Miami, Palm Beach, Orlando, Phoenix, Waikiki, Maui… these are some of the places I’ve been to over the past six weeks. I’ve attended industry conferences, hosted panels and researched some fine luxury hotels. Travel Agent launched its first Hawaii Travel Exchange, which was incredibly exciting. Having met so many great people over these weeks, I can’t think of a better way to spend my time.
Which brings me to Louisville, KY, where I spent the last week, attending the Breeders’ Cup as an Emirates (airline) guest. This excursion was one of my favorites for 2010. I found Louisville to be a charming city. It’s not large, but there is plenty to do. The people who live there seem quite happy to be there. They love their hometown sports and, of course, horse racing. Because I was there for the Breeders’ Cup, I spent a day at Churchill Downs (home of the Kentucky Derby), where people dressed up in high style for this important, international event. The main topic over my entire visit was a horse called Zenyatta. Now, I hadn’t been following the escapades of this amazing, six-year-old mare, who had won 19 races in a row and was all set to win her 20th and final race. Not only is Zenyatta, who lives in California, an excellent racer, she is also a delightfully cheerful horse. When she finally appeared on the track at Churchill Downs for the classic race in which all the top horses participate, she started prancing around a bit. Then she did a little dance. She is a crowd pleaser, but, I could tell, she’s also a bit happy-go-lucky to boot.
You may have heard by now that Zenyatta didn’t win the race. She almost did. After a terribly slow start and coming from behind, she missed out by just a tad. At first, it was shockingly disappointing, but the next day, most of the sportswriters were lauding her come-from-behind finish.
As you can probably tell, I could go on about this experience; I’m absolutely hooked. What else did I love about the trip, aside from the amazing hospitality of Emirates, which provided a luxury suite at Churchill Downs for its guests? Our stay at the Marriott Louisville Downtown was unique. This is a property that’s just buzzing constantly. It draws the local crowds to its bars and restaurants and is popular for meetings, too. The staff is extremely friendly, and when I spoke to the concierge about what to do on a Friday night she suggested we go on the “Gallery Hop,” which takes place on the first Friday of each month. There’s a trolley that takes you all around town for free, making it easy to visit with the artists at each of their unique venues. You can, of course, stop off and have a drink or two or grab dinner, then jump back on to continue exploring. For us, it was one of the best evenings of the year.
We also visited one of the top hotels in the country, 21c Museum Hotel, which is actually an art gallery with rotating exhibits. It was built in 2006 as part of Louisville’s downtown revitalization. Talk about a zooming lobby; there are always people coming and going here, thanks in large part to its bar called Proof. It had a great crowd every time we went there to sample its bourbon menu.
I have to go back to Louisville because I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to., and I would recommend you suggest it to your clients who love dynamic cities, good food, fun bars and lots of culture. And horse racing! We still love you, Zenyatta.