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Write Touch PR and Westin Portland Harborview Honored

at 49th Annual Pepperpot Awards in Philadelphia

MEDFORD, NJ– The Philadelphia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) honored Write Touch Public Relations and the Westin Portland Harborview hotel with a Pepperpot Award for the 90th-anniversary celebration of the hotel’s opening.

The PRSA Pepperpot Awards are a staple in the Philadelphia region, recognizing best-in-class PR campaigns, tactics and professionals. The “Pepperpots” were established in 1968 and named by Bill Parker, APR, then-chapter president, as a play on the famous “catch-all” Philadelphia soup to represent the effort and variety PR professionals put into their campaigns.

The award-winning celebration included an updated version of the hotel’s opening event when the governor flew over Casco Bay and threw the hotel’s key into the water.  For the 90th anniversary, Maine’s governor Paul LePage, escorted by the grandchildren of the hotel’s founder riding in a Gatsby-era Packard, tossed keys made of fish food into the bay.

The Pepperpot awards honor public relations campaigns and tactics submitted by organizations across the Greater Philadelphia region. Nearly 100 entries were judged in more than 25 campaign and tactic categories ranging from short- and long-term events, to community relations and fundraising, to crisis and issues communications campaigns. Tactics included op-eds, websites, magazines, annual reports, feature stories, blogs and public service announcements, among others. Judging is conducted independently by partner chapters that are assigned by PRSA National. This year, members of the San Diego PRSA Chapter judged the entries.

Please scroll down for photos of the event and news coverage.

Maine news, election results and politics, sports and opinion - Bangor Daily News

LePage tosses hotel key into Casco Bay, hopes for ‘mermaid’

Gov. Paul LePage stands on the Maine State Pier in Portland to mark the 90th anniversary of the Westin hotel by throwing a key made out of fish food into Casco Bay. (BDN photo by Jake Bleiberg)

An alternative headline may have been: “Where’s the governor’s hotel key? The fish ate it.”

As part of a creative 90th anniversary celebration for the old landmark Eastland Park hotel, now the Westin Portland Harborview, Gov. Paul LePage came down to the Maine State Pier and chucked a hotel key made out of fish food into Casco Bay.

Why would a politician throw a key made out of fish food into the bay to celebrate a hotel’s anniversary, you ask?

When the Eastland was opened in 1927, then-Gov. Richard Brewster threw a key – presumably metal – into Casco Bay to signify that the hotel would always be open and welcoming to guests.

So LePage was just performing a modern recreation of that symbolic act, using a key that was more environmentally friendly.

“We’ll hope there’s a mermaid down there,” he said as he tossed the sticky-looking orange key into the water.  Read More

A key made out of fish food that Gov. Paul LePage threw into Casco Bay to mark the 90th anniversary of the Westin hotel in Portland. (BDN photo by Jake Bleiberg)


Westin Portland Harborview Marks 90th Anniversary

Governor Paul LePage Recreates Opening Ceremony Tossing the Key into Casco Bay

GM Jeff Burrell, Governor Paul LePage, and Nat Thompson, grandson of hotel founder Henry Rines toss commemorative keys into Casco Bay 


PORTLAND, Maine – – (June 16, 2017) – – Celebrating 90 years since Governor Richard Brewster opened the doors and threw away the key, the Westin Portland Harborview, a Rockbridge portfolio hotel managed by New Castle Hotels & Resorts, launched a summer-long series of commemorative activities with Governor Paul R. LePage recreating the time-honored gesture.

David Rines, Julie Thompson Fralich, Nat Fralich grandchildren of founder Henry P. Rines and the Gatsby-era Packard used to transport celebrants to the key toss






Governor LePage, along with hotel General Manager Jeffery Burrell and Nat Thompson a great-grandson of the hotel’s founder Portland business owner Henry P. Rines, hopped a ride to the waterfront in a Gatsby-style vintage 1933 Packard to toss a commemorative key into Casco Bay.  Hotel industry tradition suggests that because hotels are always open to travelers, they don’t need to lock their doors. Throwing away the key symbolizes a wish that the hotel will remain open for all time.  Read More

New Castle Doubles Down on Dual Brands

Reaches Beyond Urban Markets into Beach Resort and Business Park

Residence Inn/Courtyard by Marriott Armory Square Syracuse.

