Florida to snow-covered D.C.: We’ll help with blizzard cleanup, but come visit us

Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday announced that he has dispatched a 15-truck convoy to Washington, D.C. to help with clean-up following last weekend’s epic blizzard.

Donnell Buie, left, and Charles Mize shovel snow from a sidewalk in Washington, Jan. 21, 2016. A severe snowstorm began to drift toward the East Coast on Thursday as the National Weather Service added the New York City and Philadelphia areas to a blizzard watch already in place for Washington. (Drew Angerer/The New York Times)
Donnell Buie, left, and Charles Mize shovel snow from a sidewalk in Washington, Jan. 21, 2016. A severe snowstorm began to drift toward the East Coast on Thursday as the National Weather Service added the New York City and Philadelphia areas to a blizzard watch already in place for Washington. (Drew Angerer/The New York Times)

But there is one small catch. As the dump trucks make their way up and down the district’s streets, D.C. area residents will be greeted with a friendly reminder that while they continue to dig out, it is sunny and warm in Florida.

The governor’s office said all of the trucks will be “wrapped with a friendly message” encouraging D.C. residents and business owners to take a trip to the Sunshine State.

“Florida is glad to help Washington D.C. dig out from the snow I have seen on my visit here this week,” Scott said. “Our state will provide 15 dump trucks with a message of ‘Sunshine’  to encourage residents as they clean up and recover.”

The message includes an image of a hitch-hiking snowman holding a sign that reads “Florida bound.” The headline above the rendering says, “Sharing the Sunshine.”

Washington, D.C. is one of Palm Beach County’s top tourism markets. Nearly 200,000 visitors from the D.C. area traveled to Palm Beach County during the first three quarters of last year.

Discover The Palm Beaches, the county’s official tourism marketing organization, has launched a robust media campaign in the D.C. area. The marketing effort includes commercials on television stations and in movie theaters, print advertisements, and sponsorships on local morning television shows.

According to the governor’s office, the state’s Department of Transportation will provide 15 dump trucks and 31 state employees to assist with snow removal. The equipment and personnel are from Northwest Florida, Northeast Florida and Central Florida.

The state’s department of Emergency Management is coordinating the relief effort in response to an Emergency Management Assistance Compact request issued from the District of Columbia.

“EMAC is a mutual aid agreement between the states and territories of the United States that enables states to share resources during governor-declared states of emergencies in response to natural and man-made disasters,”  a news release issued by the governor’s office said. “Through this agreement the aid will not be paid for by Florida tax dollars. These resources can include personnel, equipment and commodities.”

New York Post declares Palm Beach County is “actually cool”

Brace yourselves, Palm Beach County residents.  An influx of New Yorkers may be headed south to check out our hip restaurants and boutique hotels.

Construction continues on the Hilton West Palm Beach next to the Palm Beach County Convention Center on September 14, 2015. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Construction continues on the Hilton West Palm Beach next to the Palm Beach County Convention Center on September 14, 2015. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

In a big, bold headline on Tuesday, The New York Post proclaimed that Palm Beach County is “actually cool.”

The article was widely distributed by Palm Beach County tourism leaders, who heralded it as a major win for the region.

The article highlights several area attractions and boutique hotels, including the new 400-room Hilton West Palm Beach, which is set to open this week next to the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

It marks the second time this month that the county’s tourism industry has been in the national spotlight.  The Wall Street Journal this month ran a feature story about Delray Beach’s tourism offerings.

PBC commissioners approve incentive package to boost convention center business

Palm Beach County commissioners on Tuesday approved a $300,000 incentive package designed to help boost business at the convention center in downtown West Palm Beach and the hotels that surround it.

Construction continues on the Hilton West Palm Beach next to the Palm Beach County Convention Center on September 14, 2015. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
(Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

The package appeared on the commission’s consent agenda, where it was bunched with other items that can be approved together without discussion.

The incentive money will be used to reimburse convention, tradeshow and meeting planners for certain expenses, if they agree to hold their event at the county’s convention center in downtown West Palm Beach.

The move comes as the Hilton prepares to open its long-awaited hotel next to Palm Beach County’s convention center.

The 12-story, 400-room Hilton West Palm Beach, which has a walkway linking it to the convention center on Okeechobee Boulevard, is set to welcome its first guests on Friday.

The convention center opened in 2003 but has struggled without a connected hotel to house conference attendees.

To read more, click here.

Construction on Brightline’s trains advances

The shell of the first passenger train coach car that will carry passengers on All Aboard Florida’s Brightline rail service has been completed at Siemens’ manufacturing facility in Sacramento, Calif., the company announced Tuesday.

