Monday, August 25, 2008

Hilton Baltimore’s Five-Star Opening

In the four years that I’ve worked in travel PR, I had never been part of a hotel’s opening day -- until last week. On Friday, my colleague Alexis and I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for one of our clients, the brand-new Hilton Baltimore.

Our visit to Charm City began the night before, at a delicious dinner at Pazo with the hotel’s fabulous local PR team. Reminiscent of NYC’s Buddakan in its ambience, Pazo dazzled with tapas ranging from mashed potato croquetas to beef tartar with manchego cheese, along with sesame flatbread crackers that everyone here rightfully raves about.

Between bites, Baltimore PR maven Barb and I bonded over our shared passion for travel publicity and a mutual appreciation for the value of an all-women’s education. Meanwhile, hotel general manager Matt regaled me, Alexis and Barb’s effervescent colleagues Beth and Ashley with tales of parenthood. We all had a lump in our throat when Matt spoke of how your priorities shift upon hearing your child take its first breath.

Speaking of giving birth, the period from Hilton Baltimore’s conception to opening day spanned nearly six years. Barb and her team put together a five-star celebration for the hotel's long-anticipated debut that kicked off with an energetic performance from a high school marching band and continued with speeches from Mayor Sheila Dixon and Governor Martin O'Malley.

As officials spoke of the nearly 500 new jobs created by the Hilton and dozens of hotel staffers excitedly looked on, I couldn’t help getting a little choked up. These are the people whose hard work and dedication helped to build this enormous 757-room convention center hotel. I felt excited all over again to be part of the team helping to spread the word about it.

After the ceremonial ribbon cutting and lots of confetti, all of us PR gals skipped the Champagne and made sure the official photographer snapped some important pix, including this one…

Hilton Baltimore PR Ladies: Me, Barb, Beth, Ashley and Alexis

With only a few hours before our train back to New York, Alexis and I strolled around Baltimore’s charming Inner Harbor and took in sweeping views of Oriole Park from the Hilton’s fourth floor outdoor terrace. Along the way, we spotted plenty of Yankee fans, in town for the Bronx Bombers’ face-off against the Orioles. What a perfect backdrop for Hilton Baltimore’s homerun first day.

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