Shelton, Conn., – – June 13, 2017 – – With one of the industry’s first dual-branded hotels, the 78-suite Residence Inn and the 102-room Courtyard by Marriott, operating successfully in Syracuse, N.Y., New Castle Hotels & Resorts President and COO, Gerry Chase is doubling down on the popular business model, taking the concept into a Canadian business park and a beach resort.

Read More

Wedding Forecast 2017
FanFare and Formalities Give Way to Private and Personal

Brides looking to combine a little something new with their borrowed and blue might want to incorporate one of these event trends into their wedding planning, says Shawn Kinnear, director of catering and event management for the Westin Jekyll Island.

“Every couple wants their day to be memorable.  It’s a major factor in their choice of venue,” said Kinnear.  “That’s why we’re designing weddings to give the couple more time to be with each other and with their guests, and less time on formalities that detract from the experience.”  Read More


Indie hoteliers work with media, bloggers to tell story

Gerry Chase, president and COO New Castle Hotels & Resorts

Write the story and tell it
Although an independent hotel doesn’t carry a flag, Gerry Chase, COO of New Castle Hotels & Resorts, said each hotel is its own brand. New Castle has six independent hotels, including soft-branded assets, in its portfolio of 23.

“An independent in its unique state has to become a brand in its own right,” Chase said. “You can’t do that solely through advertising because it’s expensive, so the best way is through the (public relations) process.”

Link to entire story on HNN


Julian Buffam Joins NCHR Development and Acquisitions Team

SHELTON, Conn. – – March 6, 2017— Gerry Chase, president, and COO of New Castle
Hotels & Resorts, a leading third-party management company, and hotel developer, today announced that Julian Buffam has joined the company’s acquisitions and development team as director of business development.Read More



Alex Lugo Named GM of Lexington Hilton

“Alex’s leadership of the Westin Jekyll Island during both the pre and post-opening phases, coupled with his success working in convention center markets, demonstrate his readiness for a more complex operation in a top 100 market,”  said Gerry Chase, president, and COO in making the announcement.   Read More



Kevin Runner Named General Manager of The Westin Jekyll Island

Runner is a career hospitality executive who opened the Jekyll Island Club in 1986. Originally a 134-room full-service hotel, the historic Jekyll Island Club Hotel has evolved into a four-diamond resort largely credited with the island’s renaissance.                                                        Read More


New Castle Hotels & Resorts Renews First Franchise  

with Westin Hotels & Resorts

Halifax Hotel to Fly Westin Flag for Next 20 Years

SHELTON, Conn. – – (February 1, 2017) – – New Castle Hotels and Resorts, which made history in 1996 when it became the first franchisee of Westin Hotels & Resorts, today announced that it has renewed the Westin franchise for another 20 years for The Westin Nova Scotian in Halifax. Read More


11 Unexpected Reasons To Visit Halifax, Nova Scotia

After 2 weeks of touring New Brunswick and Nova Scotia by car, we rolled into our final destination – Halifax. The Maritime city we had seen so many times on the Snapchat account of our good friend Cailin from Travel Yourself – our anticipation had been building for a very long time.

From any given point in Nova Scotia, you’ll be no further than 67km (42 miles) from the ocean. The province’s history, economy, and identity are intrinsically tied to the sea. You could say salt water flows through the veins of every Nova Scotian.  Read More

New Castle Hotel and Resorts Logo

New Castle Promotes

Don Urbahn to Vice President Sales and Revenue Management

Don Urban Sr. VP Sales & Revenue Management

SHELTON, Conn. – – September 6, 2016—Gerry Chase, president and COO of New Castle Hotels & Resorts, a leading third-party management company and hotel developer, today announced the promotion of Don Urbahn to vice president of sales and revenue management for the company’s growing portfolio of hotels in the US and Canada.

