A writer’s life is a life filled with intrigue, creativity, influence, and curiosity. Writers are famous for being temperamental and are typecast as being extremely difficult to live with, especially when the virus of writer’s block threatens the train of thought. Some writers are college graduates; some are simply graduates of the hard roads of life, or the school of hard knocks.

To qualify for this invigorating, somewhat excruciating lifestyle, a person needs to have the will and determination to accept rejections, the perseverance to try again, and the strength to survive whenever the chips are down.

The writer must be able to express him or herself in a manner that is confident and easily understood. A writer is a communicator. He needs to feel comfortable sharing human experiences. He must be expressive and able to let others share his pain, or his joy. Knowledge of the English language, sentence structures, composition, and how to organize thoughts in a comprehensive order is imperative. The writer must pay close attention to details, characterizations, and life. He has the ability to express what others can only feel, with a passion and sensitivity that can touch hearts and change lives.

Many writers share a knowledge and intense hunger for deep feelings and an endless curiosity about the world and the people that surround it. Writers are creative, dramatic, and resourceful. They understand words and the power behind those words. Writers have a never-ending hunger for life.

Overall, the writer is a person who is determined to explore and create. He is most happy when the words flow without a struggle. He is committed and establishes goals for himself. Some of those goals seem impossible to reach, but when they are reached, the rewards are worth the struggles and pain of rejection.




Detecting Esophageal Cancer

Dearest Readers:

The diagnosis rings in your ears. Esophageal cancer. A thousand thoughts and questions race inside your mind and you find it difficult to cope, think or relax. You want a second opinion. You want to live and you want things to be the way they were, before your quality of life was questionable due to cancer.

Tuesday, December 9, 1997 was the day I became an advocate for esophageal cancer. The endoscopy revealed a tumor, located in the esophagus. A malignant tumor…Cancer…the dreaded word echoed inside my brain. No! I screamed! It cannot be cancer! There must be some mistake! My father took such good care of himself, but like lots of men from his generation, he refused yearly exams and only went to the doctor when he was ill.

Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is a difficult cancer to detect. Many of the symptoms, such as coughing, difficulty swallowing {dysphagia), and indigestion are thought to be acid reflux. Esophageal cancer may start as tightness in the throat or pain in the chest. Recurring hiccups, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, or regurgitating food and weight loss, could be symptoms of cancer of the esophagus. Until my father’s diagnosis, I was clueless of the disease. Now, I serve as an advocate, to educate others, and to prepare families about this debilitating disease that attacks profusely, steals dignity and quality of life and can kill. I describe esophageal cancer as the silent cancer.


The symptoms of esophageal cancer rarely appear until the advanced stages of the disease. Unlike early detection of breast cancer and other forms of the disease, cancer of the esophagus is not able to detect by early screening. While it is recommended by the American Cancer Society to get regular physicals, eat a proper and healthy diet, quit smoking, if you are a smoker, and to maintain a healthy weight, esophageal cancer is a silent cancer that creeps up only after it advances. The major complaint from someone diagnosed with the disease is the inability to swallow or retain food. Social activities with friends and quality of life become a major issue.

Treatments for Esophageal Cancer

Cancer of the esophagus is a treatable disease in many cases, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and clinical trials. If surgery is an option, the procedure could relieve the excruciating symptoms and improve the quality of life for the patient. If surgery is not an option and quality of life is threatened, due to the inability to swallow or retain nutrition, the doctor may prescribe a PEG tube.

The Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG tube) is a form of life support for patients who are having difficulty with swallowing, or eating. Insertion of the PEG into the stomach is performed by an endoscopic procedure. With the PEG tube in place, liquid nutrition, along with medications, may be administered directly through the feeding tube, into the stomach. Introduced in 1979, the PEG tube has been used for an estimated 200,000 patients, serving as a form of nutritional support.

At the age of 84, Walter W. Perkins fought the battle of his life. His prognosis was not a good one. On two occasions, I prayed for a miracle to happen when he was near death, and on those two occasions, the miracle was granted. The doctors said he might live six months, if chemo and radiation therapy were successful. He beat their odds, battling this disease for nineteen months with stiff determination, faith, and positive thoughts guiding his way. Due to the location of his tumor, surgery was not an option for us. A few days after his diagnosis, he permitted the doctors to connect the PEG tube to his frail body. Furious that he could not swallow without regurgitating his food, he called his feeding tube an umbilical cord. His quality of life decreased at a rapid rate after his diagnosis of esophageal cancer. Fortunately, the PEG tube provided him the ability to regain some of his weight, extending his life until he became despondent and demanded to eat food again. His doctor consulted with me, letting me know that if he insisted on eating, he would aspirate his food and choke to death. For us, it was a quality of life issue. I did not fight the battle to override his decision to enjoy food again, even though I knew eating food would lead to his death. On July 6, 1999, while I was entering the nursing home for my daily visit, my father aspirated his food and was gone.

