The 2020 session is upon us. Connecticut tourism needs your support.
Out of the busy holiday season and into a new year of opportunities and challenges, the Connecticut Tourism Coalition is continuing the fight for a stronger Connecticut Tourism economy. We have a short session this year, and it’s more important than ever to keep the pressure on our lawmakers and ensure that supporting Connecticut tourism is at the top of their priorities. I urge all of our membership to talk to their representatives about how important a strong tourism economy is to our businesses, our culture and our quality of life.
We will have a unique opportunity to directly hear from one of our elected officials at our first board meeting on Friday, March 13th at 10:00 a.m. at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme. Senator Cathy Osten will be speaking regarding pending Gaming and Casino bills. Randy Fiveash will also be attending to update members on Connecticut’s plans for spring and summer programming.
In addition to comments by Senator Osten, our March board meeting will also feature presentation by Rhode Island’s Director of Tourism, Mark Brodeur, to share his thoughts on the Rhode Island tourism economy and how Connecticut can replicate their successes. I look forward to seeing all of you at our first board meeting of 2020.
Our work does not stop when the board meeting ends, rather we are only just getting started. The 2020 Tourism Advocacy Day is Monday, March 16th at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, and it is one of our best opportunities to speak directly to lawmakers about the importance of the Connecticut tourism economy. The CTC is partnering with the Arts and Tourism Alliance to join together and show our representatives that we are united in our belief that an investment in tourism is an investment in Connecticut’s future. I’m calling on all of you to join us in Hartford to drive that message forward. Tourism Advocacy Day will run from 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. and will be followed by a meeting of the Arts, Culture and Tourism caucus led by Senator Paul Formica at the Legislative Office Building from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
2020 is a year full of opportunities, but we need the support of our entire membership to build on the good work we have been doing. Your support is carries more weight than a simple vote, and it is our strength in numbers that turns heads and gets the attention of our representatives. Last year, we saw many new lawmakers capture what we have been saying and become tourism champions, we need to keep that pressure going until every lawmaker in Connecticut agrees: and investment in tourism is an investment in Connecticut. I look forward to seeing all of you on March 13th.
Stephen Tagliatela, President
MEMBER spotlight: DATTCO
As an avid supporter of tourism and a partner to our tourism districts, DATTCO stepped forward in 2019 as more than an advocate, they are literally showing Connecticut off to the Northeast. Last May, DATTCO unveiled two motor coaches that will travel on Northeastern U.S. and Connecticut highways, and will generate between 30,000 and 70,000 views per day over the next two years.
“Connecticut has so much to offer the region, we are proud to be partnering with the state to drive traffic to CTVisit.com so that travelers can fully immerse themselves in everything Connecticut has to offer,” said Donald DeVivo, president, DATTCO, Inc. “It’s time for everyone to see what Connecticut has in store for them.”
As a Connecticut family-owned business, headquartered in New Britain, DATTCO stands beside the CTC in its mission to grow Connecticut’s tourism economy. For more information about DATTCO and their fleet, visit www.DATTCO.com.
STATE SENATOR TONY HWANG
As a State Senator serving Connecticut’s 28th district and the ranking member of the Housing, Higher Education, and Public Safety & Security committees, Tony Hwang is a veteran Republican lawmaker that is committed to a stronger quality of life in Connecticut. Currently in his 3rd term as Senator, Tony carries the historic honor of being Connecticut’s first Asian-Pacific State Senator.
As a member of the Arts, Culture and Tourism Caucus, Hwang not only recognizes the importance Connecticut’s tourism economy, but he is actively fighting for it. Hwang was one of many lawmakers who supported the 2018/2019 budget proposal that would have brought additional sate investment in tourism marketing.
In addition to his work as ranking member of three committees, Hwang is a lawmaker who votes with his conscience, earning a perfect 100% score in the 2019 Connecticut League of Conservation Voters environmental scorecard. His commitment to Connecticut’s tourism economy and Connecticut’s environment showcases Hwang’s commitment to a high quality of life in Connecticut.
Hwang currently resides in Fairfield Connecticut with his wife and two children. As a graduate from Cornell University, Hwang holds a Bachelor’s Degree in labor relations and organizational behavior. He is currently involved in residential real estate.
The CTC is Building the Future of Connecticut Tourism
The holidays are upon us once more! It has been an incredible year for Connecticut tourism, and I want to take this opportunity to thank each of our members for their unwavering support of our mission and Connecticut tourism. It has been a year of ups and down, but overall our state has taken some steps forward in supporting Connecticut’s tourism economy.
This year, we saw a stop to the declining tourism budget that we had previously seen year after year, the reopening of Connecticut’s welcome centers and the development of a new advisory committee created by Governor Lamont that will have a larger say in shaping Connecticut’s tourism policy. There are incredible achievements, and they could not have been accomplished without the support of our tourism champions in Hartford, our advocates, and our vocal membership. While there are areas for improvement, we have an administration that is willing to listen, and we need to continue taking action, calling our representatives and shouting our support for Connecticut tourism from the rooftops.
Earlier this year, the Arts & Culture Transition Team presented a number of recommendations to our newly elected Governor in order to provide expert advice on how Connecticut can not only support tourism, but also generate a return for the general fund through its investment. While the Speaker’s Blue Ribbon Panel on tourism did adopt many of these recommendations, we unfortunately did not see the state take these critical steps in 2019, and now it is on us to engage with our lawmakers and recruit more tourism champions to ensure everyone understands how investing in tourism an investment in our state economy. That’s something everyone can get behind.
With the shortened holiday season, our businesses are experiencing one of their busiest times of the year within the span of three weeks. As we see this heightened activity, I can’t stop but wonder what it would be like to experience a similar activity when the trees are budding, or on a hot summer day. Connecticut is more than a holiday state, and we need to keep fighting for state support in order to fully utilize our potential.
I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season, and look forward to speaking with all of you again in 2020.
Member Spotlight: Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut
The Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut is spreading holiday cheer with unique events all season long. With hands-on cookies and crafts workshops and Frozen-themed science and craft stations, the Children’s Museum makes a great destination for families seeking a fun outing in Connecticut.
Countdown to Noon is the top New Year’s celebration for children and families. The museum will be ringing in the New Year a little early with a 250+ balloon drop at the East Lyme Community Center. Enjoy food from the Rolling Tomato food truck, arts and crafts, and a photo booth. Even the museum critters will join in the fun.
The Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut is an interactive, hands-on, educational place that gives children the opportunity to explore their imaginations and the world around them. Unique activities provide something for children of all ages. Older children can enjoy “Museum Challenges” like scavenger hunts or science-based activities in the Discovery Room.
With so much fun packed indoors, the museum is a top Connecticut destination this winter. For more information, please visit www.childrensmuseumsect.org.
State Representative Chris Perone
State Representative Chris Perone serves the 137th District of the Connecticut General Assembly. Currently in his 5th term as Norwalk’s representative, Perone serves as chair of the Transportation subcommittee in Appropriations. Top priorities that Perone support include investment in Connecticut’s public schools and reducing wasteful government spending. The CTC enjoyed the opportunity to hear Chris speak at the last CTC board meeting on November 8th.
“As a state representative I’ve appreciated the CTC’s thorough review of the status of Connecticut’s tourism industry,” said Perone at the November CTC board meeting. “It is one thing to know that tourism helps our state, but it’s another to see the data points and understand the economics. I look forward to sharing the information provided by the CTC with fellow legislatures so they can appraise the state of our tourism industry.”
