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You Must Be This Tall to Scare

October 26, 2016
The Halloween season has returned, bringing with it ghouls, ghosts and zombies. Houses in the neighborhood are decorated, pumpkins are carved and faces are painted. But the holiday is not often considered a chance for travel; kids usually have school activities tied to Halloween and anyone older might not remember the magic of the day fondly enough to set aside time for a road trip.

However, Halloween is one of our favorite holidays at America’s theme parks. With an entire cast of characters in the spirit of the day, and plenty of resources available to transform spaces into truly frightening playpens of the macabre, there may be no better place to take in the atmosphere of the season than one of these amusement parks – each one a part of a fundraising auction travel package available through Mitch-Stuart.

In Southern California, Disneyland is putting costumes on costumes for the month of October, with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, among others, wandering the park in their own Halloween outfits. Pumpkin King Jack Skellington and Sally from “A Nightmare Before Christmas” also wander the premises. But the big attraction of 2016 is actually a closing, rather than an opening: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is on its way out, giving way to a “Guardians of the Galaxy”-themed ride next summer. This is the last year to ride the elevator drop while listening to the spookily-soothing voice of Rod Serling.

On the other side of the country, meanwhile Disney World Orlando has a different take on the holiday, with some of the traditional villains of Halloween recast. Zombies find their voices with the Cadaver Dans, a barbershop quartet of the undead. The Sanderson sisters of Disney’s “Hocus Pocus” mix potions, shadows and some of their evil friends to create the Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular show. And the fireworks show, a traditional favorite of a visit to Disney World, gets a makeover during the season, becoming HalloWishes and incorporating more of Disney’s catalog of antagonists.

But no amusement park may make a bigger commitment to All Hallow’s Eve than Knott’s Berry Farm. The Anaheim-adjacent theme park transforms each year into “Knott’s Scary Farm,” with mazes and monsters at every turn. “Scare zones” act as themed immersive atmospheres; this year’s include “Carnevil” and “The Hollow.” Mazes and rides also take on a creepy feel, and even dining gets a Halloween theme, with a “boo-fet” available each night before Knott’s opens (the scares are the roaming monsters, not any mystery meats). The park has even put together a less-intense experience, Knott’s Spooky Farm, for families with younger kids; it’s open during the daytime on weekends.

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Travel-Worthy Tributes

May 25, 2016
In pop culture, Memorial Day means the beginning of summer, cookouts, spontaneous beach trips and, for younger people, finals and the end of the school year. And with the exception of those year-end tests, we’re in favor of all of those ideas, too. But it’s also important on Memorial Day to take time and reflect on the reason for the holiday: Honoring those who gave their lives, what Abraham Lincoln once called “the last full measure of devotion,” to protecting and serving this country.

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we have hundreds of non-profit fundraising travel packages that donors bid on in order to go on relaxing, energizing, or just plain fun vacations. But our trips work for any occasion, including paying solemn respects this weekend at one of these monuments to our fallen Armed Forces members.

Many travelers make their way to Indianapolis, Indiana on Memorial Day weekend for the Indy 500, one of America’s great car races and one that has been scheduled on or near the end of May since 1911. But the city is also home to one of the most iconic memorials in America, the Indiana State Soldiers and Sailors Monument. At just 15 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty, the obelisk was built as an ode to Indiana residents who fought in the Civil War, but has over time expanded to honoring soldiers in the Revolutionary and Spanish-American Wars as well. It also now houses the Eli Lilly Civil War Museum. When it was established in 1902, it was thought to be the only monument at that time to be dedicated to the everyday soldiers, the rank-and-file, rather than a general or a commander.

The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is made up of nine different locations in three different states, but the majority of the locations are in Honolulu, at the site of the Pearl Harbor attack. The USS Arizona Memorial is a tremendously-designed monument; the structure straddles the sunken battleship, without ever touching it, allowing for unique visual perspective of the wreckage. There are also monuments to the USS Utah and Oklahoma there, while the USS Missouri, not technically a part of the monument, is also docked in the harbor, having been turned into a museum.  Taken in whole, it’s a powerful reminder of those who gave their lives in the Pacific.

The largest concentration of memorials, however, is in the area of our nation’s capital. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial may be the most famous, its wall of names receiving more than three million visitors each year, but the DC War Memorial, the U.S. Navy Memorial and the World War II Memorial all also fall not just within the city limits, but within a short distance of each other. With Arlington National Cemetery and the Marine Corps War Memorial (also known as the Imo Jima memorial) located a short subway ride away in Northern Virginia, not to mention all of the presidential monuments and other historic landmarks in the metro area, there are many opportunities for patriotic visitor to pay their respects.

