Disney for Everyone
January 20, 2016
The first thought is of the ears, the ubiquitous hats with plastic versions of Mickey Mouse’s circular stand-ins for hearing appendages. They’re must-have pieces of memorabilia for the kids that are most closely associated with the Disney theme parks in Southern California and Orlando.
Like those ears, when many people think about Disneyland and Disney World, they imagine an army of children, running from line to line and eating cotton candy. But empty sugar calories and roller coasters are only one side of the most popular attractions in Anaheim and Orlando, respectively.
Mitch-Stuart prides itself in setting up non-profits with fundraising auction travel packages to Destinations of Excellence around the world. It can be easy to overlook the Disney resorts as options for donor bases who seek more grown-up experiences, but the Happiest Place on Earth has plenty of charms to make even the most sophisticated supporter smile.
While many may associate amusement parks with hot dogs, funnel cakes and too-sweet lemonade, both Disney resorts have expanded their food offerings to appeal to visitors with more mature palettes. In Florida, restaurants like Victoria and Albert’s bring fine dining to Disney with a dress code (dinner jackets for the gentlemen, dresses or pantsuits for ladies) and one of the most coveted meals in the city of Orlando: The Chef’s Table, a one-seating-per-night affair with an ever-shifting tasting menu. Southern California, of course, has a cuisine of its own, and it comes to life at Napa Rose inside the Grand Californian Hotel, while the upscale Carthay Circle Restaurant at Disneyland feels like a supper club.
Each resort also has its own version of a “Main Street,” with different experiences best enjoyed by those whom have reached at least 21 years of age. In Anaheim, Downtown Disney is a favorite for everyone from sports nuts (it’s the home of the lone remaining ESPNZone restaurant) to music lovers (jazz fans flock to Jazz Kitchen, while some of the top touring acts of today play the House of Blues). In Florida, Disney Springs features a resident Cirque du Soleil show, its own House of Blues and the trendy Paradiso 37 lounge.
But not every adult activity in Anaheim or Orlando has to be cartoon mouse-free. For anyone who wants to see the parks with fewer rugrats running around, try to time your trips to the Magic Kingdom Park or Disneyland Park for later in the evening. Disneyland Park stays open as late as midnight, depending on the season, and the Magic Kingdom Park has a 12 a.m. bedtime year-round. It’s true that kids tend to get to stay up later when on vacation, but even with that caveat the 11 p.m. Main Street Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom Park is still attended mostly by the young-at-heart, rather than the young-in-actual-age.
Gather the Family
November 25, 2015
Today is one of the busiest travel days of the year for a reason: Thanksgiving is a holiday that is best spent surrounded by loved ones, carving up a turkey/ham/tofurkey and slipping into tryptophan-induced comas. Almost 47 million Americans are estimated to be hitting the road for the celebration. But what if your donors could take the festival of thanks with them – and bring their families along?
Mitch-Stuart’s non-profit auction travel packages can send couples on getaways around the world, but it can also take the entire family to a destination worthy of a feast. With in-accommodation kitchens, your donors can cook a fantastic holiday dinner or, in some cases, even have a private chef do it for them!
Some examples of great holiday season destinations for the family, from our Destinations of Excellence® catalog:
Crested Butte: If sitting around a roaring fireplace is a go-to Thanksgiving tradition for a donor’s family, a trip to the Colorado mountains might be in order. Our “Crested Butte Promises a Superb Alpine Adventure” package includes a stay in a two-bedroom condominium steps from a ski lift at the base of Mt. Crested Butte, with an in-unit fireplace and fully-equipped kitchen. Guests can either prepare their own Turkey Day feast with groceries gathered by the resort’s personal shopper or head to the Alpine Club and make reservations for dinner at one of the resort town’s fantastic restaurants.