In his support of Connecticut tourism, Perone came out as an early supporter of the Speaker’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Tourism, which laid the groundwork for the reopening of Connecticut’s Welcome Centers and improvements to Connecticut’s highway tourism signage. Perone has also advocated for improving Connecticut’s information infrastructure by creating the Connecticut Broadband Internet Coordinating Council, which ensures that Connecticut residents and businesses have access to high-speed internet.
A graduate of Syracuse University, Perone received his Bachelor’s degree in Advertising, then went on to receive his MBA from the University of Connecticut. Perone currently lives with his wife and teenage son in Norwalk.
LET’S CHAT CONNECTICUT!
The next month promises to be a busy month for the CTC. Now that the new administration has had an opportunity to get started, CTC is engaging with our representatives to work toward a stronger tourism economy. I urge all our members to get involved with our efforts and write their lawmakers to encourage our government to invest in Connecticut Tourism. In particular, I want to draw attention to bill SB 192, a bill being spearheaded by Senator Heather Somers to re-open the Connecticut Visitor Welcome Centers. The CTC has submitted public testimony, and I encourage all of you to share your support as well.
Looking ahead, the first CTC board meeting of 2019 will be on March 15th from 9 am to noon at Mohegan Sun, I look forward to seeing all of you there. As part of the growing partnerships between tourism and the arts, this year the CTC has partnered with the Connecticut Arts Alliance to host Arts, Culture, + Tourism Advocacy Day on April 8th. This event will be held at the Legislative office building in downtown Hartford and will incorporate a meeting of the Tourism Caucus. This is a great opportunity for our tourism community to meet with our legislators and advocate for a stronger tourism economy. Tables will also be available for CTC members to showcase their products and services.
In addition to our legislative efforts, I am pleased to announce that the Connecticut Hospitality Awareness Program (CHAT) program has successfully launched and is now live. For more information or to enroll in this incredible new tool for training Connecticut’s hospitality staff, visit CHATCertificate.com.
Tourism is a powerful tool that can be used to Connecticut’s advantage. Governor Lamont’s budget address focused on balancing the state budget, and our legislators need to understand how tourism can become a revenue generator for Connecticut. I look forward to working with all of your as we discuss next steps.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: SYSCO FOODS
Sysco Foods is the world’s largest food distributor providing its services in 90 different countries. The company is a global leader in selling, marketing, and distributing food and non-food products. The Connecticut segment of this food service company, Sysco Connecticut, has been operating in Rocky Hill with the goal of helping their customers succeed since 1995.
Sysco Connecticut provides goods to restaurants, healthcare and educational facilities, and lodging establishments throughout Connecticut, Western Massachusetts and Northern Westchester County in New York. Sysco is an asset to their customers as well as the local community, providing almost 300 local residents with employment.
As a hub for exemplary restaurants, inns, and hotels Connecticut benefits from having a branch of this culinary leader in its business community. Sysco Connecticut shares its vast experience and innovative ingredients, providing our local businesses with all things cutting edge in food service.
Sysco Connecticut is an asset to business across the region, helping Connecticut’s restaurants and lodging provide their customers with a unique and enjoyable culinary experience.
POLITICAL SPOTLIGHT: STATE REPRESENTATIVE NOREEN KOKORUDA
Serving the 101st District of the Connecticut, State Representative Noreen Kokoruda serves Connecticut in the General Assembly as the representative of Durham and her hometown of Madison. Kokoruda has held this position since 2011 and in November of 2018 she was reelected for her fifth term.
Kokoruda has kept her communities as the forefront of her decision making throughout her legislative career. Her recent accomplishments include working with representatives from Branford to secure a $1 million grant to renovate the James Blackstone Memorial Library in Branford and the E.C. Scranton Library in Madison.
Representing both a Connecticut waterfront and inland community, Kokoruda understands the powerful impact that tourism can have on our local economies. Her communities embrace the power of tourism, and enjoy the fun of summertime opportunities at Hammonasset Beach, the celebrations of the Durham Fair in the autumn and the year round historical opportunities make Durham and Madison pristine examples of why visitors come to our state.
Kokoruda serves on the Planning and Development, Children, Appropriations and Education committees for the General Assembly. She also holds the position of House Republican Deputy Leader for the Legislative Management committee. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree from Pace University and a Masters from Southern Connecticut State University.
While raising her two sons in Madison, Kokoruda dedicated herself to supporting the educational welfare of her community. She served on 3 PTO’s, and fought on behalf of students to gain better educational materials. Kokoruda continues to support the education system in her hometown and was recently recognized by the Connecticut Association for the Gifted for her legislative advocacy of gifted children.
CTC WORKS FOR A STRONGER CONNECTICUT ECONOMY
Happy New Year everyone! 2019 looks to be a busy year for the Arts, Culture and Tourism (ACT) in Connecticut. With a newly sworn in administration, we currently have the opportunity to fully utilize Connecticut’s ACT potential. Over the years, we have had been in a great position to work with many of our members to help shape a better business and cultural environment for Connecticut, and now it is time to utilize those partnerships to build a stronger state.
As many of you are aware, late last year I represented the Connecticut Tourism Coalition on Governor Lamont’s Arts and Tourism transition team alongside many of our state’s business, cultural and community leaders. Our mission was to provide recommendations for growing Connecticut ACT opportunities under the Lamont administration. As part of our review, we emphasized the need for marketing Connecticut in our neighboring states, re-opening the Connecticut Welcome Centers, and a secured source of funding for growing Connecticut’s cultural and tourism brand. Governor Lamont now understands the return on investment that investing in ACT will bring to the state, and we will continue to work with the new administration to ensure the unique identity and opportunities in Connecticut are not ignored.
The Connecticut budget is one of the top issues for this legislative cycle, and one of Lamont’s promises is to balance the volatile books. As the new administration takes its first steps, it is more important than ever to communicate with our lawmakers and tell them that investing in Connecticut ACT programs is a solution that provides millions of dollars in state tax revenue. For too long the industry has been viewed as an auxiliary luxury in Connecticut, it’s time to change that perception.
To Governor Lamont; during your campaign, you proclaimed that if elected you would be “Connecticut’s biggest cheerleader.” There is no better way to cheer for our state than to invest in the tools we need to market our unique destinations and hospitality. We need to drive visitors to Connecticut to experience our culture, enjoy our communities, and truly understand why Connecticut is such a great place to live and work.
I look forward to a strong and productive year with our membership. I have been honored to work with such a diverse group of people who care so passionately about our state. Let’s make 2019 the year of ACT in Connecticut.
The Lamont-Bysiewicz Policy Committee for Connecticut Arts, Culture and Tourism.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: THE ESSEX
The Connecticut River has long been utilized for its abundance of natural resources. The fertile land with deep roots in local farming surrounding the river is now an inspiration for The Essex restaurant. The Essex’s highlights New England culture while offering an upscale dining experience.
Inspired by the plentiful nature of Connecticut’s land Chef and co-owner Colt Taylor chose to set his restaurant in the town of Essex in historic Connecticut River Valley. Taylor’s passion for the outdoors is reflected in his locally sourced American cuisine. Taylor has fostered relationships with local farmers and fishermen including Terra Firma Farms, Niantic Bay Shellfish co., and more to provide quality ingredients.
