Tourism Tuesdays June 26, 2018

Civil rights poster wins national award
Gulf Shores unveils $85 million Embassy Suites project near public beachfront
Site where Rosa Parks worked reopens as park
Rep. Mo Brooks pushes to put ‘Space Force’ command in Alabama
Restaurants, sign up now for Alabama Restaurant Week 2018
Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism
“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website


Civil rights poster wins national award
A poster for the U.S. Civil Rights Trail has received the elite Silver Addy award for poster design from the American Advertising Federation. The image that Luckie & Company of Birmingham created for the Alabama Tourism Department features an historic civil rights photo matched with a current image of the same scene.

Ed Mizzell of Luckie & Company accepted the award during ceremonies in Chicago on June 8. Often referred to as “the Oscars for advertising,” the Addys are the industry’s largest competition, attracting more than 40,000 entries through local and regional AAF competitions. A gold Addy represents the highest level of excellence, followed by the silver award.

It was Luckie’s second national Silver Addy in three years to feature landmarks that were pivotal to the success of the civil rights movement. A limited-edition book featuring combined historic and current photos of more than a dozen Alabama landmarks received an Addy in Las Vegas in 2016.

Alabama tourism director Lee Sentell initially assigned Luckie to obtain historic photos of civil rights landmarks and rephotograph them to show that the historic buildings remain intact. Former Southern Living photographer Art Meripol visited and photographed the landmarks. Luckie designer Miles Wright merged the images into “then” and “now” photo spreads.

Magazine ads featuring combo photos of Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., where the sit-in movement started, and the Little Rock Central High School, the first to be desegregated, were recently published in Time, Smithsonian, National Geographic, and Conde Nast Traveler magazines.

Sentell said his agency, which began promoting civil rights museums and churches in 2004, expanded these sites into a national trail of some 110 landmarks in 14 states at the suggestion of National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis. States throughout the South launched the trail on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on Jan. 15. The theme of the collection is  “What happened here changed the world,” officials said. For details and to watch interviews with civil rights foot soldiers visit

Gulf Shores unveils $85 million Embassy Suites project near public beachfront
From the article by John Sharp on

A new $85 million Embassy Suites hotel, described as a “transformative” project, will anchor Alabama’s most visible and recently renovated public beachfront.

The city of Gulf Shores announced it has reached an agreement in principle with DD Partners LLC, a development team led by Birmingham-based developer Ron Durham and Marietta, Georgia-based developer Ron Day.

The group will lead the construction of a 229-room, mixed-use hotel development on a 1.93-acre parcel at the corner of West Beach Boulevard and West 1st Street.

“This is the type of transportation project we envisioned for the beach area when we adopted Vision 2025 and committed to make a ‘make it happen’ mentality,” said Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft in a statement, referring to a plan the city adopted in 2014.

The 398,000-square-foot project will be anchored by the Embassy Suites and will include a fine dining restaurant, street front retail, and a 23,000-square-foot outdoor rooftop featuring a pool, bar, lounge and event terrace overlooking the recently renovated Gulf Place beachfront.

Additional hotel amenities will include nearly 12,000 square feet of conference space including a 7,800-square-foot ballroom, full-service spa, indoor pool and fitness center.

The new development comes on the heels of the city completing the first two of three phases of a $15 million revitalization of its half-mile public beach.

According to the city, the beachfront investment was “pivotal” in gaining franchise approval from Hilton Worldwide, which owns the Embassy Suites chain.

In April, the city unveiled the most visible aspect of the project, just west of the iconic Hangout restaurant at Alabama 59 and Beach Boulevard. That portion included a new beachfront park, a 20-foot-wide boardwalk, shade structures, playground, and new landscaping features including palm trees.

The project’s final phase, which begins this fall, will open in about a year. It will include the further extension of the beachfront boardwalk past the Phoenix All Suites condominiums. A new parking lot and police station will be added.

“We set out to create a pedestrian- and bike-friendly beachfront,” said Craft. “We wanted to attract new development that would boost our shoulder seasons and stimulate businesses.”

He added, “This (Embassy Suites) project will be the catalyst to drive these initiatives to a new level and a model for future development by obtaining LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification and utilizing flood proofing construction techniques.”

Said Durham, “This project has been a true public-private partnership from the start. We would not be announcing this project without the city’s vision and commitment to Gulf Place and beyond. Their investment will yield returns and spur additional private investment for decades to come.”

Gulf Shores will join Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa as the only cities in Alabama to boast an Embassy Suites hotel.

Grant Brown, a city of Gulf Shores spokesman, said negotiations with Hilton Worldwide have been going on for over two years. The city submitted a request for proposals to hotel developers for a project located near its beachfront.

Blake Phelps, the economic development coordinator with Gulf Shores, said the city has agreed in principle to “utilize economic development tools available to us to facilities this project without the city” assuming any debt or additional risk.

He said the specifics of the development agreement will be presented to the Gulf Shores City Council at an upcoming meeting.

