January 01, 1999
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts January 1999 Current Issue
January 1999
Short Cuts:

Tea time: Far East Break at Hilton Woodcliff Lake.
Tea time: Far East Break at Hilton Woodcliff Lake.

Do your meeting breaks resemble a hit-and-run scene, with attendees grabbing a cup of coffee and dashing off to the nearest phone bank? If so, it’s time for a change.

Themed breaks can turn simple sustenance into something special, adding appeal to the event and helping attendees recharge for the next session. And, says food and beverage director Don Giordano of the Hilton Woodcliff Lake in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. (201-391-3600), they cost peanuts more than a regular break.

“They force people to de-stress,” says Giordano, who has seen themed breaks grow in popularity at his property. The Hilton Woodcliff Lake’s Far East Break dishes up moist coconut cake, orange slices, fortune cookies and a selection of green teas amidst an exotic backdrop of bamboo baskets, chopsticks, paper parasols, Oriental vases, enormous fans and bonsai plants. On request, servers will dress in kimonos.

The Tropical Break at the Ritz-Carlton San Juan Hotel & Casino in Puerto Rico (787-253-1700) features fruit punch and virgin piña colada smoothies, fruit brochettes and chocolate-covered bananas. Surfboards, giant flip-flop sandals, oversize beach chairs, mini palm trees and classic Caribbean music create the ambience. To take advantage of the warm ocean breezes, hold the break on the terrace.

Colonial Williamsburg Resort & Conference Center in Williamsburg, Va., (800-822-9127) capitalizes on its historical surroundings with the Eighteenth-Century Break . A town crier or one of the founding fathers George Washington or Thomas Jefferson announces the break, and servers in Colonial garb dole out hot or cold apple cider, malt cider, roasted peanuts and scones from tables decorated with lanterns, beeswax candles and baskets of seasonal flowers.

Pretzels, every which way, and Coca-Cola are featured in the Coke With a Twist break at Philadelphia’s Wyndham Franklin Plaza Hotel (215-448-2979). Attendees can choose from soft or hard pretzels with a variety of mustards, or even the chocolate- covered kind. Old-fashioned wooden Coca-Cola bottle cases, soda fountain glasses, an original Coke vending machine and cola memorabilia liven up the atmosphere. Don’t be shy about expanding the beverage selection for non-Coke fans.

At the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando (407-239-1234), the Border Break brings Tex-Mex to Mickey Mouse land. Attendees sip virgin margaritas and munch on corn tortilla chips, salsas, cheese dips and warm breadsticks served by wait staff donning cowboy hats and sombreros. Bulls’ horns, saddles, cowboy boots and bales of hay complete the transformation.

The Miniature Golf Break at Chateau Elan in Braselton, Ga., (770-932-0900) gets attendees putting. Two golf pros are on hand to help, and a video of professional tournaments runs in the background. Bagels and assorted cream cheeses, along with beverages, are served from a golf cart.


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