Wednesday, September 20, 2017

International Black Film Festival of Nashville Celebrates 11 Years October 5-8

The 11th Annual International Black Film Festival of Nashville will be held October 5-8 at various locations throughout the city. To purchase festival passes, please visit

The IBFF is honored to announce the highly anticipated, critically acclaimed feature film "Marshall" as the Opening Night Film. Directed by Academy Award Nominee, Reginald Hudlin, "Marshall" chronicles significant events of the life of Attorney Thurgood Marshall before being appointed as the first African American Supreme Court Justice. "Marshall" screens as the Opening Night Film on Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 7:30 pm on The Johnson on the campus on the campus of Belmont University. The will be a live Skype Q&A immediately following the screening with Director Reginald Hudlin.

Throughout the 4-day event, the festival will serve the full spectrum of the industry by providing a venue to showcase the work of filmmakers from around the globe. Patrons will have the opportunity to view unreleased, independent and studio films, participate in industry-level workshops, master classes, industry parties, and high profile red carpet events with celebrity appearances.

"We are excited to have such an amazing lineup for the 2017 festival," says founder Hazel Joyner Smith. "We are expecting filmmakers and patrons from all over the world to touchdown in Nashville in just a couple of weeks. Screening the highly anticipated feature film 'Marshall' as the Opening Night Film is a special honor, as Justice Thurgood Marshall did significant work right here in Nashville for the local office of the NAACP as well as at the prestigious Fisk University."

The 11th Annual International Black Film Festival of Nashville is sponsored by Urban Movie Channel, Tennessee Entertainment Commission, The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Belmont University, Watkins College of Art, Design & Film, Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau, SAG-AFTRA and more.
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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Meet a NASA Astronaut at WonderWorks, As Science & Space Fans Enjoy an Intergalactic Weekend

WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge has planned a temporary exhibit that is out of this world, and everyone is invited to blast off with it. The indoor park that combines amusement and educational opportunities is hosting a NASA exhibit from October 5-8, 2017 that will focus on the amazing world of science and the planets. The exhibit will feature scaled models of spacecraft and a virtual reality experience of NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System. There will also be artifacts such as a real moon rock that people can touch, and a meet and greet with former space shuttle astronaut Captain Robert “Hoot” Gibson. The fun and educational exhibit is slated to help further interest in STEM education and careers and is ideal for all ages.

“This is such an exciting exhibit for people and we are thrilled to be hosting it,” states Ed Shaffer, General Manager for WonderWorks. “Being able to meet a real astronaut and touch a moon rock is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one that you don’t want to miss.”

The NASA exhibit will kick off with Captain Gibson visiting local middle schools to speak to students about his experience being in space. He will be at WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge on Saturday, October 7, 2017. Meet and greet opportunities are from 11 a.m. to noon, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., and from 3:00 p.m.  - 4:00 p.m., where he will answer questions, pose for photos, and give autographs. Media interviews will also be available.
The NASA exhibit will feature:
  • The Exploration Systems virtual tour allows participants to experience the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft up close as they sit on the mobile launcher at Kennedy Space Center. Users will be transported to Launchpad 39B where they will receive a brief overview of the different components that make up the most powerful rocket ever built, the SLS. Once the overview is complete, they will then be placed inside an Orion Spacecraft virtual environment prior to launch.
  • Guest will be able to take and print a photo of themselves in a spacesuit with either an SLS, Orion, Mars rover, or International Space Station background. This is a one-of-a-kind keepsake!
  • Space Launch System 1:50 scale model on a mobile launcher and a 1:20 scale Orion Spacecraft table top model.
  • Touchable moon rock from the Apollo 17 mission.
“We are ready to grow interest in space explorations,” added Shaffer. “There will be plenty of opportunities for pictures, asking questions, and observing, making it an amazing experience for all.”
Capt. Robert “Hoot” Gibson served as a NASA astronaut from 1979 until 1996 and is a veteran of five space shuttle flights. He has logged more than 36 days in space, including having commanded the first docking of the space shuttle to the Russian space station Mir. He is also a graduate of the TOPGUN Navy Fighter Weapons School.

WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge offers 35,000 square feet of “edu-tainment” opportunities, billing itself as an amusement park for the mind. They offer over 100 hands-on exhibits covering natural disasters, space discovery, an imagination lab, a physical challenge zone, a far out art gallery, and a light and sound zone. WonderWorks is open daily from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. For more information or to register for the event, log onto their site:
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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Historic Austin Bed and Breakfast Celebrates its 3rd Year by Offering Free Rides to Guests from the Airport

Fasten your seat belts: The innkeepers at The Fairview in downtown Austin are celebrating their 3rd year running the bed and breakfast by teaming up with RideAustin to offer guests free transportation from the Austin–Bergstrom International Airport to the B&B.

