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Holiday Gift Guide

The Gift of Stepping Out

Picking out the right gift for a loved one, partner, friend, or child can be a stressful experience. There are many different factors to consider, and there’s always the worry they won’t like what you pick out. Luckily, Western Mass. has a wide variety of places that offer great experiences you can all share together. Whether it be a go-karting adventure, having dinner at a great local restaurant, or visiting an art museum, there are plenty of experience-based options out there for you and a loved one to share. Save yourself the stress of buying material things this year, and try out one of these experiences for the holidays.

 


For Adventurers and Adrenaline Seekers


Berkshire East Mountain Resort

66 Thunder Mountain Road, Charlemont, MA

(413) 339-6617; www.berkshireeast.com

This resort is Southern New England’s year-round outdoor destination. With everything from whitewater rafting to skiing and snowboarding — and the resort’s signature mountain coaster — there are plenty of options for all types of adventure seekers. Whether you want to celebrate the holidays now or save it for a warm, summer day, a trip to the mountains is the perfect getaway.


Nomad’s Adventure Quest

100 Bidwell Road, South Windsor, CT

(860) 290-1177; www.nomadsadventurequest.com

With more than 65,000 square feet of space, there is something for people of all ages at Nomad’s. The facility has laser tag, glow-in-the-dark black-light mini golf, thunderbowl bowling, a climbing wall, more than 80 arcade and redemption games, two full-size basketball courts, a billiard room, conference and banquet rooms with overhead projection screens, a full bar, a full service café, and more. There is no admission price to enter; activities are individually priced. 


Pioneer Valley Indoor Karting

10 West St., West Hatfield, MA

(413) 446-7845; www.pioneervalleykarting.com

Conveniently located just over the Northampton town line right off I-91 exit 21, Pioneer Valley Indoor Karting is perfect for the adventurous family that loves a good adrenaline rush. The facility opens daily at 11 a.m. for ‘arrive and drive’ high-speed gas go-karting. All pricing is per person, and the facility offers high-speed junior karts specifically designed for junior racers ages 8 to 13 who are taller than 48 inches and weigh less than 180 pounds. 


Springfield Thunderbirds

MassMutual Center, 1277 Main St., Springfield, MA

(413) 787-6600; www.springfieldthunderbirds.com

If you’re a sports lover, this is the event for you. The Springfield Thunderbirds are the American Hockey League’s minor-league affiliate of the Florida Panthers, now playing their fourth season in Springfield. The Thunderbirds play their home games at the MassMutual Center. Tickets start at $10 depending on seating and game night.

For History and Art Lovers


Clark Art Institute

225 South St., Williamstown, MA

(413) 458-2303; www.clarkart.edu

The intimate scale and the wide variety of the galleries at the Clark makes for the perfect family trip, no matter what age a person may be. This institution also offers special programs and events throughout the year that are catered to families specifically, such as gallery talks, art making, and related entertainment. 


Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

125 West Bay Road, Amherst, MA

(413) 559-6300; www.carlemuseum.org

The Eric Carle Museum is a nonprofit organization seeking to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books. The Carle houses more than 11,000 objects, including thousands of permanent-collection illustrations, three art galleries, an art studio, a theater, educational programs for families, and more.


Connecticut Science Center

250 Columbus Blvd., Hartford, CT

(860) 724-3623; www.ctsciencecenter.org

Only a half-hour from Springfield, the Connecticut Science Center boasts more than 165 hands-on exhibits in 10 galleries and live science demos daily. There is a state-of-the-art 3D digital theater, four educational labs, and daily programs and events. General admission for members is free, youth (ages 3-17) tickets are $16.95, adults (ages 18-64) are $23.95, and seniors (65+) are $21.95.


Norman Rockwell Museum

9 Glendale Road, Stockbridge, MA

(413) 298-4100;

www.nrm.org

The Norman Rockwell Museum houses the world’s largest and most significant collection of Rockwell art. It presents, preserves, and studies the art of illustration and is a world resource for reflection, involvement, and discovery inspired by Norman Rockwell and the power of visual images to shape and reflect society. The museum is open seven days a week, year-round. Admission for members and youth ages 18 and under are free, adult tickets are $20, seniors (65+) are $18, veterans are $17, and college students with an ID are $10.


