Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ tag

Mahalo MKTG! Rewards Winner Rick Gonzalez’s Hawaiian Adventures

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Clockwise from top left: Rick and helicopter tour pilot Greg give the shaka sign, view from the helicopter, mile-long waterfall in Hilo, view from the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel in Waikiki & dining on "loco moco",

Clockwise from top left: Rick and helicopter tour pilot Greg give the shaka sign, view from the helicopter, mile-long waterfall in Hilo, view from the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel in Kona & dining on Hawaiian favorite “loco moco”.

The MKTG Rewards program is designed for MKTG employees to recognize and nominate fellow team members each quarter for their outstanding work at MKTG. At the end of the year, quarterly nominees become eligible to win an all-expenses paid international or domestic experience. 2015’s winners were announced in June, and lucky recipients have spent the remainder of 2016 taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity. 

Rick Gonzalez is MKTG New York’s Operations Manager and spends the majority of his workday actively running around the office ensuring that everything is running smoothly. So, it’s no surprise that when he was one of this year’s MKTG Rewards winners for a domestic trip anywhere in the US, he picked a ten day Hawaiian adventure where he would be doing anything but sitting around. While most travelers associate The Aloha State with beachbums and honeymooners, Rick avoided the cliches and made the most of historical experiences and venturing to the extreme depths –  land and sea – of the Island’s dynamically volatile geography. From mile-long waterfalls to fiery lava pits to underwater exploration, Rick soaked in these amazing vistas via helicopter, submarine, Camaro SS Convertible, or more traditionally, by foot! Rick curated his trip to blend cultural curiosity and luxe living, ending each day with a priceless sunset at the Hotel Renew in Waikiki and Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel in Kona.

MKTG: What was the feeling when you were chosen as a MKTG Rewards winner?
RG: That was an unbelievable moment for me, I was in such disbelief. I am and will always be so grateful for the staff’s acknowledgement. That was a day I will never forget.

Why did you choose Hawaii?
RG: I have never been to Hawaii and it has always been the destination on the top of my bucket list. 
 
What parts of the island did you explore? 
RG: I explored a good portion of the Big Island – Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, a two hour helicopter tour, rode in a submarine and drove around the whole island. I ventured around Oahu and Honolulu, climbed the Diamond Head State Monument crater and had a day touring historical landmarks: Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona Memorial, the Pacific Aviation Museum, USS Bowfin Submarine and USS Missouri Battleship.

How do Hawaiian beaches compare to other beach destinations you have visited?
RG: The beaches in Hawaii are pristine with remarkably large waves and rich turquoise waters. It’s so easy to be swept away by the beauty of the water itself.
 
You are always in the know of popular cocktails and drink trends! Were there any interesting cocktails you tried that weren’t of the stereotypical “bright blue flaming booze in a pineapple” variety?
RG: Unfortunately no! I stuck to Big Wave Golden Ale and Hawaii’s signature cocktails: Mai Tai and Blue Hawaii. 
 
Did you try any local Hawaiian dishes/delicacies? 
RG: I tried…Poke (Raw Ahi tuna with seaweed and a variety of Japanese veggies. LOVED IT! ), loco moco (hamburger patties served with gravy & topped with two fried eggs), Spam musubi (cooked, seasoned Spam on a bed of sushi rice wrapped with seaweed) and Poi (mashed taro plant root).

What was the most surprising or unexpected moment from your trip?
RG: I was not prepared to see millions of stars shine so brilliantly in the sky as well as an active volcano with lava splashing and flowing! 
 
What was one moment of the trip you will never forget? 
RG: I will never forget the helicopter tour around the Island. I saw parts of the Island that were inaccessible unless you flew by plane or helicopter. Seeing lava flowing into the ocean creating new land right before my eyes was a special moment, too.  

 

–Contributed by Rick Gonzalez, MKTG NY and MKTG Global Communications team

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MKTG Rewards Winner Andrew Leubner: Hiking & Dining Around Lake Tahoe

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The MKTG Rewards program is designed for MKTG employees to recognize and nominate fellow team members each quarter for their outstanding work at MKTG. At the end of the year, quarterly nominees become eligible to win an all-expenses paid international or domestic experience. 2015’s winners were announced in June, and lucky recipients have spent this summer taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity. Andrew Leubner is a Regional Director based in Scottsdale, AZ, and was the lucky winner of a domestic trip. Andrew and his wife decided to spend their 5th wedding anniversary making the most of Lake Tahoe’s beautiful vistas hiking- and dining their way throughout this unique terrain. Read on for Andrew’s recap….