“We see a lot of guests who want to have an authentic Austin experience but use one of the run-of-the-mill ride-sharing apps to hail a ride,” said Jimi Ballard, who co-owns The Fairview bed and breakfast with his wife. “We work really hard to provide a truly localized stay and partnering with RideAustin makes a lot of sense,” added Vivian.

RideAustin is an Austin-based non-profit ride-sharing app. Starting September 15th, on The Fairview’s anniversary date, a special promo code will enable guests to travel from the airport to the property for free. The partnership is expected to last indefinitely.

“We’re seeing true grassroots support from all sorts of Austin businesses. The Fairview is a special place in the heart of Travis Heights, and we’re proud they’ve chosen RideAustin as their rideshare partner. We are excited about the camaraderie we’re finding among businesses in Austin,” expressed Bobbi Kommineni, Vice President - Operations & Strategic Programs with RideAustin.
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Monday, August 7, 2017

JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America Emphasizes Tax Free, Luxury Shopping with Nordstrom Exclusive Shopping Package

Continuing to provide guests with luxurious and enriching experiences, JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America, 2141 Lindau Lane, Bloomington, has announced their new ‘Nordstrom Exclusive Shopping Package,’ which invites visitors to stay at the beautiful JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America and enjoy a $100 gift card for Nordstrom shopping per night. Located in the West wing of the Mall of America, Nordstrom is just steps from the JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America, which is also adjacent to the mall. The Nordstrom Exclusive Shopping Package takes advantage of Minnesota’s tax free shopping and also offers guests $50 in dining at JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America’s Cedar + Stone, Urban Table restaurant each night; Nordstrom Makers chocolate or toffee upon arrival; and a personal stylist/shopper at Nordstrom upon request.

“With the numerous shopping opportunities available to guests at the Mall of America, we wanted to offer visitors a truly refined experience to personalize their trip,” said General Manager Lars Danneberg. “Our Nordstrom Exclusive Shopping Package offers a convenient yet elegant shopping opportunity to assist our guests in navigating the country’s largest mall.”

After a long day of shopping at the Mall of America, guests will enjoy returning to the JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America, which features 342 beautifully appointed guestrooms styled with elegant sophistication and enhanced with the residential comforts of home. The hotel’s signature restaurant, Cedar + Stone, Urban Table, led by celebrated Executive Chef Everton Clarke and Executive Sous Chef Laura Bartholomew, offers innovative, crafted dishes inspired by Minnesota’s natural roots and local culture.

The Nordstrom Exclusive Shopping Package starts at $359 per night plus taxes and gratuity. To book the Nordstrom Exclusive Shopping Package or for additional information, call 1-800-228-9290 (promo code SHO) or visit for more information.
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Friday, August 4, 2017

The Westin Jackson Opens Its Doors in the Capital City’s Downtown Arts and Cultural District

Westin Hotels & Resorts in partnership with Wischermann Partners, Inc. announced the official opening of the brand’s debut hotel in Mississippi, The Westin Jackson. Bringing a new level of luxury and well-being to the state’s capital city, The Westin Jackson boasts 203 thoughtfully-designed guestrooms and suites, a wine bar & bistro, a resort-style spa, as well as the brand’s signature fitness studio and saltwater pool.

Specifically designed to celebrate the history and culture of Jackson, Mississippi as “the birthplace of American music,” The Westin Jackson is part of the $60-million public-private development that incorporates rhythmic architectural features and custom artwork, including custom figurines designed by local and renowned artist Anne Robin Luckett, representing various Mississippi cultural icons ranging from esteemed athletes to beloved musicians.  The anticipated hotel is poised to support travel and tourism in downtown Jackson – ideally located in the downtown arts and cultural district and steps from the Jackson Convention Complex.

“Around the world, travelers are realigning their priorities to put their well-being first, which continues to fuel Westin’s growth in both established cities like Jackson, Mississippi and emerging destinations like Jordan,” said George Fleck, Vice President, Global Brand Marketing & Management, Westin Hotels & Resorts. “With the revival of downtown Jackson and new energy in the city, we are thrilled to introduce a unique wellness proposition for business and leisure travelers, as only Westin can – empowering guests to be their best selves while on the road.”

“We are excited to be a part of the resurgence of downtown Jackson; The Westin Jackson will set the bar for the city’s hospitality industry and become an important part of the community,” says Mike Burton, General Manager, The Westin Jackson. “From our iconic Heavenly Bed to our Gear Lending partnership with New Balance, we look forward to delivering a memorable experience to visitors and locals alike.”