Shaker Village

1843 West Housatonic St., Pittsfield, MA

(413) 443-0188; www.hancockshakervillage.org

Shake Village boasts 20 authentic Shaker buildings, rich collections of Shaker furniture and artifacts in rotating exhibits, a full schedule of activities and workshops, a mile-long hiking trail and hundreds of acres of additional land with a variety of trails for all skill levels, picnic areas, a store and café, and a working farm with extensive gardens and heritage-breed livestock. Admission for adults is $20; seniors and active/retired military are $18; youth (ages 13-17) are $8; children 12 and under are free. From Nov. 16 through Dec. 22, the village is open weekends only. It is closed for the season Dec. 23 through April 10 and reopens for the spring season April 11.


Springfield Symphony Orchestra

1441 Main St., Suite 121, Springfield, MA

(413) 733-0636; www.springfieldsymphony.org

The SSO is the largest Massachusetts symphony outside of Boston, featuring more than 80 musicians from the New England region of the U.S. and Canada, and holding many performances each season. A Holiday Celebration concert on Dec. 7 will feature guests conductor Nick Palmer, the SSO Chorus directed by Nikki Stoia, the [email protected] Chorus directed by Bob Cilman, cantor Elise Barber, and soprano Jamie-Rose Guarrine. Tickets are available online starting at $25.


Yankee Candle Village

25 Greenfield Road, South Deerfield, MA

(877) 636-7707; www.yankeecandle.com/south-deerfield-village

This is more than just a candle store. The Yankee Candle Village provides everything from make-your-own-candles to irresistible food, and has plenty of options for the kids and the parents to enjoy — as well as a year-round Bavarian Christmas village.


For the Foodies


Capri Pizza Shop

18 Cabot St., Holyoke MA

(413) 532-3460;

www.capripizzashop.com

Capri has been in the family since 1966 and is now owned and run by Fiore Santaniello and managed by his two sons, Salvatore and Gennaro. Though Capri’s look has changed over the years, it has maintained the quality of its food, even earning the People’s Choice Award from Best of Mass Pizza.


Esselon Café

99 Russell St., Hadley, MA

(413) 585-1515; www.esselon.com

Esselon is an award-winning café featuring fresh roasted coffee, rare and exotic teas, and a full menu. Centrally located between Amherst and Northampton on Route 9 on the Common in Hadley, this café offers outdoor dining during the spring, summer, and fall months and a casual atmosphere indoors.


La Fogata

770 Tyler St., Pittsfield, MA

(413) 443-6969; www.lafogatarestaurante.com

La Fogata (Spanish for ‘the bonfire’) offers traditional Colombian cuisine. Owner Miguel Gomez moved to Pittsfield from Colombia in 1993 and realized there were no Latino restaurants in the area, so he decided to open his own. Items on the menu include everything from carne asada to pechuga apanada.


Johnny’s Tavern

30 Boltwood Walk, Amherst

(413) 230-3818;

www.johnnystavernamherst.com

Johnny’s Tavern is a contemporary American restaurant nestled in the heart of the community of Amherst, priding itself on using organic produce, sustainable seafood, and hormone-free meat and poultry whenever possible. Items on the menu range from pizza to a pulled duck sandwich.


Munich Haus

13 Center St., Chicopee, MA

(413) 594-8788; www.munichhaus.com

The Munich Haus gives customers a taste of Germany, no passport required. A family-owned restaurant that opened in 2004, this restaurant prides itself on its authenticity, right down to the food, beer, and décor. The comfortable, laid-back atmosphere paired with popular menu items like its wide array of schnitzels and a plentiful selection of beer and wine make the Munich Haus a place where anyone can find something to enjoy.


Nick’s Nest

1597 Northampton St., Holyoke

(413) 532-5229;

www.nicksnestholyoke.com

This is the perfect place to go for those who want to spend quality time over some great food on a low budget. Founded in 1921 by Nick Malfas, Nick’s Nest started as a roadside popcorn cart. Now serving much more than popcorn, it continues to be a hot spot, featuring hot dogs, homemade potato and macaroni salad, ice cream, and much more.

 

For the Adults


Abandoned Building Brewery

142 Pleasant St., Easthampton

(413) 282-7062; www.abandonedbuildingbrewery.com

This brewery began in March 2013 when owner Matt Tarlecki transformed this abandoned mill building into what now stands as Abandoned Building Brewery, complete with a walk-in cooler, a 15-barrel brewhouse, two 30-barrel fermenters, and one 30-barrel bright tank. Its ales include a combination of year-round, seasonal, and collaboration beers.


MGM Springfield Topgolf Swing Suite

One MGM Way, Springfield

(413) 273-5000;

www.mgmspringfield.com

Located outside on the Plaza next to Indian Motorcycle, Topgolf Swing Suite is a perfect option for couples or a group of friends looking to have fun and enhance golfing skills. The experience offers a comfortable lounge to hang out in while enjoying food and drinks.