Cancun: Of course, it’s often easier to let someone else handle the cooking while on the road. Our “Family Paradise in Mexico” package can send a family of four (two adults, two children) to a oasis-like Palace Resort in Cancun for an all-inclusive retreat. That includes a “kids club” for children’s diversions, four swim-up bars for the parents, $1,500 worth of golfing or spa treatments and gourmet dining. And if the menu at one of the resorts doesn’t meet your supporter’s wishes, that donor can head to any of the other Cancun Palace Resorts to see what they’re whipping up in the kitchen.
Cortona, Italy: Those looking to really leave the beaten path behind, meanwhile, can head to Tuscany for a stay in a Cortona villa. Packages like “Under the Tuscan Sun” and “Villas, Views and the Valdichiana” include accommodations for up to six people, and each of them also involve an in-villa cooking class and meal. See what a proper Italian chef would do to a Thanksgiving feast, and you may never go back to turkey and mashed potatoes again!
Destination Spotlight: Hilton Head
January 06, 2015
Certain destinations are synonymous with their biggest attractions. It’s nearly impossible to think about Orlando without conjuring images of Disney World. A visit to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower is unimaginable. And when one thinks about Hilton Head Island, the resort community in South Carolina, golf is the first word to spring to mind. In the past, we’ve written about the amazing opportunities for golfers at Hilton Head
. The town has one of the highest concentrations of course available in the world, with difficulty ranging from professional-level to links appropriate for amateur hackers.
But Mitch-Stuart, Inc.’s charity auction travel packages to Hilton Head are about more than just putters and drivers. The city has plenty for the non-golfer, whether it’s natural beauty, culture or fine dining. Whether it’s waiting for a family member to finish up a round, or looking for a refueling stop after 18 holes, Hilton Head Island has a lot to offer.
For instance, not all sand in Hilton Head belongs to a formidable golf course hazard. Coligny Beach is a lovely oceanside walk, with public access and nearby shopping and dining, while the Mitchellville Freedom Park features hiking and a look at the interesting history of Hilton Head Island. There’s a beach for every type of vacationer on the island, and they each can make for a great post-golf relaxation spot, an easy way to forget about that hooked drive or terrible three-putt.
In addition, Hilton Head has a lively arts scene, especially for a city of less than 40,000 residents (according to the last Census report). Touring Broadway musicals come to the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina; shows like “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash” and “Gypsy” are on their way to the ACC in the first half of 2015. The Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra is also highly rated, and features Maestro John Morris Russell, a Conductor Designate of the world-renowned Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. For a less-formal cultural experience, the annual Hilton Head Island Arts Festival and Craft Marketplace allows visitors to both see beautiful works and take home a memento of the trip.
After a day on the golf course, frolicking on the beach or checking out the local art scene, travelers can have their pick of the island’s restaurants, spanning the world of cuisine. An eatery like A Lowcounty Backyard Restaurant replicates family cookouts convincingly, while Alexander’s Seafood is a white tablecloth experience with a wine list in the triple digits and a surf-and-turf-inspired menu. And throughout the year, Hilton Head plays host to a tremendous number of food festivals, like the Seafood Festival (held March 1-7 this year), the Wine and Food Festival (March 9 through 14) and the Beer, Bacon and Music Festival in May.
Ready to send a lucky auction winner to Hilton Head? Reach out to one of our representatives today!
Destination Spotlight: Bali
October 14, 2014
Many of the trips in the Mitch-Stuart catalog take donors on “dream vacations,” to the types of destinations that occupy the covers of travel magazines and the forefront of our travel thoughts. Sending contributors to New York City, Las Vegas or even Europe can fulfill wishes while also bringing in sizeable donations.
For some travelers, though, the “expected” may not be enough. Maybe they are seasoned travelers who have been all over the country. Perhaps they’re looking for a trip that can set them apart, one that’ll get the attention of everyone to whom the bidder tells the story. Or maybe the donor is shopping for a younger family member, one who may be more interested in a trip that doubles as an adventure.