Before his diagnosis, I was naïve to the prognosis of esophageal cancer. This disease was not marketed or publicized whenever I read stories about cancer, and I called it the silent cancer, because it silently develops without many warning signs. When I expressed my guilt to the oncologist, I was told that esophageal cancer is increasing and is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing cancers in the world.

Additional treatments are based upon the type of esophageal cancer, location of tumors, and how capable the patient is to respond to treatment. In my father’s case, his age, fragile condition and the location of his tumor dictated his treatment of chemo and radiation therapy. After his second dosage of chemo, his treatment with chemicals and radiation were cancelled. The drugs had left him so weak we almost lost him. The chemotherapy had drained every ounce of strength he had. From this point on, the only treatment would be for the quality of his life.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

A new method of treatment for cancer of the esophagus is photodynamic therapy. PDT is helpful in some cases by injecting chemicals into the blood. Laser lights target the cancer by an endoscope procedure. A minor disadvantage of PDT is the light may only reach cells on the surface, and cancers that have spread are not treated.


Survival Rate

According to the American Cancer Society, the survival rate of esophageal cancer is low. New cases are increasing at a rapid rate. It is estimated that in 2008, approximately 16,470 patients will be diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. Deaths are predicted to total 14,280. The Five Year Survival Rate is estimated to be only 34%. These statistics are not encouraging; however, with developments of clinical trials, drug therapies and the willingness to fight the battle of cancer, I am hopeful the statistics will increase soon.


Quality of Life

All types of cancer create issues with the quality of life for the patient and family. Esophageal cancer certainly affects the quality of all. The American Cancer Society identifies four basic quality of life factors, including social, psychological, physical, and spiritual. Watching my father fighting esophageal cancer, I would like to add one more quality of life issue, the quality, and loss of independence. Before my father’s diagnosis, I watched an amazing independent man walking in his shoes. He lived alone in a retirement community and at the age of 83, he took daily strolls, cooked his meals, gardened occasionally and he enjoyed singing. After the diagnosis and the PEG tube insertion, he was observed by medical professionals to need skilled care – a term I became most familiar with as his advocate. Skilled care was a medical term that meant he needed the daily care of a registered nurse. His social life consisted of a roommate in the nursing home and the staff of medical professionals caring for him. He was too weak to go anywhere most of the time, and when he was able to go out with me, I had to be careful not to take him to restaurants or out for ice cream since he was receiving liquid feedings from the PEG tube and he could not swallow. His physical activity was non-existent because he was so frail. All that remained was the spiritual quality of life. Before his death, my father tapped into the spiritual side of his life, reading the Bible constantly, quoting verses, and singing religious songs, aloud. Before his death, the singing quieted. He coughed constantly and would lose his breath from the coughing attacks. In a whispering voice, he reminded me he was ready to go, if the good Lord decided it was his time. I noticed his voice was still hoarse and his eyes did not hold their usual sparkle.

Additional research for Esophageal Cancer is underway and I am hopeful that in time there will be a cure for all cancers. Cancer Aid Research, education, and advocacy serve as strong components to understand cancer. Esophageal cancer is usually diagnosed in the late stages of cancer, as was the case with my father. When I inquired about the stage, I was told he was in Stage Four. The outlook for this disease is not a good one. The survival rate is low. If you are a smoker, quit. If you have symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, pain or difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, non-stop coughing, heartburn, or hiccups, make an appointment with your doctor and ask about esophageal cancer. If you are at high risk, the doctor might suggest an endoscopy.


Serving as my father’s caregiver gave me a new perspective on life and the belief in miracles. Now I appreciate the beauty of a new morning sunrise and I can look towards the future while doing all that I can to educate others about esophageal cancer and care giving. The experience of watching my father suffer so much, still with a smile on his face, even when he was angry and in denial about his cancer taught me so much. He encouraged me to move forward with life. I have chosen my life’s direction, or perhaps it chose me, and I will do all that I can to become an advocate for those who battle this dreadful disease. My passion is one of hope so cancer will soon become a curable disease that is not silent. I still believe in miracles.






Barbie Perkins-Cooper is a freelance writer who loves the journey and exploration of travel and health. She works full-time as an editorial photojournalist and has published numerous articles and photographs for regional, health and beauty and travel publications including the Travel Channel. She is the author of Condition of Limbo and Career Diary of a Photographer. Visit her website




Described as “one of the top 50 places to live and play,” according to National Geographic Traveler, Mobile, Alabama is a city filled with hospitality and rich Southern charm. Known for the first Mardi Gras celebration back in 1703, and promoted as “America’s Family Mardi Gras,” Mobile is a special city where the entire community is proud to service and welcome tourists, guests and convention and meeting professionals. “Mobile Bay offers a genuine southern experience in a historic, yet vibrant coastal setting. A top-rated, riverfront convention center anchors a lively, walkable downtown offering world-class accommodations, lush parks and squares, retail shops, restaurants, museums and art galleries,” said Stacy Hamilton, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“This 300-year-old port city is one of the oldest and largest along the Gulf Coast. The Hank Aaron Museum (Aaron’s boyhood home) moved to the Hank Aaron Stadium and is now open for meetings, receptions and tours. The character, architecture, passion and charm complement this fine Southern city by the bay, making Mobile a historical beauty to behold. Mobile Bay offers a lively arts and entertainment district, architecturally significant homes and buildings, beautiful gardens, parks and outdoor spaces, along with fresh local seafood, making it the ideal meeting destination,” said Hamilton. “The Carnival Elation, championship golf, a variety of water activities, one-of-a-kind event venues, city-wide historic tours, and a gracious hospitality community are sure to make your next meeting in Mobile a memorable one.”