The Westin Jackson transforms every aspect of a guest’s stay into a revitalizing experience. All guestrooms and suites offer the world-renowned Westin Heavenly® Bed – featuring lush sheets, down cushioning and a patented pillow-top mattress. Guests will revive in the Heavenly® Bath, enhanced with the brand’s Heavenly® Shower, Heavenly® Robe and White Tea Aloe bath amenities, and enjoy in-room high-speed Internet access.

In addition to the hotel’s guestrooms and meeting spaces, guests and locals now have the opportunity to experience the hotel’s magnificent amenities including:
  •  Estelle Wine Bar & Bistro: Led by Executive Chef Matthew Kajdan, Estelle Wine Bar & Bistro introduces a fresh concept to the city’s dining scene, with a savory menu featuring modern American fare fused with European influences. A café bar by day, Estelle will transform into an upbeat hotspot at night, inviting guests to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere in the wine bar and lounge, or a summer evening out on the spacious patio. The open kitchen-style will allow diners to engage with the artistry of cooking by experiencing the sounds, smells and sights that go into their dishes. Estelle’s eclectic beverage program will complement the food selections featuring the most sought-after craft spirits, vermouths and specialty hand-crafted cocktails. 

  • Soul Spa: An oasis of beauty and tranquillity, Soul Spa will offer guests the highest quality services, including massages, facials, body treatments and nail services, within a modern and sophisticated urban setting. Soul Spa will consist of seven treatment rooms, manicure and pedicure stations adjacent to the reception area, sauna, experience showers and an outdoor courtyard with a whirlpool. The spa is partnered with United Kingdom-based ESPA to carry their premier product line, and is the only ESPA provider in Jackson.

  • State-of-the-Art Fitness:  
    • Travelers who wish to continue their fitness routines on the road can participate in the hotel’s RunWESTIN™ program, which features the brand’s Gear Lending Program in partnership with New Balance®, offering workout gear for guests to borrow so they can pack light and stay fit on the road, as well as a run concierge, who hosts group runs for guests and encourage runners of all levels to explore their destination.  

    • Boasting Let’s Rise as the brand’s new mantra, Westin is committed to empowering its guests and delivering thoughtful wellness experiences that often reflects their at-home active lifestyle.  The hotel’s WestinWORKOUT® fitness studio features the finest exercise equipment from world-class brands in open, airy and well-designed spaces. The fitness studio also features an indoor, saltwater pool as well as coveted Peloton commercial grade bikes, allowing guests to experience live studio cycling classes from world class instructors, as well as 5,000 on-demand classes.

During their stay in “The Birthplace of Blues, Country and Rock and Roll,” The Westin Jackson invites guests to step into the persona of famous musicians with the Music Legends of Mississippi program. As part of a special room package, Music Legends of Mississippi allows guests to play and enjoy replicas of iconic guitars in the comfort of their own guest rooms.  Featured will be exact replicas of guitars played by six of the most legendary guitarists in history who have ties to Mississippi: Muddy Waters, Elvis Presley, BB King, Jimmy Buffet, Prince, and Marty Stuart. When not in use, the guitars are displayed for guests and visitors to see in the hotel lobby.

With an eye to Jackson's lush natural surroundings and the capital city's rich history, global hospitality design firm The Gettys Group devised a distinct look and feel for the Westin Jackson. Working with a color palette evocative of nature - soothing neutrals punctuated with mossy greens, plush purples and burnished golds - the design team incorporated undulating organic shapes in the furnishings and artwork to create a modern, serene feel throughout the property, including the guest rooms, event spaces, Estelle Wine Bar & Bistro and the 6,000-square-foot Soul Spa. A custom large-scale art installation symbolizing the Jackson Prairie region sets the tone at the hotel's front desk, also weaving in allusions to the city's renowned musical legacy. A custom-designed lobby living wall also serves to bring the outdoors in. 

The Westin Jackson is located at 407 South Congress Street Jackson, in the heart of downtown Jackson and within walking distance of the Mississippi Museum of Art, Federal Courthouse, Planetarium and Thalia Mara Hall, the historic music and arts theatre. Also within one block from the hotel, the Jackson Convention Complex features over 300,000 square feet of flexible meeting and exhibit space for convention attendees. 

For more information on The Westin Jackson, visit or call (601) 968-8200. 
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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

VIP Journeys Launches Drone My Trip For One of a Luxury Kind Travel Experiences in Latin America

Travelers planning a trip of a lifetime to Latin America can now add a first-on-the-planet edge to their adventure with the launch of Drone My Trip – a unique new service which pairs the latest technology with some of the most iconic, exotic and unspoiled destinations in the world.

The creation of VIP Journeys, Drone My Trip gives travelers the chance to set out on their voyage of discovery with their very own drone photographer. Changing the paradigm of travel photography forever, the high res Drone My Trip service is an exclusive, unique way to capture memories of a lifetime.

