Inn.  Our pet fee is $45 for the first night and $5 for each additional night
    Bear Mountain Inn
  7. National Mall, DC: Come out and visit our Nation’s capitol! Get ready for an active day while visiting the Sculpture Garden or National Gallery of Art or paddling the paddle boats at the Tidal Basin.
    national mall kiosks
  8. Giants Ridge, MN: Giants Ridge has 35 downhill ski runs, over 60 km of Nordic ski trails and a snowboarding terrain park for all your tricks! We offer a variety of lodging for you and friends! Visit Giants Ridge to find the right accommodation for you.
    giants ridge
  9. Echo Bluff, MI: Explore the Sinking Creek by fishing pole or the Current River Trail by boots while you bring your pet companion for the journey. Be sure to call ahead for one of the pet-friendly cabins and pay the pet fee $20 per dog, per night, two dogs maximum. Reserve a lodge room, cabin, or campground today 😊
    echo bluff lodge
  10. The Lodge at Breckenridge, CO: Canine companions are welcome so long as they don’t jump on the furniture, don’t go for a walk in the fitness center or treat themselves to a spa day! It costs $30 per night for up to two dogs. Treat yourself and loved one(s) to an outdoor adventure or couples retreat.
    lodge at breck
  11. The Lodge at North Cascades, Stehekin, WA: While there’s so much great outdoors to explore, from Lake Chelan to the Cascade Mountains at your footsteps, there’s only so much hotel lodging for your furry friend. Pet fees are $25 per day (plus tax) per dog, for a maximum of two dogs. Book with us today!
    lodge at stehekin
  12. Mount Rainier National Park, WA: Have your snow gear ready? We have cross country skiing, guided snow walks, and snow tubing! Start planning your stay at the National Park Inn today and enjoy the mountains.
    mount rainier
  13. Big Sur, CA: Use your vacation day to unwind and experience nature. Take a weekend out to visit “mini-Yosemite”! As a Lodge guest, you receive a complimentary day pass to all three state parks in Big Sur: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Andrew Molera State Park, and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Check room availability.
    big sur
  14. DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Naples, FL: Stay at DoubleTree Suites for the comfort, amenities and great location to Miami and the Everglades National Park! It’s only a 1.5 hours’ drive. It is the perfect destination to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Miami scene.
    double tree naples
  15. Boating In DC: Ready to experience DC on the water? We’ve got kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, sailboats, rowboats, dragon boats, boating lessons, yoga classes, monument tours and more! After spending the day as a tourist at the museums, float around the national mall and row in the memories 😊
    boating in dc

 

Plant-Based Friendly Tastes

In the day of the health-conscious consumer, it is important for any food provider to stay updated with what is necessary to meet the consumer needs. Veganism continues to gain popularity as consumers begin to understand some of its amazing benefits, such as nutrient-rich eating, reduced waste, weight loss, lower risk of diseases, and so many more!

We spoke to Guest Services executive chefs, Jeff Trefry, and Roland Markart, to see how they are pushing to meet the standard in our GSI units, and offering inclusive options for all of our vegan friends!

“All units and chefs are very flexible because these types of diets are becoming more popular, and we are very open-minded in providing food that tastes great and includes those with restrictive diets.” Roland Markart expressed his willingness and eagerness to jump right on board with the trend in saying,

Take a look at our list of units that proudly offer vegan selections!

Air and Space Museum– National Mall Kiosks

The Air and Space Museum kiosk is full of vegan-friendly items to enjoy today! Some options at the kiosk include Morning Star Farms Black bean burger, house salads, and a veggie sandwich with fries.

Big Sur Lodge

At Big Sur Lodge, you can look forward to vegan options that will satisfy cravings! “The Local” is a vegan dish with miso-glazed grilled tofu, grilled peppers, avocado, grilled eggplants, Portobello mushroom, grilled radicchio, Vidalia onions, and balsamic vinaigrette. The lodge has a vegan Mediterranean masa, and many vegetarian options to choose from, easily adjusted to fit any need you may have.

Bear Mountain Inn

As a beautiful wedding destination, the Inn strives to cater to all tastes and preferences by offering several vegan-friendly options for their wedding menu. It also includes an ENTIRELY vegan menu by wedding request.

The vegan menu created by Bear Mountain Inn’s own catering chef, Armondo Aviles, includes hors d’oeuvres, a cold station, and an interactive station including vegan sliders and a fa-waffle station.  Yum!

Staples for creating a vegan-friendly alternative at the Bear Mountain Inn consist of fruits, vegetables, and nut substitutes – like their delicious cashew “cheese” quesadillas! Some of the delectable dishes include: vegan ceviche, empanadas, pulled “pork,” dips and salsas, sliders, and so much more.