The Carnival Elation arrived in Mobile in May 2010, replacing the Fantasy. Elation accommodates 2,000 passengers, offering four, five, and seven-day cruises from the Port of Mobile. “Pre and post-convention vacations are popular options for meeting delegates,” said Hamilton. “Candlewood Suites, an all-suite hotel will be located in downtown Mobile in December 2010. The entire Mobile Bay area offers an easy and efficient hotel and convention center package, with 1,100 hotels rooms within easy walking distance of the convention center, as well as wonderful attractions, restaurants, and nightlife nearby. The best value months to book are July and August, with room rates typically at a 30% discount. The average group rate for the City of Mobile is approximately $75.”

“Mobile has a little bit of everything. Those searching for the center of the social scene will enjoy the downtown area, while others will enjoy an artistic journey only a few miles away and across the Bay in the quaint Town of Fairhope,” said Kevin Hellmich, Senior Vice President of Sales for Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel. “Visitors can enjoy the beach, the pool and spa, or play golf on some of the world’s most challenging golf courses, tour historical monuments or get lost in the harmony of beautiful Bellingrath Gardens. Southern charm and hospitality is a specialty in Mobile where the entire community participates.”



Located on Highway 90 West is the Holiday Inn, a 3-Diamond AAA rated hotel, offering 159 guest rooms, five meeting rooms with a meeting capacity for 200 in 2,400 square feet of meeting space. “In July 2010 Mr. Shannon Harris became the Director of Sales. Millard Williams is the new General Manager. “Our location has easy access, with plenty of free parking,” said Shannon Harris. “Customers are the reason why we are here. We provide great Southern hospitality and service by hiring the right people for the right job. Rooms have a coffeemaker, microwave, refrigerator, iron, blow dryer, high-speed Internet access, and complimentary airport transportation with 24-hour advance notice.”

“The award winning Renaissance Mobile Riverview Hotel is perfect for all types of visitors,” said Hellmich. “Considered one of Mobile’s premier hotels, the hotel has 373 guest rooms, 16 meeting rooms, and 44,000 square feet of meeting space and two internationally acclaimed golf courses on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Magnolia Grove. Located in the heart of the revitalized downtown area, the Renaissance invested in a $64 million renovation bringing an air of sophistication to beautiful downtown Mobile. Overlooking stunning Mobile Bay, amenities include coffeemaker and tea service, hairdryer, iron and ironing board, comfortable, luxurious bedding and on-site dining. The convenience and versatility of the meeting space at the Renaissance creates great options for meeting planners. Renaissance Mobile Riverview meeting planners are highly trained to suit the needs of all clients. The Renaissance is involved in many “Green initiatives, including e-sales kits and brochures, linen and towel reuse programs, water conserving fixtures in guest rooms, energy-efficient light bulbs, and the hotel thinks green by buying and supporting local farmers,” said Hellmich. “Connected via a skywalk to Mobile Convention Center, who can resist the stunning sunrises over Mobile Bay, combined with the exquisite service and hospitality.”

Decorated with elegance and exquisite Southern charm in mind, the historic Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel and Spa is located one block from Mobile Bay. Travel + Leisure recognized the Battle House as one of the “Top 500 Hotels in the World,” in 2009 and National Geographic Traveler named the hotel one of the ‘Top Places to Stay in North America.’ “Originally built in 1852, the Battle House was restored to its original grandeur when it reopened in 2007,” said Kevin Hellmich, Vice President of Sales, The Battle House. “The décor is reminiscent of a time gone by, where even the smallest event was a formal affair. The Battle House has a mantra of hospitality that flows from management to staff to guest in one fluid motion. The history of the hotel speaks for itself and the Southern charm and courtesy of the staff can be seen within a simple smile and greeting. Offering 238 guest rooms, 20 meeting rooms and 27,000 square feet of meeting space with a banquet capacity of 600, “The Battle House meeting planners are highly trained professionals who invest in making sure that the event is executed to the client’s satisfaction. The elegance of the Battle House makes the venue suitable for even the most elaborate events and the approachability of the staff and comfortable luxury is perfect for a casual gathering. If meeting planners book a meeting before December 31, 2010 and hold the event before December 27, 2011, attendees will receive a $100 credit during their stay. The credit may be used for green fees or merchandise at the golf pro shop, spa services and merchandise, and other credits.” New personnel at the Grand include: Mariluz Hilbun, Director of Catering and Event Management; Edwin Torres, Area Director of Food and Beverage; Jamie Rauch, Catering Sales Manager; Sharon Dixon, Catering Sales Manager; Derrick Williams, Senior Sales Manager; Lydia Ferrill, Executive Meeting Manager; Linda Menshon Dowling, Assistant Director of Sales; and Bailey Mixon, Senior Business Transient Manager.