The Essex’s menu is built around locally sourced ingredients which integrate New England flavor’s into each dish while incorporating international flavors. The menu at The Essex is constantly evolving, and the 3-course prix fixe is recommended to truly experience what the restaurant has to offer. The 30 seat dining experience accommodates both private parties and reservations.
The Essex’s has been highlighted as one of Connecticut’s notable culinary venues through a multitude of awards. The restaurant was awarded CT Bites Top 100 Restaurants in Connecticut, Best Cocktails by CT magazine, and Best New Restaurant Yankee Magazine and New England Travel Magazine. Connecticut magazine also named chef Colt Taylor an Up and Coming Chef in Connecticut.
Co-owners Michael Hannifan and Colt Taylor have produced a culinary experience at The Essex which pays tribute to its surroundings through the offering of exquisite and locally sourced cuisine.
For more information, please visit www.theessex.com.
POLITICAL SPOTLIGHT: STATE REPRESENTATIVE SEAN SCANLON
A Guilford native and advocate for the strong tourism economy along Connecticut’s shoreline, Representative Sean Scanlon is currently serving his second term representing the 98th Connecticut district, which includes the towns of Guilford and Branford.
Scanlon believes improving CT tourism “is about strategy, communication, and partnerships. We just need to do a better job managing all of that.”
“Tourism is a big part of Connecticut’s next steps,” said Scanlon. “In concert with turning this around at the budget level, we need to be communicating our assets with our visitors, and I look forward to working with our lawmakers and local businesses to make that happen.”
After seeing the effects of tourism on the economy of his home town, Scanlon is encouraged by the thriving nature of our local tourist attractions. Scanlon hopes to work with the Department of Transportation to provide more signage on Connecticut highways to help send the message to visitors that Connecticut is “open for business”.
In July of 2018, Scanlon backed an initiative to support the longevity of the Shoreline Trolley Museum. This project will enhance visitors experience through new public facilities, in addition to improving Shoreline Trolley Museums fire suppression systems. Scanlon collaborated with a bipartisan team of Connecticut lawmakers to secure state support to fund these improvements.
Before being elected State Representative, Guilford native Sean Scanlon learned the importance of public service from his father a police officer. After graduating from Boston College, Scanlon worked in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office as a victim advocate.
Scanlon joined the staff of Senator Chris Murphy in 2009 before winning the election for his first term in 2014. Scanlon currently serves as the Chairman of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee. He is also a member of the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee, as well as the Public Health and Transportation Committees. In addition, Scanlon is a member of the Guilford Economic Development Commission.
Scanlon is an active member of his community and works as a volunteer organizer for the Guilford Fund for Education, Vote Yes For Guilford’s Future, and Guilford 4 Full Day Kindergarten. He currently lives in Guilford with his wife, Meghan.
CTC IS BUILDING THE FUTURE OF CONNECTICUT TOURISM
With this final newsletter of 2018, I would like to personally thank all of our members for their dedicated and tireless support this year. We have witnessed a year of promise as the state prepares for a changing of the guard, and I am excited to be representing Connecticut tourism as co-chair of the Lamont transition team for Arts and Tourism.
At our board meeting on December 7th, we had the opportunity to hear from many of our regional and state representatives on their commitment to supporting Connecticut tourism in 2019 and their plans to speak with the new administration on the benefits of investing in tourism. All of us have done fantastic work this year to reach out to our representatives and educate them on the power of tourism, but we can’t stop now.
The transition team for Arts and Tourism will be presenting to Governor-Elect Lamont this January, and we are currently hard at work to ensure our next leaders know that tourism helps every industry, sector, community and taxpayer in the state through incredible returns on investment and business opportunities. We will advocate for the re-opening of our Welcome Centers, the creation of a direct link between tourism and the governor’s office, and the investment into marketing Connecticut as a place that is not only open to visitors but a state that wants to share its culture, history and amenities with the world.
Between now and when we meet with the Lamont administration I encourage all of our members to continue speaking with our representatives and acting as champions of our industry. Tourism has the potential to grow our state into an economic and cultural powerhouse, we just have to ensure our leadership understands the value that tourism will bring to our state.
I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season, and look forward to speaking with all of you again in 2019.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: POWDER RIDGE MOUNTAIN PARK & RESORT
While some winter travelers may journey south to warmer weather, here in Connecticut many of us embrace the crisp cold, scenic snowy mountains and calm charms that come with the winter season. The Powder Ridge Mountain Park & Resort in Middlefield embraces the natural beauty of Connecticut’s majestic mountains while providing a resort experience perfect for families, ski and snowboard enthusiasts and couples looking for a weekend away.
Located in the heart of Connecticut, with easy access to several major interstates and state highways, Powder Ridge provides year-round family-friendly adventure and activities, including 20 trails for skiing and snowboarding, inline tubing, snow biking, mountain biking, kayaking, zip lines, and many more seasonal opportunities.
Powder Ridge is open to the public with unique seasonal activities and provides top-of-the-line amenities for private events and functions, including mountaintop picnics, party room rentals and a private dining area perfect for corporate functions, reunions and weddings.
A perfect destination for outdoor adventures of all ages and skill levels, Powder Ridge provides group and private lessons for young children and adult first-time skiers. In addition, Powder Ridge is proud to host competitive racing and freestyle events and hosts its own teams for competition in their artificial halfpipe and terrain parks.
The resort has a storied history with Middlefield since first opening in 1959. Top-to-bottom skiing starting during the 1962 winter season, and since then has hosted hundreds of thousands of Connecticut and international skiers and snowboarders.
For more information, please visit www.powderridgepark.com.
POLITICAL SPOTLIGHT: STATE REPRESENTATIVE VINCENT CANDELORA
State Representative Vincent Candelora serves the 86th District of the Connecticut General Assembly. In conjunction with his role as a state representative, Candelora has been serving as a Deputy Minority Leader in the General Assembly since 2006.
Candelora has held the title of Deputy Republican Leader of the Legislative Management Committee since 2011. His other legislative memberships include serving on the committees for Finance, Revenue and Bonding, Judiciary, Public Health, General Law and Regulations Review. Candelora currently serves on the Commission of Enhancing Agency Outcomes, which is dedicated to reducing redundancies in state government.
“It has been one of the greatest privileges of my professional life to serve the 86th district,” Candelora said via Shore Publishing in June.
A graduate of Connecticut College, Candelora received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Economics in 1992, then went on to receive his law degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1995. Candelora is the owner of Connecticut Sportsplex, a recreation center for families and children of all ages. In addition to his business, Candelora is currently employed at Taconic Wire, a family-owned stitching wire manufacturer in North Branford.
Top priorities that Candelora advocates for include resolving state efficiencies in administration and budget management. He advocates for appropriate fraud protection measures to be implemented for state programs, and seeks to ensure that state services are available solely for the people who need them.
Candelora is currently involved with Operation Fuel, a non-profit organization that grants families up to $500 to assist with their energy bills, and is an active member in his local
parish, St. Augustine Church.
A diligent member of his community, Candelora serves on the Executive Board of the North Branford Little League, the Board of Education Strategic Planning Committee, as the league coordinator for PeeWee American and as Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 453. In the past, Candelora has served as President of North Branford’s Chamber of Commerce, Vice Chair of the North Branford Zoning Board of Appeals and Treasurer to the Republican Town Committee.
