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January 2020

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Five Reasons Why: New Orleans

February 27, 2019
Next week, Mardi Gras is unleashed on the streets of New Orleans, with its special blend of ridiculousness and costumes. It’s the biggest such party in the country, and the city does it up every year.

But there are 364 other days on a calendar, as well, and New Orleans certainly never closes for tourism. Whether your supporters want the dinner of their lives, a bucket-list music experience, or just a day wandering the streets and admiring the buildings, one of our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages can take them to a city where all of that and more seems possible.

Here are just five of many reasons to offer your donors the chance to go to New Orleans:
The Music: The city speaks a few languages, depending on where you are, but music may be the most universal. The Crescent City is home to some of the best jazz shows and clubs in America, many of them centered on Frenchmen Street. It’s hard to find a bar in some quarters without a jazz combo playing; it’s easy to end up with more new CDs than drinks after a bar crawl. And even the bigger venues, like Tipitina’s, have so much music history to them that they act both as venues and museum spaces of their own.

The Food: Creole, Cajun, seafood and soul food – New Orleans has an eclectic, delicious food scene that makes it one of America’s foodie capitals. Check out high-end eateries like Commander’s Palace and Mr. B’s Bistro, grab a beignet from Café Du Monde or go hunting for the best seafood in the city. It’s possible you’ll find your new favorite dish coming from one of the kitchens once occupied by great chefs like Emeril Lagasse.

The Museums: New Orleans is a city that celebrates its history, with museums and historic home tours throughout the city, ranging from the expected (The New Orleans Museum of Art) to the otherwise (The Museum of the American Cocktail). From military tributes to plantation tours, learn about the city’s past through its museum collection.

The Architecture: Spend a day walking the Garden District, and you’ll be exposed to gorgeous examples of American townhouses. Head uptown, and it’s Southern mansions. Thanks to the city’s eclectic mix of residencies, there’s everything from shotgun homes to Victorian houses throughout the city. One can get a full lesson in the history of American architecture within a short walking distance.

The Parties: Yes, Mardi Gras is an incredible draw, and for fans of mayhem, it has to be experienced at least once. But Shrove Tuesday is hardly the only party in town. Music fans likely have their eyes set on New Orleans Jazz Festival, or perhaps Voodoo Festival in the fall. The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience is an annual foodie draw. And every night is a party along Bourbon or Frenchmen Streets.

The Splashiest Destinations

February 20, 2019
We love our hidden gems in our Destinations of Excellence catalog, those locations that your donors don’t know as well, but are perfect places to see. But sometimes, supporters want to take the big trips, the ones with the name recognition. They want to be able to get recommendations from friends who have already been there, they want to be able to watch travel television shows to get ready, and they want an experience where they know at least a little of what they’re getting into.

We can help with that, too.

Our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages can take your donors to some of the most popular spots in the world. And as we leave the Polar Vortex (hopefully?) behind, those top destinations are going to look a lot like beaches. Here are three examples from our catalog of where we can send your supporters – and on what beaches they should be resting or playing when they arrive.

When it comes to postcard-worthy beaches, Hawaii may lead the league. Pick an island, any island, and you’ll find gorgeous sand, blue waters and a laid-back atmosphere that makes for a relaxing vacation. On Kauai, seek out the north side of the island, where locals and a few visitors relax and wind down. But there is energy to be found on the islands, too; Waikiki Beach on O’ahu is known for its surrounding nightlife and, therefore, is a favorite of the younger age brackets.

While it may be too sizzling during the heights of summer, beaches in Miami and the Florida Keys are some of the nicest in the continental 48 states. South Beach gets lots of attention due to its adjacent nightlife, but the North Shore Open Space Park Beach is every bit the stunner as its more famous sibling. On the Keys, the Sandspur beach is gorgeous, but out of the way enough to keep crowds small. If energy and crowds are desired, Smathers Beach may be just the spot.

Looking to send your donors to an international destination? The sands of Monaco are calling. Larvotto Beach, sometimes referred to as the most glamorous beach in the world, is within the province itself, but Monaco is just steps from some of the most beautiful oceanfronts in France, as well. The Billionaire Bay is a stunning collision of forest and sand, accessible by a small hiking trail, while Mala Beach is incredibly popular stop. Bring sunscreen and your best bathing suit!

Romance on the Road

February 13, 2019
Travel, on its own, is incredibly romantic. Going on vacation with a special someone can strengthen bonds, can reinvigorate a life worn down by the daily grind, and can even remind each other why they fell in love in the first place. Heading on the road on Valentine’s Day? It’s hard not to be shot by Cupid’s arrow in that case.