Honored with the 2009 Environmental Achievement Award by the Baldwin County Commission for their efforts to produce “A Greener Grand,” the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa is highly involved with the Green movement in America. “The hotel installed environmentally friendly lighting and low flow sinks and toilets in addition to efforts to make compost and provide green buffer areas, preserving the natural habitat,” said Elizabeth Hard, Public Relations Specialist. “We are in the middle of a three-year room renovation project, updating all guest rooms. The Grand has won numerous awards including AAA – Four Diamond Award, Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler accolades and it is located in Point Clear, Alabama, across Mobile Bay, only a few minutes from Fairhope. Meeting planners at the Grand ensure that every detail is carried out. Each meeting space is flexible and technologically enhanced. The Grand offers wired and wireless high-speed Internet access in meeting rooms and wireless in public areas. The scenic surroundings of the hotel not only inspire great ideas, but can be enjoyed later. We have 405 guest rooms, 22 meeting rooms with 37,000 square feet of meeting space. The Grand has been entertaining guests, serving as a gracious Southern mainstay since 1847.”



Standing tall and strong after hurricanes, historical battles, wars, the Gulf Oil disaster and the test of time, The USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park is an amazing, unique venue. The USS Alabama offers a reception on the deck of a 35,000-ton battleship, or dinner inside an aircraft hangar filled with historical aircraft and displays dating back to World War II. The USS Alabama is a great place to host an event where history mixes with special events to make a commemorative occasion. The battle ship features three meeting rooms with a banquet capacity of 800 with 39,000 square feet of meeting space. Located on the Causeway, or what everyone refers to as Battleship Parkway, The USS Alabama is East of Downtown Mobile. “Our staff goes above and beyond to ensure that each event is successful and everyone has a good experience,” said Karen Conner, Director of Sales and Marketing. “We stand out because we are the only World War II battleship on the Gulf Coast. Although our attendance was down approximately 33% during the Gulf Oil disaster, our marketing strategy was to let people know that we are not located on the Gulf of Mexico and oil was not present. Our peak season for visitors is the summer and our peak season for events is fall and spring. At The USS Alabama you will have the opportunity to explore 12 levels of a WWII battleship and you can go below in the oldest submarine on public display.” With such history aboard an amazing historical ship, The USS Alabama is America’s most unique military attraction that will make a stunning commemorative occasion.

The Museum of Mobile, located in historic downtown Mobile explores over 300 years of history and culture where guests can learn about the history of Mobile in a historical landmark building. “The hospitality is genuine and sincere in Mobile,” said Elyse Marley, Special Events Coordinator. “Tables and chairs are included in the rental fee at the Museum of Mobile.” Featuring two meeting rooms with 4,800 square feet of meeting space, the Museum of Mobile can host a banquet of 90. Exhibits change frequently. The Museum is a great place to learn about the history, culture and heritage of Mobile. The Museum provides a hands-on Discovery Room and guests may shop in the Southern Market.



Mobile has much to offer meeting professionals and future developments are in the works. “Projected to open in late 2012, GulfQuest will be the first museum dedicated to the Gulf Coast’s rich maritime and cultural traditions,” said Hamilton. GulfQuest is expected to be a signature attraction for Mobile due to the unique shape of the 90,000 square-foot structure, designed in the shape of a ship headed into Mobile Bay. “GulfQuest is only the third interactive maritime museum in the world. Located on the Mobile River, adjacent to the Convention Center, GulfQuest will offer a variety of unique reception and event venues. Looking like a real container ship, GulfQuest will be dockside, making it a stunning architectural setting for the City.

Unlike other destinations where special events and meetings are held, Mobile, Alabama is a city that bounces back quickly from adversity, including hurricanes. “Mobilians truly celebrate and appreciate their coastal way of life each and every day, including picking ourselves up and dusting ourselves off whenever challenges arise,” said Hamilton. “You can find our love of the Gulf Coast in our food, music, festivals and attractions, but especially in our people. I think our love for our historic port city keeps people coming back.” Centrally located between the pristine white sand beaches of Dauphin Island, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, and near the South’s top gaming destinations of Biloxi and Gulfport Mississippi, it is no wonder the city is proud to market Mobile as “America’s Family Mardi Gras” where convention and business offerings cannot be challenged or beaten.



By Car: Interstate 10 and Interstate 65 intersect Mobile – just minutes from the Mobile Convention Center

By Air: Three airports – Mobile Regional Airport, Pensacola Regional Airport and the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. Mobile has a total of six carriers with 188 daily flights, including 10,763 daily seats. Car rental service is available at the airports.

The WAVE Transit System is the public transit system, travels throughout Mobile County.