Shell of the first Brightline train. Photo provided by Brigtline
Shell of the first Brightline train.
Photo provided by Brightline

More than 70 employees at the facility have worked on the 85-foot-long coach car, using more than 50,000 welds to fuse it together, according to a news release issued by Brightline. The shell will now go through a finishing process, preparing it for final assembly, the company said.

» PHOTOS: See more images of Brightline’s first passenger car

“With the completion of the first coach car shell, we are bringing our vision for a truly unique train service that will transform travel in Florida one step closer to fruition,” said Mike Reininger, Brightline’s president. “The Siemens team has been working diligently and we are thrilled to mark this milestone as the finishing of this car progresses and the manufacture of additional cars continues.”

Initially, the company will have five four-car trains, each capable of carrying 240 passengers. By June 2018, Brightline will have 10 trains with seven cars each. Those trains will be able to carry 356 passengers.

Last week, All Aboard Florida began vertical construction on a rail repair facility in West Palm Beach that will service its Brightline trains when they begin shuttling passengers between South Florida and Orlando next year.

The facility, just north of downtown West Palm Beach, will be used to repair, maintain, clean and store Brightline’s trains, company officials have said. About 50 people will work at the 12-acre site at 601 15th St., which is also expected to serve as an office for the company’s conductors, engineers, and onboard service staff.

 

 

Boca restaurant is giving away a year’s worth of free coffee

To celebrate its 4th anniversary, Corner Bakery Cafe in Boca Raton is giving away a year’s worth of free coffee to the first 100 customers in line when the restaurant opens at 7 a.m. on Jan. 29.

(provided)
(provided)

The first 100 customers will get a  free commemorative travel mug and free daily refills of coffee with any purchase for one year, the restaurant said in a news release.

Corner Bakery Cafe is located at 2240 NW 19th Street, Boca Raton.

The restaurant offers artisan breads, hot breakfasts, made-to-order salads, sandwiches, paninis and pastas, soups and baked sweets.

 

More than a dozen PBC hotels win AAA’s Four Diamond award

More than a dozen Palm Beach County hotels and bed and breakfasts have earned AAA’s Four Diamond award.

The coveted ratings are among highest honors from the travel group.

Three local hotels – Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa in Manalapan, the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach, and The Breakers in Palm Beach – received AAA Five Diamond rating.

Fourteen others earned AAA Four Diamond award.

Eau Palm Beach (provided)
Eau Palm Beach (provided)

“This area is known as the best way to experience Florida, so it’s no surprise that multiple hotels in The Palm Beaches have received the prestigious AAA Five Diamond and Four Diamond Ratings,” said Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO for Discover The Palm Beaches, the official tourism marketing corporation for Palm Beach County. “Our hotels consistently provide guests with truly exceptional experiences.”

Every year AAA reviews more than 28,000 hotels including resorts, historic inns, B&Bs and other hotels.

Of the 118 hotels that received Five Diamond awards, 12 are in Florida.

Roughly 1,500 hotels earned Four Diamond awards. Of those, 136 are in Florida.

“These unparalleled properties offer the best possible way to vacation,” Pesquera said. “Genuine hospitality is truly a way of life for us. It is wonderful to see our hotels attain this level of recognition.”

Here is the list of local Four Diamond winners:

Boca Beach Club, A Waldorf Astoria ResortBoca Raton

Boca Raton Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria ResortBoca Raton

Waterstone Resort & Marina: A DoubleTree by HiltonBoca Raton

Delray Beach MarriottDelray Beach

Jupiter Beach Resort & SpaJupiter

Wyndham Grand Jupiter at Harbourside PlaceJupiter

Sabal Palm House Bed and Breakfast InnLake Worth

The Brazilian Court HotelPalm Beach

The Chesterfield Palm BeachPalm Beach

The Colony Palm BeachPalm Beach

Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa – Palm Beach, a Kimpton HotelPalm Beach

PGA National Resort & SpaPalm Beach Gardens

Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & SpaRiviera Beach

Casa Grandview Historic Luxury Inn Cottages and SuitesWest Palm Beach

 

 

 

Wal-Mart to close 269 stores

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced on Friday that it plans to close 269 stores across the globe.

Wal-Mart said will close 154 locations in the U.S., including the company’s 102 smallest format stores, Walmart Express, which had been in pilot since 2011. The company also plans to close 23 Neighborhood Markets, 12 Supercenters, seven stores in Puerto Rico, six discount centers, and four Sam’s Clubs.

