Tourism Tuesdays August 8, 2017

Governor Ivey to open conference

Southern Makers is this weekend in Birmingham

Alabama Restaurant Week kicks off across the state on Friday

Space Camp promoted to UK youth in state tourism media promotion

The Swampers return to their sweet home thanks to Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine

Alabama eatery named among most scenic U.S. restaurants

Sampling the state’s Bicentennial Beers

Downtown Birmingham dual-branded Hilton hotel announces opening date

$12.5 Million downtown Montgomery hotel under construction

Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts director retires after 23 years

Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism is Aug. 19-22 in Birmingham

Lee Sentell’s temporary address

Alabama Tourism Workshop scheduled for Oct. 11  

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website



Gov. Ivey to open conference
Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell says Gov. Kay Ivey is paying the hospitality industry a major compliment by opening the annual governor’s tourism conference on Aug. 20 at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Birmingham.

“The governor has lots of requests for her time. She accepted our invitation almost immediately. We haven’t had the governor at our conference in several years. We are honored and excited to have her as our opening speaker just after noon on that Sunday.”

Ivey and Sentell were friends during their years at Auburn University. Sentell, who wrote for the Auburn Plainsman campus newspaper, often covered Ivey, who became the first woman to serve as Vice President of the Student Government Association at Auburn.

For more information on the governor’s tourism conference please see


Southern Makers is this weekend in Birmingham
On Saturday, Aug. 12 through Sunday, Aug. 13, more than 100 of the South’s top makers will come together at the historic Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham for the fifth annual Southern Makers event, celebrating Southern creativity and innovation.

The list of Southern Makers exhibiting at the festival taps into a variety of top-quality Southern artisans and features fashion designers, textile artists, screen printers, jewelers, brewers, winemakers, contemporary artists, farmers, woodworkers, chefs, bakers, architects, industrial designers, preservationists and entrepreneurs. Celebrated connoisseurs among the 2017 Makers include national award-winning designer Billy Reid; brothers Keith and Dylan Cochran of Wood Studio, previous overall winner of the Garden & Gun Made in the South Awards; artist Butch Anthony and broom maker George Jones, Jr., shoe designer Peter Nappi, home grown cotton bedding from Red Land Cotton and more.  To view the full list of 2017 Southern Makers, visit

More than 2,000 event-goers will eat, drink, shop, listen and learn about handcrafted goods, sample tastings made by distinguished chefs using locally sourced ingredients, listen to live music and participate in hands-on demonstrations and interactive workshops. This highly curated platform provides a venue for skilled and accomplished makers to connect, while also allowing adventurers from near and far to experience a cross section of the South’s finest. Rich with history in textiles, agriculture, food, literature, art and design, Southern Makers is an educational and authentic experience where guests interact with the makers and designers firsthand, gaining a better understanding and a deeper appreciation for their craft.

New this year is a Southern Makers Beer Garden, curated by the Alabama Brewers Guild, where guest can interact and purchase directly from breweries themselves. Participating craft breweries include: Back Forty Beer, Black Warrior, Cahaba, Fairhope, Goat Island, Good People, Haint Blue, Trim Tab and more.

Another new happening this year­ is a five-star dining experience on Friday, Aug.11, to benefit Southern Makers nonprofit. Guests will enjoy a five-course dinner prepared by a variety of top Southern-based chefs including: Adam Evans, formerly of Optimus, Atlanta, James Lewis, Bettola, Birmingham, Alex Harrell, Angeline, New Orleans, David Carrier, Certified Burger, Sea Island GA, and Josh Quick, Odette, Florence.  Miami’s own, five-star sommelier Heath Porter will pair wine with courses. Each chef will prepare a special plate to add to this one-of-a-kind culinary experience. The atmosphere and surroundings will complement the dinner with an urban farm-to-table feel and theme. The area from 29th St. to the historic Pepper Place will be transformed for one night only into a joyful dining room under the stars of Alabama.