If that’s the case, it may be time to talk about Bali.
An island in Indonesia, Bali has become a hot destination for travelers over the last few years. Prestigious travel magazine Travel and Leisure gave Bali its “Best Island” award in 2010, and it is regularly singled out for its stunning beaches in different guides. Being used as a setting in 2010’s “Eat Pray Love” film adaptation certainly hasn’t hurt its reputation, either.
Of course, as someone taking advantage of one of Mitch-Stuart’s charity auction travel packages, though, it’s about the “wow” factor. So what is it about Bali that can get an audience to gasp?
The culture: Art galleries like the Agung Rai Museum of Art in Ubud and the more abstract art-minded Randelli Gallery in Seminyak feature tremendous collections of both local and international works, and Balinese music has an interesting diversity, from traditional gong compositions to jegog, played on large bamboo instruments. But a cultural tour of Bali has to include checking out a barong dance performance. A traditional, sacred ritual, the dance centers on the mythical Barong, a lion-like beast and represents all that is good, in battle against the evil Rangda.
The outdoors: Snorkeling and diving? Check out Pulau Menjangan, a neighboring island accessible from Bali that features a nearly-unparalleled (in the region) coral reef. Hiking? Get to the village of Munduk, where waterfalls and lakes are only a short walk (or long walk, if you’d like) away. Want to run away from lava in slow motion like in an action movie? Don’t do that! But you can climb to the top of one of the island’s volcanos and pretend. There are plenty of ways for visitors to interact with nature in fun, active manners.
It’s beauty: It’s easy to describe almost anywhere in the world as “beautiful”; if one searches a country long enough, the land is sure to yield a stunning vista or two. But just look at the photos to the side, here. Between the lush green grasslands and the aqua blue Pacific Ocean drifting up on shore, postcard-worthy views are everywhere.
Want to hear more? Reach out to your Mitch-Stuart, Inc. representative today!
Destination Spotlight: The Caribbean
September 10, 2014
The average high temperature in Aruba peaks at 91 degrees in September, and falls all the way to … 80 degrees in January. In Bermuda, the highs run from 70 in the winter to 86 in the summer. Consistency is the norm for Caribbean weather, where any time of year is beach time.
No matter what style of vacation your donors seek, though, they can find it in the Caribbean. A consistent favorite for both travelers and auction organizers, travel packages for non-profit auctions that involve islands like the Bahamas, St. Croix and St. Thomas can fetch big money and really impress gala attendees. When a potential auction bidder sees the words “Caribbean vacation” on display, he or she may be thinking about several different types of trips.
Postcards sent home from Caribbean sojourns, of course, tend to emphasize beautiful beaches – and with good reason. The sands of Aruba, the Bahamas, St. Thomas and the U.S. Virgin Islands, among others, are all welcoming to beachgoers of all ages and stripes. For those who want to interact with the environment rather than pull up a chair and relax, there’s plenty of opportunities for everything from swimming with the dolphins to sailing or paddleboarding across the tops of the waves.
There’s more to island life than beaches, though. Head to Bermuda, for instance, for an adventure that includes art galleries and horseback rides. Tour the Cruzan Rum factory on St. Croix, or hike through the island’s rain forest. Pull out the credit card on St. Thomas for what many describe as the “duty-free shopping capital of the world.” Hit the hot spots of Aruba, with restaurants and bars in the resorts that line the beach. Not every Caribbean expedition requires sunscreen and bathing suits.
For the island-goers interested in sampling the entire region, the Caribbean Sea has, at any individual moment, one of the highest concentrations of cruise ships in the world. Make stops at all of the above islands and more, with excursions for beach lounging, shopping and exploring. Along the way, enjoy the luxuries of cruise travel, from expansive staterooms to all-you-can-eat meals and on-board entertainment. It’s like a Whitman’s Sampler of some of the most gorgeous travel destinations on the globe.