Mount Rainier

Vegan options at the Paradise Inn Restaurant and the National Park Inn Restaurant do not come in short supply! The options include a Cauliflower Pie Fold, Volcanic Vegan Mac n’ Cheese, Falafel Sandwich, Field of Wildflowers Salad, Tacoma Tofu Scramble, and more! Mount Rainier also has a variety of vegetarian options. Substitutions can be made to accommodate a vegan or vegetarian diet.

The Lodge at Breckenridge

The Lodge offers a beautifully colored Vegetable Terrine, full of in-season produce such as tomatoes, basil, squash, and more! This summer staple will have you coming back for more every time.

The National Emergency Training Center

Some menu items at the National Emergency Training Center (NETC) that can regularly be seen include falafel, grilled tofu with rice noodles and Chili Garlic Sauce; cauliflower options, potato-based options, and Pea Curry. The NETC also offers Three Grain Sliders and Marinated Grilled Portobello Mushrooms as burger/sandwich meat substitutes.

Russ Fetting, the Executive Chef at NETC in Emmetsburg, Maryland, describes the unique way that they provide inclusive options to their students.

“We offer a vegan choice on our menu daily. We also work with special diets on a case-by-case basis. When the students arrive on campus, part of the “Welcome” packet is a form asking about any special diet or allergen concerns they may have. We then meet with them one on one and come up with a plan that will accommodate their needs while they are here, ” Chef Fetting said.

The Sculpture Garden – Pavilion Café

The Pavilion Café at the Sculpture Garden proudly offers a wide variety of options for vegan and vegetarian tourists and locals alike. Some vegetarian options include Mediterranean Salad, Mexican Corn Flatbread, and Eggplant Caprese.  Executive Chef Edward Verber states, “We also accommodate to our vegan guests with the other vegetarian options and can easily omit the cheese in the Eggplant Caprese and the Mediterranean to further give options to our guests.”

A Vegan Veggie Wrap consists of Balsamic-roasted eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash. Another chef’s favorite is bruschetta tomatoes, fresh basil, baby arugula, and a garlic white bean puree wrapped in a locally produced spinach tortilla. Another vegan option is the delicious Citrus Quinoa salad with pineapple, oranges, grapes, watermelon, and sweet and spicy glazed almonds.

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We encourage you to try out any of these menu items! Even if you’re new to veganism, give it a go! You won’t be disappointed with all the variety.

“It is not just our responsibility to provide a variety of accommodating foods, but it is also the guests’ responsibility to tell us how we can improve their experience with us. Don’t be afraid to mention your food restrictions to our staff,” says Roland Markart, Corporate Chef of the Hospitality Division.

When vegan options cannot be found, there are vegetarian options at every Guest Services’ unit, both on the menu and upon request. Ask your chef what they can do to make your meals more accommodating and satisfying to your needs.

For allergens or other intolerances, Guest Services is here to help. “With those with very strict dietary restrictions, such as a peanut allergy, we accommodate by having certain foods prepared in a different environment to avoid cross-contamination in the kitchen,” says Roland Markart

Top 4 Pet-Friendly Places

Traveling with friends and loved ones is fun and all, but nothing turns the mood sour quite like realizing you can’t take your furry friends with you on the adventures! If you’ve brought your canine friend along for your trip outdoors, have no fear: there are plenty of places that welcome and cater to dogs. Here’s a list of dog-friendly lodgings and recreations from #1 to #4 that will be perfect for you and your pup!

Starting at #1 we have:

1. Flamingo Adventures at Everglades National Park, FL

All the little critters in the sea and swamps enjoy the sunshine, even dry land furry ones! Feel free to bring Buddy or Daisy at no charge while you camp in an Eco-Tent under the palm trees or hook up your RV to the group site. Sounds too good to be true? Just make sure to keep the leash under 6ft long, and all’s well.

eco tents

2. The Lodge at Breckenridge, CO

Dress your pups up in scarves or cute sweaters and bring them along for a stay at The Lodge. Canine companions are welcome so long as they don’t jump on the furniture, don’t go for a walk in the fitness center or treat themselves to a spa day! It costs $30 per night for up to two dogs.

lodge at breck

3. The Lodge at North Cascades, Stehekin, WA

The Lodge at Stehekin welcomes well-behaved dogs of any bark or yip. While there’s so much great outdoors to explore, from Lake Chelan to the Cascade Mountains at your footsteps, there’s only so much hotel lodging for your furry friend. When booking your trip at Stehekin, make sure to call ahead so your friend can have space to rest too. Pet fees are $25 per day (plus tax) per dog, for a maximum of two dogs.

Last but not least, at #4:

4. Echo Bluff State Park, MO

Echo Bluff is the perfect X destination! Explore the Sinking Creek by fishing pole or the Current River Trail by boots while you bring your pet companion for the journey. While you may stay at The Lodge your four-pawed pal may not. Be sure to call ahead for one of the pet-friendly cabins and pay the pet fee $20 per dog, per night, two dogs maximum.

echo bluff lodge-sunset