For more information and to purchase tickets for all the festivities, visit the Southern Makers website at

A single day Southern Makers ticket is $25.99 plus taxes and fees, a weekend ticket is $35.99 plus taxes and fees. A limited number of ALL ACCESS (VIP) weekend passes for $85.00 plus taxes and fees. Only single day passes may be purchased at the door for 35.99 plus taxes and fees. Tickets are free for children under 10. Beer tokens are just $2.50 each and may be purchased at the entrance to the garden. A 6-ounce pour will be 1 token. A 12-ounce pour will be 2 tokens. Limited seating dinner tickets are $200.

Visit and like Southern Makers on Facebook at for more information on tickets, event details and the full list of Makers.


Alabama Restaurant Week kicks off across the state on Friday
More than 90 restaurants will offer lunch and dinner discounts to encourage customers to try new dishes during the sixth annual Alabama Restaurant Week Aug. 11-20, state tourism officials announced.

The two-course lunch specials will range from $10 to $15 while three-course dinners will cost from $10 to $40, not including tax, tip and drink. Restaurants have the option of offering specials at both lunch and dinner or choosing to offer just lunch or just dinner specials.

“This is a great opportunity for people to try restaurants in their hometown and other places in the state while saving money,” said Alabama Tourism Department Deputy Director Grey Brennan. “There are no coupons or discount books to buy or bring. Diners at the participating restaurants simply ask for the Alabama Restaurant Week special.”

Restaurants that have signed-up to offer the specials include favorites like Grille 29 in Huntsville, Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, Tomatinos Pizza in Montgomery, The Brick Pit in Mobile and Ginny Lane Bar & Grill in Orange Beach.

Restaurants in close to 20 cities across the state have been included in Alabama Restaurant Week. Cities with participating restaurants include: Auburn, Birmingham, Centre, Decatur, Fairhope, Gulf Shores, Homewood, Hoover, Huntsville, Leeds, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, Mountain Brook, Orange Beach, Owens Cross Roads, Pell City, Troy and Tuscaloosa.

A full list of participating restaurants and the specials they are offering can be found at

The Alabama Tourism Department will be using the hash tag #DineAlabama17 on all of their social media channels to promote Alabama Restaurant Week. These social media channels include:


Space Camp promoted to UK youth in state tourism media promotion
The British publication First News is conducting a giveaway of Space Camp goody bags as part of their coverage of the Netflix documentary “Mars Generation.” The promotion is being coordinated by the Alabama Tourism Department’s UK public relations representative Surinder Manku. Readers of First News can qualify for one of five giveaways that include a Space Camp backpack, water bottle, space ice cream and other items by answering a question on the First News website.

“This is an ideal way to generate demand for the Space Camp program by tying it in with the ‘Mars Generation’ movie,” said deputy state tourism director Grey Brennan. “First News is the most popular youth publication in the UK.”

The Mars Generation movie was filmed at Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville. Space Camp provided the giveaways and Manku coordinated the promotion with First News for the Alabama Tourism Department.

First News is the United Kingdom’s only newspaper for young people and has a readership of more than 2 million children ages 7 to 14. First News receives 25,000 unique users to its webpage with 160,000 page views per month. The competition ends Aug. 10.

For more information please see or contact Surinder Mankku


The Swampers return to their sweet home thanks to Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine
From the article by Anne Kristoff on Alabama News Center:

Standing in front of 3614 Jackson Highway, it’s easy to believe that this small brick building was once a coffin factory. It’s a little harder to imagine that it was once one of the most important and prolific recording studios in the world.

“We thought it was an urban myth,” said Judy Hood, chairman of the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation. “During the heyday, I was in junior high and high school and people would come into home room and say ‘Aw, man, Rod Stewart was down in Sheffield at that studio last night!’ and I was like, ‘No he wasn’t!’”

Except, he was. Stewart and just about everybody else – the Rolling Stones, Cher, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Kris Kristofferson, Paul Simon, the Staples Singers, Bob Seger, to name a few – thanks to David Hood, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Beckett and Roger Hawkins, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. By now, you may have seen the 2013 documentary that tells their full story. At the very least, you’ve heard Lynyrd Skynyrd (yes, they recorded here, too) name check them as the Swampers in “Sweet Home Alabama.”

