Hilton Woodland Hills/Los Angeles

Hilton Woodland Hills/Los Angeles Joins the Green Revolution Commemorating Earth Day

Hilton Woodland Hills/Los Angeles announces its inclusion in Earth Day celebrations.

In addition to the robust recycling program in place at the hotel, the hotel will commemorate Earth Day all week 04/21 – 25.

Guests parking Hybrid or Electric vehicles at the hotel will receive complimentary Valet Parking at the hotel on April 22nd, Earth Day.

Both the RestauraKale Martini #1 woodland hillsnt and Bar will offer guests a “Treetini” signature cocktail. A donation of $2 per drink will be made to a local tree planting organization.

Throughout the week, the hotel restaurant will offer vegan dining options featuring locally sourced ingredients, minimizing the carbon footprint of the meal.

General Manager, Deepak Mehra said “we are thrilled to take a small role in our part to bring awareness to our place in the global community ‘going green’. Our team members understand that every little bit counts and our contribution, no matter how small will make a difference.”

About Earth Day Network

The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air ActClean Water ActEndangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN) works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

For more information on the Earth Day Network, please visit http://www.earthday.org/

Residence Inn Pleasanton

Visit San Francisco from your Pleasanton Hotel

San Francisco, the famous “City by the Bay” has everything from first class restaurants, cultural offerings in music, theater and ballet to brand name shopping on Union Square and boutiques in her unique neighborhoods.

But like many popular cities, San Francisco can be difficult to navigate for visitors. Traffic can be challenging and parking charges can add up. Save yourself the stress and hassle and use BART to explore San Francisco’s hidden treasures.

BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system is an easy and affordable way to explore the city. With the BART station less than half a mile away, here at the Residence Inn Pleasanton hotel, we have many guests stay with us in this historic suburb to enjoy a full suite experience with complimentary breakfast at room rates considerably less than in the city, yet only 45 minutes to the heart of the city.  They simply take our shuttle to the station and from there, ride BART into the city.

Pleasanton hotel BART Mapp

Source: bart.gov

Log on to www.bart.gov and you can chart out your visit on their easy to use Schedule Planner. Simply input your departing and arriving addresses and when you want to leave or arrive. BART will give you the stations you need to use, and the scheduled train times.  Once you arrive at the BART station go to one of the ticket machines to purchase a ticket for your trip. You insert the ticket into your departing station and then again as you arrive at your destination.

Trains leave every 10-15 minutes and the fares are very affordable ranging anywhere from a few dollars to $11 or so to travel from the SFO International Airport.  BART also provides easy access to Oakland International Airport as well as SFO, saving higher cab costs.

So consider using BART on your next visit and plan your hotel stay on the BART line.  You can save time, money and also do your part in helping to save the planet as well by using public transportation.


margieMargie Johnston has held numerous sales, marketing and catering positions in her 25+ years in the hospitality industry, working with Hilton Hotels, Hyatt Hotels, Universal Studios and the Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. She is President of RevenueResources Management, a hospitality consulting firm providing outsource solutions (task force coverage, business development & lead generation) to hotels.  She also served as an interim GM at the Residence Inn Pleasanton hotel.


Martini Recipes with Rum or Whiskey .. why not?

When most people think of the Martini recipes, they think Gin or Vodka. In this industry it is important to constantly evolve and come up with trends. Helping pour off product that is just sitting on the shelf is an added bonus!


Have you ever tried a martini recipe with Rum? Whiskey? Brandy? There are many martini recipes out there in the world, but why not more? It takes a creative thinker and a great pallet, but it can be accomplished.


Martini recipe

An appletini with Rum? Yes!

Next time you have flavored rum that you want to create a specialty cocktail with, try a Martini. Treat it with the same flavors as vodka and see what transpires. For example, does an Appletini need to be vodka or can it be apple spiced rum? For the past few years rum has not been as popular, so many bars have tons of brands and flavors just sitting on the shelves collecting dust.


To get you started, let me share my secret recipe for a whiskey martini.