Mitch-Stuart offers trips to romantic destinations both close by and far flung as non-profit fundraising auction travel packages. For tomorrow’s holiday, we picked three of our favorites and created romantic itineraries for the day. The best news: None of these are Valentine’s-specific – your donors can follow these tips year-round!

Paris: It’s hard to put together a non-romantic itinerary for the City of Light, but we’re got some favorites. Start at the Wall of Love, which features tiles with the phrase “I love you” in 250 languages. (It’s neighborhood, Montmarte, was a big favorite of artists during the Belle Epoque; it’s worth a wander, as well.) From there, take a sunset cruise down the Seine River (we love it so much that it’s ended up in two of our trips) and, if there’s no dinner aboard the boat, head to the Hôtel Plaza Athénée for one of Paris’ greatest meals at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée. A post-meal cocktail at Verjus Bar a Vins puts a perfect bow on top of a Valentine’s Day in, arguably, the world’s capital of love.

New York: First, if your donors have a chance to stay at The Plaza New York (like with our “A Suite Taste of the Big Apple” trip), they should do it. There’s no more romantic place to rest one’s head than the hotel that’s welcomed countless celebrities and appeared in everything from “The Great Gatsby” to “Almost Famous.” From there, if the weather is aggregable, take in one of the city’s many park attractions (we’re partial to the Bow Bridge in Central Park or the High Line). If a show is in your donors’ plans (and it’s Broadway – a show SHOULD be in their plans), then a pre-show meal at Joe Allen is a great choice. It’s proximity to the theaters means that your supporters will only be a short walk away from their production of choice, and its brick interior and strong martinis give it a New York feel that’s hard to duplicate outside the five boroughs. At the end of the evening, luxuriate in the lights of Times Square. It’s a tourist trap by day (and still busy at night!), but in the late evening visitors have a little elbow room and can move at a slower pace.

San Francisco: On the nose? Perhaps. But the Cupid’s Span sculpture along the Embarcadero is a beautiful way to kick off a romantic day in the city by the bay. From there, it’s a short walk to Ghirardelli Square; the actual chocolate factory is not operational, but the company’s flagship store is there, along with other boutiques. Grab a pre-dinner beverage at Top of the Mark, which sits high above the city and boasts the best 360 view of San Francisco available. It’s less than a mile – and downhill – to Bix, a restaurant that serves up both American-French fare and nightly jazz music.

The Sporting Season

February 06, 2019
Next week, the pitchers and catchers of the Oakland A’s report to the team’s spring training in Mesa, Arizona. Yes, despite how it has felt across much of the country, spring is coming – and it brings one of the most crowded sports calendars of the year.

Between now and June, there are huge sporting events each month, and Mitch-Stuart has non-profit fundraising auction travel packages that can send your supporters to see them in person. If you’ve got donors who are nightly “SportsCenter” viewers, you’ll have a big audience for these upcoming trips.

If some of your supporters are sports fans and you ask them what comes after March, they might say “Madness” instead of “April.” The NCAA basketball tournaments are some of the most popular sporting events in the country, running for three weekends and drawing enough viewers on its weekdays that CNBC estimated the tournament cost companies $4 billion in lost revenue during the 2016 outing – just for the opening weekend. We can take them to a weekend of the tournament, all the way through the Final Four.

For other sporting donors, they’ll know April comes next because it’s the month of the Masters. The tournament is the first of golf’s four yearly major tournaments, and it’s the most prestigious; the green jacket awarded to the winner is one of the most iconic awards in sports. Golf fans around the world follow along at home – but your supporters can walk through the galleries and check out the views from ground level.

Showers in April (hopefully not on Masters’ weekend!) bring May flowers, but the sporting world will keep their eyes on the track at Churchill Downs, thank you very much. The Kentucky Derby is colorful both in its infield and in the stands, with pastel colors and large hats being themes every year. Clubhouse seats will put your donors as close to the action as anyone but the jockeys, and the traditions of the day will leave lasting memories.

Finally, if your donors’ appetites for football weren’t satiated by this past weekend’s Super Bowl, they can watch the first steps of next season take place – in one of our favorite destinations! The NFL Draft takes place in late April in Nashville, and we can send a pair of your supporters to see the best and brightest of the college football ranks find out where they’ll be plying their trade for the next few years. It’s a great trip for the pigskin diehards, but everyone will enjoy setting up shop for the weekend in Music City, with its history and vibrance.