“What is it about Muscle Shoals?” asked Steve Winwood in the film. “It’s just a little village on the Alabama border. Why does that music come out of there?”

Judy Hood, who is married to bass player and Swamper David Hood, echoes that sentiment, saying that people can hardly believe such a vast array of music, yielding hundreds of hits, came out of the humble building in this tiny town. Thousands of people make the pilgrimage here every year to try to find out why. Some attribute the mojo to the Native American tale of a woman who sings in the river. Others chalk it up to the hard work, passion and dedication of the musicians and everyone who was involved in running the studio.

“There really is nothing else like it, anywhere,” said Dick Cooper, former production assistant for Beckett and a past curator for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. “The fact that a studio this small turned out so much great music is phenomenal, and it’s all because of the people who were involved. This is the most amazingly creative workshop atmosphere I’ve seen.”

The Swampers started out as the house band for nearby FAME Studios and left there to open Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in 1969. They recorded in 3614 Jackson Highway from 1969 until 1978, when they left to open a larger facility down by the “Singing River,” Cooper said.

Cooper was also a newspaper reporter and photographer. Many of his images were used for reference during the renovation.

“The foundation board and Beats Electronics, we were all totally committed to restoring it authentically, absolutely, the way it was when the Swampers were here,“ugly” burlap ceiling and orange carpet, as well as the instruments, coffee maker, even the cigarette butts in the ashtrays.

The million-dollar renovation was completed earlier this year and people can once again stand in the middle of the room that Keith Richards refers to as “Rock’n roll heaven.”

“We will be forever indebted to Beats Electronics,” Hood said, “because they made it possible for the Swampers to come home again.”

For the complete article please see


Alabama eatery named among most scenic U.S. restaurants
From the article by Hanno van der Bijl in the Birmingham Business Journal:

Alabama has one of the most scenic restaurants in the country.

OpenTable named Dauphin’s in Mobile one of the top 100 U.S. restaurants with the best views and menus.

The results of OpenTable’s 100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America for 2017 is based on more than 10 million restaurant reviews by OpenTable diners for more than 25,000 U.S. restaurants between July 1, 2016 and May 31, 2017.

Restaurants noted for their scenic views were then scored and organized to produce the top 100 list.

The majority owner of Dauphin’s, which specializes in French Creole cuisine, is Bob Baumhower, a former football player at Alabama and in the NFL.

For the complete article please see


Sampling the state’s Bicentennial Beers
From the article by Hardy Jackson in The Randolph

The Alabama Brewers Guild, in cooperation with the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, has enlisted breweries from across Alabama to collaborate in concocting a series of beers, each honoring one of the state’s five capitals. These will be released to the public, one-by-one, from now until 2019.

What a dandy idea.

The first beer in the State Capital Series was St. Stephens Stout, which appeared in 2015 to pay homage to Alabama’s territorial capital. It is a pity that the beer was not available back when St. Stephens was a bustling town, for it would have likely added a bit of refinement to a place whose citizens were described as an “illiterate, wild and savage” bunch, a people “of depraved morals, unworthy of public confidence or private esteems.”

Certainly not beer drinkers.

Fortunately, the town also attracted men like Harry Toulmin, an educated (at least literate) Scottish freethinker, who said he came to St. Stephens because it was “so far from civilization that he would be safe from Presbyterians.” Toulmin strikes me as the sort of fellow who would enjoy sitting with friends and discussing predestination and infant damnation over a beer, rather than consorting with “depraved” folks who drank rot-gut whiskey that they called, with a fine feeling for words, “busthead.”

Yes, St. Stephens Stout would have been Toulmin’s drink.

If he could get it, for St. Stephens did not have a brewery.

Huntsville, on the other hand, did.

A far more populous and progressive place than St. Stephens, Huntsville was where the convention met in 1819 to draw up a constitution for what was by then the “state” of Alabama and where the first session of the state legislature was called to order. Huntsville was also the location of Alabama’s first brewery, which James and William Badlun opened that same year.