0.5oz George Dickel Sour Mash Whisky
1oz Anisette (Yes, I said Anisette)
0.5oz Sweet and Sour
1oz Sprite


Shake with lots of ice and pour into a chilled Martini glass. If done correctly it will leave a nice frothy top layer and taste very smooth.


Want more knowledge on cocktails?  Check these posts out on Hawaiian cocktails, cocktails under 200 calories, and craft cocktails.

Courtney LeibowitzCourtney Leibowitz is the Food and Beverage Manager for the Hilton Woodland Hills/Los Angeles. She started her hotel career with the Hilton 8 years ago as a front desk agent and a few years later found her passion through the Food and Beverage department. When not at work, her favorite thing to do is travel and cook for her friends and family.

Visit Rancho Cordova with a Funding Grant

Do you need funding to kick start your next event, conference, or sports tournament?   The Rancho Cordova Travel and Tourism Board offers Grants for events that generate room nights in Rancho Cordova (CA).  Rancho Cordova is known for hosting well known events such as NCAA Rowing, the Hot Jazz Jubilee, and numerous youth and sporting events.

The City of Rancho Cordova is conveniently located just 12 miles east of Sacramento – the capital of California – and provides a variety of attractions. The beautiful American River lines Rancho Cordova’s northern border and offers many activities both on and off the water. Rancho Cordova is just minutes away from the historic Gold Country and the spectacular Sierra Foothill Wine Country.  When you visit Rancho Cordova, you’ll find rich history along with great locations to hold sporting and corporate events.

Visit Rancho Cordova

Rancho Cordova features a 70,000 square foot events center which is ideal for basketball, volleyball, martial arts, and numerous indoor sporting events (see brief video of Rancho Cordova Events Center here).

To apply for a grant, event planners simply complete the grant application and satisfy a number of criteria including confirming that their event will produce hotel room nights in Rancho Cordova, CA.   A list of participating Rancho Cordova hotels and a grant application is available on-line at Visit Rancho Cordova.

Individual grants are available to corporate, association, or non-profit, public or privately-funded planners.

For additional information, planners can contact David Burri, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Sacramento Marriott Rancho Cordova (Board Member of Rancho Cordova Travel & Tourism) at david.burri@marriottranchocordova.com


David BurriDavid Burri has over 25 years of Sales & Marketing experience with the Marriott, Hilton, Marriott, Sofitel, Embassy Suites, and Holiday Inn brands.  David currently is the Director of Sales at the Sacramento Marriott Rancho Cordova and is a graduate of California State University – Chico.

meeting menu

Meeting Menus – Creating a WOW moment!

First and foremost, remember that planning an event should not be stressful.  On the contrary, it should be exciting and fun.  Brainstorm new ideas to set this event away from others and create a WOW experience!  One of the most effective ways to give your attendees an unforgettable experience is through food!  People connect and create memories over meals.  Here are a few things to remember while choosing your meeting menus:

·     Think outside the box: Think back to events you have been to… what was on the menu?  Were those items standard dishes?  Speak to your Event Planner, Catering Manager and the Executive Chef to inspire fun and modern meeting menu options.  Ask your chef how to create customized options for your groups.   Our chef at the Sheraton Suites Orlando Airport likes to customize plates by putting group logos!

·   Cater to all your Attendees:  It is important to know your attendees.  Are these business workers who appreciate fine dining or families who like comfort food?  Considering the demographic of your group can sway your menu selection greatly.  Do not forget to consider offering Gluten Free & Vegan options so that no one goes home without a full belly!

·     Try a new theme: Your options are endless.  Think of something that would tie in with the event and with your attendees. We hosted a Luau on our Indoor Pool (see below).  Also check out our blog post on themed parties!

Meeting Menu

Deck and incorporated fun decorations with a customized Hawaiian meeting menu!

·     Communicate your wants: It is important to let the team  know what you are looking to accomplish during your event.  Zero in on the areas of the event that are the most important.  Make a list and send to them with at least weeks of notice.

·     Schedule a Pre-Con: A Pre-Con meeting usually takes place a day or two before the meeting. This is an opportunity for you to speak to the department managers to ensure that everyone is on the same page and properly prepared for your event.  This is also an excellent opportunity to meet who will be your on site contacts throughout your events.