Customers peruse the aisles of a local Walmart.
Customers peruse the aisles of a local Walmart.

Wal-Mart said it is also closing 115 stores outside the United States. This includes 60 recently-closed, loss-making stores in Brazil, which represents only 5 percent of sales in that market, Wal-Mart said in a news release announcing the closures.

According to Wal-Mart’s website, none of the stores slated to close are in Palm Beach County.

Three Wal-Mart Express stores are closing Jan. 28 in Florida:

• Store No. 3358, 1113 S.R. 20, Interlachen

• Store No. 4265, 1209 East Wade St., Trenton

• Store No. 4267, 15726 S.E. Highway 19, Cross City

For a complete list of store closures, click here.

Wal-Mart operates nearly 11,600 stores worldwide.

In total, the impacted stores represent less than 1 percent of both global square footage and revenue, the company said in a news release.

“Actively managing our portfolio of assets is essential to maintaining a healthy business,” said Doug McMillon, president and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. “Closing stores is never an easy decision, but it is necessary to keep the company strong and positioned for the future. It’s important to remember that we’ll open well more than 300 stores around the world next year. So we are committed to growing, but we are being disciplined about it.

National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day: Where to get a deal

(Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
(Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Yes, there’s a day for everything: Oreos, bacon — you name it, there’s a day dedicated to celebrating it.

And today just happens to be National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day.

We’re not sure who came up with the idea to have a National Hot Pastrami Day, or why they chose Jan. 14 to celebrate the official sandwich of delis everywhere. But we do know where you can get a deal.

Jon Smith Subs is offering customers free fries with each purchase of a foot-long pastrami sandwich. Find a Jon Smith Subs location.

Toojay’s also is celebrating the day — for an entire month. Sign up here through Feb. 13 to win a free trip to New York or one of the restaurant chain’s daily prizes.

Comment to tell us: Where’s your favorite place to get a hot pastrami sandwich?

Free South Fla Fair tickets to those who donate food this weekend

Want to go to the South Florida Fair for free? Bring some non-perishable food items to the Palm Beach Outlets on Saturday and you’ll receive one free ticket.

Here are the details from a news release announcing the event:

Fireworks go off over the midway during the opening night Ride-A-Thon at the South Florida Fair in West Palm Beach on January 15, 2015. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Fireworks go off over the midway during the opening night Ride-A-Thon at the South Florida Fair in West Palm Beach on January 15, 2015. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Who/What: Palm Beach Outlets and the South Florida Fair are partnering for a worthy cause. They’re collecting non-perishable food items during its Food 4 Funevent to benefit the Palm Beach County Food Bank.

Those who donate at least two items will receive one ticket to the South Florida Fair that is good for free admission on any Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday during the fair, which runs from Jan. 15-31 at the South Florida Fairgrounds, 9067 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach. The ticket limit is two per person. This year’s fair theme is “Discover the Palm Beaches, powered by FPL.”

When: Sat., Jan. 9, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Palm Beach Outlets, 1751 Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, West Palm Beach

Public information: Call Palm Beach Outlets at (561) 515-4400 or South Florida Fair at (561) 793-0333.

» Not able to make it to the mall on Saturday? Here are seven ways you can get discounted fair tickets.

Amazon: Cyber Monday sales up by more than 40 percent

More than 23 million items were ordered worldwide from sellers on Amazon on Cyber Monday, an increase of more than 40 percent from the online marketplace’s 2014 Cyber Monday sales, Amazon announced on Tuesday.

Eligible tax-free items purchased online during the holiday will remain tax exempt even if delivered at a later date.
Eligible tax-free items purchased online during the holiday will remain tax exempt even if delivered at a later date.

The company said its “Fulfillment by Amazon” service delivered more than 1 billion items worldwide in 2015.

During the holiday season, individuals and businesses selling on Amazon sold to more than 80 percent of Amazon customers worldwide who ordered a physical item, the company added.

“It’s never been easier for sellers, local merchants and artisans to grow their businesses on Amazon. With targeted advertising tools like Sponsored Products, access to Amazon’s fulfillment and customer service expertise through FBA, and new marketplaces like Handmade at Amazon and Amazon Home Services, businesses of all sizes can easily reach millions of customers around the world,” said Peter Faricy, VP for Amazon Marketplace. “2015 was a big year for sellers on Amazon. In fact, sellers added more new selection and shipped more items than in any previous year. We’re excited to build on that momentum as we continue to innovate on behalf of sellers and customers.”