The Official Campaign Kickoff Event for The Grand Tour Gala 2014!

There’s a new way to visit London this November and you won’t even have to leave the state! I got a sneak preview of this journey on April 22nd when the Bistro Café of The Hilton Orlando Resort was transformed into the gorgeous city of London for the Grand Tour Gala 2014 Launch Party. The event was hosted by the Orlando Chapter of the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) and they gave attendees an exciting glimpse of what to look forward to on November 1st at Grand Tour Gala 2014.

NACE is the production arm of the annual Grand Tour Gala charity fundraiser, which honors Florida’s hospitality and tourism industry leaders. Proceeds from the annual event provide scholarships benefiting students at the University of Central Florida Rosen College of Hospitality Management, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Educational Foundation and the NACE Education Foundation. Since it’s inception in 2011, more than $180,000 have been distributed in student scholarships, educational and hospitality fundraising programs.

“We theme the Grand Tour Gala around locations such as London and then the guests travel through the experience of the city. We get to experience the sights, the sounds, the food and the entertainment. It really is an action packed event.” – NACE Orlando President, Patricia Buchanan

The launch party proved to be a lovely evening as themed drinks, appetizers, strolling actors and décor all took me back to my city of birth. British Royal Guards stood on either side of the entrance, keeping watch over the party and making for great photo opportunities. An Austin Powers look-a-like mixed and mingled with the guests as everyone enjoyed complimentary drinks, delectable British bites and a live DJ’s mix of classic British music that kept the party going all night long. A photo booth by The Flipbook People was a huge hit with attendees who put on silly props and took fun photos, which were turned into a complimentary flipbook.


During the event, nine student scholarships resulting from proceeds raised from last year’s event were presented to their recipients and the Dick Pope Legacy Award Honorees for Grand Tour Gala 2014 were announced. This year’s honorees include: Chef Emeril Lagasse, celebrity chef and host of TV’s Emeril’s Florida; Steve Hogan, CEO of Florida Citrus Sports; Richard Kessler, chairman and CEO of Kessler Hotel Group; and Adrian Jones, general manager of Legoland Florida and VP Merlin Entertainment USA.

“Those men are being focused on for their contributions to hospitality leadership for the state of Florida. This event is like the Oscars of the hospitality and tourism industry for not only Central Florida, but also for the state. Since the tourism industry is one of the largest contributors to the state economy, this is a way for us to celebrate all the people that are involved with it as well as to provide dollars to some of the programs and student scholarships.” – Dr. Mary Jo Ross, UCF professor and Executive Producer of The Grand Tour Gala

From florist and caterers to linen providers and entertainers, the Grand Tour Gala is an event that couldn’t happen without the help of Central Florida’s hospitality community. At least 12-14 vendors took part in the campaign launch party and approximately 40-50 vendors will come together to put on November’s event. The benefit and the Grand Tour Gala’s mission are special to so many people and everybody wants to be a part of it.

“At the end of every event, people just rave about how spectacular it was and I think theming it to a destination is huge and very unique, so we’re very excited about traveling to London.” – NACE Orlando President, Patricia Buchanan

For more information on the Grand Tour Gala 2014 annual benefit, be sure to check out