The development team expects to complete all necessary permitting by the end of 2018 and begin construction in early 2019. Construction is expected to take place for 22 months, Brown said, with an opening targeted for the beginning of the summer of 2021.

“This new Embassy Suites will add greatly to the current inventory of hotels and other lodging options that span our coastline,” said Herb Malone, CEO of Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism. “This is the perfect project for this location and we anxiously await the grand opening.”

For the complete article please see

Site where Rosa Parks worked reopens as park
From the article by Brad Harper on

An open-air park now stands in the spot where Rosa Parks once worked in downtown Montgomery, the building she left when she boarded the bus for a trip into history.

People mingled and chatted Thursday under a meticulously recreated Montgomery Fair department store façade, holding cups from the local coffeehouse next door. Felicia Bell tried to imagine how her day would have been different if she came there 63 years ago, when Parks worked as a seamstress.

As a black woman, it would have meant a segregated bus ride, then a walk to the back entrance. She could have refreshed herself at a “colored” water fountain but wouldn’t have been allowed to try on clothes, or hats, or shoes. She could have bought food but wouldn’t have been allowed to eat at the lunch counter.

“Using the ladies lounge would have been prohibited for me, as I would have not been considered a lady because I’m not white,” said Bell, director of the Rosa Parks Museum. “I carry myself like a lady just like Mrs. Parks did. So I cannot imagine dealing with the oppression, indignation and humiliation of segregation on a daily basis.”

Bell quoted a letter Parks once wrote to describe the situation, saying she and others at the time were “conditioned to it and make the best of a bad situation.”

“I’m so glad that she got tired of making the best of a bad situation,” Bell said.

The Dexter Avenue property was one of about a dozen that was bought by the city in 2010 as part of a downtown revitalization push, one that has embraced different aspects of Montgomery’s sometimes ugly history. The city sold most of the properties to private developers. New York-based Marjam Supply Co. bought and redeveloped the former Kress department store next door, including preserving and displaying “colored” and “white” water fountains.

The city held on to the Montgomery Fair property and hoped to restore the building. But a 1984 fire and 30 years of being open to the elements left it structurally unsound. “We actually had vitrolite tiles (from the original façade) falling to the sidewalk in 2014,” said Lois Cortell, the city’s senior development manager.

Turning it into a pocket park between buildings solved several structural problems, and the recreated, free-standing façade honors a historically significant period of the building’s past. Other downtown developers took the same approach, turning the street into a stroll through time periods.

“We’ve ended up with a 1940s art deco façade, next to 1850s Victorian, near 1929 neo-classical at Kress,” Cortell said. “This whole eclectic mix of architectural styles, seemingly disparate styles, really becomes a reflection of the broad range of history that’s happened on this block.”

Historian Richard Bailey praised the approach and the effort to embrace both “the Montgomery of yesterday and the Montgomery of today.” And he noted that other cities with their own troubled histories, across the South and across the nation, are taking cues from that approach.

“We need to combine those histories… to say this is the past, but this is a new Montgomery,” Bailey said. “People who came out today, I didn’t see a frown on anyone’s face. It’s a wonderful day.”

For the complete article please see

Rep. Mo Brooks pushes to put ‘Space Force’ command in Alabama
From the article by Lee Roop on

Alabama’s congressional representatives aren’t wasting any time lobbying for the Pentagon to put President Trump’s new “Space Force” command on Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville.

U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks told an all-star panel of witnesses at a committee hearing that, “I hope that you will help make Redstone Arsenal a finalist in the space command headquarters debate.” U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R) also said the headquarters of the new force should be in Huntsville.

Brooks addressed NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and U.S. Air Force General John Hyten, commanding general of the U.S. Strategic Forces Command, at a hearing where they were scheduled to testify on “space situational awareness.” Brooks said each was in “a unique position” to influence the location of the new Space Force.

The president directed the Pentagon to “begin the process” of creating the Space Force as a separate branch of the U.S. military. The president went public, according to the Wall Street Journal, because the Pentagon and Air Force have resisted the idea of the new force.

For the complete article please see

Restaurants, sign up now for Alabama Restaurant Week 2018
Restaurants, sign up and be a part of the locally owned and operated restaurants that participate in Alabama Restaurant Week 2018. This year the more-than-weeklong event is Aug. 10-19. Last year almost 100 restaurants were a part of the event showcasing local food, fun and flavor.

Participating restaurants will receive in-store promotional items and be listed on the website along with their meal offerings. Participating restaurants set meal prices at $10, $20, $30 and $40 for dinner and $10 and $15 for lunch. In all cases, the price is per person and does not include tax, tip and drink. Restaurants have the choice of offering one or more meals at the preset price.

There is no cost for restaurants to participate in this statewide promotion. For more details and sign-up information, please contact Courtney Austin at or 334-242-4674.

Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism
The Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism is Aug. 4-7 at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa.

The conference 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

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website
Last call! If you would like your event to be featured in the 2019 Alabama Vacation Guide, log in to your Partner account and submit your events. The submission deadline is June 30.

What are you waiting for? Submit your events today!


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