Although I can’t prove it, I am sure that holding the convention in a town where beer was brewed was not coincidental. Nor can I prove, but I do believe, that ready access to beer influenced the writing of what has been judged to have been one of the most “liberal” state constitutions of the time.

So it is right and proper that the second beer brewed by Guild members is Badlun Brothers Imperial Porter, which is described as “a modern take on a traditional porter recipe.”

However, Huntsville was not meant to be the “permanent” state capital. A committee of the territorial legislature recommended Tuscaloosa, but William Wyatt Bibb, the state’s first governor, would have none of it. Bibb and a powerful coalition of planter interests favored a spot at the confluence of the Cahaba and Alabama Rivers, where they felt they could make their fortunes in Black Belt real estate and Black Belt cotton. So Cahawba became the capital.

For six years Cahawba was the place to be, at least if government was your business. Unfortunately for the city, if you had other business to conduct, it was more profitable to conduct it upriver, at Selma, which would eventually replace Cahawba as “The Queen City of the Black Belt,” though not as the capital. If Selma had become the seat of government the Guild might be brewing Samuel Bogle’s Beer. Bogle was a hotel proprietor whose “assembly room” was the social center of the town. It was there that the city council, after doing the city’s business, reportedly “adjourned to take a drink.”

But until Selma came into its own, Cahawba flourished. So, what would be the beer for that capital?

Birmingham’s Cahaba Brewing Company is one of the breweries collaborating on the Bicentennial project. Taking inspiration from the mulberry trees that lined Cahawba’s streets, Cahaba brewed “Mulberry Road” which came out this year. A portion of the proceeds from its sale will go to preserving the Old Cahawba historical site. Drink up. It is for a good cause.

The 2018 beer will honor Tuscaloosa, which launched a “fake news” campaign and snatched the capital from Cahawba. A Montgomery beer will follow and finish the series.

For the sake of good journalism, I decided to sample the beers released thus far and pass judgment upon them. To help me in my research I enlisted my son. He is a recent Auburn graduate and as such is not unfamiliar with beer.

We concluded (drum roll please), they are all good.

My favorite was “Mulberry Road,” but I tend to lean toward lighter beers.

The boy judged the St. Stephens Stout excellent and added that Badlum Brothers Imperial Porter could hold its own at any gathering he had ever attended.

So we declare this first round of Bicentennial Beers a roaring success and sufficient to satisfy our beer cravings until the next round is on the shelves.


For the complete article please see


Downtown Birmingham dual-branded Hilton hotel announces opening date
From the article by Kelly Poe on

Downtown Birmingham’s dual-branded Hilton Hotel will open on Saturday, Sept. 12.

Dothan-based LBA Properties is developing the hotel, which will house a Hilton Garden Inn and Home2 Suites, a Hilton extended stay brand, at Second Avenue South and 17th Street.

“We are thrilled to be opening the first-ever Hilton Garden Inn & Home2 Suites dual-pairing in Hilton’s portfolio,” LBA President Beau Benton said in a press release. “As evidence of Birmingham’s continued growth, we are delighted to be a part of downtown’s exciting resurgence. We look forward to being a community partner and preferred option for Birmingham’s many leisure and corporate travelers.”

The two brands will share a common check-in point and share amenities like office space, a pool and a fitness center. The hotel will have a restaurant called the Garden Grille and bar as well as complimentary continental breakfast. The Hilton Garden Inn will have 104 rooms and the Home2 will have 106 rooms. the five-story hotel will also have 3,700 square feet of meeting space.

LBA has named Jason DeLuca as general manager and Lindsey Setzer as director of sales of the hotel.

Construction began in November of 2015. This is the latest of three hotels to open in the downtown area recently: The Elyton opened in the historic Empire Building, and the Redmont opened in 2015 after a massive renovation.

Sunbelt Development developed the hotel. Bradley, Schmidt & Carn Architects out of Dothan was the project’s architect. Birmingham’s Peggy Dye & Associates did design work for hte hotel.

LBA manages several Marriott, Hilton and Clarion brand hotels.