Urbahn joined the company in 1999 as a general manager and in 2007 was promoted to corporate director, a position he held until 2011 when he was promoted to vice president of revenue management. Prior to joining New Castle, Urbahn was a general manager with Vista Host Hotel Group.

Read more

St. Andrews by the Sea: A Canadian Maritime Holiday

by Carri Wilbanks

St. Andrews by-the-Sea is one of those timeless seaside towns and a top destination for those who like to travel in Canada. Located in New Brunswick on Canada’s eastern coast, St. Andrews by-the-Sea sits on the Bay of Fundy, an area famous for having some of the highest tides in the world. Tides in the Bay of Fundy can reach up to 30 feet high.  Read More

New Castle Hotels & Resorts Opens 

Fairfield Inn & Suites in Downtown New Orleans


Cutting a ribbon of mardi gras beads to celebrate the official opening of the Fairfield Inn and Suites Downtown New Orleans, are first guest Emily Voros, Gerry Chase, president and COO New Castle Hotels and Resorts, Patricia Coulter, general manager, Adam Valente managing director Rockbridge, Charles Snyder New Castle director acquisitions development, Ted Stimson vice president Rockbridge, Kurt Weigle CEO of New Orleans Downtown Development District. Rear Ben Johnson, CEO New Orleans Chamber of Commerce.

Historic Hotel Transformed for New Generation

NEW ORLEANS, September 22, 2016—New Castle Hotels and Resorts  (NCHR), a leading third-party management company, developer and owner of a diverse, international portfolio of hotels and resorts, celebrated the opening yesterday of the 103-suite Fairfield Inn & Suites New Orleans Downtown/French Quarter Area, the company’s first project in this top US convention and leisure market.  Rockbridge Capital provided financing for the project.  Read More




Historic Hotel Marks Anniversary

With New Brew and Old Friends

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – – (August 15, 2016) – – New Castle Hotels and Resorts celebrated the Mayor's toast20th anniversary of the opening of the Westin Nova Scotian with a toast by Halifax Mayor Mike Savage, pictured here with long-time
bartender, Jonathan Arsenault, from the first keg of a commemorative brew, Westin 20, crafted by Halifax-area microbrewer, Nine Locks Brewing.  Read More

2 Week Nova Scotia Road Trip

(PLUS A Little Slice of New Brunswick)

Back at the start of our #motherofallroadtrips, in June 2015, Josh wanted to visit his bucket list destination, Nova Scotia. Like a mermaid’s siren, he was drawn to it. We made it to Moncton, New Brunswick with full intentions of venturing further east. But it never happened. Our ever-evolving path led west and, sadly, we never made it.

Fast forward to May 2016, merely one year since Josh heard the salty call, and Signature Resorts asked us to experience 3 resorts sprinkled around Nova Scotia and 1 in St Andrews, New Brunswick.

It was fate. Our time had finally come, and so with great anticipation, we flew from San Francisco (hot off the heels of a California Gold-rush road trip) across the continent for a 2-week journey through Nova Scotia… and a little bit of New Brunswick.    Read More


algonquin resort logo

Historic Golf Course to Receive Multi-Million Dollar Upgrade

  St. Andrews, New Brunswick, CANADA – – (July 6, 2016) Gerry Chase, president, and COO of Algonquin 13th holeNew Castle Hotels & Resorts, today announced that top Canadian golf course architectRod Whitman will lead a generational repositioning of the Algonquin Resort’s highly  acclaimed course.  Whitman most recently gained world renown for his work on Nova Scotia’s Cabot Links, the top course in Canada and winner of the Golf Inc. 2012  Development of the Year award.  Cabot Links has secured two Top 100 Worldwide rankings. Read More


       New Castle Hotel and Resorts Logo

New Castle Hotels & Resorts Outlines Strategic Plan to Double Portfolio in Four Years  