Indiana State Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Pearl Harbor

U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial


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The Romantic’s Valentine’s Day Gift

February 10, 2016
Chocolate? Meh. Flowers? They’ll be dead in a week. Jewelry? Sure, but do people really need more “stuff”? We may be biased, but there may be no more romantic gift than the gift of travel.

Mitch-Stuart can set up your donors with fundraising auction travel packages for any time of the year and for any occasion, of course, but there’s something special about sending two lovebirds out into the world together, to explore and make wonderful memories. Whether you’ve got supporters looking for a honeymoon excursion, a babymoon last hurrah, or just an adventure with the love of his or her life, setting them up with a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a Destination of Excellence® will plant you in their mind every time they reflect on that romantic getaway.

What makes travel so romantic? Some ideas:

Two people enter a relationship with lifetimes worth of experiences in their past. That extends to cities visited, which means that if one-half of a couple is a regular in, say, Las Vegas, the other half may feel more like a tourist following a guide than an equal partner. But when two people explore a new destination together, it can be a bonding experience. Want to give your donors the chance to make a destination feel like a shared romantic getaway? Offer one of our packages to a far-flung locale, perhaps like Bali, where your supporters can relax on beaches, get couples massages and explore an island while making it “theirs.”

Going on an adventure together can also push you and your partner out of your comfort zone. Whether you feel stuck in a rut or just would like to infuse your romance with a little spice, the adrenaline triggered by trying something new can be a great way to jump start emotions, as well. This could mean, for instance, heading for Africa with our “Explore Kenya’s Breathtaking Landscape & Wildlife” package, which includes a gift card that can be used for game drives, bush walks and other safari experiences.

Finally, while the act of traveling is romantic on its own, the destination often has its own enchanting activities. We touched on that idea last year around this time, but it bears repeating: Booking the right itinerary once on the ground can make any place seductive. Exploring New York as a couple may mean a walk through Central Park at sunset or a date night at the Plaza. Any Southern California or Caribbean trip means walks along the beach. Skiing adventures in Aspen means après-ski cuddles by the fire. No matter the trip, there’s something waiting at the destination for couples.
Massage

Fairmont Kenya Safari

Central Park Carriage New York

The Buccaneer St. Croix


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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!




Crested Butte

Palace Resort in Cancun

Italian Villa

Italian Villa


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A Travel-Worthy Thanksgiving

November 18, 2015
Thanksgiving is one of America’s favorite travel holidays: AAA projected that more than 46 million Americans would travel more than 50 miles from their residence in 2014, and with gas prices still low, that number may increase this year. Many of those hitting the road at this time of year are heading to visit parents or grandparents in hometowns around the country. But at Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we believe that home is wherever the family is … and that means that home can be anywhere.


Many of our non-profit auction travel packages do not have holiday blackout periods, meaning that your supporters can win a trip at your gala fundraiser and use it to take the family somewhere new for the holiday. And with travel-worthy Thanksgiving events sprinkled throughout the country, that winning donor can create a new holiday tradition for his or her family out on the road.

Any conversation of Turkey Day traditions has to start with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Starting in 1924, the procession makes its way through Manhattan with balloons, floats, and performers from pop music acts like Nick Jonas and Idina Menzel. From living rooms across the country (which watch the parade live on NBC) to the sidewalks of New York City, the parade may be the single most-witnessed Turkey Day event. It’s a great place to send donors, as well, either for them to take in the nostalgic charms of the Snoopy balloon in person or to allow them to introduce a younger generation to the wonder of these skyscraper-sized blimps.

Of course, after the floats are put away in NYC, Thanksgiving can sometimes become about the three Fs: Food, Family and Football. Luckily, Mitch-Stuart can help with one of those as well. We can send supporters to any regular season football game in the country, and that includes the traditional Thanksgiving Day games in either Detroit or Dallas. In Motown, the Detroit Lions have played a home game on every Thanksgiving since 1945, while the Cowboys have suited up for all but two Turkey Day games since 1966. For either, we can get your donors in lower level seats for all the action.

Not every tradition is sedentary, though. For many people, getting outside is a popular part of the holiday, too, whether it’s a family touch football game in the backyard or a leisurely hike. Almost 1,000,000 Americans participated in a Thaknsgiving Day “trot” or “fun run” in 2013, according to the Wall Street Journal, and it seems like small towns and big cities alike are hosting everything from 5Ks to marathons. One of the oldest of these also takes place in one of our favorite Destinations of Excellence, New Orleans, where the Athletic Club Turkey Day Race has been held for an astounding 107 consecutive years, making it one of the oldest non-marathon races in the country. It features a five-mile run for adults and even a half-mile race for kids, with all of the proceeds going towards Spina Bifida of Greater New Orlean.