Michael Eiseman, co-founder of VIP Journeys, said “Pictures are worth a thousand words, but videos are worth so much more. We wanted to give families the chance to enjoy their trip and not worry about getting the perfect shot—because a Drone My Trip photographer will be capturing it every step of the way in superb 4k using the latest drone technology.”

VIP Journeys specialize in trips to Latin and Central America – a rich melting pot of ancient cultures, sun-drenched beaches, cosmopolitan cities, wonders of the world and an abundance of wildlife and breathtaking natural vistas. From the plains of Patagonia to the colors of Rio de Janeiro, Drone My Trip gives travelers the freedom to tailor their itinerary and then set out on the tour of a lifetime, accompanied by a seasoned GoPro/Drone photographer to capture every unforgettable moment and unmissable panoramas in high resolution film.

Replacing standard iPhones and personal cameras with the best drones available means holiday memories include shots ordinary travelers simply can’t get - whether that’s a close up of a Giant Tortoise in the Galapagos, shooting underwater, or filming wild horses galloping through Patagonia.

As vacationers travel through their customized journey, they’ll be safe in the knowledge they don’t have to panic about getting the ‘perfect’ shot, and they might even forget their professional drone photographer is there—unless they want to learn more about the process of making the video.

Drone My Trip makes for the perfect vacation video; shot in astonishing high resolution, travelers will return home to a professionally edited feature which takes all the stunning parts of their vacation and turns them into an incredible video of the trip, professionally produced and suitable for sharing online via YouTube.

The footage is delivered as a high definition clip, an average of 3-5 minutes in length with graphics and music added.

Michael Eiseman added, “We’re the only tour company on the planet offering this service. It is utterly unique. Gone are the days of forgetting still images online, spending valuable time organizing mountains of photos, slideshow viewing party doldrums and vacation interruptions. Now, our clients can relax and completely immerse themselves in their once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation. This is an ideal travel product for multi-generational families embarking on a vacation together, where there is a desire to perhaps limit screen time and hours spent with iPhone in hand.”

Learn more about VIP Journeys at

To see example footage from the most recent Drone My Trip by VIP Journeys experience, visit
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Monday, July 17, 2017

Sheraton Grand Los Cabos, Hacienda Del Mar to Host 2nd Los Cabos Mexican Open - Tournament Packages Available

The Sheraton Grand Los Cabos, Hacienda del Mar announced its special packages for the second annual Los Cabos Mexican Open tennis tournament, held July 31 through August 5th at Cabo del Mar inside the Del Mar International School. The Sheraton Grand Los Cabos is the tournament’s official host hotel, serving as headquarters for the event’s athletes and attendees.

Six total packages are available for tennis aficionados, with weekend or full tournament ticket options, in Platinum, Gold and Silver seating zones. Every package includes deluxe or luxury suite accommodations; a breakfast buffet; free internet; gratuity for bell staff; and tournament tickets for each registered guest. Rates start at $340 USD per night. *

“We are thrilled once again to be the official host accommodations for the Los Cabos Mexican Open,” said Renato Mendonca, General Manager of the Sheraton Grand Los Cabos, Hacienda del Mar. “The Sheraton Grand Los Cabos, Hacienda del Mar is the premier destination not only for tennis enthusiasts, but also for internationally-acclaimed athletes to rest and unwind between their matches. We cannot wait to welcome all attendees to this exhilarating tournament.”

Among the participating athletes recently announced by the Los Cabos Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) for the second Los Cabos Mexican Open include: Tomás Berdych of Czech Republic, ranked #13; Sam Querrey of the United States, ranked #27; Fernando Verdasco of Spain, ranked #35; Feliciano López of Spain, ranked #25; Karen Khachanov of Russia, ranked #34, Borna Coric of Croatia, ranked #42; and Frances Tiafoe of the United States, ranked #61.

The Sheraton Grand Los Cabos, Hacienda del Mar, a property of Quinta del Golfo de Cortez Group and the only Sheraton Grand hotel in Mexico, serves as the tournament’s hotel headquarters, an ideal location for the participating athletes to call home throughout the competition. The resort’s Cactus Spa features a variety of relaxing ambient and hydrotherapy facilities that include Jacuzzis with hot, warm and cold water, and sports massage treatments that boost physical recovery, while the many restaurants on the property, including the 5 Star Diamond Award winning De Cortez Restaurant and Pitahayas Restaurant, can serve healthy meals that can be customized to suit nutritional requirements.

For more information about ATP packages at the Sheraton Grand Los Cabos, Hacienda del Mar, visit or call 52-624-145-8000.

Tickets for the Los Cabos Mexican Open can be purchased through Ticketmaster and at tournament box offices.

*Children older than six years of age must pay a full ticket to enter the matches and be considered as an Adult when booking the package. Packages include taxes and other charges.

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