Northampton Brewery

11 Brewster Court, Northampton

(413) 584-9903;

www.northamptonbrewery.com

The Northampton Brewery brews fine ales and lagers, served with outstanding food and a friendly staff. The brewery is conveniently located in downtown Northampton and is an ideal place to go for a delicious meal and a couple beers in front of the fireplace on a chilly winter evening. The destination has been around for 35 years and continues to be one of the area’s most popular breweries.


The Quarters

8 Railroad St., Hadley, MA

(413) 429-4263;

www.hadleyquarters.com

The Quarters, located just off Route 9 and directly on the Norwottock Rail Trail, is a destination for those seeking a place to enjoy some creative food, excellent drinks, and a selection of more than 20 vintage arcade games — perfect for a group outing or a date night.

Kayla Ebner can be reached at [email protected]

Incorporations

The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.

AGAWAM

Divine Vision Inc., 36 Yarmouth Dr., Agawam, MA 01001. Dinesh B. Patel, same. Convenience store and gas service station.

AMHERST

CHN Northern J & J Corp., 380 Riverglade Dr., Amherst, MA 01002. Jiarui Liu, same. Full-service restaurant.

BELCHERTOWN

C & H Auto Sales Inc., 40 Emily Lane, Belchertown, MA 01007. Bruno Calouro, same. Auto sales.

CHICOPEE

DC & S Services Corp., 109 Holiday Circle, Chicopee, MA 01020. Daniel Nogueira Nogueira Sardinha, same. Janitorial services.

EAST LONGMEADOW

Dr. E. H. Eskander And Associates, P.C., Emad H. Eskander, M.D., 14 Dartmouth Lane, East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Emad H. Eskander, 181 Park Ave., Suite 13, West Springfield, MA 01089. Private psychiatric practice.

FLORENCE

Casenotes Inc., 339 Bridge Road, Florence, MA 01062. Lauren Burke, same. Create case management software programs.
PHILLIPSTON

Castle Group Properties Inc., 110 Baldwin Hill Road, Phillipston, MA 01331. Reginald Haughton, same. Real estate investment and management.

LONGMEADOW

Costas 3D Imaging Inc., 55 Benedict Terrace, Longmeadow, MA 01106. Barbara J. Costas, same. 3D diagnostic imaging for non-medical purposes.

PITTSFIELD

Casa De Adoracion Profetica Inc., 82 Wendell Ave., Ste 100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Walter Vazquez, same. Build the kingdom of god through the liaison of ministers and Christian ministries.

SOUTH DEERFIELD

Cornerstones: Early Childhood Development Center Inc., 29 Sunderland Road, South Deerfield, MA 01373. Doria Kate Rhodes, 447 South Washington St., Belchertown, MA 01007. Provide quality, early educational experiences for infants and children up to the age of 5.

SOUTHWICK

Corporate Z.A.J. Inc., 39 Deer Run, Southwick, MA 01077. Jeff King, same. Computer software development.

SPRINGFIELD

Camile Hannoush Inc., 1655 Boston Road, Unit B-7, Springfield, MA 01129. Camile A. Hannoush, 4 Cherry Brook Lane, Suffield, CT 06078. Jewelry wholesale, retail sales, repairs, and gifts.

Edmisado Investments Corporation, 12 Pasadena St., Springfield, MA 01108. Edwin Miguel Sanchez, 12 Pasadena St., Springfield, MA 01108. Real estate investments.

WILBRAHAM

Deep Roots Landscape Co., 2555 Boston Road, Wilbraham, MA 01095. Richard E. Ewing, same. Landscaping and other services.

Incorporations

The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.

AGAWAM

BBB Auto Inc., 266 Walnut St., Agawam, MA 01001. Larisa Mironova, same. Auto repairs.

BRIMFIELD

Brimfield Community Partnership Inc., 367 Brookfield Road, Brimfield, MA 01010. Ryan Evan Olszta, same. To bring our community together as one. We are dedicated to holding events and giving back to the people in our community. We will bring the community together through community-based events.

CHICOPEE

500 Century Inc., 400 East Main St., Chicopee, MA 01020. Saima Amir, 10 Oakley Dr., South Hadley, MA 01075. To operate convenience store and smoke shop.

HOLYOKE

Angie-Del Inc., 30 Leary Dr., Holyoke, MA 01040. Angelo Deleon Olguin, same. Grocery retailer.