Candelora currently lives with his wife and three children in North Branford.
A NEW STEP FORWARD FOR CONNECTICUT TOURISM
With the election behind us, it is now time to move forward as a state and bring real change to our tourism industry. Prior to the election, we had the opportunity to meet with now Governor-Elect Ned Lamont to understand his position on Connecticut tourism and to discuss how important it is to invest and support the tourism industry. To that end, we have invited Governor-Elect Lamont to our November 16 board meeting, where we can begin our joint-work to fully utilize Connecticut’s tourism potential and increase state revenue.
Lamont put it perfectly at his roundtable in New London on November 9th, the election is over, and it’s time to focus on economic development. It’s time to get to work. Tourism brings people to Connecticut and it means more bright thinkers, more inventors, and more entrepreneurs coming to our state and seeing everything we have to invest in.
We are off to a great start, Connecticut is rebuilding and is poised to take massive leaps forward, and it’s time for tourism to join in that growth. We cannot grow as an economy without cutting off the flow of people leaving the state, and tourism is the best way to attract new talent and retain the quality workforce we are training and educating in our top of the line schools and universities.
The time for inaction is over, we have new leadership and we look forward to continuing our work and communication with both new and veteran representatives on both sides of the political aisle. The time is now to start working for Connecticut, and for everyone to become a champion of our state. I urge all of our members and leaders to join us at the Mystic Hilton on November 16 as we plan our next steps. Connecticut’s time is now, and we will ensure that tourism is a key part of the state’s new direction.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: DISTINCTIVE HOSPITALITY GROUP
Connecticut is home to some of the most picturesque travel destinations in the country, as well as the most high-end, luxurious accommodations and venues that Northeast travelers and vacationers can find.
Distinctive Hospitality Group (DHG), an integrated hotel ownership and management company of experienced hoteliers, and is comprised of unique hospitality venues throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts, including the Madison Beach Hotel and Hilton Mystic Hotel.
Founded in 2010 by Owner and President Lou Carrier, DHG aims to provide travelers and guests with unique hospitality experiences featuring unparalleled service, style and atmosphere. Carrier has more than 30 years of experience as a senior manager in the hospitality industry.
One of DHGs two flagship properties, Madison Beach Hotel, a AAA four-diamond property, features 32 elegant rooms designed to replicate the original hotel on the property and recently. The charming property with seaside views of Long Island Sound received the prestigious Connie Award from Hilton Hotels and Resorts for embracing and living Conrad Hilton’s hospitality philosophy. This honor is only bestowed on one hotel per brand. Each of the 32 guest rooms has furnished balcony to fully enjoy the scenery. Located right on the water, the venue is perfect for those planning a wedding, opting for a weekend getaway or planning a corporate retreat. Other popular events include wine tastings, weekly Sunday brunches and holiday brunches, as well as the annual Fall Harvest Festival.
The Madison Beach Hotel features The Wharf, a high-end casual dining establishment that brings “progressive, coastal cuisine” to the table. The restaurant serves farm-to-table dishes in their four distinct dining areas, which include a year-round porch dining room, main dining room, wine room and bar. Seasonal menus are offered using locally sourced ingredients and classical preparation techniques to make this dining experience wonderfully unique.
The Hilton Mystic Hotel, located in the heart of Mystic, boasts 184 rooms after a complete renovation in 2015, and provides guests with both contemporary and functional spaces. Located only just 232 human steps from the Mystic Aquarium and Olde Mistick Village, the Hilton Mystic Hotel is the only full-service hotel in the area that features an open-air courtyard, complete with fire pits, as well as an indoor swimming pool.
The IRONS Restaurant and Bar is located within the Hilton Mystic Hotel, and gives guests the opportunity to dine in a “classic and eclectic” atmosphere. The menu is comprised of locally sourced classic seafood dishes which serve to put a spotlight on the deep history of seafaring in Mystic. Guests have access to a premium selection of spirits, wine and local, craft beer.
For more information, visit www.distinctivehospitalitygroup.com.
POLITICAL SPOTLIGHT: NORM NEEDLEMAN
First Selectman of Essex Norm Needleman won the election for State Senate in the 33rd District of Connecticut. The 33rd District is comprised of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and a section of Old Saybrook.
A graduate of Adelphi University, Needleman earned his Bachelor’s degree in mathematics. He went on to establish Tower Laboratories in Westerly, Rhode Island in 1979, and eventually relocated the business to Essex in the 1980s. Tower Laboratories has become a leader in its field and employs approximately 250 people, including his two sons.
Needleman serves as a board member of Valley Shore Emergency Communications and the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments. He is also a board member of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. Other past memberships include the Essex Zoning Board of Appeals and the Essex Economic Development Commission.
Needleman announced his decision to run another campaign bid for State Senate in February of 2018. He cited his involvement with building a business from scratch as proof of his ability to create jobs as well as an environment where other businesses will want to become established and grow.
“I am personally passionate about budgets, taxes, and job creation,” said Needleman. “As First Selectman of Essex, I brought Democrats and Republicans together, found consensus, solved problems, and kept property taxes among the lowest in the state without cutting services. Using over 35 years of experience running a manufacturing company I have also helped Essex grow businesses and create jobs. By leading new economic development initiatives our town is now home to over 700 businesses.”
Needleman is currently serving his fourth term as First Selectman and hopes to utilize his experience to grow the state’s economy through targeted investments and a long-term economic plan. He also looks to invest more in local education systems and work to protect the rights of women.
Needleman resides in Essex with his spouse Jacqui Hubbard, Artistic/Executive Director of the Ivoryton Playhouse.
VOTE FOR A STRONGER CONNECTICUT – CTC PUTS TOURISM ON THE BALLOT
The November 6 election is fast approaching, and the Connecticut Tourism Coalition (CTC) has been hard at work meeting with our future representatives to ensure that tourism is one of the top of mind issues for their agenda. We have had the opportunity to meet with each candidate for Governor, and each understands the importance of investing in Connecticut Tourism and the potential impact that a strong tourism industry will have on revenue and a stronger Connecticut.
To that end, I am pleased to announce that the CTC, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, The Middlexes Chamber of Commerce, the Connecticut Lodging Association, and the Connecticut Tourism Districts, is hosting the 2018 Tourism Works 4 CT Gubernatorial Forum on October 10 from 10 – 11 a.m. at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. Democratic Candidate Ned Lamont and Independent Candidate Oz Griebel will be speaking to the forum about their plans to grow Connecticut’s tourism industry.
This is a great opportunity to meet with potential candidates and not only hear their plans for Connecticut, but also reinforce the importance of maintaining a consistent state investment in tourism. For the past several years we have seen Connecticut’s commitment to tourism fluctuate wildly, and it has been difficult to build and sustain programs and marketing initiatives to compete with our neighbor states. We want to be sure that the next administration will commit to Connecticut, and commit to supporting tourism. I hope to see you all there.
Now is the time to invest in Connecticut tourism and ensure our representatives share our commitment to capitalizing on our state’s tourism potential. I encourage all of you to come out to vote on November 6; we have to be sure that each of our voices are heard when we say, “Now is the time for Connecticut, we want to invest in tourism!”
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: NEW ENGLAND AIR MUSEUM
The rich history of aviation runs deep in Connecticut and nowhere demonstrates this better than The New England Air Museum, the largest aviation museum in New England.