    Balanced Market Segments Key to Achieving 40 by 2020

New Castle Resorts

New Castle CEO and Founder David Buffam with President and COO Gerry Chase

SHELTON, Conn., June 21, 2016—New Castle Hotels and Resorts (NCHR), a leading developer, owner, and operator of a diverse, international portfolio of hotels and resorts,     today announced an ambitious plan to double the company’s roster of owned and managed hotels by 2020.  The growth will be split evenly among new management contracts,  acquisitions, and new-build hotels. Read More



westin nova scotian black
John Wilson Named General Manager of Westin Nova Scotian

  HJohn WilsonALIFAX, Nova Scotia/SHELTON, Conn. – – May 31, 2016—Gerry Chase, president, and  COO  of New Castle Hotels & Resorts, a leading hotel owner, operator, and developer, today announced that John Wilson, has been promoted to general manager of the Westin Nova Scotian in Halifax. Wilson previously served as regional controller responsible for the company’s six Canadian hotels, a position he will continue to hold. Read More


Westin Portland Harborview Logo

Deborah Pillatsch Named Director of Sales and Marketing

for Westin Portland Harborview

Deborah Pillatsch 2

PORTLAND, Maine – – (May 9, 2016) – – Jeffery Burrell, general manager of the Westin Portland Harborview, a Rockbridge portfolio hotel, today announced that Deborah Pillatsch has joined the hotel team as director of sales and marketing.  Pillatsch previously held the same position at the DoubleTree by Hilton in South Portland. Read More




Westin Portland Harborview Logo

Brian Anderson Promoted to Director Food and Beverage/Executive  Chef For Westin Portland Harborview

Brian Anderson F&B Director

PORTLAND, Maine – – (May 5, 2016) – – Jeffery Burrell, general manager of the Westin Portland Harborview, a Rockbridge portfolio hotel, today announced the promotion of Brian Anderson to director food and beverage.  Anderson previously was the executive chef and will continue in that capacity while assuming additional administrative and front-of-house responsibilities.  Read More



Westin Portland Harborview Logo

Westin Portland Harborview Unveils New Menu for Congress Squared and Introduces New Chef de Cuisine Elisha Irland

Chef Eli Irland PORTLAND, Maine (February 5, 2016)- – Jeffery Burrell, general manager of the Westin Portland Harborview, a Rockbridge portfolio hotel, announced the appointment of Elisha Irland as chef de cuisine of the hotel’s restaurant, Congress Squared (C2) and with it, a new concept and menu for the dining room.  Read More.

Westin Portland Harborview Logo

Congress Squared at Westin Portland Harborview Launches Mondays Matter  for Portland Area Non-Profits

Small PlatesPORTLAND, Maine (February 8, 2016) – – -At the Westin Portland Harborview, Mondays are more than just the start of the work week.  Mondays Matter.

Every Monday, five percent of the food sales in the hotel’s Congress Squared restaurant will be donated to a Maine non-profit that has been designated to receive a month of Mondays’ proceeds.


New Castle Hotel and Resorts Logo

Patricia Coulter Named General Manager Of

Fairfield Inn and Suites New Orleans

NEW OPat Coulter 4x5_2540RTRLEANS/SHELTON, Conn. – – February 8, 2016—Gerry Chase, president and COO of New Castle Hotels & Resorts, a leading hotel owner, operator and developer, today announced that Patricia Coulter, formerly the director of human resources for the company’s  Marriott in Racine, Wisconsin was promoted to general manager of the Fairfield Inn and Suites New Orleans.  The hotel was acquired by New Castle in 2015 and currently is undergoing a comprehensive, $10 million renovation, with a targeted opening of early summer 2016.  Read More


5 Reasons to Plan a Beach Vacation at the Westin Jekyll Island

Running, beach and wellness. Three of the things that make me happiest in the world came together during a weekend at the new Westin Jekyll Island in Jekyll Island, Georgia.

The newly opened Westin Jekyll Island sits just steps away from the wide beach where low tides reveal a sandy paradise perfect for running, splashing in the waves, building sand castles or reading your favorite book. I was thrilled to be invited to participate in the Jekyll Island Turtle Crawl Triathlon, 5k and Nest Fest and experience the hotel.  Read More