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From the Catalog: Great Pools

August 30, 2017
What makes a great resort? It’s a question we ask ourselves every time we create a new non-profit fundraising auction travel package, making sure that the accommodations are up to the level of the great destinations in our catalog. As we do that, we’re looking at qualities like the size of the rooms, the level of the cuisine available at the hotel’s restaurant, and even family-centric attributes like nurseries or play rooms.

One of our favorite amenities at our resorts is the pool. Spending a long afternoon on a pool chair reading, splashing around in the shallow end with the kids, even getting in a swim – all ways of enjoying a vacation day.

We flipped through our catalog to look at some (just some!) of our favorite pools at some of our top-of-the-line resorts. Which kind of pool suits your donors?
  • As strange as it is to say, one of our favorite pool views involves the ocean. It’s the vista seen from the water at Jepun Bali Villas on the island of Bali. From the edge of the infinity-style pool, soakers can see down to the beach, with all the greenery between. And with the gorgeous blue tint of the water at Bali, that aqua and green contrast acts as a visual feast.
  • The cabana-lined pools of the Encore in Las Vegas are exactly what one would expect from a luxury resort; surrounded by flower gardens and with optional food and beverage service available waterside, the pool feels like an oasis from the hustle and racket of the Las Vegas Strip. And like the city itself, there is no off-season, as the heated pools remain open year-round.
  • One of our other favorite amenities that a resort can provide is a top-notch spa, and at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, they’ve combined their spa with poolside living. The rooftop pool is a favorite for those partaking in the spa’s health-conscious lunch options, and the view from their Willow Stream Spa Terrace is as beautiful as any beachside vista.
  • Not every favorite pool is at a hotel, though, and not every pool is on land. Some of the best pools in our collection are aboard cruise ships. Used both for relaxing and for fun ship-wide events, there are often different ships for every group, including an adults-only pool for those looking to avoid the little ones. Best of all, savvy cruisegoers often say that poolside is the hub of activity on a ship; those looking to make new friends or find out about the best upcoming excursions would do well to hang out on a deck chair.

A Weekend Away

August 23, 2017
When the calendar reaches late August, the minds of many – including some of your donors? – turns toward the school year. And the school year, of course, means rehearsals, practices, games, study groups, tutoring, lessons, and afternoons of frazzled parents driving their kids from activity to activity.

Just looking at that list may make some of your donors want a vacation.

However, it can be tough for a family to pack up and travel around the world during the school year. Some can plan vacations around holidays and breaks, but for most, a long weekend is the best chance to get out and see the world. Thankfully, you can help them with that with one of our weekend-length travel packages.

Thinking about getting those families with school-age kids involved in your fundraising auction? Here are some factors to consider.

Keep Them Close:
We love encouraging your donors to see the ends of the earth when it comes to travel; it’s why we love destinations like Bali and Iceland, for instance. But there’s little reason to get on a plane and fly all the way to Southeast Asia, only to stay for three days and then come home! If you’ve got donors looking for a three-day getaway, don’t get caught up in sending them far away. Let them stay close to home, and they’ll have more time to relax or see the sights, rather than navigate airports.

Emphasize Experiences:
We love loading up our non-profit fundraising travel packages with fun experiences, like winery tours, cooking classes and even dinner cruises. It’s difficult to get the full experience of a city like, say, New York, or Los Angeles, in one weekend. However, in three days, one can get a pretty good experience of culinary New York, or beachside L.A., for instance. It’s why trips like our “Nosh Your Way Through Three New York Delis” are so popular; it allows your donors to focus on one element of what otherwise can be an overwhelming metropolis.

Consider the Staycation: Not every relaxing trip needs to even leave the state limits. Most New York residents don’t get to go to Fashion Week runway shows, and most Angelinos don’t attend the ESPYs. And even fewer residents of any city get to stay at a local luxury resort. Whether it’s hard-to-get tickets, spa indulgences or golfing rounds, there are elements of our weekend-long trips that will appeal to locals as much as tourists, and the only travel needed may be a crosstown drive.

Compliments to the Chef

August 15, 2017
For us, travel and food are a great match; many of the trips in our Destinations of Excellence catalog involve tasting tours of a city, spectacular dining experiences or even cooking lessons in different cuisines. That’s why we’re excited to be sponsoring the first season of OC Chef Life’s “Battle of the Chefs,” which holds its second “preliminary round” contest tonight in Anaheim.

The show, being taped for online broadcast, pits two area chefs in a battle. They’ll be given a cuisine style (as broad as “street food” or as specific as “paella”) and put together small plates inspired by said style. Then, the audience will pick who moves on to the next round.