Mobile Bay Ferry transports vehicles and passengers between Dauphin Island and Gulf Shores.

Mobile Bay MODA! These electric trolleys are your connection for complimentary downtown transportation. Trolleys run every 10 minutes on a convenient three-mile route. Be sure to look for the green umbrellas at every stop. Moda maps are available at the Fort Conde Welcome Center. Schedule hours – Monday – Friday 7am – 6pm. Saturday – 9am – 5pm. For more information please call (251) 344-6600.

Taxi Service: Ride inside safe, clean and dependable taxi and shuttle service, available 24-hours-a-day, seven days-a-week in Mobile. Yellow Cab is the largest provider of taxi and shuttle service in the Mobile area. Please call (251) 476-7711 at any time to schedule a taxi service.



Sales Tax: 9%

Hotel Tax: 14% room tax

Special Event Venues: In addition to the beautiful waterfront convention center, Mobile offers a great variety of special events, including the Mardi Gras Museum, beautiful historic homes and gardens, battleships, aviation museums, sailing schooners, and trendy art galleries and shops.



Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel and Spa,

Grand Hotel Marriott Resort,


Hank Aaron Museum,

Holiday Inn,

Mobile Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center,

Mobile Convention & Visitors Bureau,

Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel,

The Museum of Mobile,

The USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park,




Corpus Christi, Texas A Beautiful, Affordable Nature City by the Bay Where Wildlife Watching Never Ends


Dearest Readers:

Stories about travel, amazing cities to visit and to admire. Enjoy!

Recognized as the ‘Birdiest City in America,’ Corpus Christi’s personality is one to behold. Corpus Christi is not just a place where birds flock; it is a beautiful, and affordable coastal city and one of the nation’s biggest shipping ports. The Coastal Bend of Corpus Christi provides 11,000 hotel rooms with September through January considered as the best and most advantageous times of the year for meeting groups to consider booking events. Home of the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world, Corpus Christi has public access to over 120 miles of virtually untouched beachfront via Padre Island National Seashore. Since Corpus Christi is such a great, affordable setting for meetings, the coastal city is a great setting to combine a vacation during meetings.

“Year-round, Corpus Christi is one of the most affordable destinations on the coast and in the winter months, we offer an even better value for those seeking a tropical reprieve. Centrally located on the Texas Coast, Corpus Christi has waves, wings and wildlife,” said Regina Garcia-Posada, Communications Manager for Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“When considering where to host a meeting, meeting planners find when they compare our group rates, food and beverage and audio visual packages, Corpus Christi offers a value that surpasses the rest,” said Garcia-Posada. “Our hotels are diverse, from Four-Diamond Hotels with superior meeting facilities to newly built Select Service brands, to Resorts of the Gulf; all with affordability in mind, and most important, friendly service. What makes Corpus Christi such an interesting and unique nature loving atmosphere for hosting group meetings is the accommodations. The 5,050 seat Whataburger Field accommodates group events for 10-2,000 people during in-season and off-season. Another interesting setting is the Old Market Pavilion, a prime mid-size facility with a covered pavilion that can easily host up to 2,000 guests and full-service event planning is available. Texas State Aquarium offers a one-hour tour of the shoreline of Corpus Christi on the 100 foot luxury yacht, TSA Explorer. A Texas State Aquarium guide will be aboard to answer questions and share expertise about historical sites and wildlife.”

Another interesting venue is the USS Lexington Museum on the Bay, offering the interactive exhibit, Virtual Battle Stations which will engage the audience, sending shivers down their spines in “Air to Air Combat,” “Carrier Landing” and Ship’s Gunnery,” video interactions. Historically, some of the most astonishing events in history took place on the USS Lexington, including World War II action from Tarawa to Tokyo, giving her the name of the Blue Ghost. “The Hangar Deck has more than 40,000 square feet of convenient, accessible space where groups up to 2,600 may meet and celebrate any event,” said Debbie Crites, Marketing Director of the Museum. “Hangar Bay II has air conditioning and heat for events year-round. The USS Lexington’s MEGA Theater, has comfortable stadium seating and state-of-the-art audio/visual technology, perfect for presentations, product launches or award ceremonies. Total capacity for this stadium is 193.” The USS Lexington is an ideal one-of-a-kind, unforgettable setting that makes planning a cocktail reception, banquet, stage show, or team building event a breeze in an outstanding museum on the bay of Corpus Christi.

The Solomon P. Ortiz International Center is uniquely located on the Port of Corpus Christi Ship Channel and can accommodate groups of 10 to 2,000. Offering soundproof, flexible meeting spaces for group accommodations complete with a banquet hall and an outdoor square, the Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz International Center offers meeting rooms ranging from 580 to 16,555 square feet. Regardless of the event, the Ortiz Center is a perfect setting to accomplish the goals and the mission of any specialty event.

