Most people go to a holiday party bearing gifts. Last Wednesday evening, more than 30 people left the Hampton Inn & Suites on Post Road in Warwick with a special gift.
Those gifts came courtesy of some businesses that make up the Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, which held its annual Christmas Party and December Business After Hours at the Hampton Inn & Suites.
While CRICC President/CEO Lauren E.I. Slocum played Santa Claus and presented each of those 30 gifts, Hampton Inn General Manager Jay Visnjic served as what every one of the 125 partygoers called “a perfect host.”
“It was a fun and festive event with over 125 business people meeting old friends, potential customers and clients, suppliers and even community leaders,” Slocum said. “Our special thanks to host Hampton Inn & Suites and GM Jay Visnjic for coordinating a memorable evening.”
Slocum, along with her staff, lined up raffle prizes that ranged from Warwick memorabilia and holiday soaps to a variety of gift baskets.
“Everyone commented on the wide variety of delicious goodies and holiday beverages they really, really enjoyed,” she said.
Perhaps John Lovgren, who owns and operates Lovgren Photography at 3395 West Shore Road in Warwick, best put the night into perspective.
“This is by far the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen at this kind of Chamber event,” Lovgren said. “I’ve been coming and photographing these parties for a long time, but tonight is extra special. There’s plenty of great food and beverages and wall-to-wall people who are all smiling.”
The entire lounge and concierge area inside the spacious Hampton Inn & Suites was filled with vendors, food and beverage stations and dozens upon dozens of Chamber members who were having so much fun that they stayed longer than the scheduled three-hour Business After Hours.
While the 30-prize raffle, which didn’t cost any of the winners a single penny, was a huge hit, Visnjic decided to hold an in-hotel scavenger hunt that proved to be quite popular with those chamber members and their guests that participated.
“I wanted to make this a unique and successful event for several reasons,” Visnjic said during the night’s post-party cleanup. “I organized a scavenger hunt that required event goers to visit different areas of the hotel, including each guest room type, meeting rooms, fitness center and the pool in order to find answers to a list of questions.”
“Many guests stopped me to share their impressions of the hotel,” continued Visnjic, who in his short stint as GM has turned the Hampton Inn & Suites into and award-winning member of Hilton Hotels. “Most often their comments were: ‘Now I know everything about your hotel. I like it and I will recommend it to everyone.’”
There was yet another side to the holiday gala that pleased each and every attendee.
Visnjic invited 10 local businesses to feature their products and services.
One such new area business was the Eggroll Cafe, which bills itself as serving “wholesome Asian comfort food.” It was one of a dozen vendors that offered food or beverages during the party.
Michelle Ciu and Meng Kit served a variety of their treats to guests while Yesenia Rubio and Elissa Leca were among the more frequently visited servers.
Rubio and Leca are staffers at the neighboring Shannon View Inn and they treated lots of people to their “Beer of the Month Club,” which last Thursday evening featured Kena Longboard.
The night also included chowder from Legal Seafood, pizza from Bertucci’s, ribs from Texas Roadhouse, beer from Newport Storm, wine from ShelaLara Vineyards and Winery, and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream from Scoopless Ventures.
Schartner’s Farm, Chelo’s and Karen Haxton’s Kent Liquors also participated in the party.