Since 1960, the Air Museum has been home to an incredible collection of historic aviation artifacts, including more than 80 aircraft and a sizable assortment of engines, aircraft parts, instruments, uniforms and personal memorabilia.
The Air Museum aims to teach the public the story of aviation and about the men and women who made notable contributions to advancing aviation technology and sport. The New England Air Museum has worked tirelessly to preserve unique and authentic aircraft artifacts and create high-quality exhibits with innovative, hands-on educational programs on site.
One of the Air Museum’s treasures is the last surviving Sikorsky VS-44A Excambian, one of only three built for non-stop trans-Atlantic service. Another is the Silas Brooks balloon basket, which was built in the 1870s and is believed to be the oldest surviving aircraft in the United States.
Exhibits such as ‘Silent Wings’ honor the glider pilots in WWII who played important roles in some of the most dangerous missions of the time, while ‘The Airship Era’ displays the timeline of airship production and examples of aircraft from Great Britain, the United States and Germany from 1900 throughout WWII.
In addition to their unique exhibits, the museum develops unique and exciting opportunities for children and families to explore aviation, including:
- The Ercoupe Full-Motion Flight Simulator: A flight simulator constructed from an actual (modified) airplane that features elevators, ailerons and rudder controls. Children ages 7 and up can learn how to control an airplane in flight by themselves, while any children under the age of 7 must be accompanied by an adult.
- The Grumman E-1B Tracer Cockpit: Children ages 3 and up can sit in the replica of a U.S. Navy reconnaissance aircraft and let their imaginations run wild. Parents can sit with them in the copilot seat, so this activity is a great opportunity for photos.
- Interactive programming: Build and Fly Challenges, Soarin’ Story Time, and Flight Science Demonstrations bring aerospace history and science to life for visitors young and old. There is even an aircraft quest scavenger hunt that they complete while they make their way through the museum.
For more information regarding the New England Air Museum and upcoming events, visit www.neam.org.
POLITICAL SPOTLIGHT: JOE MARKLEY
A veteran of state politics, Joe Markley is running for Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut. He represents Waterbury, Southington, Wolcott, Cheshire, and Prospect in the state Senate. He resides in Southington where, according to his senatorial bio, his family has lived since the 1730’s.
A staunch conservative in his social and fiscal policies, Markley first served in the Connecticut Senate in 1984 for a term, before a 21-year hiatus where he taught English at both the high school and collegiate levels. He returned to politics in 2010 as the state representative for District 16 where he serves today.
While most of his political career has been focused on fiscal policy, such as a 1991 campaign against the then proposed state income tax, Markley has also pioneered programs to aid adolescents struggling with drug abuse and create the first home care program for seniors in Connecticut. As one of Governor Malloy’s critics, Markley regularly opposes measures that would expand government regulation, increase taxes, or take power away from Connecticut small businesses.
As a running mate, Markley has demonstrated his agreement with gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski’s support of the tourism industry as a source of jobs and revenue for the state. Unlike the Independent and Democratic candidates, Stefanowski did not endorse a running mate for Lieutenant Governor prior to the primary election, however, Stefanowski has embraced Markley as a partner in the election. They both share similar views on how the state should balance its budget, eliminating the state income tax, and reduce wasteful spending.
Markley shares Stefanowski’s support of the CTC tourism questionnaire, in which Stefanowski supports re-opening Connecticut’s Visitor Centers, the creation of a Director of Tourism position, the creation of a Tourism Advisory Committee made up of industry leaders and experts, and the investment of 3% of hotel occupancy revenue to create jobs and attract visitors to Connecticut. Markley also supports research that shows a 3 to 1 return on investment for every dollar spent on tourism.
Markley believes in supporting Connecticut as a strong, independently minded state with a government that is open for business. As a legislator, Markley is positioned as a tireless advocate for limited government, fiscal responsibility, and personal liberties in Connecticut.
CTC TRAINS OUR HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY THROUGH CHAT
Over the past several months, the Connecticut Tourism Coalition (CTC) has been hard at work developing a unique, comprehensive program to train and educate our front-line hospitality personnel to become expert sources of information and ambassadors for visitors to our state. Coming in early 2019, the Connecticut Hospitality and Awareness Training program (CHAT) will be available to educate anyone who encounters visitors to Connecticut in their job duties.
Approximately 6.4 million people visit Connecticut annually and they spend nearly $14.7 billion dollars every year, yet we are not even close to fully utilizing the full economic potential of tourism. Connecticut spends less on tourism than all our neighboring states, and it shows. By investing in the education of our visitor-facing staff, we are investing in better experiences and better stories for visitors to take home. Through this investment, we want to show our legislators that Connecticut has the potential to be a tourism powerhouse; we just need to invest in our people and our state.
The CHAT program is designed to motivate and inspire employees to not only excel at their jobs but to foster a passion for tourism in Connecticut. With roughly 121,800 people directly and indirectly serving the needs of the tourism industry, it’s important to provide the support and resources they need to provide the highest level or guest relations and ensure they are providing the best possible guest experience. With CHAT, we will ensure that all our hospitality partners have the expert knowledge to serve their guests; this includes training on how to better engage with visitors, critical area knowledge, and useful apps to enhance the member experience.
CHAT is another step toward moving Connecticut forward as the top tourism destination in the country. By ensuring that our hospitality partners are the best in the business, we are making the investments needed to turn Connecticut tourism around and ensure our visitors have the best experience that our venues and destinations can provide.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: SHORELINE TROLLEY MUSEUM
The Shore Line Trolley Museum is recognized by the National Historic District as the oldest, continuously running, suburban trolley line in the United States. Founded in 1945, the museum originally began as the Branford Electric Railway Association and today offers visitors the opportunity to take experience some of our earliest modes of public transportation.
In addition to the visiting the Sprague Station, the museum includes a trolley ride as part of the exhibit. Children aboard are even able to interact with the car operators and help prepare the trolley for the journey.
A ride on the trolley brings guests back in time as it passes through scenic marshes and woods of the East Haven shoreline. Wildlife is all around, and the journey is a leisurely one to take visitors away from the chaos of life in the 21st century. Guests can also travel on foot and hike around the Branford Electric Railway line, or set up a picnic. The opportunities for photographs and family fun are plentiful.
Preserving the heritage of the trolley car was the motivation for the founding of the museum, today contains approximately 100 vehicles, such as Connecticut Company Car 775. This was built in 1904 and operated as a passenger-carrying vehicle on the very same line it rides today. The Shore Line Trolley Museum houses a diverse collection of documents and artifacts, from the era. In preserving the history of the time period, the museum aims to educate the public about the use and importance of the trolley car and other similar forms of mass transit.
As part of their immersive program, the Museum hosts a variety of events year-round, including the upcoming:
- Super Hero Day (Sept. 23): lets children come in costume and ride the cars with their favorite superheroes.
- Haunted Isle (Sept. 28 & 29): features a short trolley ride to a trail through the woods with scary creatures along the way. Not recommended for children under 10.
- Pumpkin Patch (Oct. 13 &14): allows younger children to enjoy a non-spooky fall event, where they can decorate their own pumpkins, get their face painted and enjoy a scenic trolley ride.
- Santa’s Trolley Winter Wonderland (Nov. 23-25): lets children visit with Santa, have hot chocolate and ride the festive trolley cars.