Learning on the Road
August 19, 2014
In the next couple of weeks, kids will go back to school, picking up a bag full of textbooks on the first day to learn about everything from the founding of the United States to the creation of the world’s great works of art. They’ll be presented by teachers as words on the page, artifacts of history that have long since been left to the passage of time.
But those seminal events, those works of art, that meaningful history, doesn’t have to be left behind. At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we put together charity auction travel packages for any number of different reasons: Relaxation, excitement, a change-of-pace or even an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But some of our favorite vacations involve opportunities for donors to bring their families along and make history come alive. Give your donors the gift of education with one of these great travel packages.
Washington, DC is a living, breathing civics classroom, and a trip there can give life to an otherwise dry subject. The National Mall is filled with museums (almost all Smithsonian institutions feature free admission) and monuments, but with a little advance planning, travelers can also see the halls of power as they operate today. Reaching out to the local representative’s office can produce anything from a Capitol Hill tour led by a staff member to gallery passes to watch the House or Senate in action. Especially worthy of attention: The tour of the monuments at night is breathtaking.
To go a little further back in American history, a trip to Gettysburg immerses the entire family in the Civil War. The turning point of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest of the war, and because of that the city was also the site of President Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address. Send a donor and his/her family here for bus tours, museums and reenactments. For when the history gets to be too much, visitors can retreat to the 30-acre nature reserve and relax.
Not all forms of history are about war, though. For those of a more artistic sensibility, Paris is one of the world’s leaders in galleries and art history, with museums like the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay. One of our trips to the French capital includes half-day tours of each of those, plus the Centre George Pompidou, home of the Musee National d’Art Moderne, the largest modern art museum in Europe. Works of great historical significance to the world are located in each, including those by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Vincent van Gogh and, of course, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” It’s practically a full AP Art course masquerading as a city.
Summer’s Last Hurrah
August 13, 2014
Shopping carts filled with pencils and folders, registration days and “What I Did During My Summer Vacation” reports: While parents everywhere get ready to send their children back to school, those kids are desperately trying to hold on to their last days of freedom and escape the onset of the school year.
Mitch-Stuart, Inc., puts together great charity auction travel packages for any occasion and with any combination of family members. Sometimes, that means romantic getaways for parents, and other times it means event-based itineraries to awards shows or sporting events. But in August, many families are looking for one last, great adventure before the school year begins, the type of experience that will make the other kids on the bus jealous when junior recounts his/her summer exploits. Give your donors those opportunities with one of these trips.
Of course, when one thinks of trips for families, the first idea often involves Mickey Mouse. Whether it’s Disneyland in Southern California or Disney World in Orlando, adventures to either coast’s Magic Kingdom are fun for the whole family. For either, though, Mitch-Stuart can round out the trip with some great options. Our package to Anaheim also includes a trip to Knott’s Berry Farm and a dinner at Medieval Times, along with a suite for four as accommodations. If Florida is the choice, trips can include excursions to everything from SeaWorld to Universal Studios.
If neither California nor Florida are in the cards, though, Mitch-Stuart can still help send a donor and his or her family to any of 50 different waterparks in the country. Whether it’s one of the Great Wolf Lodge waterparks in destinations like Kansas City or the Pocono Mountains, or perhaps CoCo Key Water Resort in the Boston area, there is family-friendly fun in 22 different states and even Ontario, Canada to be had. Each park has its own signature slides and amusements, and each package also includes quad-room accommodations and breakfast buffets.
Of course, the simplest way of bidding adieu to the summer is to find a beach and spend those last days of freedom running through the sand. We’ve mentioned our beach trips on this blog before, but one in particular is worth highlighting: The family-friendly confines of an all-inclusive Palace Resort in Cancun. With clubs and lounges for kids, separate pools for youth and even nighttime movie screenings, there’s plenty to distract children from the upcoming school year – and with swim-up bars and pampering spas, there’s plenty to distract parents, too.