Food at your event – whether for kids or for business – can easily make or break you experience.  Make sure to consider these tips and leave any other comments below that made your event successful.

Deanna Cashmere has worked for the Sheraton Suites Orlando Airport for two years. She likes planning her group’s special events and creating fun and intimate gatherings. Their central location near the airport provides and excellent venue and hub to all that Orlando has to offer!

Pint Size Travel – Traveling with Kids

She is five and the thought of a plane or lengthy car ride with her used to make me weary and anxiety ridden. I would worry about uptight fellow passengers, long lines, heavy gear, possible delays, and my own sanity on 15 hour road trips.

Traveling with kids

My travel partner

Prior to her arrival, travel seemed more easy breezy and carefree.  Now all of that is gone…. or is it? Does traveling with kids = Pure Stress?  After some trial and error (actually, many  errors), she and I have developed a manageable and working routine.  We have learned to master three hour flights and even 15 hour drive road trips. I am happy to report we have even managed to create some of the best memories together during “Travel Time”.

Here are some of my travel tips with kids:

·     Preparing – We have learned that evening/ night travel works.  If your plans allow you to travel any time past 7pm . . .try it.  Why?  I found that with dinnertime  over and  showers complete, that quiet and calm may lead off to dreamland.

·     Paperwork –  Do I really want to bring her birth certificate with me and risk the chance of losing it?  … too many checkpoints and things to carry to handle?   Check out the link below as for an easy ID to carry for your child.


·     Packing –I packed all the WRONG things to keep her entertained the first 3 trips we ever went on. I had the wrong snacks, movies, coloring books and even games! Next trip I went online an ordered the cutest little personalized backpack for her and when it arrived she was so excited! It was her “special bag”.  I told her that for now on this was your travel backpack and whatever you can fit in there it is yours to take with us!

Worked like magic and I felt like a hero. Check out this link where I found it.

·     Patience – Last but not least… if you and your family can figure out how to have an attitude that travel is an adventure, sometimes a little hectic, and its makes for the best stories, you’ll be in better shape. We found that those times we embrace the hectic and have no real structure, we have developed a travel lifestyle that her and I have grown to love.  I know that you and your family too can make the most on your next travel adventure together.

I hope that you have learned a thing or two from the two of us. We like to share our tips with all of our friends and it has been fun now sharing them with you. For more travel tips you can check out the Hilton Boca Raton Suites Facebook page  where a Travel Tip is featured every Tuesday.  Happy family traveling!

Belvedere's PHX Burger

What Makes a Gourmet Burger Gourmet?

The secret to a good gourmet burger is not the “mile high” amount of “stuff” that gets piled on a burger… rather it’s using the freshest of ingredients.
If you want to treat yourself, visit your local grocery store butcher and pick up a couple lbs. of fresh ground round.  Do not purchase the leanest beef; remember, most of the flavor is in the fat. Shape your patty slightly bigger than your roll / bun approx. 1” in thickness. Also, don’t pack your meat to firm, “let it breathe” a bit, just like that glass of Cabernet you often enjoy with your burger.
Grill to your liking (try to avoid well done, as the longer you cook it, the less flavor) and add your condiments. Again, think fresh and if you prefer the “mile high” pile, now’s the time. Try to use a fresh baked roll / bun (toasted if you prefer); you’ll taste the difference and that’s the goal with a gourmet burger.

Here at our DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Phoenix, we have four delicious burgers on our Belvedere’s American Grill menu, which happen to be top sellers.  … just don’t try to lick the computer screen
What are your house secrets for cooking a gourmet burger?
Jeff Orsini is the Director of Food and Beverage at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Phoenix property.  Jeff has 20 years plus in the hospitality industry. He enjoys playing tennis and softball during his days off and is a fan of “old” movies.


hotel concierge

Hotel reviews – why we lis-ten!

