“We Came, We Mixed, We Learned”

by Ginny Prior

When guests are gathered around the water cooler – you know there’s something worth talking about. Juicy slices of oranges and lemons infused ordinary drinking water with heavenly nectar in the lobby of the Westin San Francisco Airport. It was the first touch point of last month’s BATW Associate Marketplace & Mixer – hosted by the Westin – which had just undergone a $10 million renovation.

“Our guests really love the new lobby,” said hotel GM Tom Scaramellino. “People are immediately drawn to the space.”

The Westin philosophy of living well draws guests to gather in the many public spaces like the popular Grill & Vine and around the new stone fireplace. It was that warm ambience that brought 65 members of BATW together for the bi-annual marketplace, where PR and CVB partners mingled with writers, photographers, videographers, bloggers and broadcasters.

The list of Associates read like a who’s who in California Travel and included Scott Brown (Chrysler/Fiat), Laurie Armstrong (Visit San Francisco), Kyle Schatzel (Team San Jose), Dan Marengo (Visit Berkeley), Kelly Powers (SF Hotel Council), Kim Miller (DCI), Lara Kaylor (Visit Greater Mammoth), Tami Kelly (Livermore Valley Wine Growers Assoc.), Julie Wright and Shae Geary (W)right-on Communications), Beth Javens (Visit Richmond), Beth Schnitzer (Spritz SF), Cathryn Hrudicka (Mendocino/Fort Bragg), Alan Humason (Yolo CVB) and Brent Haugen with Morro Bay Tourism.

The marketplace mixer was held in one of the Westin’s newly remodeled meeting spaces, the Bayshore Room. Associate members “manned” tables with colorful collateral that helped tout their regions while wait staff served the Westin’s signature paired wines and appetizers.

The evening also included a sumptuous sit-down dinner in the new private dining room inside the popular Grill & Vine. And after the marketplace ended, BATW members stepped into the cool night air for the short walk to Westin San Francisco Airport’s sister hotel – the lively Aloft San Francisco Airport.

It was in the lobby of the Aloft where longtime members discovered things they didn’t know about each other. A pool table, live music and a lobby bar created a buzz that stepped mingling up a notch. Until photographer Bill Scull ran the table and silenced the crowd.

Many thanks to Renee Roberts at Renee Roberts Public Relations for organizing the event with me and my colleague – Erin Caslavka. And a special thanks to Westin San Francisco Airport General Manager Tom Scaramellino and Food and Beverage Director Todd Crain for providing a true Westin experience that helped BATW be its best “in mind, body, and spirit.”