For more information about the Shore Line Trolley Museum and for a full list of events, visit shorelinetrolley.org.
CANDIDATE SPOTLIGHT: NED LAMONT
A seasoned politician with more than 30 years of experience, Ned Lamont is the Democratic candidate running for Governor of Connecticut. He lives in Greenwich with his wife, and three children.
An active member of his community, Lamont currently serves on the Yale School of Management Advisory Board. In the past, he has served on the board of trustees for the YMCA and Young Presidents’ Organization, as well as on the Business Advisory Group at the Brookings Institution. In addition to that, he is an adjunct faculty member and chair of the Arts and Sciences Public Policy Committee at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). The Board of Trustees at CCSU has also named Lamont as Distinguished Professor of political science and philosophy.
When the CTC had the opportunity to sit down with Lamont and discuss tourism, he agreed that Connecticut should re-open the Connecticut visitor centers, create a tourism advisory committee, and appoint a Director of Tourism to be an expert resource for the next Governor. While attending the CTC meeting in June, Lamont indicated he is interested in meeting with the CTC’s executive committee to discuss how tourism can help our state. When asked his opinion on the importance of tourism, he noted that it is “important to have business leaders at the table.”
In 2006, Lamont announced his campaign to run for United States Senate, where he went on to defeat incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman in Connecticut’s Democratic primary election. It was the only Senate race in 2006 where the incumbent lost a re-nomination. With experience on the 2008 presidential campaign trail as the Connecticut campaign co-chair for Barack Obama, Lamont was later elected as a Congressional district-level delegate from Connecticut to the Democratic National Convention.
In January 2018, Lamont decided to officially enter the race as a gubernatorial candidate and he will be facing Republican candidate Bob Stefanowski in the November 2018 election.
Lamont graduated from Harvard College in 1976, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree. He then went on to receive his Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Yale School of Management in 1980. After graduation, he managed the startup for Cablevision out of Fairfield County. In 1984, he founded Campus Televideo and is currently the chair for Lamont Digital Systems, a telecommunications firms specializing in investing in new media startups.
While attending the CTC meeting in June, Lamont indicated he is interested in meeting with the CTC’s executive committee to discuss how tourism can help our state. When asked his opinion on the importance of tourism, he noted that it is “important to have business leaders at the table.”
Lamont believes in fighting for Connecticut and hopes to create jobs, fix the state’s infrastructure and build a fair economy. He looks to build a stronger, vibrant state with a focus on respecting its workers that we can be proud of.
CTC MEETS WITH CANDIDATES
Last month, the Connecticut Tourism Coalition met with many of the gubernatorial candidates to discuss the impact of tourism on the Connecticut economy and how investing in our many attractions and getaway locations could infuse revenue into both state and local economies.
While Connecticut has some of the most beautiful natural attractions and immersive family getaway destinations, we have been lagging behind our neighbor states when it comes to investing in our tourism economy. I was excited to speak with nearly all the candidates for governor and learn that each understands Connecticut’s greater tourism revenue potential. While exact details are unknown at this early stage, it satisfying to learn that the next governor for Connecticut knows the value that tourism will bring to our state.
Speaking with candidates last month provided an opportunity to gauge what the state’s tourism initiatives would look like under each administration. We were able to ask each candidate to fill out a questionnaire asking if they support creating a source of tourism funding from lodging revenues, creating a Tourism Advisory Committee, creating a Director of Tourism position to advise the Governor, and reopening Connecticut’s Visitor Centers. We were thrilled that all the returned questionnaires came back with full support for all the above questions.
The future looks bright for Connecticut tourism. Our candidates understand that investing in Connecticut tourism means greater revenue streams for the state, more business opportunities visiting our state, and more funds flowing into community budgets. We look forward to continuing to work alongside each of the candidates, and will build a strong relationship with the November 6th winner.
EVENT SPOTLIGHT: CONNECTICUT TENNIS OPEN
The Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale is hosting the 2018 Connecticut Tennis Open. The event is a WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) Premier Tournament. Originally created for men and women, the Open debuted in 1948 in Sacramento, California. It is the third of the year, before the fourth and final Grand Slam tournament, the US Open. Players and previous winners have come from all over the globe. New Haven, Connecticut has proudly been hosting this event since 1998.
The Connecticut Open is a not-for-profit charitable organization that utilizes tennis to benefit surrounding communities with a focus on women’s, youth and military causes around the state. Programs such as the CT Food Bank, Soles4Souls and the 50/50 Project have been the focus of fundraising and enriching the lives of others. Other causes include Military Appreciation Night and Latino Day. The 2018 tournament will feature both singles and doubles matches, and each day will include different spectator activities for children and adults alike.
The Connecticut Open 2018 is scheduled for August 17-25. The semifinals (Friday, August 24) and finals (Saturday, August 25) will be broadcast by ESPN2, while early rounds will be broadcast by ESPN3. For more information on tickets, scheduling, players and other news, please visit their website at www.ctopen.org.
CANDIDATE SPOTLIGHT: BOB STEFANOWSKI
An experienced businessman with ties to the financial sector, Bob Stefanowski is seeking the Republican nomination for governor of Connecticut. Bob is determined to help Connecticut’s economy grow and prosper, and has come up with a five step plan to rebuild the state budget. His steps include, phasing out corporate income tax and business entity tax over 2 years, phasing out state income tax over 8 years, eliminating the first and estate taxes, embracing zero-based budgeting to reduce spending, and enacting a taxpayer bill of rights. In doing this, Bob hopes to fix the out of control spending, job loss, and population decline in Connecticut.
In addition to fixing tax and budget problems, Bob is committed to fixing tourism in the state. He attended a CTC meeting in July where he said, “the state government should view tourism as a revenue source, and marketing is an investment.” Bob believes that tourism is a great source of jobs and income, therefore increasing tourism throughout the state is vital for Connecticut’s economy.
He currently lives in Madison CT with his wife and three daughters, and is determined to make a difference in the state of Connecticut. He graduated from Fairfield University with a degree in accounting in 1984, and went on to get his specialized MBA in finance at Cornell University.
After graduating from Cornell, Bob accepted a job at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he climbed the ladder to become a senior auditor. In 1989, Bob left PricewaterhouseCoopers and joined Freeman & Mills, Inc. as a litigation consultant. In 1994, Bob accepted a position at General Electric and soon became the president and chief executive officer of the corporation’s European corporate financial services branch. In 2013, Bob joined UBS as the chief financial officer of the company’s investment bank, and in 2015, Bob joined DFC Global as its chairmen. After years of corporate experience, Bob left DFC in 2017 to become an independent contractor and pursue his dream of becoming governor of Connecticut.
I would like to share some of my excitement about the Connecticut Hospitality Awareness Training program, or CHAT for short, an ambitious program with a new website being created by the Connecticut Tourism Coalition to best prepare frontline personnel in tourism, food service and other sectors of the hospitality industry in Connecticut.
While some destinations have launched similar ideas, no other organization has ever presented a definitive hospitality training program exactly like CHAT in Connecticut. By providing expert training on important hospitality fundamentals, CHAT will position Connecticut as an industry-leading destination for visitors, while ensuring that the CTC satisfies the education component of its 501 (c) (4). The CHAT program features a video and seven interactive online course modules, allowing participants to retain the knowledge of hospitality fundamentals and skills in the coursework. The training will build and cultivate a sense of pride in Connecticut’s hospitality industry for restaurant servers, hotel workers, attraction or museum personnel, and retail clerks, as they learn first-hand the value of better understanding how visitors perceive our region and how to provide the best service.