Tonight, the showdown involves two of the area’s favorite chefs. Chef Pascal Olhats is a French and French-trained chef and restaurateur who has received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. His eponymous restaurant is a local favorite for fans of French cuisine. On the other side: Linda Johnson the owner and chef of Filomena’s in Costa Mesa, a restaurant often seen on lists of the top Italian restaurants in Orange County.

If the talent isn’t enough to get you in the door, the view might be. The tournament takes place each month at The Fifth, the only rooftop restaurant and bar in Anaheim. With its unparalleled view of the Disneyland Resort (and its evening fireworks show), any event here is a special one – and add in the chance to sample the work of top-notch chefs, and you’ve got a tremendous night out.

Finally, a portion of the proceeds each month go to charity, which is always a big plus in our book. Tonight, money will go to the Orange County Family Justice Center, an excellent organization that provides services to survivors of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault and elder abuse.

Raising funds, eating great food and watching fireworks, from a gorgeous rooftop bar? We’re ready. If you wish to join us, click here to buy tickets.

Get Personal

August 09, 2017
We’ve all received the email from a mailing list, with a come-on for a sale or other event. And we’ve all hit delete before we even know the product or service, based on a salutation like “Dear Sir or Madam.” Even in the age of programs that can merge donor names into email solicitations, there’s something about a mailing list that can feel cold.

The best way to raise money with our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages is, of course, by selling them in a room of relaxed, happy donors. But in order to fill that room, you’ve got to reach out to them – and in doing so, it’s been shown time and again that personal entreaties are the best.

One effective way of reaching out to your supporters is one of the most old-fashioned: The United States Postal Service. Yes, mass mailing isn’t always an efficient use of money, but targeting specific donors or supporter pools with a tangible invitation is still personal enough to get noticed. Better yet, turn the invites into discussion pieces; tie them to your theme, work with a graphic designer and make them sing, as if they were wedding invitations. Those are the types of postcards or mailers that get tacked to bulletin boards, affixed to refrigerators and, eventually, accepted.

Social media advertising isn’t just for work-from-home schemes. With 68 percent of American adults using Facebook and 30 percent of all American adults of incomes more than $75,000 using Twitter, according to Pew Research, there’s a good chance that your supporters – and supporters-to-be – exist somewhere in the digital space. The audience for your advertisement can be selected by age, location and interests, meaning that your post promoting your event or gala can be in front of a huge number of potential attendees, right next to status updates or tweets from their friends.

The aforementioned invitations have one common goal: To feel more personal. Whether it’s a paper invite that looks handmade or a promoted social media post designed to pop up in someone newsfeed, each try to narrow the space between the organization and the invitee. But there’s an easy, overlooked way of doing just that: Pick up the phone! For your gala, your board of directors could be doing personal phone calls to as many donors as possible, especially those with a bigger budget. If an effective invitation is one that is as personalized as possible, there’s no beating a one-on-one conversation with a board member. (It’s also a great time to listen to the donor’s thoughts, concerns and suggestions, too.)

Baby-Proof Travel

August 02, 2017
At Mitch-Stuart, we maintain that our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages are good for donors in all walks of life. We’ve got adventure travel, bucket-list trips and tickets to some of the biggest events in the world. But not every class of supporter always feels like they can get away. For donors who have young children, the thought of travel conjures nightmares of packing everything up in the car or, even worse, getting the kids to behave on a flight.

The good news: We can help there. Because while there’s little that can be done to make getting to the destination much easier, making sure that there’s a spacious, private villa waiting may be enough inspiration to get those supporters interested in participating in your fundraising auction.

Why do villas work best when traveling with young children? It’s all about space.

Space for the Kid: Sleeping in a hotel room with an infant can be a test of even Zen-like patience. Having multiple bedrooms, like most villas do, gives the kids their own space, one where they can spread out their toys and play without interrupting the peace and quiet of the adults. It also means that, after the young ones go to bed, the parents don’t have to hold their voices to whispers in fear of waking their progeny.

Space for the Family: We’ve said before that multi-generational travel is one of our favorite uses for our travel packages that include a villa as the residence. Having the grandparents along may help mom and dad sneak out for a nice dinner in a new location on their own. It certainly will make the occasion seem more like time away than being with the same people, just in a different room. And staying in a beautiful villa is a wonderful way to get family members acquainted with the newest generation.

Space in the Kitchen:
Ordering your small children the escargot is a perfect way to force yourself into a fast-food stop on the way back to the hotel. But with a kitchen, included in most villas, parents can prepare meals of which even the pickiest of young eaters will approve, meaning that a hungry child is never more than a room (or a prepared backpack) away from food that will remind him or her of home. It can help settle even the fussiest traveler to have that quesadilla, mac and cheese or even chilled yogurt. And as any parent who has traveled with a toddler before knows, “settled” sometimes is the best attribute that young explorers can possess.