For the complete article please see


$12.5 Million downtown hotel under construction
From the article by Brad Harper in The Montgomery Advertiser:

Just over a year ago, a local developer announced plans to build a 114-room Staybridge Suites at the former skate park site in downtown Montgomery.

After a few delays, that construction has now started. Kyser Property Management Co. President Kyle Kyser said the planning and logistics took a bit longer than they expected, but the city issued a $10 million building permit to DI Construction late last month and crews have been hard at work at the site since then.

The project is expected to cost about $12.5 million in all and is expected to be done in about a year. It’ll be at 301 Bibb St., where the first White House of the Confederacy once stood. That’s across the street from the Renaissance Hotel & Spa, but Kyser said at last year’s announcement that the Staybridge will be the first “truly” extended-stay hotel in the heart of the city.

When it’s finished, it will feature one- and two-bedroom suites with full kitchens, meeting space, a fitness center, a business center, a convenience store and an outdoor living room with a fire pit, along with on-site parking. The hotel is a brand under Intercontinental Hotel Group.

Meanwhile, work is under way in north Montgomery on the new skate park site. It’s on part of a 14-acre site at 2390 Congressman W.L. Dickinson Drive that also includes a renovated, 44-yard-long pool. City spokesman Griffith Waller said the new skate park should be finished within the next month.

For the complete article please see


Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts director retires after 23 years
From the report on WSFA-12:

The director of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, Mark Johnson, is retiring after 23 years.

Dr. Ed Bridges, former director of State Archives, is serving as interim director as the museum board conducts a national search for the replacement. He was actively involved in the upcoming Bicentennial of Alabama commemoration, and he recently completed a new general history of Alabama, titled “Alabama: The Making of an American State.”

Johnson’s time saw major renovations and the acquisition of more than 1,700 pieces of art. He inaugurated the collection of American Studio Art Glass that numbers more than 50 works, and he oversaw the growth of the Old Master Print Collection and an expansion of the collection into traditional African art. Johnson was director during the creation of Weil Graphic Arts Study Center in honor of Adolph “Bucks” Weil Jr. in 1998 and during the expansion of the education wing/ARTWORKS gallery and creation of the Margaret Berry Lowder Gallery in 2006.

The museum also welcomed over 3 million visitors during Johnson’s tenure.

Dr. Brides praised the museum’s growth on Thursday.

“The three days now that I’ve been on the job, I’ll work at my desk for about an hour and then I’ll walk around and go see somebody or come down here and I see children all through here, I see families, I see what an alive and vibrant place this is and how important it is for our community,” Bridges said. “It’s a center of life in Montgomery.”

Another change to the museum’s staff is Emily Flowers, who has been named the museum’s Director of Development. She is the former managing director and development director at Cloverdale Playhouse. She earned her English degree from the University of Alabama and has earned certifications from the American Society Appraisers, the Pratt Institute New York and CCIM Institute Atlanta.

For the complete article please see


Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism is Aug. 19-22 in Birmingham
The Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism is Aug. 19-22 at the Sheraton Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

The Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism provides tourism professionals a chance to gather and learn about the economic impact of the industry on the Alabama economy, learn new strategies for marketing local Alabama attractions and amenities to visitors, raise money for scholarships through silent auctions and celebrate achievements.

For an agenda, list of speakers and registration information please see


Lee Sentell’s temporary address
Director Sentell’s temporary mailing address is as follows:

Lee Sentell
c/o Jerry Scharf
2036 Weeping Willow Lane
Hoover, AL 36216


Alabama Tourism Workshop scheduled for Oct. 11
The Alabama Tourism Department will host the semi-annual Tourism Workshop in Montgomery on Wed., Oct. 11. This workshop is for new tourism industry members, event organizers and anyone interested in enhancing tourism in the area. For registration and additional information, please contact Rosemary Judkins at 334-242-4493 or via email at


Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website
When you’re thinking about adding an event, remember events need to be large and exciting for people to want to travel and stay. Only add events that will gain the attention of people far and wide.

Not a partner yet? Sign up today.



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