The CHAT program includes a website that will host seven modules and provide a platform for online enrollment. A 75 to 90 minute training program will highlight multiple different topics. Topics include “Why Tourism is Important;” “How to Make Visitors Feel Welcome;” “Key Connecticut Attractions;” and “The Fundamentals of Hospitality Service.” At the end of the program, participants will be given a Certificate of Achievement. The benefits of this first-of –its-kind effort for the economy of our state are obvious: The hospitality industry alone has brought around 118,500 jobs and brings a large return of investment to the State of Connecticut. It is essential that service personal are educated in their field in order to represent out industry and state in the best way possible. It is my hope that our state’s hospitality industry will benefit greatly from this exciting new program. We look forward to launching the new website and modules in the months ahead. Stay tuned for more news on CHAT!
Member Spotlight: Cashman + Katz
Cashman + Katz is a communications agency with a specialties in advertising, media buying, public relations, and video/ audio production. After over 25 years of business, Cashman + Katz has grown to become one of the largest players in advertising and public relations in Connecticut. Through their theory of Octagration, the company focuses on eight different challenges for clients. It’s their own brand of integration and a perfect fit for their uniquely-shaped headquarters – eight key disciplines within eight walls. Offices, creative spaces, production studios and research facilities all collaborate together, under one octagonal roof. This system highlights the efficiency and benefits of having every service you could need in one place.
Integration is key to success at Cashman + Katz. Firm believers in the power of integrated ideas and investors in the culture and process that creates them, these professionals know that two heads are better than one. Both Cashman + Katz employees and clients represent diverse backgrounds, viewpoints, skill sets, favorite coffee flavors, and everything in between. The multi-dimensionality of the team allows the company to face challenges from many different sides.
The integrated communication company’s headquarters is based in Glastonbury CT, with other offices in New York and Boston. The company offers a full focus group room in house, complete with on staff recruiters and moderators, a private client viewing room and lounge, and full audio/ visual monitoring. The agency is equipped with professionals ready to help with everything from Branding and Advertising to Buying and Digital Media, giving you the creative foundation for every communication need moving forward.
CANDIDATE SPOTLIGHT: TIM HERBST
A proven reformer and Hartford outsider, Tim Herbst has spent the last eight years as Trumbull’s First Selectman leading a remarkable turnaround. At 29, he is the youngest first selectman in town history. Herbst refused a town pension and reduced the number of political appointees who were pension eligible. All new hires were given a contribution plan and health care contributors were increased across the board for all appointees.
Before Herbst took office in 2009, the town was faced with a broken pension system and a chronic spending problem. Bond ratings downgraded Trumbull’s credit rating, the pension system was funded at just 27%, and taxes had increased 54% in the last eight years. Herbst took swift action by working with labor leaders and stakeholders to tackle the root of the problem. He reformed the town government and attracted more businesses to the area. During his first 100 days in office, he identified $1 million in operational savings in the town budget.
The Trumbull pension system is now fully funded with few employees from before Herbst took office. He successfully balanced eight budgets, delivered two tax cuts, and modernized nine Trumbull schools, all while increasing technology in the classroom and enhancing school security.
Herbst graduated with honors from Trinity College and earned his law degree from Pace University School of Law, where he was on the Pace Environmental Law Review. He was elected to the Trumbull Planning and Zoning Commission when he was only 19 years old, serving ten years, four as Chairman.
CONNECTICUT TOURISM COALITION
Mourns the Loss of 3 Tourism Champions
(From The Day)
Felix David Rappaport of Las Vegas, Nev., 65, was called to eternal rest on Monday, June 18, 2018, in Mashantucket. He died from heart related illness. He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Mary Louise Rappaport; his two loving daughters, Alexandra Rappaport and Briana Rappaport; and his brother, Eric Rappaport. It is fitting that Felix was raised in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, as he demonstrated love and kindness to everyone he encountered. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Felix began his long and illustrious career in the gaming and hospitality industry, from human resources at the Sands Hotel, Atlantic City, to vice president/president of multiple Las Vegas properties, to CEO of Foxwoods Resort Casino. Although his interests were many and varied, the most important to him were “Faith, Family and Friends.” His dedication to them was shown in immeasurable ways. He made it his life’s work to enhance the lives of his family and friends, whether it was through small gestures like giving a simple yet thoughtful gift or through large gestures like providing someone with an opportunity that launched their careers.
(From Carmon Funeral Home)
Joe DaCosta, 55, of South Windsor, CT, loving husband of 30 years to Elise (Messer) DaCosta, passed away peacefully on Friday, April 13, 2018 at Hartford Hospital with his family at his side. Born in the Azores, Portugal, the son of Joao and Maria (Ferreira) DaCosta of Rocky Hill, where he grew up and lived before moving to South Windsor thirty years ago. For the last seven years he has worked at Sysco Connecticut starting as Director of Multi-Unit Sales and most recently as Vice President of Sales where he met many people who have a special place in his heart. He enjoyed golfing, watching the New York Yankees, Real Madrid, and most importantly spending time with his family and friends. In addition to his wife, and his parents, he is survived by his beloved sons, Joseph DaCosta of New York, NY, Matthew DaCosta of Somerville, MA, and Michael DaCosta of South Windsor; his brother, John DaCosta and his wife Chrysa of Topsfield, MA; his sister, Luisa Machado and her husband Jason of Ellington; his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Edward and Peggy Messer of South Windsor; two brothers-in-law, Eddie Messer of Manchester, and Greg Messer and his wife Patty of Charlestown, MA; two sisters-in-law, Charlotte Gildea and her husband Mark of Bridgewater, MA, and Kara Forde and her husband Adrian of Sudbury, MA and several nieces and nephews.
RAYMOND YAKAITIS, JR.
(From the Hartford Courant)
Ray Yakaitis, Jr., 59, fiercely devoted and immensely adored Husband, Father, Son, Brother, Grandfather, Friend, and go-to guy for laughs, wildly inappropriate antics and legendary fun times, shell-shocked us all by passing away unexpectedly on March 11, 2018. Ray was the consummate family man with a heart as big as the continental US, a heart given effortlessly to his family, friends and clients. His innate good nature and generosity were boundless. A caretaker above all, Ray leaves behind a profound legacy, both personally and professionally. A respected Financial Advisor for 30+ years, Ray became close friends with many of his clients and took immense pride in addressing the broad spectrum of their financial concerns and needs while advising them like he would family members. He leaves to celebrate his large legacy, adored wife and best friend of 37 years, Ruth, sons Raymond and fiancée’ Lindsay, Michael and wife Lauren, and his adored grandchildren, his beloved mother Marilyn, seven tight knit Yakaitis siblings and spouses, and many other relatives.
Fortifying our Frontline
When visitors come to our state, the service they receive can make or break their experience. If the people they encounter are helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable, they’re more likely to enjoy their trip to Connecticut—and come back in the future. That’s why it’s so important for our frontline personnel—restaurant servers, hotel workers, retail clerks, and others—to have the tools they need to exceed expectations and deliver a positive experience to travels.