New York Macy's Day Parade
 
New York Macy's Day Parade
 
Dallas Cowboys Stadium
 
NOAC Turkey Day Race


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Vacations for Ghost Hunters

October 28, 2015
The Halloween season is a time for frights, be they on the big screen, the “trick” part of trick-or-treating or the unholy abomination that is budget candy corn. For people who are big into the holiday, though, it is also a time to get on the road and check out some of the spookiest sites in the world. Some of those attractions are manmade, like the events we profiled last year. But others stem from a combination of tragedy and a certain suspension of disbelief that can make people believe they are seeing ghosts.


Mitch-Stuart doesn’t feature any specific ghost-hunting trips in our catalog of non-profit fundraising auction travel packages. However, several of our Destinations of Excellence can also act as home bases for those looking for restless spirits. For those looking for the scariest of Halloweens, one of these places might be hospitable.

It was an opera house in Paris that once housed a phantom in its basement, so it should be no surprise that the City of Lights has its share of haunted tales. The city’s catacombs are one destination for ghost hunters, with the remains of more than six millions Parisians there, often arraigned into macabre art. The Red Man of the Tuileries, a notorious hitman for the royalty in the 16th century, is said to still patrol the Louvre, and even the Paris Opera, the setting for fictional “Phantom of the Opera,” has a “real-life” ghostly visitor in the form of a love-struck woman, just outside its doors.

A little closer to home, the spirit of Hollywood pervades much of Los Angeles. But the spirits of Hollywood can be found at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, across from the TCL Chinese Theater (and the famous sidewalk handprints). A mirror there that used to hang in the suite of Marilyn Monroe supposedly shows the reflection of a blonde woman in the background, while Montgomery Clift (of “From Here to Eternity” and “Judgment at Nuremberg” fame) is said to walk the ninth floor. The stories are so woven into the fabric of the building that the hotel’s website used to have a section devoted to the tales.

Even places considered to be bright slices of paradise can find themselves possessed by spirits. Honolulu doesn’t seem like the type of place that would be ghost-friendly, but residents claim that it has its own history with the supernatural, in locations like the Old Waialae Drive-In Theater (located close to a cemetery, and said to have been visited by a faceless woman haunting the restroom), the 16th Avenue bridge (site of a hit-and-run, the victim of which still appears to some) and even the Green Lady, an apparition who has been “spotted” everywhere from Scotland to New England.

Want to send your donors on a wild ghost chase? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart travel expert today!
Louvre, Paris, France
 
Paris Opera House
 
TCL Chinese Theater
 
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell at Chinese Theater


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Labor Day: The Underrated Travel Holiday

August 26, 2015
Everyone loves Memorial Day. The final Monday in May marks the unofficial beginning of summer, and is one of the busiest travel holidays of the year; AAA estimated that more than 37 million Americans would use the three-day weekend as a chance to get out of town, while the U.S. Travel Association estimated that those travelers would spend more than $12.3 billion on their trips.

But the unofficial end of summer rarely sees such numbers – and, accordingly, such hype. With families concentrated on getting school-ready and everyone else nursing sunburns, Labor Day is often used as a three-day breather before heading into the fall.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we specialize in sending your organization’s donors and supporters on once-in-a-lifetime trips with our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages. That includes trips to celebrate Memorial Day, July 4th and even Thanksgiving or Christmas in far-flung locales. But we also love giving your donors the chance to win a summer send-off trip, a weekend away to gather thoughts and prepare for the upcoming seasonal shift. If you’d like to offer such an opportunity to your supporters, may we suggest…

Washington, DC? By the beginning of September, the worst of the summer humidity is over but the winter chill hasn’t set in yet. It’s a perfect time to walk around the monuments, catch a baseball game at the gorgeous Nationals Park or visit the Smithsonian museums. Even better, the DC area is home to several Labor Day events, including the free Labor Day Capitol Concert, which takes place on the lawn of the United States Capitol.

Napa or Sonoma Valley? Harvest season is in full swing by Labor Day, and the local wineries often have season-exclusive events that occur during prime picking time. Gatherings like the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend involve winemaker lunches, barbecues and the signature Taste of Sonoma event, with more than 200 wineries pouring thousands of wines. It’s a great weekend adventure for parents looking for one last 72 hours of sanity before the fall begins.

Colorado?
Most people think of the Rocky Mountain State as a fantastic winter skiing destination, but those slopes also make for great hiking and mountain biking during the summer. Cities like Aspen and Telluride live the outdoor life year-round, but are much less crowded when there’s grass on the ground rather than snow. Without skiing to draw people to town, many of these cities also offer more cultural events; Jazz Aspen Snowmass, for instance, is a three-day musical wonderland, this year featuring acts like indie rock favorite Hozier, disco kings Chic and even the Count Basie Orchestra.
Washington DC
 
United States Capitol
 
Napa Valley Sign
 
Telluride, CO


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Holiday Globe-Hoppin’

March 11, 2015
For many, the first thought of Independence Day involves fireworks over the National Monument in Washington, D.C. When Thanksgiving comes up, invariably so does the tradition of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, live from New York City. New Year’s Eve? It’s hard to separate the day from the ball dropping in Times Square, isn’t it?