Lis-TEN. is that a typo?  Nope.  At the Hilton Waikiki Beach, we actively monitor hotel reviews and encourage all feedback (but love scores of TEN!)  Most major hotels (as well as car rental agencies, airlines and most service organizations) today have some sort of a guest satisfaction survey (on a scale of 0 to 10) that they actively monitor. Your hotel reviews do indeed make a real difference in the lives of those who serve you during your travels.
First, be sure to give the front desk your email when you check-in! You might want to consider having a separate email just for special offers from hotels & service organizations for ease in keeping track of travel offers. 

Usually within 7-10 days after your departure, you will receive a survey. Hotel managers literally watch for these to arrive in “real time”  as we are incentivized upon achieving high grades. Associates, whose names are are mentioned in a positive light in surveys, typically are rewarded with a cash prize because they have made a difference in the guests’ experience.  In the same fashion, hotels build committees to focus on problems that have a reoccurring theme. Actions are implemented immediately to correct reported problem areas each and every day. 
Hotel ReviewsConstructive criticism is taken very seriously on a day-to-day basis.  Celebrating glowing hotel reviews are also important. Sometimes we hear glowing remarks and end up with a disappointing score, like a six or seven.  We scratch our heads on what actions we could have taken to get the score higher when a guest can have such a wonderful overview and yet score us so low. We live for your 9s and 10s! We build action plans to obtain those scores. 
In addition to our branded survey’s, any social sites (Ex. Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook) and travel sites also invite you to leave remarks (often on a scale from 0 to 5). Here at the Hilton Waikiki Beach, we watch those very closely as well, considering they are in the public domain (whereas in-house comments are monitored privately).  We want to be sure that we listen to all avenues of comments regarding our services and monitor and respond to those comments and take action where warranted. We take it to heart when we can impact the next guests experience. 
Summary of this story? Your vote counts! We appreciate the time you take to tell us about our services and it really does help everyone win in the guest experience category, while providing hotel reviews that informs future guests on their hotel choice.


Mary NeisterMary Neister has worked in the hotel business for 25+ years.  She has held many positions within the industry including restaurant manager, bar manager, accounting, catering sales, convention services hotel sales and marketing. She is currently the Director of Sales & Marketing at the Hilton Waikiki Beach which features 600 rooms, 17,000 square feet of meeting space and is located one block from the famous beach itself.
Cooking Fish

Cooking Fish -holy mackerel its not hard at all

You can manhandle a steak and chicken too.  But Fish?  In a food culture where the average dude can identify cuts of beef on sight as if he butchered them himself, there is no excuse to go on ignoring fish.  It is every bit as succulent, hearty, nuanced and open to interpretation as the other daily proteins we all like to eat and prepare.  You just need to know how to deal with it.  We’re not talking Tuna Helper here!  Here are some simple things to know and remember when preparing and cooking fish at home.

 ·     How to Choose & Buy the Right Fish

First and foremost smell it!  The freshest fish should always smell sweet and should smell as if you were standing in the ocean and not the aisles of your local grocery store.  Any fishy or strong odors means the fish has passed it’s prime and you should not buy it.  When looking to buy a whole fish it should look as if it was just pulled out of the ocean; bright eyes and firm flesh are signs of freshness.  Fish fillets or steaks should be firm and bright looking, with no brown spots or discoloration.  Remember that fresh fish should be stored in your refrigerator for only a day or two; it is very perishable.  Any longer than two days and you will need to wrap the fish well in freezer paper and freeze it.

·     To Marinate or Not to Marinate

Cooking Fish

Soleil @k’s Furikake Crusted Ahi

Thick and dry fish steaks like Tuna or Thresher Shark taste great when marinated.  Sometimes the simplest of ingredients like a mix of oil, vinegar and spices will do the trick.  Any marinating should be brief as your fish could become mushy fish when cooked due to the delicate nature of this protein.  One idea is to use our recipe from our restaurant, Soleil @k here at the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp which is simple but very tasty.  Our Furikake Crusted Ahi is a local favorite and consists of a mix of shredded Nori, sugar, salt and sesame.  First soak your Ahi in soy sauce for 1 minute making sure both sides get covered.  Get a pan nice and hot and add a little oil to the pan so your fish does not stick to the pan and then let it sear for a few minutes on each side making sure to turn it sideways as well.  Put your Furikake mix on a plate and coat both sides of your Ahi with these delicious ingredients.  Add a nice side of Asparagus or Rice and enjoy!