BBF Wellness Inc., 37 Commercial St., Holyoke, MA 01040. Frank Dailey, 109 Pennsylvania Ave., Springfield, MA 01118. Medical consultation not requiring licensing.

Boston Bud Factory Inc., 37 Commercial St., Holyoke, MA 01040. Frank Dailey, 109 Pennsylvania Ave., Springfield, MA 01118. Retail sales of cannabis.

LUDLOW

Bumble Inc., 140 Posner Circle, Ludlow, MA 01056. Kimberley Grandfield, same. Automotive, transportation. Transport goods.

NORWOOD

America Santos Painting Inc., 1200 Washington St., #3, Norwood, MA 01062. Ildeu Aparecido Dos Santos, same. General construction, painting, and cleaning.

PELHAM

Ad-Avis Inc., 338 Daniel Shays Highway, Pelham, MA 01002. Joseph R. Davis, same. Internet marketing.

PITTSFIELD

Assembly of God El Shamah Ministry, 563 East St., Pittsfield, MA 01201. Leonardo Marques, 166 West Housatonic St., Pittsfield, MA 01201. To establish and maintain a church and to provide a place of public worship for the same.

SPRINGFIELD

4 Seasons Painting Inc., 33 Derryfield Ave., Springfield, MA 01118. Douglas E. Guyette, same. Painting.

Anyeliz Market Corp., 546 Worthington St., Springfield, MA 01108. Antonina Sabala Rodriguez, 544 Worthington, Springfield, MA 01105. Grocery sales and restaurant.

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Bienia Powerwashing Inc., 635 Rogers Ave., West Springfield, MA 01089. Kevin Bienia, same. Provide power washing services to residential and commercial properties.

WILBRAHAM

Be Bronze Inc., 31 Glenn Dr., Wilbraham, MA 01095. Maria J. Serra, same. Sunless tanning salon and sell tanning treatments.

Company Notebook

Big E Breaks Attendance Record with 1.63 Million Guests

WEST SPRINGFIELD — A record number of visitors attended the 2019 Big E, breaking the Fair’s all-time high attendance figure, with a final tally of 1,629,527. The previous record, of 1,543,470, was set in 2018. During the fair’s run, the all-time ingle-day attendance record was also broken when 176,544 visitors attended on Saturday, Sept. 21. Five additional daily attendance records were set: Sept. 19, 85,698; Sept. 21, 176,544; Sept. 25, 89,124; Sept. 27, 112,988 and Sept. 28, 173,112. “As our event continues to grow, I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support we receive, and I want to thank everyone in this region who supports us by attending the Big E,” said Eugene Cassidy, president and CEO of the Eastern States Exposition. “Your support allows our mission of agriculture and education to thrive, to grow, and to have a national impact.”

Bay Path Receives $5M Bequest, Largest in University’s History

LONGMEADOW — Allison Gearing-Kalill, vice president for Development and Planned Giving at Bay Path University, announced that an anonymous donor has made a transformational gift of $5 million through planned giving. The bequest is the largest individual contribution to Bay Path in its history, and honors the donor’s unwavering commitment to the education and advancement of women. Under the terms of the bequest, a fund will be established to support scholarships, endowed faculty chairs, science and technology equipment, and development programs. “I speak on behalf of the entire Bay Path community that we are grateful for this generous bequest given in support of our mission,” said President Carol Leary. “Our benefactor has a strong belief in higher education and is an inspiration for all. Over the years, this person has also contributed to our annual One America trip for students, underwritten Labster — the online virtual laboratory program integrated within the science curriculum at the American Women’s College — and has supported many other initiatives. Our patron has been a champion for women.” A passionate advocate for women’s education, the donor believes strongly that education is the key to creating opportunities and providing career pathways for women at all ages and stages of their lives, and is particularly supportive of the American Women’s College, the first all-women online bachelor’s degree program in the country, Leary added.

Eversource Donates $2,500 to Fund MHA Support Groups for Veterans, LGBTQ Community

SPRINGFIELD — Eversource, New England’s largest energy-delivery company, presented a check for $2,500 to the Mental Health Assoc. (MHA) to fund access for military veterans and members of the LGBTQ community to support groups at MHA’s BestLife Emotional Health & Wellness Center. According to Sara Kendall, vice president of Clinical Operations for MHA, community members and friends can help individuals in a number of ways, but the support provided by a group of people who have had similar experiences is even more powerful. “Through shared experience, a veteran support group helps its members build a healthy, positive lifestyle through participating and understanding,” she said. “Being part of a clinician-facilitated group can help veterans work to overcome obstacles, build working relationships, and support individuals as they learn to self-navigate in the community. The benefits of support groups for individuals who identify as LGBTQ include feeling less lonely, isolated, or judged; gaining a sense of empowerment and control; improving coping skills and sense of adjustment; talking openly and honestly about their feelings; and reducing distress, depression, or anxiety.” For more information on these new support groups, call (844) MHA-WELL.