Located in the Downtown Marina District on the Corpus Christi Bay, the Omni Corpus Christi Hotel has rooms with “spectacular views of the Bay, with views of the USS Lexington to the north, and the Marina and yacht basin to the south,” said Paulette Kluge, Director of Sales and Marketing. The hotel has 821 rooms, including seven specialty suites, 13 Bay view suites and 15 junior suites. All rooms include coffeemakers, iron and ironing boards, hairdryers, complimentary airport transportation, terrycloth robes, express check out via TV and same day dry cleaning available for all guests. The Omni has 24 meeting rooms with the largest meeting capacity suitable for 1,115 and 38,000 square feet of on-site meeting space. “All meeting space is on one floor and can be easily accessed via escalator. Described as the “Best Hotel in Corpus Christi,” by the Corpus Christi Caller Times Best of the Best Award, the Omni has a staff of dedicated hospitality professionals on staff, committed to the best service. “Omni Hotels and Resorts just earned the JD Powers highest ranking among 15 upscale hotel brands,” said Kluge. “Recent staff additions include Daniel Cornelius, Director of Food and Beverage. Known as the place to celebrate special events, the AAA Four-Diamond Republic of Texas Bar and Grill, located on the 20th floor of the Bayfront Tower at the Omni, serves an excellent variety of prime steaks, wild game and fresh seafood. Considered one of Corpus Christi’s top destinations for dining, the Republic of Texas Bar and Grill is the only restaurant in South Texas to receive this honor.”

Easy to get to, complimentary parking at the hotel and an easy-in hotel, Radisson Beach Hotel is affordable, and comfortable. Located with the ocean as the back door, Downtown Corpus Christi is only one mile from the Radisson Beach. “Every guest room has a balcony and a microwave and mini-fridge. The Radisson is a full-service hotel offering a restaurant and a large bar overlooking the ocean, a gift shop, exercise room and business center. We have 139 guest rooms, seven meeting rooms with 3,300 square feet of meeting capacity. Overlooking the ocean, we have a ballroom and a smaller room on the main hotel lobby floor. Both of these rooms received new wall surfaces and carpeting in 2009. The ballroom can be divided into three equal rooms,” said Carla Ligon, Director of Sales and Marketing. “There is another large room on the second floor which overlooks the ocean. This room may be divided into two sections. Special events and meetings do occur in Corpus Christi. Every year the city has Buc Days and Bayfest, Beach to Bay Marathon, the Texas International Boat Show and many Coastal Bend Festivals. Our local cuisine is delicious and reasonably priced. Radisson Beach Hotel is located on Corpus Christi Beach next to the USS Lexington Aircraft Carrier Museum and three blocks from Texas State Aquarium. We aren’t here to break the bank; we are here to provide hospitality with excellence. Radisson is a full-service hotel, but we are not full of ourselves. We recognize returning guests and we call them by name. We rely on the fact that our beaches and the ocean are our attractions and we build on that with great beds, including the Sleep Number Bed, great service, good food and appreciation for tourists that spend their time with us. Our employees are trained with the attitude of ‘It’s Everybody’s Job,’ and that is our motto.”


Corpus Christi’s beaches have remained open to the public and are unaffected by the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill. City officials and the Convention & Visitors Bureau Communications team closely monitored the oil spill and have kept tourists and visitors well informed. “Corpus Christi shares more than 65 miles of gulf and bay beaches out of the 624 miles of Texas coastline,” said Garcia-Posada. “We have great weather, value destinations with unique meeting spaces overlooking the Corpus Christi Bay. Dine with the sharks at the Texas State Aquarium. Become part of history in the newly air conditioned meeting spaces aboard the U.S.S. Lexington on the Bay, or watch the ships steam into port from the Solomon P. Ortiz Center and the American Bank Center. This outdoor odyssey offers recreational activities with over 100 miles of windswept dunes along the southeastern Texas shoreline. Corpus Christi is not only a place to relax and unwind; it’s also a nature lover’s dream with over 150 nature sites within the coastal area. Now the largest coastal city in the State of Texas, Corpus Christi provides plenty to do for an active group, or a vacationing family. Moments and memories made here are sure to be tucked away in a special memory book for all to enjoy.”

“Our CVB has done a great job of getting the word out that our beaches have not been affected by the oil disaster in the Gulf,” said Ligon. “The Holiday Inn Beach Hotel at North Padre Island is the only full service hotel on the island offering 149 guest rooms. For meetings, there is a main ballroom that can be divided into three rooms, located on the main floor of the hotel. The Holiday Inn Beach Hotel is still within the city limits of Corpus Christi, located on the east side, towards Port Aransas and Mustang Island. The property is a 3-diamond AAA hotel. North Padre Island is most beautiful with miles of natural beaches. This area has wildlife and conservation at its best. Holiday Inn Beach Hotel is a beautiful, affordable location for business retreats and corporate meetings, and family reunions. The Hotel offers live outdoor entertainment during the summer, plus the benefit of beach access and a seawall perfect for leisurely strolls. The hotel has a gift shop, exercise room, a business center and meeting rooms of up to 2,100 square feet. We don’t charge extra for the little things. Parking, local phone calls and our high-speed Internet access is complimentary. Our goal is to build relationships. The atmosphere is full of beach, sand, sun and fun. The memories are free and yours to keep.”