One can celebrate a holiday anywhere, of course, but there are some places that have become ingrained in the culture as the “home base” for a certain day of the year. Mitch-Stuart, Inc. can send your donors to some of the world’s most interesting destinations with our non-profit auction travel packages, but one trait that some don’t realize is that there are few to no “blackout dates” on these trips. So, if you’ve got a donor itching to go to the Big Apple for Thanksgiving, we can make that happen.

Here are a few other places that we can send your donors who want to celebrate specific holidays:

When thoughts turn to St. Patrick’s Day, many immediately think of two east coast cities where many of the Irish who came to America settled: Boston and New York. But only one major metropolis go so far as to dye a natural resource green. Yes, Chicago may be better known for pierogies and deep dish pizza than shamrocks, but Irish-Americans are the city’s largest ethnic group. The city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the country’s grandest, and the dying of the Chicago River has to be seen to be believed: Thousands line up and watch a boat dispense the green-colored dye into the river each year.

Unlike St. Patrick’s Day, Labor Day doesn’t lend itself to massive celebrations on its own. The commemorating of the labor movement in America is important, sure, but it’s often conflated with its place on the calendar and the changing season; Labor Day is much more about the end of summer than overtime laws. For that reason, thousands flock to Las Vegas every year to get that last bit of consequence-free Vitamin D before hunkering down for a long winter. From massive pool parties to decadent (and celebrity chef-filled) restaurant scene, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the excess of summer’s freedom in Sin City.

Other holidays have become synonymous with the cities that recognize them the loudest. Patriots’ Day is the third Monday in April, and was set aside to celebrate the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Technically, it’s recognized in Maine and Wisconsin, but it tends to be known around the country as a holiday specifically for Boston, where it’s a day off from school and work, along with a chance to relax (hopefully) in the spring sun. For Beantown, it’s a big sports day, too: The Boston Marathon is run in the morning, and the Boston Red Sox have had a home game at Fenway Park on nearly every Patriots’ Day since 1959.
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Travel to the New Year

December 30, 2014
Resolutions, champagne toasts at midnight and Kathy Griffin harassing Anderson Cooper on CNN: There are plenty of New Year’s Eve traditions, some better than others. But one of the most heartwarming is that of the party, the gathering where we all look forward to the new year with hope (and, in some cases, plenty of alcohol). Some of your donors may prefer to ring in the next revolution around the sun at home, with family and maybe a couple of friends. But others may be looking for that reason to celebrate with thousands, that excuse to head out into the world and welcome a new year in a new locale surrounded by new people.

You can make that happen.

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., most of our flexible charity auction travel packages can be used at any time of the year. That can mean summer trips to the Caribbean, Spring Break sojourns to Southern California, or even once-in-a-lifetime tours of Europe. It also means the chance to be one of the thousands celebrating New Year’s Eve on television, rather than watching the revelers from home. Here are some of our favorite NYE destinations, and how we can help send your donors there.

Everyone knows about the celebration in New York’s Times Square, of course. But if hanging out in a quasi-confined space with hundreds of thousands of fellow partygoers and a ton of confetti sounds overwhelming, there are plenty of other places to watch the clock count down. Whether it’s the Harbor Lights cruise and its views of the Manhattan skyline or the open bars at clubs around the city, New York has a party for every partier.

In Las Vegas, the Strip shuts down for New Year’s Eve, becoming a packed pedestrian plaza, with fireworks being shot off from the roofs of the casinos lining Las Vegas Boulevard. But the real shows are inside the city’s nightclubs and on its stages, with star DJs, rock bands and even comedians playing in Sin City for the evening. For the best view, the LINQ High Roller will take riders 550 feet above the Strip for great views, champagne toasts and, in VIP pods, premium bar service.

Those looking for a warmer clime can also head to the Big Easy for the holiday and enjoy the Fleur-de-Lis Drop from Jackson Square. The city also has its own firework show over the Mississippi River as well, but the biggest draw to the Crescent City – as usual – is the French Quarter, where clubs and concert halls give visitors the chance to dance the night away. The day after, make sure to stop in to Emeril’s Restaurant for the traditional good luck dish, black eyed peas.

No matter where you or your donors ring in the New Year, we hope it’s filled with good works, great trips and the discovery of new cultures around the world. May all of your galas run smoothly, all of your auction items sell and your charitable deeds help make the world a better place.

Happy New Year!





