Shimla Winter Carnival: A Historic Celebration Boosting Himachal's Tourism

Shimla Winter Carnival: A Historic Celebration Boosting Himachal's Tourism

By Author

Published on December 29, 2023

In a significant move to rejuvenate the tourism sector, the Himachal Pradesh government kicked off the inaugural Shimla Winter Carnival, a 12-day celebration aimed at uplifting the spirits of the hill state. Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu inaugurated the event at the historic Ridge, marking a historic moment for the city.

The winter carnival holds special significance as it comes on the heels of a challenging period for Himachal Pradesh's tourism industry, severely impacted by the recent monsoon disruptions. Chief Minister Sukhu, during the inauguration, acknowledged the adverse effects of the monsoon fury but expressed optimism about the state's recovery. He highlighted the influx of 30,000 tourist vehicles in the past days as a promising sign of the tourism industry's revival.

Emphasizing the government's commitment to promoting tourism, Chief Minister Sukhu announced a substantial increase in the budget for the tourism sector, reaching Rs. 3,000 crores from the previous Rs. 50 crores. This financial boost aims to support the recovery efforts and further elevate Himachal Pradesh as a preferred tourist destination.

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To facilitate a seamless experience for visitors, the state government has permitted all restaurants, dhabas, and food shops to remain open 24 hours from December 20, 2023, to January 5, 2024. This move is aligned with the government's focus on providing a warm welcome to tourists and enhancing their overall experience in the state.

The Winter Carnival promises an array of attractions, including cultural parades, folk dance performances like Mahanati, and exhibitions featuring local dishes and cultural programs. The carnival, set to conclude on January 5, 2024, is strategically timed during the Christmas and New Year celebrations, adding to the festive atmosphere in Shimla.

Apart from being a delightful experience for tourists, the carnival aims to celebrate Himachal Pradesh's rich cultural heritage. Cultural programs such as Kullavi Nati and Singtu of Sirmaur district were presented, contributing to the vibrant celebration. The event, graced by dignitaries, including Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Anirudh Singh and Public Works Minister Vikramaditya Singh, is expected to have a positive economic impact on the state.

The Shimla Winter Carnival signifies a turning point for Himachal Pradesh's tourism, ushering in hope, festive cheer, and a promising outlook for the future.


Square Introduces Tap to Pay on iPhone for Canadian Entrepreneurs

Square Introduces Tap to Pay on iPhone for Canadian Entrepreneurs

By Nishang Narayan

Published on May 28, 2024

Square, the renowned financial services and mobile payment company, has unveiled Tap to Pay on iPhone in Canada, marking a significant advancement in contactless payment technology. Available within the Square Point of Sale, Square for Retail, and Square Appointments iOS apps, this feature allows sellers to process payments directly from their iPhones, eliminating the need for additional payment hardware.

Tap to Pay on iPhone simplifies the transaction process for both new and established businesses. By utilizing Apple’s secure payment technology, which ensures that no card numbers are stored on the device or Apple servers, Square offers a reliable and secure solution for business transactions. This functionality is particularly beneficial for mobile professionals such as tradespeople and caterers, as well as retailers and beauty professionals, enabling them to accept payments efficiently at any location.

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The integration of Apple's contactless payment technology with Square’s user-friendly software provides a seamless checkout experience. Customers can complete their purchases swiftly by using contactless credit or debit cards, Apple Pay, or other digital wallets. This method not only enhances the customer experience but also aligns with the increasing consumer preference for contactless payments.

Since its initial launch in the US in late 2022, followed by expansions to Australia and the United Kingdom, Tap to Pay on iPhone has become an integral component of Square’s ecosystem. It offers a versatile and adaptable payment solution suitable for various business environments.

Saumil Mehta, Head of Product at Square, emphasized the benefits of this innovation, stating, "With Tap to Pay on iPhone, we are further levelling the playing field for businesses of all sizes to be able to start, run, and grow. It helps reduce some of the barriers to entry for new businesses and enables existing sellers to create new ways to sell with nothing more than their iPhone and Square’s software."

Canadian entrepreneurs can start using Tap to Pay on iPhone today by downloading the Square POS, Square for Retail, or Square Appointments app from the Apple App Store. This feature is compatible with iPhone XS models or later running the latest version of iOS. For more information, visit Square's official Tap to Pay page.

About Square:

Square, Inc. is a financial services, merchant services aggregator, and mobile payment company based in San Francisco, California. The company aims to simplify commerce through technology, providing tools to help businesses start, run, and grow.


First Hospitality Expands with New Hotels and Restaurants

First Hospitality Expands with New Hotels and Restaurants

By Nithyakala Neelakandan

Published on May 28, 2024

First Hospitality, a leading hotel management and development company, has recently expanded its portfolio by adding three new lifestyle hotels and seven restaurants. This move brings their total to over 25 lifestyle properties within a broader collection of 70 hotels. Notably, this expansion includes their first international property.

