Gretchen’s Picks

For over a decade Gretchen has traveled from India to Istanbul, from Seoul to South Beach Miami. In her capacity as an alumni relations professional, a fundraiser and a producer of special events she has worked with a wide variety of vendors, entertained in dozens of hotels and restaurants, and contributed to local communities by partnering with agencies and non-profits in efforts to support civic relationships between higher education institutions and their regional partners.

Gretchen’s Picks will be a go-to trusted resource for events venues (including hotels), hotels, restaurants, special event services such as photography, as well as tips on how to navigate global cities when it comes to taking care of yourself on the road, or your most important donor.

THE BEST OF THE U.S.

For those who like to combine a bit of pleasure with work, here are some of my favorite “go-to” spots for the best in hospitality, food, wine, recreation, services, meetings and special event management.

Boston Best Bet: TRADE

One of the very best restaurants in Boston is Trade. Situated on the waterfront with direct access to trains, planes and subways, Trade is an all-day delight serving everything local in the form of small plates, flatbreads, entrees, sweets and has a wonderful drink and wine list to accompany any taste. The establishment is led by award-winning culinary giants (http://trade-boston.com/about/bios/). There is a delightful private dining room (American Express staffers were there for a lunch back in January) and general manager, Elissa Rae (elissa@trade-boston.com) will take great care of your interest and needs.

What’s so great about TRADE is that you feel as if each encounter will be a quality and different delicious experience: new specials, a sophisticated but relaxed vibe, and the team will be there to back you up on your own goals: are you hosting a donor, thanking an alumni chapter team, or just visiting with alumni or members that have a last night before they fly out of Logan?

Trade-boston.com

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Ira Fox – NYC Photographer of Choice!

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For over a decade I have relied on Ira Fox to capture the heart of Tufts’ major alumni and donor events in one of the most active markets for alumni relations. Ira is a consummate professional who understands the importance of great photography during campaign, award and special event season. For more information, Ira@IraFox.com

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SPECIAL EVENTS/MEETINGS:

Want to plan a wine tasting? Want to host trustees over a gourmet meal? Are you tired of using the same venues when you travel to Northern California? Head to Napa Valley!!

I am a big fan of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in St. Helena, just an hour north of San Francisco. I worked with CIA in 2009-2010 when I produced the Tufts’ Universities Food for Thought special event series for alumni, families and friends. We sold out early and everyone thought we had picked a go-to destination for foodies, wine lovers and anyone who wanted a good reason to head to the wine region and spend an afternoon with their Tufts community.

For more on the CIA and their special events:
http://www.ciachef.edu/weddings-and-special-events/

For the sample invitation Tufts used for our event in February 2009:
http://tuftsalumni.org/events-reunions/detail/633/

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BEST HOTELS FOR WORK OR PLAY:

I’m a Kimpton Fan — http://www.kimptonhotels.com

For close to a decade, I have chosen Kimpton Hotels over any other hotel group in the U.S. Why? Kimpton Hotels have character. Kimpton Hotels have the very best loyalty programs (every 7 stays earns you a complimentary night) in the business. Kimpton Hotels are happy to provide yoga kits for rooms, the staff honors loyalty with favorite snacks and drinks delivered each evening, and each property includes a very good restaurant.

Kimpton Hotels sponsor Wine Hour every night between 5:00-6:00 pm. I have used the Wine Hour time to have meetings or social time with alumni or planning sessions with staff. Oftentimes, I have been upgraded to a suite and use the sitting room for alumni chapter meetings.

Whether you are new to Kimpton or a returning fan, please give them my name as a source for your inspiration. I’m an Inner Circle Elite member of the Kimpton family. I want you to join me in this special circle. The more you stay, the better the experience!

Istanbul: Best Hotel for University Business: Meetings, Special Events,
Hosted Meals and More

Swissotel Bosphorus
Website

I helped plan Tufts’ University’s Tufts in the World program to Istanbul and Ankara this past May. The have traveled to the city regularly since 2005 and have usually stayed at the Hilton. The experience at the Swissotel has locked in my hotel choice for good! The staff was highly attentive to our needs for the group of 40 including our President, Provost, Deans, faculty, trustees, their companions and the planning team of administrators. We held an opening reception in a room with The View of the Bosphorus, an Community Reception for all alumni on the expansive lawn lit with candles and given a white-glove touch with ample attendants and an excellent PA system. The central location is key as well to minimize too much time spent in a car. Don’t miss all the major highlights and savor the fresh fish caught daily.

Asia: From Asia-West to Asia-East:
Go Global’s Picks for Hotels, Venues and Memorable Meals

Tokyo: Favorite Hotel – The Conrad
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What’s not to love about the Hilton-branded Conrad when it is steps away from the famous Fish Market and central metro stops ready to whisk you away to the Ginza district for shopping or Shibuya for late night local dishes (all found off side streets and at least one set of stairs under the sidewalk). The Conrad’s staff are as attentive as ever and if you snap up a room on the an Executive Level floor you will get to enjoy a delicious buffet breakfast with a view of the city and wind-down after a full day of meetings with a glass of award-winning wine.

Seoul:  Favorite Restaurant: OK Kitchen – It’s much more than OK! 
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OK Kitchen is one of the top restaurants in Asia. Back in April I had the luck of being introduced to the intimate setting with a powerhouse kitchen specializing in Asian-inspired French and Italian dishes..

The owner and chef du cuisine, Susumu Yongaguni, teaches classes at FoodArt Institute and guides his kitchen staff. During our visit he treated our table of 7 with his choices for 5 courses. Our host, a younger grad with huge investments in insurance and defense, brought us to OK. Memorable tastes from that afternoon: sashimi of all kinds with interesting spices and pickled salads, a prune-stuffed pork loin sliced as thin as a thick potato chip, amazing homemade orrichette with handcured ham and beans,  and desserts to die for…mini bites of gorgonzola gelato on passion fruit parfait, chocolate fudge logs alongside minty froth and cream…you get the picture!