Statue of Liberty
New York Times Square
House of Blues New Orleans
Las Vegas


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Ho-Ho-Holiday Travel

December 24, 2014
Christmastime is here, and if you’re not already at or on your way to your preferred vacation spot for the holiday, it might be too late for 2014. Thankfully, you’ll get a chance to do it all again next year, and we’ve got you – and your donors – covered. No matter where your supporters would like to spend the holiday season, one of Mitch-Stuart’s charity auction travel packages can put them on a plane to a relaxing, wonderful time, from the white Christmas of a ski slope to the white sand beaches of the Caribbean. Need some ideas – especially for a “Christmas in July”-style gala auction? Why not think about…

Ice skating at Rockefeller Center
Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Disneyland California
Philadelphia: Ice skating at Rockefeller Center, the Christmas tree lighting, the store window displays, reenacting scenes from “Miracle on 34th Street” on 34th Street itself … the reasons to seek out New York City for Christmas are mostly well-known. That’s why tens of thousands of people go there every year. For a more relaxing experience, think about staying a short train ride away in the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia has its share of seasonal fun to explore, like the Christmas Light Show at Macy’s and the RiverRink at Penn’s Landing, with its views Delaware River and the Ben Franklin Bridge. Plus, day trips to Manhattan are a snap; travelers can head into the city by train during the day, then escape it when the hordes of tourists become too much.

British Columbia: The Western Canadian getaway is not only a wintery wonderland, but our package to Whistler is also great for a family, with a one-bedroom condo suitable for two adults and two children. The area’s skiing is on par with the best of Europe, and Whistler averages almost 40 feet of snow per year, meaning that a December trip will very likely yield great conditions for downhill, cross-country or snowboarding. Back at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, meanwhile, even the pickiest eaters in the family will find something to love among the resort’s culinary offerings, like The Grill Room and The Mallard Lounge. Of special distinction: the Portobello Market and Fresh Bakery is a great quick-stop for families, while the Spirit Room inside the Mallard Lounge is where the liquor connoisseurs congregate.

Southern California: The lower half of the Golden State has a combination of traditional-style celebrations and warm weather seen in very few other places. Those looking to escape the biting cold can stretch out on the beach (and take pictures that will make friends at home jealous!), of course. But there is also seasonal fun to be had; Disneyland in Anaheim offers a snowy Christmas parade every day, and fireworks light up the night sky on a regular basis as well. In Los Angeles, the shopping centers combine the outdoors, the spirit of the season and the consumerism of the season to bring patrons events like “A Hollywood Christmas” at the Grove and the Rodeo Drive Holiday Lighting in Beverly Hills. And the traditional house-lighting shows in Altadena along Christmas Tree Lane will remind anyone of Christmases past – just ignore the illuminated palm trees in the other parts of the city.


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Turkey Day Travel

November 25, 2014
AAA projected that more than 43 million Americans took to the roads, flooded airport terminals and even stood in long, snaking lines at train stations to get out of town for Thanksgiving in 2013. For many of those who traveled over the holiday, the trips were to see relatives, all gathering around a table somewhere for turkey and pumpkin pie.

Tiffany & Co
Rockefeller Center
The Fairmont Royal Pavilion
Skiers at Four Seasons Jackson Hole
Next year, help your donors make that “somewhere” a little more exciting.

Mitch-Stuart, Inc., pairs with non-profit organizations to offer alluring charity auction travel packages to destinations around the world. Those can be used at any time, which means that when everyone else in the airport is schlepping to the same small towns they go to every year, your supporters can be heading to holiday fun in…

New York! Don’t make your donors watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television next year. Send them to the Big Apple instead to celebrate the holiday in style, staying at the Plaza (in a Rose Suite, no less!) and shopping at Tiffany’s with a $1,000 gift card. For supporters who’ve already taken care of Christmas presents, there are NYC packages that include brewery tours, Broadway show tickets, and even trips through the city’s delis.

The Caribbean! If the first blasts of winter have left donors depressed, tell them to leave the galoshes behind and find sand between their toes rather than snow. Mitch-Stuart offers trips to locales throughout the region, but all-inclusive resorts like Bolongo Bay in St. Thomas will take care of everything from dinner to entertainment, while those looking for luxury can find it in Barbados at the Fairmont Royal Pavilion or the old-world charm of The Buccaneer in St. Croix.

The Rockies! For those who seek out the cold of winter to experience the thrill of careening down a mountain, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to hit the slopes of ski resorts in Colorado and other regions. Send donors to any resort in Vail or Keystone, Colorado, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, or Jackson Hole, Wyoming. A day of negotiating “double black diamond” ski runs will burn off any caloric surpluses from a massive Thanksgiving dinner.

Getting ready for spring galas? Want to add that “wow factor” to your non-profit benefit auction? Reach out today to a Mitch-Stuart rep!