Sales Tax:             8.25%

Hotel Tax:            15% (breaks down to State – 6%; City – 9%)

Transportation:    Downtown transportation includes the B-Trolley, the public bus system that will take passengers around the town for a very affordable low fare. Shuttles are designed to look like trolleys serving the Downtown and Port Aransas year-round. Passengers may travel around the downtown attractions and accommodations while enjoying a scenic tour. Look for the “B” signs for Trolley routes arriving every 10 – 20 minutes. Taxis, limos, and charter busses are also available.


Buc Days,

Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau,

Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority,

Fares for Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority,

Holiday Inn Beach Hotel,

Omni Corpus Christi Hotel,

Padre Island National Seashore,

Radisson Beach Hotel,

Texas State Aquarium,

The Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz International Center,

USS Lexington Museum on the Bay,

Whataburger Field,


Charleston, West Virginia – Take Me Home Country Roads

Dearest Readers:

Below is an article I wrote years ago about Charleston, WV. Enjoy!

Charleston, West Virginia is an exceptional, first-class meeting facility filled with beautiful scenery, history, and southern charm, befitting the comforts and traditions of most sophisticated cities in West Virginia. “While we do not have the lights of Las Vegas, or the skyscrapers of New York City, what we do have is mountain beauty, Charleston is a walkable, picturesque city, and a safe, friendly environment where people actually smile at you and say hello and they are proud to help you,” said Patricia Bradley-Pitrolo, President/CEO of the Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“Charleston is a safe, affordable, family friendly city. The beauty and charm make it the ideal consideration for planners who seek the amenities and the pleasures of a majestic setting. Downtown Charleston has plenty of parking, seven hotels with 1,450 rooms, all conveniently located within walking distance of the Charleston Civic Center, Charleston Town Center Mall and more than 30 restaurants,” said Pitrolo. “Five of our downtown hotels provide meeting spaces from 1,200 to 14,600 square feet. The Charleston area has more than 3,500 sleeping rooms in 26 hotels, offering a variety of hospitality options.

Easily accessible, Yeager Airport is only eight minutes from downtown, providing competitive airfares and non-stop flights to 10 major cities. Strategically located within the Interstate systems, I-66, I-77, and I-79, Charleston, WV is positioned within driving distance of many popular destinations, including Charleston, and Myrtle Beach, SC, Nashville, TN and Washington, DC. If traveling by train is a preference, an Amtrak Station is located downtown.

Filled with the landscape of mountain beauty, Charleston offers many popular West Virginia activities, including skiing, world-class Tree Tops Zip Line Canopy Tours, Bridge Walk tours to the New River Gorge, whitewater rafting, ATV trails, golf, hiking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and many more adventures for all to enjoy, conveniently located within 90 minutes.

Charleston has many festivals, theaters, concerts, arts shows and all sorts of activities for every age and taste. The International Chili Cook-off was held there in 2009, welcoming people from all over the world.

September – February are considered the best months to book reasonably priced meetings. Since Charleston is a city where walking is encouraged and easy to do, there are many activities that are within walking distances of the civic center and other accommodations. The CVB prides itself in “going above and beyond” to exceed expectations where groups experience higher than expected attendance. Friendly locals go out of their to welcome guests.

“You can walk out the front door of your hotel, right into the Mall and we have a Mayor who cares about conferences and meetings. Creative solutions and personalized service are the key to meeting the individual needs of guests,” said Pitroli. “The Charleston CVB wants to make meetings a success. We can be as hands-on as needed and we stand by our reputation of excellent service at no cost to meeting planners and attendees.”

The largest meeting space is the Convention Center. The Grand Convention Hall contains 52,000 square feet of Class A exhibition space with the availability to accommodate 256 standard booths. The Coliseum offers a total of 30,000 square feet of space and seating for 13,500, thus becoming the premier venue for trade shows, conventions, concerts, sporting and other exciting attractions. The theater in the convention center has seating for 750. The talented culinary team is a perfect fit for an amazing selection of gourmet cuisine.

Shopping and dining is great in Charleston with much to offer. The Charleston Town Center Mall is one of the largest in the East. Downtown Renaissance Village has international cuisine, exclusive stores, and art galleries. The Downtown Capitol Market, an amazing open-air market filled with local and seasonal produce, flowers, specialty shops, butcher and wine shops, seasonal goods, and something for everyone. Browse around for seasonal and local specialties, West Virginia Southern cuisine, chocolates, wine and cheese. Easily accessible with free parking on all four sides of the Market, Capitol Market contains a treasure trove of merchandise, well worth the visit.

Recently completed renovations for Charleston include a $3.5 million renovation to the Haddad Riverfront Park, centrally located in the heart of the city. The CVB uses the park for many outdoor events. This popular destination has a retractable fabric canopy over the park’s seating area, a steel and fabric roof for the permanent stage and another canopy covering the pavilion that overlooks the Kanawha River. The riverfront park has an amphitheater, boat docking and benches located along the river. The park offers “Live on the Levee” concerts every Friday during the summer and the Charleston Symphony performs during the July 4th celebration.