STCC Awarded $500,000 to Enhance Two Programs

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will apply $500,000 in state funding to enhance programs in health science and electrical engineering technology and better prepare students who are planning careers in these growing industries. Called the Skills Capital Grant, the funding allows STCC to acquire the newest technologies to educate students and expand career education opportunities. STCC will use the grant to boost the two programs by acquiring new medical patient-simulation training equipment, which allows a larger number of students to enroll in the health science program; and robotic arms for the electrical engineering technology program, which will provide hands-on experience on equipment students will encounter in advanced manufacturing facilities. STCC President John Cook said the investment in the programs will help fill a regional demand for trained workers in the fields of healthcare and electrical engineering technology. Christopher Scott, dean of the School of Health & Patient Simulation, noted that the grant will be used for equipment that directly helps students prepare for careers in the healthcare field. Rick Jagodowski, chair of the electrical engineering technology program at STCC, added that the grant will allow his department to provide students experience and training with robots commonly found in the fields of advanced and automated manufacturing.

PeoplesBank Named a ‘Top Corporate Charitable Contributor’

HOLYOKE — The Boston Business Journal has announced the region’s Top Corporate Charitable Contributors, and, for the 12th year in a row, PeoplesBank is among the companies included. Also this month, the bank has been named Best Local Bank for the seventh year and Best Mortgage Lender for the eighth year in the annual Reader Raves survey conducted by the Republican and MassLive. Through the bank’s Community Care Program, it has contributed millions of dollars to local nonprofit organizations that provide services to the residents of Hampden and Hampshire counties. In addition, associates devote an average of 10,000 hours to volunteer work each year to help local schools, teach financial-education classes, clean up parks, plant trees, and help revitalize neighborhoods. The Boston Business Journal’s Top Corporate Charitable Contributors list is composed of companies that gave at least $100,000 to Massachusetts-based charities and social-service nonprofits last year. PeoplesBank will be honored at the annual Reader Raves banquet presented by the Republican and MassLive at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke on Wednesday, Oct. 16.

CDC Designates UMass Amherst a Flu Forecasting Center Of Excellence

AMHERST — A UMass Amherst biostatistician will receive up to $3 million in funding over the next five years from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to operate a UMass-based CDC Influenza Forecasting Center of Excellence, one of two in the nation. Nicholas Reich, associate professor in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, whose flu-forecasting collaborative has produced some of the world’s most accurate models in recent years, leads a team that will work closely with the CDC, identifying new methods and data sources to sharpen the accuracy and improve communication of seasonal and pandemic flu forecasts. “We know there are a lot of groups that have done trailblazing work in this field, so it’s really a great honor to be selected,” Reich said. A research group from Carnegie Mellon University, led by Roni Rosenfeld, was chosen as the other CDC Influenza Forecasting Center of Excellence. Rosenfeld’s group has collaborated closely with the Reich Lab at UMass Amherst as part of the FluSight Network, a multi-disciplinary consortium of flu-forecasting teams. Improving the precision of infectious disease forecasting is life-saving work. These new predictive tools could more effectively target the public-health response to a potential flu outbreak, helping to determine the timing for flu-vaccine campaigns, potential school closures, and travel restrictions, as well as the allocation of medical supplies and antiviral medications. They could also help hospitals make the most efficient staffing decisions. Reich is aiming to communicate more accessible and user-friendly information to the public, perhaps via a smartphone app. The UMass Amherst Center of Excellence includes collaborators Evan Ray, assistant professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Mount Holyoke College, who completed postdoctoral research at the Reich Lab; Caitlin Rivers, senior associate at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security; Anna Thorner, an infectious-disease specialist and the leader of the biosurveillance research team at UpToDate, an online clinical decision support resource; and BioFire and Quidel, two industry companies that run diagnostic tests for respiratory viruses. The companies serve as data providers for the UMass Center of Excellence, sharing anonymized test results from across the nation. In recent years, flu forecasters have been spreading a wide net for their models, using Google search trends, HealthTweets, and other non-traditional sources of information. Reich’s group uses ensemble methodology, incorporating 21 models in an open platform that shares data and coding to maximize forecasting capabilities. “Pooling the strength of many models together, collaboratively with multiple teams, results in a more consistent and more accurate forecast,” he explained.