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Terrified Travel!: The Best of Halloween

October 28, 2014
It’s okay to be scared when flying. It’s okay to be scared when spotting twin girls in the hallway of your hotel, asking you if you want to go and play with them forever. But would you travel solely for the purpose of frights?

It’s Halloween time, and that means ghouls and goblins. But whether the holiday means haunted houses or costumes and libations, Mitch-Stuart, Inc. has a charity auction travel package that can send your donors to a great Halloween destination. Celebrate – in whichever way you like – in one of these cities:

If New York can claim New Year’s Eve as its own and Boston gets St. Patrick’s Day, it may be fair to give Halloween to Los Angeles. It should be no surprise that a city filled with young people who want to play dress up and tell stories in front of cameras would celebrate the holiday with such enthusiasm. The walk down West Hollywood’s Santa Monica Boulevard on Halloween night is almost a rite of passage for newcomers, but for tourists (and those traveling with families), Universal Horror Nights at Universal Studios and Knott’s Scary Farm are favorites. And just down the road in Long Beach, the docked, 12-deck Queen Mary hosts “Dark Harbor,” with mazes, rides and ghost hunters.

Travelers looking for more of a party atmosphere won’t be surprised to find out that Las Vegas throws its share of Halloween celebrations. Nightclubs like Hyde at the Bellagio and Drai’s at the Cromwell will fill dance floors with zombies and superheroes, respectively, while Tao will go with a “Great Gatsby” theme (along with a guest appearance by Snoop Dogg). Circus Circus, meanwhile, will again turn its amusement park into the Fright Dome, with haunted houses and live entertainment. Even just walking up and down the Strip, however, can be an eye-opening experience on All Hallows’ Eve; the entire casino district turns into an open-air masquerade.

Of course, for sheer numbers of revelers it is hard to beat New York and its Village Halloween Parade. Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2014, the parade weaves through Greenwich Village and attracts a reported 60,000 or more participants each year. And with the holiday falling on a Friday this year, visitors can expect celebrations to last long into the night (and the next morning!) at bars and restaurants throughout the five boroughs. For those looking for a spookier experience, the Wall Street Walks Ghost Tour takes participants through the haunted alleys and graveyards of lower Manhattan. It combines frights with history to both inform and scare.


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July 4th Celebrations

July 02, 2014
Fireworks at Statue of Liberty
Fireworks at Lincoln Memorial
Washington Monument Fireworks
A favorite reason for many travelers to hit the road is to take in a celebration. It could be a music festival in New Orleans, a wine festival in Napa Valley or even an awards show in Los Angeles, but heading somewhere to take part in a major event has become a big reason for people to get out their luggage. When that event is July 4th, the possibilities for travel become endless.

One of the benefits for using Mitch-Stuart, Inc., as your charity auction travel package provider is that our trips can be used at almost any time of year, including during many holidays. That gives donors the opportunity to pair the bright explosions of some of America’s greatest July 4th celebrations with the warm afterglow of helping their favorite charities at the same time.

Two such big parties are thrown each year at relatively rural, historic American destinations. Mount Rushmore features impersonators of the four memorialized presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, in case anyone has forgotten) and the nightly lighting of the monument itself, though the 2014 drought has canceled any fireworks plans that the National Parks Service may have had. Across the country, Colonial Williamsburg will hold a come-and-go-as-you-please buffet at the Williamsburg Lodge, children’s games on the Virginia Lawn and a Virginia Symphony Orchestra concert, accompanied by a fireworks show.

But for the biggest Fourth of July celebrations, look no further than the “megalopolis.” Every city along the East Coast’s i-95 corridor has a major celebration worth experiencing:
  • In Washington, D.C., more than 750,000 people are expected to hit the National Mall for music, fireworks and fun. PBS broadcasts it worldwide as “A Capitol Fourth,” but being there is the only way to experience the true scope of the festivities.
  • In Philadelphia, the 4th of July Jam is billed as “the largest free concert in America.” The 2014 edition features acts like The Roots, Ed Sheeran, Nicki Minaj and Jennifer Hudson, and the show is followed by a massive fireworks show over the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  • The Cradle of Liberty hosts a two-day July 4th spectacular; Boston will feature the Boston Pops and the Beach Boys in addition to a huge fireworks show on the Charles River. The 2014th event will mark the 40th anniversary of the celebration in its current form, with cannonfire and the “1812 Overture” included.
  • The biggest fireworks show in the country could, of course, only take place in the Big Apple. The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Show returns to the East River of New York in 2014, meaning that the explosions will occur with the Brooklyn Bridge as a stunning backdrop.
No matter where you celebrate July 4th this year, we hope you enjoy it – and be safe






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Memorial Day Getaways

May 20, 2014
The school year is almost over, the temperature is rising and the kids are ready to skip town. Memorial Day weekend is one of the biggest travel holidays of the year, thanks to those reasons and so many more.