FestivALL, an annual celebration where the city becomes “a work of art” offers sternwheeler rides and music, dance, theater and fun. Each year the popularity of FestivALL increases. In 2009, over 50,000 people attended. Statistics for 2010 are not finalized since the festival was held in June, but the steering committee is quickly making plans for 2011, scheduled for June 17 – 26, 2011.

The Summit Conference Center is a fabulous venue for Charleston. “Our business is well-known in the community and it is one of the best places to hold meetings, banquets, and parties of all kind. We have comfortable and private rooms with up-to-date audiovisual equipment available, including High Speed Internet access and videoconferencing. Our catering department serves a tantalizing array of food that can be at the facility or delivered and served at your favorite off-site location,” said Janet Simpson, Meeting Planner for the Summit Conference Center. Located in downtown Charleston, the Center has six meeting rooms, with a functional space of 5,627 square feet, a large banquet capacity suitable for 100 and the food and customer service are exceptional.

Ramada Plaza Hotel, located on Second Avenue, recently remodeled all boardrooms in 2010. Additional renovations include all new furniture and carpeting in all sleeping rooms and the addition of flat screen TV’s. “We have friendly, caring staff, easy access, free ground level parking, and we are located between two major shopping areas,” said Ann R. Blaylock, Convention Sales Manager. “The property has long-term stay accommodations available, 155 sleeping rooms, 49 non-smoking double beds, 16 smoking double beds, 14 non-smoking kings, 26 business class non-smoking kings, 10 business class non-smoking double beds, 6 suite non-smoking double beds, 10 suite non-smoking kings, 4 suite smoking kings, 8 non-smoking queen efficiency, 2 smoking queen efficiency, 5 non-smoking handicapped kings, 1 smoking handicapped king, with down comforters, duvets, and throws on the end of all beds, with coffeemaker, microwave, mini-fridge, iron/ironing board, blow dryer, morning paper, continental breakfast, plus full kitchens in suites, free wireless Internet access in all sleeping rooms, meeting rooms and wake-up calls, Pay Per View movies and we are a pet friendly hotel.”

“Charleston Civic Center is one of the most flexible facilities in the Mid-Atlantic region,” said Sharon King, Director of Sales, and Marketing. “We focus on conventions offering a facility that can handle exhibit space needs as well as a location that offers big city style, with warmth and ease of a small town. The Civic Center is located downtown within walking distance of five hotels, shopping and restaurants. We embrace the traditions of the Appalachian culture and endeavor always to build new ways of life. The Symphony, museums, shopping and theaters, featuring nationally know performances are only a few of the attractions you will find within the metro valley. The area is rich in culture and recreational amenities.”

The Civic Center Conference complex offers a total of 18 meeting rooms, over 6,500 square feet on the main level of the property. The rooms can provide an intimate atmosphere for meeting and small exhibits. Five executive parlors are located on the main level, providing 3,100 square feet of theater, classroom, or conference seating that can accommodate 900. The Little Theater, updated with new seating, stage, lighting, and curtains is located in the main complex seating 736. The building will undergo new upgrades in 2011. “We are in the process of ‘going green’ recycling as much as possible from paper products, packing and cans. The Charleston Civic Center is located two blocks from the Federal Court House and we are directly across the street from the Charleston Town Center Mall. Within three blocks are Summers and Capitol Streets, considered the main arteries for the downtown area. The Charleston Marriott, The Embassy Suites, and the Holiday Inn Express surround the setting, offering the ability to walk to any of these locations.”

“In-house catering at the Charleston Civic Center follows the philosophy of great service and cuisine,” said King. “Training and supervision of all team members is an important part of our process, ensuring that your event will make the desired impression. An extra bonus is our food costs are well below the national average.”

“During 2008 – 2009, Charleston, WV hosted 76 meetings/conventions and events with a total attendance of 73,000 and an economic impact of $38 million. Fiscal year 2009-2010 saw Charleston host 87 meetings/conventions and events with a total attendance of 116,000 and an economic impact of $39.5 million,” said Pitroli. Average group-based room rates are $115. The beauty and charm of Charleston make it an ideal location for planners seeking the amenities of a sophisticated business urban center and the pleasures of a setting so majestically beautiful and relaxing, can only be found in West Virginia.”





Charleston, WV Convention and Visitors Bureau,

Charleston Civic Center,

Capitol Market,

Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority,


Ramada Plaza Hotel,

Summit Conference Center,

Yeager Airport,

West Virginia Fairs and Festivals,



Barbie Perkins-Cooper is a freelance writer who loves the journey and exploration of hospitality, travel, and health. She works full-time as an editorial photojournalist and has published numerous articles and photographs for regional, health and beauty and travel publications, including the Travel Channel, Buick B Magazine and many more. She is the author of Condition of Limbo and Career Diary of a Photographer. Visit her website