Palm Beach Capital Invests in J. Polep Distribution Services

CHICOPEE — Palm Beach Capital Fund III, LP, through one of its investment entities, announced it has made an investment in Consumer Products Distributors, LLC (d/b/a J. Polep Distribution Services) and Rachael’s Food, LLC, collectively one of the nation’s largest full-line wholesale distributors to the convenience- and grocery-store industry. Financial terms were not disclosed. J. Polep has been in the distribution business for more than 120 year, and over the past several years, the company has expanded product lines to include fresh sandwiches, salads, and grocery items and has added programs and value-added services to better service the convenience-store retailer. The success of the company can be attributed to product diversification, dedicated employees, a loyal customer base, and a commitment to superior customer service, said Eric Polep, president and CEO. Mike Schmickle, partner at Palm Beach Capital, noted that his company’s strategy is to invest in solid management teams and assist them in their long-term strategic growth plans.

Tourism & Hospitality Uncategorized

Katie DiClemente says the openness of the meeting spaces at the Sheraton is one of the biggest selling points for people looking to stage conventions.

Sheraton Springfield Takes Steps to Stand Out in the Marketplace

Stacy Gravanis acknowledged the obvious when it comes to the convention and meetings market in the Northeast, and the country as a whole — there is no shortage of competition.

And in this climate, the assignment is also obvious — to find a way, or several ways, as the case may be, to stand out in this crowded marketplace.

The Sheraton Springfield has been doing that since it opened more than 30 years ago, said Gravanis, general manager of the facility, and it keeps looking for new, innovative, and, well, cool ways of continuing that practice. Cool as in a Ding-Dong cart. Indeed, the nostalgic summertime staple, sometimes seen patrolling neighborhoods and often seen parked at pools and lakes, became part of the landscape at the downtown Springfield landmark during the first week in August.

It was parked on the grounds, providing a unique opportunity to cool down during what has been an oppressive summer to date — for guests and downtown workers alike. And it became another way to bring value and something different to visitors, said Gravanis, who told BusinessWest that this is all part of the work to not only stand out — as important as that is — but also to help build relationships and turn customers into repeat customers, a critical assignment in this industry.

One of the stops on the Sheraton’s ice cream truck tour was MGM Head Start in Springfield.

“The goal is to find that connection to them and build loyalty,” she told BusinessWest, adding that the Ding-Dong cart is just one example of programs, products, and services that go into the connection-building process.

Katie DiClemente, assistant director of Sales and Marketing for the Sheraton agreed. She said that conventions and meetings comprise a large slice of the business at the Sheraton, one where building relationships and generating repeat business is essential.

DiClemente noted that the facility hosts dozens of convention groups a year, such as the Pancretan Association of America, which was in town from June 28 to July 3 and brought 475 people to the hotel. Meanwhile, its assorted meeting spaces host a wide array of gatherings, from company retreats and annual meetings to team-training sessions, to educational seminars.

The hotel’s portfolio of facilities and its unique layout (more on that later) are attractive selling points, she said, as is the region and its many attractions.

Both Gravanis and DiClemente said an already attractive mix of attractions, from Six Flags to the Dr. Seuss museum, has been significantly bolstered by MGM Springfield, which they expect to help bring new convention business to the 413.

For this issue and its focus on meetings and conventions, BusinessWest talked with Gravanis and DiClemente about the Sheraton’s ongoing work to stand out in the market, and how it is creating new flavors of customer service — figuratively but also quite literally.

Getting the Scoop

One of the largest facilities of its kind in the region, the Sheraton boasts 325 hotel rooms, more than 36,000 square feet of meeting space, including a ballroom and eight meeting rooms on the third floor, six meeting rooms on the second floor, and two additional meeting rooms on the fourth floor, leaving plenty of space for large conventions.

DiClemente says the 10,000 square foot ballroom can hold up to 1,000 people depending on the type of event, with a 500-person cap for a banquet-style event.

But size is not the only attractive quality. Indeed, DiClemente said the setup of the meeting spaces at the Sheraton Springfield is unlike most other hotels.

“The flow of our space is something that definitely attracts people to our hotel,” she told BusinessWest. “We’re not a conference-style hotel where you’re walking down a long hallway and going to your meeting rooms and finding it that way. We’re an atrium style, so if your meeting room is on the second floor, you can look down and see where you need to go. The natural light shines through the atrium.”