The Connecticut Tourism Coalition is proud to launch a new initiative: the Tourism Awareness Training Program. Sponsorship partners currently include Foxwoods Resort Casino, Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, and the Connecticut Wedding Group—and sponsorship opportunities remain available.
Using a mix of video and interactive modules, we will provide a comprehensive educational program to help our frontline personnel understand the importance of tourism to our region and give visitors a better overall experience. Studies show that positive interactions with servers and hotel clerks are key to ensuring tourists enjoy themselves and return to our attractions.
Other regions have launched similar initiatives to great results. I am deeply proud that the Coalition will be at the forefront of helping generate positive word-of-mouth about Connecticut. We’re going to reveal more information about the training program at our upcoming board meeting on June 15th, so I hope to see you there.
This program has the potential to revolutionize how our industry trains our staff and make Connecticut more attractive to visitors. It’s a huge step forward at a time when we need to do everything we can to bring more people to our region.
The Deacon Timothy Pratt House
Built in 1746 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Deacon Timothy Pratt House Bed & Breakfast allows guests to step back in time to colonial New England. Featuring five elegantly appointed guest rooms with private baths and fireplaces, guests can admire the quaint charm of historic details like wide-planked wooden floors and hand-hewn beams while enjoying modern luxuries like flat-screen TVs and whirlpool tubs.
The Deacon is famous for its afternoon tea served in the formal dining room on fine English china. Guests can partake of local teas from Simpson and Vail, homemade scones with clotted cream, artisan preserves, finger sandwiches, and decadent chocolates and desserts.
One of the jewels of Old Saybrook, The Deacon is also an ideal locale for weddings, anniversaries, and vow renewals. The iconic colonial house and manicured gardens provide an ideal backdrop for engagement and bridal photos, and The Deacon works closely with local florists, photographers, makeup artists, and livery services to help guests plan every detail of their big day.
CTC Board Member Paul Angelini is the owner of The Deacon. He also owns and renovated the nearby James Pharmacy.
CANDIDATE SPOTLIGHT: OZ GABRIEL
Oz Griebel launched his campaign for governor as an unaffiliated candidate, promising no partisanship, just solutions. A lifelong Republican, Griebel teamed up with Democrat Monte Frank to provide enthusiastic, collaborative leadership to ensure Connecticut remains a premier place for all people to live, play, work, and raise a family.
Griebel was formally the head of the MetroHarford Alliance—the Hartford region’s largest organization of business leaders—for 17 years. During that time he was heavily involved in advocating for state policies intended to create jobs by expanding the our economy. He sat on the corporate boards of MacDermid, Inc., Tallan, Inc., and World Business Capital.
Griebel also served on the boards of the Annual Fund of the United Way of the Central Naugatuck Valley, Bradley International Airport, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the Connecticut Transportation Strategy Board, Junior Achievement of Central Connecticut, the Mark Twain House, Northwest Catholic High School, Riverfront Recapture, the University of Hartford, the Wadsworth Atheneum, the Waterbury Foundation, and Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Before joining the MetroHartford Alliance, Griebel was a teacher and coach at Worcester Academy and CEO of Bank Boston Connecticut. He has been named “Business Person of the Year” by both the Hartford Courant (1995) and the Hartford Business Journal (2001).Griebel graduated with a BA in English from Dartmouth College, where he played baseball and football. Griebel also earned a JD from Suffolk University. He lives in Hartford.
Griebel attended the March 2018 Connecticut Tourism Coalition Board Meeting, where he pledged his support for a sustainable source of funding for tourism.
We’re making headway
Last month our Coalition assembled in Hartford to speak with lawmakers about the importance of tourism to the health and future of Connecticut. We heard powerful testimony not just from our members, but students at the University of New Haven and Manchester Community College who are trying to build their careers and lives in our industry and in our state.
That’s why tourism is so important. We have a vibrant, young workforce who are passionate about Connecticut and want to make their lives here—and we could lose them if we cannot attract enough visitors to our state.
As the General Assembly wraps up its session, tourism funding is once again under attack. Our Coalition has called on our representatives and senators to at least maintain the $6.4 million reserved for statewide marketing in the last budget, but the legislature could still claw it back.
This is where you come in. Please, call and email your state representative and senator. Let them know how important tourism is to your ability to live in Connecticut, hire more people, and grow our economy. Remind them that investing in tourism has one of the best returns available. For every dollar they put into statewide marketing, they will get three in return.
We need to keep up this drumbeat before session ends, or we risk being left out in the cold.
I know it’s been a long road, but we’re making headway. Thank you for enduring support. Together I know we can bring about the changes and funding our industry needs not just to survive, but to thrive.
Member Spotlight: MYSTIC KNOTWORK
For more than 50 years, Mystic Knotwork and the Beaudoin family have provided unique, distinctive artisan crafts that speak to the nautical roots of shoreline Connecticut. Their work has been featured at Martha Stewart’s American Made Summit and other prestigious events.
Knotwork is in the blood for owner Matt Beaudoin. His grandfather, Alton, served as a Bosun’s mate in the merchant marines, trained at the Seaman’s Institute in New York City, and later served his country in the U.S. Army during World War II. Over the years, he learned the art of sailors’ knots from captains and officers, and established himself as an expert in the field. Some of his knotwork pieces were even donated to the Smithsonian.
Alton adapted traditional nautical knots into bracelets, belts, sample boards, guitar straps, bellropes, and more. Inspired by his grandfather’s artistry, Matt learned the craft at an early age.
Mystic Knotwork’s family legacy and authentic nautical arts have captured the public’s attention. As times and styles changes, Matt and his family continue to adapt. Their iconic bracelets, décor, and even wedding decorations perfectly capture the essence of life on the Connecticut shoreline and our maritime heritage.
Mark Boughton is currently serving his ninth consecutive term as Mayor of the City of Danbury. Boughton, a lifelong Danbury resident, graduated from Danbury High School in 1982 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in History from Central Connecticut State University. He returned to Danbury to earn a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology from Western Connecticut State University.
Boughton served in the United States Army Reserve from 1983 to 1989, achieving the rank of Sergeant. In 1987, he decided to explore his passion for education and returned to Danbury High School to teach Social Studies. After experiencing first-hand the deficiencies of Connecticut’s education system, Boughton ran for State Representative of Connecticut’s 138th District in order to take his passion for education and public service to the Capitol. During his three years in office, Boughton achieved a perfect voting record in the General Assembly and served as a ranking member of the Environment and Education Committees.
Throughout his time in office, Mayor Boughton has fought to improve Connecticut’s education system, revitalize downtown Danbury, enhance infrastructure, improve the quality of life of his constituents, and expand their access to government. Boughton is guided by the principle of “People over Politics,” paving the way for his success in creating bi-partisan, common sense solutions for Danbury.
Under his leadership, Danbury has championed the lowest unemployment rate among all of Connecticut’s major cities through significant growth in economic development and a steady increase in job opportunities. Danbury has been named the second-best city to live in in the country and the best small city in Connecticut to start a business. Boughton continues to make Danbury the “best place to live, work, and be educated” and is prepared to make Danbury’s success Connecticut’s reality.
Boughton has also pledged his support for our industry to the leaders of our Coalition. He has signed our pledge to provide a sustainable source of funding for tourism, reopen Connecticut’s visitors centers, and establish an advisory board for statewide marketing efforts. We will continue to meet with Boughton and other candidates for statewide office from now through the election.