Bali
Bay Hill Florida
Ritz Laguna Niguel
Fairmont Empress, Vancouver Canada
At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we have travel packages for charity auctions that can be used year-round, including during the weekend that is often considered the “gateway to the summer.” And while an extra day off may not be enough time to send your donors to some of the more far-flung, exotic locales – just flying from the United States to Bali would take up most of the time off – there are still plenty of fun weekend trips that will allow them to make the most of the bonus 24 hours of vacation.

The combination of its family-friendly resorts and great weather make Florida a favorite Memorial Day weekend destination. With more than a dozen different catalog options for a Sunshine State getaway, Mitch-Stuart can make Florida a reality for a donor’s dreams, no matter what they may be. Disney World? How about a trip with park-hopping passes, pools and arcades? Is golf higher on the agenda? Our package to Bay Hill gives donors two rounds of golf and an hour of private instruction to shake the winter rust off of the swing. Or maybe your donors would like something a little more low key and relaxing? Our Key West trip, complete with complimentary beach chairs and umbrellas, can fill the bill.

If Florida is too far out of the way for donors, the other coast is just as inviting. Memorial Day weekend can be the perfect time for one of your donors to visit Southern California, whether it’s being wrapped in the luxury of the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, taking the tram above Palm Springs for breathtaking views of the Coachella Valley or star-gazing while in a poolside bungalow at a resort in Santa Monica. It seems like beach life is never more than a stone’s throw away when visiting the Golden State, and spending Memorial Day laying back and relaxing on the sand is a perfect way to welcome the summer months.

Not every vacationer is seeking out the sun come Memorial Day weekend, of course. In many southern parts of the country, it feels like summer has already arrived by the time it’s the end of May. For those donors or organizations in warmer climes, a trip to a city like Seattle could be a great break before the heat gets too extreme at home. Split that vacation time between the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle, near tourist hot spots like Pike Place Market and the Seattle Waterfront, and the Conde Nast Gold List-recognized Fairmont Empress, in stunning Victoria, B.C. With average May highs in the mid-60s during the month of May, Seattle is a great place for one last fling with spring.


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WOW your Valentine!

January 28, 2014
This Valentine’s Day, get some romantic planning advice from the experts at Mitch-Stuart, Inc. They know the world’s top destinations and have provided some options for sweeping your loved one off to parts unknown. As part of their planning for 2014 auctions, raffles and other fundraising events using travel packages and experiences, they’ve got the goods on what’s great this Valentine’s Day.

Consider a trip to Sonoma’s wine country. Set in the idyllic, world famous wine growing region abundant with local products, The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa features a signature Michelin award-winning restaurant, a treasured golf course set on 177 acres of rolling terrain, and one of the top spas in the country. For hundreds of years, ancient thermal mineral waters have graced the site of The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. Today, the resort is proud to be one of the only luxury spa resorts in the country with its own source of thermal mineral water.

Guests will savor the fruits of the wine country on a personalized five-hour tour of the Sonoma Valley in a chauffeured luxury Sedan. Whether you are first-time visitors or veteran wine tasters, you'll enjoy an enlightening, fun-filled day in this picturesque region. The informative winery tour will be customized based on your individual wine preferences.

Find Love in the City of Light. Whisk your Valentine off to the Hotel Littre in quintessentially romantic Paris which is sure to bring a spark to your life, from the fashion, the culture, the architectural heritage, gourmet cuisine, and of course, the romance! Come explore the capital of France and discover the magic that has beckoned visitors for millennia. You’ll visit one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, the Eiffel Tower, on your half-day tour, and you’ll be blown away by the beauty of Paris at night on your Paris by Night tour - bonjour!

There is so much to see in Paris, from Place de la Bastille, a historical and modernly political square, to the trendy Right Bank district of La Marais, the artists’ studios of Montparnasse, to the high fashion districts of Faubourg Saint-Honore.

Treat her (or him!) like royalty.
What could be more luxurious that a trip to Monte Carlo – The Fairmont Monte Carlo is a unique four-star luxury resort located in the very heart of Monaco. A principality known to everyone, Monaco is nestled between Italy and France on the Côte d'Azur, and when you ascend to the top of The Fairmont, you can see the majestic view of all three countries! Immerse yourself in the beauty and sophistication of this world-class destination with a stay at the Fairmont Monte Carlo.

The Riviera offers over 300 days of sunshine throughout the year. Although the fabulous climate is a primary attraction, visitors are also drawn to Monaco’s warm engaging colors, the variety of its surroundings, and the friendliness of the locals. From the deep blue of the Mediterranean to the dazzling white canyons of the inland countryside, this region never stops revealing surprises.