This natural light, and all that comes with it, has attracted a number of groups to the Sheraton — and Greater Springfield. The Pancretan Association of America (PAA), a national organization comprised of members who support and perpetuate Cretan culture through scholarship, educational, cultural, and philanthropic programs for those in the United States, Canada, and Crete, is an example of the how the region and the hotel are drawing local, national, and even international groups.

And bringing them here is a collaborative effort, said Gravanis, adding that the hotel works closely with the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau (GSCVB), keeping in daily contact with Director of Sales Alicia Szenda.

“We have a really great relationship with her being the director of sales,” said DiClemente. “If the convention center has a lead where they need overnight rooms, that’s sent to the [GSCVB] and Alicia is that middleperson between the MassMutual Center and the hotels in the area.”

Once that lead is sent out to the hotels, they bid on the piece of business, which is sent directly to Szenda. Of course, this region is usually competing against several other cities in for the right to host specific conventions, which brings us back to that notion of standing out — and building relationships.

Again, the Ding-Dong cart was just part of it.

Aside from the ice cream runs, Gravanis said the hotel staff works to stay in touch with clients — be they groups or individuals — through birthday and anniversary cards and other touch points to build a relationship and, hopefully, a long-term relationship.

“Whether it’s a local client or a client out of a different city, it’s so important to build that relationship with them and that’s something we do every day,” said DiClemente. “It’s really a top priority for our sales team.”

Gravanis added, again, that the area itself is a huge selling point for the Sheraton, and it is becoming more so through the addition of MGM Springfield, which has the potential to bring a wide array of meetings and conventions to the city, many of which will require large amounts of hotel rooms and other facilities.

Staying Power

Since it opened nearly three decades ago, the Sheraton has been one of the key players in the region’s large and important hospitality sector.

It has been one of the important pieces in the puzzle when it comes to the infrastructure needed to bring meetings and conventions, and, therefore, revenue and vibrancy, to the region.

It has maintained this position by being innovative and always finding ways to stand out. And the Ding-Dong cart, as cool as it is, is just the latest example.

Kayla Ebner can be reached at [email protected]

Court Dockets

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT

Cutler Associates Inc. v. One East Pleasant, LLC

Allegation: Breach of contract: $468,000
Filed: 6/18/19

David Mitowski v. Easthampton Electrical Services Inc. and Timothy J. Hodnicki

Allegation: Breach of contract, failure to pay wages: $40,000
Filed: 7/8/19

Teresa Beaudry v. Amherst College and trustees of Amherst College

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $25,000+
Filed: 7/16/19

Five Star Building Corp. v. Danco Management Inc. and Millstone Creations Inc.

Allegation: Breach of contract, negligence, breach of implied warranty of good faith and fair dealing: $405,257.70
Filed: 7/25/19

Kimberly A. Lucas and Antonio R. Lucas v. ST Floor Covering, LLC

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $625,341.83
Filed: 7/31/19

Historic Round Hill Summit, LLC and PeoplesBank v. Crocker Building Co. Inc. and Safco Foam Insulation, LLC

Allegation: Negligence, breach of contract, breach of implied warranty of good and workmanlike service: $3,000,000+
Filed: 8/2/19

PALMER DISTRICT COURT

ArcBest Logistics Inc. v. Hilltop Wood Components, LLC

Allegation: Money owed for shipping services provided: $18,998.85
Filed: 7/22/19

WESTFIELD DISTRICT COURT

Donna Pittello and Jean Aube v. Smith & Son Jewelers Inc.

Allegation: Fraud, breach of contract: $24,999
Filed: 7/16/19

Nicole Q. Radwanski and Andrew E. Radwanski as parents and legal guardians of the minor Jacob E. Radwanski and individually v. Girls & Guss, LLC d/b/a A Dream Come True Learning Center

Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury, reckless infliction of emotional distress: $8,984.20+
Filed: 7/18/19

Geof E. Spear v. New England Sports Center, Renfroe H. Larue Trust, Donald Lynch Blvd. Realty Trust d/b/a New England Sports Center, New England Sports Management Corp., and Donald Lynch Blvd. Realty Trust d/b/a New England Sports Management Corp.

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $4,798.03
Filed: 7/29/19

Senior Planning

These regional and statewide nonprofits can help families make decisions and access resources related to elder-care planning.

