Opening Capella Washington D.C. Georgetown

Capella Washington DC

I will never forget the memories created the morning of Friday, March 22nd, 2013 when Capella Washington D.C., Georgetown first opened doors to the public!  But before the doors opened the enthusiasm behind-the-scenes reached a fever pitch.  Excitement had been building days prior to opening, with events such as orientation with our corporate leaders, to daily training sessions with department heads from other Capella Hotels and Resorts locations, to our employee Pep Rally event the Thursday before opening!

Each happening made me feel closer and closer to my colleagues, managers and corporate leaders, and gave all of us here at Capella Washington D.C. inspiration and the required tools for success.  I have never been a part of a hotel opening before, but now that I have and as Peter Schoch, VP of Food & Beverage says, “no one will ever take that away from me.”

The morning of Pep Rally was my personal favorite.  I arrived at 8:00 am to ten boxes of Krispy Cream doughnuts and knew it was going to be a great day.  Alex Obertop, General Manager and CAO, Owen Dorsey, opened with some speeches.  They let us know today was a party- not only for the hotel, but also for all of us.

Opening Capella Washington DC

That’s when the marching band arrived!  The band from Dunbar High School in Washington D.C., positioned themselves in the middle of 31st street, outside of the hotel and began their march through the outdoor patio into the main lobby entrance.  From there it was one big celebration.  A fantastic DJ played music and plenty of delicious food from our neighboring restaurant was served.  Everyone was clapping, dancing and smiling.  There was even a great video montage of everything we had done to get to this point— opening a hotel is hard work!  And after all of it, this was just what we needed.  The celebration really was the ultimate kick off to the journey we are now on.  I am so proud of what we’ve created and I am excited for you to experience it for yourself.

To hear more, be sure to follow me, your Capella Washington D.C. Insider, on Facebook & Twitter and keep a look out for my next blog post, featuring an annual spring specialty in Washington D.C.!

The 15 Days of Chinese New Year

The must have Yu Sheng.

While the calendar may have moved from 2011 to 2012, here in Singapore and many other parts of Asia, the celebrations do not stop. Next up, Chinese New Year.  The Chinese New Year celebrations are rich in traditions.  Here at Capella Singapore, we’re already deep in the midst of preparing for all the festivities, from designing special menus, red packets, and special events to welcome the Chinese New Year.

Before the festivities begin, families spend the days leading up to the first day of Chinese New Year cleaning up the house.  This act symbolises getting rid of the old and bad fortune of the preceding year and making way for the good fortune of the coming year.  The eve of Chinese New Year is when the celebrations begin with a large family dinner.  The must-have dish is “yu sheng” (鱼生), which is a raw fish salad.  Every member at the table will “toss” it as high as possible to symbolise growth and prosperity.  “Yu sheng” is as a homophone for another Chinese word meaning an increase in abundance.  Therefore, it is considered a symbol of abundance, prosperity and vigor.

The must have Yu Sheng.

These days with everyone’s busy schedules, Singaporeans hardly have time to observe all 15 days of Chinese New Year, saving the celebrations to the more important days.  The first day is probably the most important day of Chinese New Year, as it is a time to honor one’s elders.  Families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended families and those family members who are married give red packets containing money to the junior family members.

On day two, known as “kai nian” (开年, beginning of the year), married daughters visit their parents, relatives and close friends.  The seventh day is “everyone’s birthday” and is considered the day when everyone grows a year older.  Once again people gather in restaurants to celebrate this day and “yu sheng” is tossed.

The 15th and final day is known in the Hokkien dialect as “chap goh mei” (十五暝, the fifteenth night).  It is not only the last day of Chinese New Year festivities, but is also the Chinese “Valentine’s Day.”  According to traditions, single women throw mandarin oranges into the river and single men wait by the river to pick up the oranges.  The sweetness of the orange represents the indication of possible compatibility.

Chinese New Year 2012 begins on the 23rd of January so; if you’re looking for a new experience, join us in Singapore for all the festivities!

For a full taste of Chinese New Year in Singapore, check out this video:

Mexican Posadas

pinata by joey.parsons via flickr

Today marks the beginning of the Posadas festivals in Mexico.  Celebrated during the nine days leading up to Christmas, these are perhaps the most colorful ‘fiestas’ in Mexico because of the variety of elements they include.  From the festive decor, to the religious traditions, to the breaking of piñatas, and of course, the lavish meals—there is just so much to see and do during this celebration!

Every family celebrates Posadas with their own special touch.  My family’s Posada party is usually very traditional.  We gather in the house of one of our family members.  The house is decorated for the occasion including a Christmas tree and Nacimiento (a Nativity scene), and each of the women of the family brings a dish, which we all share at the dinner.

The Posada ceremony begins with all of the guests stepping out of the house, while the host stays inside.  We walk the neighborhood singing typical Posada songs, which represent the journey of Joseph and Mary seeking a place to stay overnight.  This “pilgrimage” ends at the hosts’ front door, who after exchanging chants with us welcomes everyone in the house and invites us to a dinner with typical Mexican dishes like pozole, tamales, rajas de chile, atole and buñuelos.

After dinner we gather for breaking of the famous piñata.  This is probably the most well known of the Posada customs and is my favorite part!  According to ritual, each person is blindfolded, and then is asked to hit the piñata, while being cheered on by family.  This practice represents the Catholic belief that people must act in blind faith and follow God in the fight against sin (represented by the piñata).   And when they overcome sin they are blessed with God’s grace (the candy).  Traditionally, the piñata has 7 points that correspond with the 7 deadly sins recognized in Catholicism.

If you visit Capella Ixtapa before Christmas, we’d love to invite you to our Posada celebrations.  It is an excellent opportunity to become part of Mexican traditions.

 

(En Español)