Pamper the People you Love. Embrace the warmth of Cancun, Riviera Maya, Cozumel or Isla Mujeres, Mexico for some well-deserved pampering, discover the freedom of an all-inclusive stay at Palace Resorts, where one price covers your hotel, mouthwatering dining options and snacks, top shelf drinks, non-motorized water sports, exuberant nightly entertainment, and so much more. Palace Resorts deliver a better class of all-inclusive in tantalizing destinations throughout Mexico. There is no comprising on your experience!

You’ll find luxurious touches and elegant appointments at every Palace Resort, ensuring that regardless of the destination, your vacation will be exceptional. Bask in the beauty of Cancun, which sits at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, where you are invited to explore the area’s natural reserves, archeological sights and attractions. A few miles south along the ancient Riviera Maya, are three more Palaces, including two offering some of the finest golf courses and spas in Mexico, dot the white sands of the coast. The islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres are home to more Caribbean Palaces and on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. With six all-inclusive Palace Resorts dotting the sands along gorgeous beaches, to choose from, one of them is certain to provide the perfect setting for your next vacation.

Be sure to check out the Mitch-Stuart Destinations of Excellence® Catalogue for more treasured trips





Couple drinking wine
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
Paris Eiffel Tower
Paris
Monte Carlo
Fairmont Monte Carlo
Palace Resort Isla Mujeres


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The Mitch-Stuart Inc. Gratitude Blog

November 27, 2013
At this time of year, we would like to take a moment to thank everyone who continues to make Mitch-Stuart Inc. the leader in providing auction and fundraising planners with unique travel packages and experiences.

This has been a successful year for the many nonprofit agencies we've served, as we have helped raise close to 5 million dollars for thousands of charities with more to come.
  • We are grateful to our hotel and airline partners who make it easy to continuously create exceptional experiences that donors want to enjoy.
  • We are grateful to the wonderful world of charity and philanthropic leadership whose tireless aim to raise funding for their organizations is an inspiration to all.
  • We are also grateful to the countless volunteers who sometimes toil in the shadows, but whose efforts produce flawless events that keep donor support high.
  • We are grateful to the auctioneer community. It is so often their talent and skill that produce truly successful fundraisers.
  • We are grateful to journalists who pay attention to philanthropy – giving causes the attention they deserve so those looking to align with just the right charity can do so.
Finally we are grateful to our staff which sets a fine example for other organizations. Dedicated, perseverant, aspirational and smart, they are the engine that drives Mitch-Stuart Inc. to continue to provide top-level service and products to its clients.
 
We hope you will experience gratitude over the Thanksgiving holiday and throughout the season.


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Event Best Practices: A Few Holiday Thoughts

October 02, 2013
Event Best Practices: A Few Holiday Thoughts

The holiday season is an important time for charitable giving and the end of the year is the most popular time for organizations to host fundraisers. Roughly a third of all annual donations are made in December. Fundraising is all about generating income for a good cause and a successful event allows for fun and rewarding ways to generate donations. Best success is achieved with careful and strategic planning.

The holidays are simply the best time to fundraise! So start early with a few event must-do’s:

Thoughts on Themes


Don’t be afraid to be creative—as long as it’s in keeping with the interests and status of your target audience and—in some way—relevant to the equity and “ethos” of your organization. Keep your auction event fun with a theme that will excite your donors. Black tie galas and winter wonderland themes are always nice but a fun, pop culture pleaser like a holiday movie theme can rev up your guest list (a visit to Middle Earth courtesy of December’s Hobbit release perhaps?) Come up with a few creative ideas—and test out the best with a few key board members or regular contributors to get their input and tacit approval. Once they sign on, RUN WITH IT!

The Art of the Holiday Basket

Baskets are a solid way of enticing higher levels of giving—plus they can make excellent raffle prizes. Again, don’t be afraid of getting creative with the contents. Go green with sustainable foods and even cooking lessons or other hot trends such as pet gift baskets, premium cigar baskets and art gift baskets. Everyone loves a basket full of goodies. They’re great for re-gifting too!

Getaway Gifts

Consider travel packages. People love to travel, according to Travel & Leisure magazine, “Of course, one thing in travel remains constant year after year: the quest for new horizons.” You can offer a range of these from warm, exotic destinations to one-of-a-kind “experiential” trips! Look for places and packages that capture the imagination. What could be more fun at the holidays than knowing you’ve just won or purchased an exciting trip for yourself or your family! And doing it for a worthy cause is a win-win for everyone involved. A complete, all-inclusive package to the 2014 Super Bowl or a deluxe holiday shopping spree in NY? Surfing and scuba lessons in Maui? See these and more in our sample trips.

Keep your donors merry and be creative for your next holiday event.


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