AARP MASSACHUSETTS

1 Beacon St., #2301, Boston, MA 02108

(866) 448-3621; states.aarp.org/region/massachusetts

Administrator: Mike Festa

Services: A nonprofit, nonpartisan, social-welfare organization with a membership of nearly 38 million that advocates for the issues that matter to families, such as healthcare, employment and income security, and protection from financial abuse.

THE CONVERSATION PROJECT

20 University Road, 7th Floor, Cambridge, MA 02138

(617) 301-4868; www.theconversationproject.org

Administrator: Kate DeBartolo

Services: Helps people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care; its team includes five seasoned law, journalism, and media professionals working pro bono alongside professional staff from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

ELDER SERVICES OF BERKSHIRE COUNTY INC.

877 South St., Suite 4E, Pittsfield, MA 01201

(413) 499-0524; www.esbci.org

Administrator: Christopher McLaughlin

Services: Information and referral, care management, respite care, homemaker and home health assistance, healthy-aging programs, and MassHealth nursing home pre-screening; also offers housing options, adult family care, group adult foster care, long-term-care ombudsman, and money management, and oversees Senior Community Service Aide Employment Program.

GREATER SPRINGFIELD SENIOR SERVICES INC.

66 Industry Ave., Suite 9, Springfield, MA 01104

(413) 781-8800; www.gsssi.org

Administrator: Jill Keough

Services: Dedicated to maintaining quality of life for older adults, caregivers, and people with disabilities, through programs and services that foster independence, dignity, safety, and peace of mind; services include case management, home care, home-delivered meals, senior community dining, money management, congregate housing, and adult day care.

HIGHLAND VALLEY ELDER SERVICES

320 Riverside Dr., Florence, MA 01062

(413) 586-2000; www.highlandvalley.org

Administrator: Allan Ouimet

Services: Care management, information/referral services, family caregiver program, personal emergency-response service, protective services, home-health services, chore services, nursing-home ombudsman services, adult day programs, elder-care advice, bill-payer services, options counseling, respite services, representative payee services, local dining centers, personal-care and homemaker services, and home-delivered meals.

LIFEPATH

101 Munson St., Suite 201, Greenfield, MA 01301

(413) 773-5555; www.lifepathma.org

Administrator: Barbara Bodzin

Services: Private, nonprofit corporation that develops, provides, and coordinates a range of services to support the independent living of elders and people with disabilities; also supports caregivers, including grandparents raising grandchildren.

MASSACHUSETTS ASSOC. OF OLDER AMERICANS

19 Temple Place, Boston, MA 02111

(617) 426-0804; www.maoamass.org

Administrator: Chet Jakubiak

Services: Aims to improve the economic security of older Massachusetts residents through research and advocacy on policies that may reduce risk and hardship; fights against the dual stigma of being old and mentally ill, to preserve Medicare and Social Security, to ensure access to community-based long-term care, and to obtain mental healthcare for elders suffering from depression and other brain disorders.

MASSACHUSETTS EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF ELDER AFFAIRS

1 Ashburton Place, Unit 517, Boston, MA 02108

(617) 727-7750; www.mass.gov/elders

Administrator: Elizabeth Chen

Services: Connects seniors and families with services like senior centers, councils on aging, nutrition programs such as Meals on Wheels, exercise, health coaching, and more; supports frail adults through programs and quality-improvement initiatives in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities; caregiver support programs.

MASSACHUSETTS SENIOR LEGAL HELPLINE

99 Chauncy St., Unit 400, Boston, MA 02111

(800) 342-5297 ; www.vlpnet.org

Administrator: Joanne Allison

Services: The Helpline is a project of the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Boston that provides free legal information and referral services to Massachusetts residents age 60 and older; the Helpline is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon.

MASSOPTIONS

(844) 422-6277

www.massoptions.org

Administrator: Marylou Sudders

Services: Connects elders, individuals with disabilities, and their caregivers with agencies and organizations that can best meet their needs; staff can also assist with determining eligibility for and applying to MassHealth.

VA CENTRAL AND WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

421 North Main St., Leeds, MA 01053

(413) 584-4040; www.centralwesternmass.va.gov

Administrator: John Collins

Services: Provides primary, specialty, and mental-health care, including psychiatric, substance-abuse, and PTSD services, to a veteran population in Central and Western Mass. of more than 120,000 men and women.

WESTMASS ELDERCARE INC.

4 Valley Mill Road, Holyoke, MA 01040

(413) 538-9020; www.wmeldercare.org

Administrator: Roseann Martoccia

Services: Provides an array of in-home and community services to support independent living; interdisciplinary team approach to person-centered care; information, referrals, and options counseling as well as volunteer opportunities available.