·     Never Overcook Your Fish

There is a very delicate balance between perfectly cooked fish and overcooked fish.  Remember the principle of residual heat: a pan will hold heat when it is removed from its heat source and will continue to cook the fish for several minutes if left in the pan.  It is best to cook your fish until it is just about done, remove the pan from the oven, stovetop or grill and let it stand for a few minutes to finish cooking.  Before cooking oily fish like Salmon or Trout you will need to dry the fish with paper towels thoroughly.

 ·     How Do I Know When My Fish is Done

The safest thing to remember is to cook your fish for at least 8 minutes per inch of thickness or 10 minutes per inch of thickness for whole fish.  Fish is best when it just starts to flake off with a fork.  Because fish have very little connective tissue and fat, they are quite delicate when cooked.  A reliable doneness test is to check if the fish “flakes”.  Insert a fork or knife gently into the thickest part of the fish and twist.  The fish should begin to separate along the natural lines.

 In summary…

Everyone knows that fish is good for you and that the fats in fish like Tuna and Salmon are thought to help prevent heart disease.  But it seems that many people are afraid of cooking fish at home due to not knowing how.  Buying, storing and cooking fish is not difficult and it just requires a little know how.  I hope these tips help in your efforts in making your next fish meal in the comfort of your own home and kitchen.


Sean Mattix is the Director of Food & Beverage at the  San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter. Sean has been working at this Marriott for almost 8 years and has overseen the menu development, operation and overall vision of Altitude Sky Lounge which has won many local awards and national accolades. When not working he tries to keep up with his teenage daughter, 3 year old daughter and 1 year old son.

Sacramento Beer Week

Sacramento Beer Week – a beer pairing dinner!

What is it about craft beer that has people so engaged these days. Growing up, craft beer was still in its forming stages. The beer our parents and even grandparents drank were domestic beers like Coors, Miller, Budweiser.  And although these beers remain a staple in the beer world, a new generation has sprung from the vines of Cascade hops and specialty malts.  In California, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was a forefront in the craft brewing world, even growing their hops on site.  The brewery itself is a spectacle with the beautiful copper and wood décor. Now, breweries, taprooms, and craft beer pubs are popping up on a regular basis. In Sacramento area alone we have over 40 breweries and dozens of craft beer bars and bottle shops.  Craft beer is becoming a common find in the local grocery store.  With all of this excitement surrounding craft beer, there is no doubt as to why Sacramento is home to an annual event called Sacramento Beer Week.  This is a 10 day event where breweries, beer pubs and restaurants alike come together to celebrate the greatness that is craft beer.

Located right around the corner from the Sacramento Marriott Rancho Cordova is a hidden gem, American River Brewing Company.  American River’s Taproom is a local hot spot for craft beer lovers. As a highlight, American River sells both bottles and growlers out of their taproom and makes for a great pit stop after a long day at work.  In taking my colleagues to American River Brewing Company I was able to engage the owner, David Mathis into chatting with us about his beer and the brewery itself.  For the first time my colleagues got to experience what craft beer really has to offer and why it is engaging to such a wide audience. We talked about beer and food pairing and the pronounced flavors now found within craft beers.  We discussed how an IPA stands up to strong spicy food, while a Brown ale can pair well hearty foods such roasted pork.  There is so much potential for development when cooking and pairing food with beer.

Sacramento Beer WeekWhat a better way to celebrate this than participating in Sacramento Beer Week.  We are excited to announce our first ever beer dinner at Formaggio Taverna and Patio on March 6, 2014.  We will be preparing a 5 course beer and food pairing menu with American River Brewing Company.  For more information please contact us at (916) 267-6756 or our website.

For more information on Sacramento Beer Week, click here.

Cheers… literally!

Mia RuanoMia Ruano is the Restaurant Supervisor at the Sacramento Marriott Rancho Cordova. She has over 6 years of experience in the hospitality industry.  She graduated from CSU Sacramento with a B.S. in Recreation Administration and an emphasis in commercial tourism. During her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends and enjoying the hospitality of others.