The new hotels under First Hospitality's management include the upcoming Hotel Ardent in Dayton, Ohio, the Lively Hotel in Oklahoma City, and the recently opened Tempo by Hilton Louisville Downtown NuLu in Kentucky. These additions are part of First Hospitality's strategic plan to enhance its presence in key markets.

Opened on May 1, 2024, the Tempo by Hilton Louisville Downtown NuLu features 130 rooms. This vibrant hotel is designed to reflect the lively NuLu neighborhood, providing stylish spaces for social gatherings and events. The hotel offers two dining options: the Moonsong Bar + Café on the first floor and the High Stakes Grill, a rooftop restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining and a spectacular view of the skyline. This property embodies the dynamic spirit of the NuLu area, making it a destination for both locals and travelers.

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Scheduled to open in the fall of 2024, Hotel Ardent in Dayton will be part of Hilton's Tapestry Collection. This 118-room boutique hotel will feature Bistecca, a Tuscan steakhouse serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a menu inspired by Italian cuisine. The addition of this property marks a significant step in First Hospitality's expansion into new markets, particularly within the boutique hotel segment.

The Lively Hotel in Oklahoma City is set to open in late August 2024. This 132-key boutique hotel is a critical part of the OAK mixed-use community. As First Hospitality’s first property in Oklahoma, it will also be the first Tapestry Collection by Hilton in the state. The hotel will include the Cloud Puncher restaurant, offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with poolside service. The development of this property is a collaboration with Veritas Development and Gatehouse Capital, highlighting First Hospitality's ability to form strategic partnerships.

Alongside its hotel expansions, First Hospitality has also assumed management of seven new restaurants, increasing its portfolio to over 30 dining establishments. Among these is the internationally anticipated Carnivale Bahamas on Paradise Island, set to open this fall. Modeled after the original Carnivale in Chicago, this venue will feature 15,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor spaces, serving pan-Latin cuisine and craft cocktails. This marks First Hospitality’s first international restaurant venture, promising to bring vibrant energy to Paradise Island.

Other recent additions include Coa at The Drake Oak Brook in Oak Brook, Illinois, which opened on March 25, and Assembly American Brasserie in downtown Toledo, Ohio, which opened in late January. These restaurants highlight First Hospitality's commitment to offering diverse and high-quality dining experiences.

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David Duncan, CEO of First Hospitality, expressed excitement about the company’s growth, particularly in new markets. “With the expert skill set of our teams and proprietary technology and operating platform, First Hospitality is well positioned to continue to expand in lifestyle accommodations and restaurants as we approach our 40-year company milestone,” Duncan stated. He also highlighted the significance of their first international venture with Carnivale Bahamas, which aims to bring a new level of energy to Paradise Island.

First Hospitality's recent expansions reflect its strategic focus on enhancing its lifestyle offerings and entering new markets, ensuring continued growth and innovation in the hospitality industry. For more information about their properties and upcoming openings, visit First Hospitality's website.


InnSpire and Optii Join Forces to Enhance Hotel Operations with AI Integration at The Don CeSar

InnSpire and Optii Join Forces to Enhance Hotel Operations with AI Integration at The Don CeSar

By Nishang Narayan

Published on May 28, 2024

InnSpire, a frontrunner in delivering cutting-edge technology solutions for the hospitality industry, has announced a strategic collaboration with Optii Solutions, renowned for its hotel operations optimization platform. This partnership marks a significant step in enhancing operational efficiency and guest service through AI and machine learning innovations.

The integration has been rolled out at The Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach, Florida, where it merges InnSpire’s comprehensive guest journey platform with Optii’s AI Smart Concierge solution. This synergy aims to streamline hotel operations from housekeeping to guest services, ensuring top-tier guest satisfaction and operational agility.

Martin Chevalley, CEO and Co-founder of InnSpire, emphasized the benefits of this integration, stating, "Our collaboration with Optii harnesses the power of AI to refine hotel operations and elevate both guest and staff satisfaction. This partnership is a testament to our commitment to integrating practical AI solutions that enhance service delivery and operational efficiency across the hospitality industry."

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The Don CeSar utilizes InnSpire’s InnSpire.ONE AI platform, which includes features like mobile check-in, digital key access, and a full in-room digital entertainment ecosystem. This platform enhances communication, personalizes guest interactions, and optimizes task management, which is crucial for maintaining the high standards expected at the historic resort.

Parker Harvey, Room Division Director at The Don CeSar, shared his enthusiasm about the improvements: "Our ongoing partnership with InnSpire has transformed how we engage with our guests. With the addition of Optii’s solutions, we are seeing significant enhancements in our operational workflows, enabling us to provide even more efficient and personalized services."

This strategic move by InnSpire and Optii not only sets a new benchmark in utilizing technology for hotel management but also demonstrates a robust model for future advancements in the hospitality sector.

For more information on InnSpire and Optii’s solutions and their impact at The Don CeSar, please visit InnSpire’s official website.

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