Looking for a change of pace from our usual major city destinations, my wife and I thought it would be nice to relax and celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary in the mountains, so we decided on Lake Tahoe. Our goal was to explore as much ground as possible and experience Tahoe from a local’s perspective.

On Thursday we made the quick drive from Reno Airport to Lake Tahoe. As we descended the peak of Mt. Rose, we drove into a snow flurry that followed us all the way down to Incline Village. We found our resort, toasted with a glass of champagne and got settled at The Hyatt Regency. It was the quintessential “luxury mountain lodge” experience. Excited to get as much hiking done as possible, we found a couple of short, close hikes to start with. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Diamond Peak and Stateline Lookout’s very different trails.

After a long day of hiking, we were ready for some good food. We discovered a favorite local spot, T’s Rotisserie, which we ended up revisiting throughout the trip. They serve up deliciously massive burritos stuffed with rotisserie chicken, tri-tip, rice, beans and everything in between. Sitting at the counter and watching the staff work their magic in close quarters only adds to the fun, laid-back vibe.

The next day we got up early and had breakfast at the lodge’s restaurant (which boasts amazing views of Mt. Rose). To our relief, the freak cold snap that followed us from Reno the day before was gone now and the weather was perfect. We decided on a scenic coastal hike to Secret Cove and then Chimney Beach. This was a definite highlight of the trip. There was so much to take in, from the crystal clear water that went on for miles, to the massive pines towering over us. There were blue jays, squirrels and chipmunks at every turn. It was like stepping into a fairytale….a fairytale that ended with a lot of naked strangers! It turns out that Secret Cove is a nude beach- and a very popular one at that! Suffice to say, our shore side lunch ended quickly.

While on the hike, we fashioned a pair of hiking sticks, smoothing them out on a granite boulder and left a pair at the trailhead for any future hikers that might have needed some extra stability. Once we made our way back, we drove to Crystal Bay on the California side of Lake Tahoe and stopped at Mellow Fellow Pub for some local-made elk sausage and pulled pork nachos. For dinner that night we chose a local tapas-style restaurant called Bite. We were quite impressed with the spinach and brown rice arancini and Indian spiced chickpea butter lettuce wraps.

On Saturday we drove to South Lake Tahoe, which is about 30 minutes from the North side, with stunning lake views along the way. We found ourselves in a bustling ski resort town with lots of touristy shops and a big gondola transporting visitors to the top of the mountain. Once we were full from a burger lunch we made the drive back to the much less touristy North side and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and walking around the resort’s beaches and parks. One of our favorite things about the Hyatt were the nightly massive fire pits throughout the grounds. We met so many interesting, friendly guests over campfire s’mores and nightcaps under the stars.

The following morning, we were eager to get out on the lake and quickly headed to Sand Harbor beach. We rented a tandem kayak and got paddling. This was for sure our favorite activity of the week, with breathtaking views from the middle of the lake. We kayaked away from home base for a good 90 minutes until the wind picked up and made it comically difficult for us to navigate. It doesn’t matter if you’re married five or 50 years- co-piloting a tandem kayak does not come any easier, or so I’m told!

Later that day we scoped out a local brewery called Alibi Ale Works. Any dog-friendly brewery is going to be at the top of our list, and after giving Abby (their resident pit bull) some well-deserved belly rubs, we were able to sample an assortment of their expansive beer selection in 4oz. offerings. Our favorite brew was the “Evil Jungle” Saison, followed by the “Dog Day IPA,” which donates a percentage of sales to their local Humane Society.

On the final day we said our goodbyes to the staff and the grounds, then made our way up the mountain for one last hike around Spooner Lake before driving back to Reno. It was such a great trip, we spent much of the last day discussing our plans to return. To MKTG and everyone who participated in the rewards voting- I cannot adequately express my gratitude for the opportunity to discover such an amazing new place. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for this unforgettable experience.

 

–Contributed by Andrew Leubner, Regional Director, Scottsdale, AZ

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