THE KNOT REVEALS HALL OF FAME: THE BEST OF THE BEST IN WEDDING INDUSTRY
— First-Ever Wedding Industry Hall of Fame Pronounces Preeminent Vendors Across the U.S. –
NEW YORK (October 1, 2013) – Whether they’re trying to find the wedding dress salon with the best service in Philadelphia, the most creative wedding photographers in Los Angeles, New York’s top cake bakers or Miami’s hottest reception sites, engaged couples across the country want the inside scoop from real brides. The Knot Wedding Network (NYSE: XOXO), which is composed of the top two wedding websites, TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com, today announces the first-of-its-kind wedding industry Hall of Fame for the all-time best wedding vendors across the United States.
Comprised of winners of the annual Best of Weddings, a by-brides-for-brides guide to the top wedding vendors in 80-plus cities across the U.S., the Hall of Fame inducts wedding vendors who have won four or more Best of Weddings awards. This honorable list of 331 inductees includes less than 2 percent of wedding professionals.
Casa Ybel Resort is thrilled to have been named as a Hall of Fame honoree. “We would like to thank our past clients for taking the time to review our business on The Knot Wedding Network; it means so much to us and our business to have received such tremendous feedback over four years. We are dedicated to providing excellent service to all of our clients and look forward to helping future brides plan their perfect day.”
“For the past seven years, our reviews have been the definitive resource for our brides, providing them with unparalleled vendor recommendations directly from the tried-and-true experiences of fellow brides,” said Carley Roney, cofounder of TheKnot.com. “We’re beyond thrilled to induct our first-ever Hall of Fame, crowning the best of the best across the country, based on more than 725,000 reviews from real brides.”
About XO Group Inc.
XO Group Inc. (NYSE: XOXO), is a global media and technology leader devoted to weddings, pregnancy and everything in between, providing young women with the trusted information, products and advice they need to guide them through the most transformative events of their lives. Our family of premium brands began with the #1 wedding brand, The Knot, and has grown to include WeddingChannel.com, The Nest, The Bump, TheBlush.com and Ijie.com. XO Group is recognized by the industry for being innovative in all media – from the web to social media and mobile, magazines and books, and video – and our groundbreaking social platforms have ignited passionate communities across the world. XO Group has leveraged its customer loyalty into successful businesses in online sponsorship and advertising, registry services, ecommerce and publishing. The company is publicly listed on the New York Stock Exchange (XOXO) and is headquartered in New York City. Follow XO Group on Twitter @xogroupinc.
CONTACT: Stephanie Fraiman
Public Relations Manager
The Knot Wedding Network
We believe that where ever you are, whether or not you are ready, true love will find you. So it was with Jonathan and Karen. One evening, before they knew each other they both happened to be attending an event at their church. As soon as Jonathan saw Karen he knew he wanted to get to know her. He told a friend he would like to date ‘that girl’, but his friend said he thought she was already dating someone and so the matter was dropped.
A few months later Karen’s relationship ended. Jonathan had not forgotten her and saw his chance. He asked her out on a date, but Karen wasn’t ready. Jonathan knew Karen was special and would check in from time to time. Eventually Jonathan decided to take a step back to give Karen some space. Believe it or not, Karen missed Jonathan and realized there was more to him than she originally thought. Karen told her friends to tell Jonathan’s friends if he asked her out again she would agree. This was just what Jonathan was waiting for, they arranged a date and well… they’ve been together ever since.
They both love the beach and decided Casa Ybel Resort was the perfect setting for their destination wedding. Family and friends joined them in the sunshine to pray with them and attest to their covenant of marriage. Nautilus Photopraphy photographed them during and after the ceremony as they walked and talked on the beach.
The DJ announced the new couple as they danced to Train’s Marry Me. Later Karen danced with her dad and her sister said a few words as they cut their beautiful cake. The food was blessed and everyone enjoyed a sumptuous Brunch Buffet at the resort’s Thistle Lodge Beachfront Restaurant. This wonderful couple enjoyed their special day with family and friends outdoors on the Flagstone Veranda to the tune of steel drums in the background. We are all honored to be a part of this celebration.
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By Lizette Alvarez, Published August 7, 2012 in the New York Times.
SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla. — The tide is low. The sun crawls toward the ocean for a final dip. The time is here: The hunt is on.
Hundreds take to the beach near the lighthouse on this hammock-shaped island, hunching over the sand as they dig, lift, inspect and move on. The position is so common it has a name: the Sanibel Stoop. The beachcombers wave and chitchat but, with their competitive instincts primed, they steer clear of one another’s turf, keeping a sharp eye out for dots or spirals or telltale lumps in the sand.
“We take our shelling very seriously,” said Clark Rambo, who is known as Super Sheller Clark, a moniker used, sometimes admiringly, sometimes grudgingly, by his wife, Pam. “Every day on the beach is a treasure hunt, and that’s what makes it so competitive.”
Stretched out as far as the eye can see are shells — large, tiny, cone-shaped, scalloped, spiraled, white, orange, pink. Sanibel Island, and its neighbor, Captiva Island, just off the state’s southwest coast, are where hunters come for a seashell bonanza. There is no other place like it in the country, and very few places like it in the world. On some days, depending on the wind, shells pour onto the beach in piles, seducing even the most jaded beachgoers.
This has been particularly true in the weeks since Tropical Storm Debby, the late June storm that caused flooding and beach erosion along some pockets of Florida’s west coast but proved a boon to seashell hunters.
Sanibel’s largess is in its geometry: It is a 12-mile barrier island with a distinctive curve. The coastline runs west to east rather than north to south. When storms blow in from the northwest, the waves and currents funnel more than 300 shallow-water species of shells right onto the beach. Other parts of the world, like the South Pacific, may draw more species, but the shells are not nearly as easy to find. They require boat trips and dives.
“There are days here when you have layers of shells four feet thick,” said José H. Leal, the director of the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum here. “It’s one of the best places in the world for shelling, for sure.”
Seashells have proved resilient, too. At a time when fish stocks are down and coral reefs are dying, Mr. Leal said seashells — made by mollusks mostly from the calcium carbonate in seawater — continue to thrive.
For some, searching for seashells is a hobby; for others, it is a calling and an obsession that sometimes reaches back generations, with collections passed down like heirlooms. Here, there are shell clubs, shell stores, shell guides, shell excursions, shell crafts and the shell museum.
Inside his shell-festooned house, Mr. Rambo holds dear a black-and-white photo of his room as a boy. The image shows his twin bed, spread with seashells mostly scooped from the Jersey Shore. Mrs. Rambo, an artist, also grew up collecting shells, a shared passion that helped cement the couple’s relationship 18 years ago, despite Mr. Rambo’s being injured during a date.
It happened during a day of shelling on Sanibel early in the courtship; she pushed him (playfully) as he stood, his feet dug into the wet sand.
“My leg did a spiral twist,” he said. “Sounded like a shotgun.”
Now Mrs. Rambo is a sought-after figure on the island — a shell-ebrity, if you will — because of her popular Web site, www.iloveshelling.com. It is routine for her to be stopped to listen to a fan rattle off a list of finds (tulips, conchs, whelks, murex) or to answer a question about where to go and when. (The answer is Lighthouse Beach and Blind Pass, which lies between Sanibel and Captiva at low tide, when the wind is westerly, preferably after a storm.)
On a recent evening, shell hunters hungrily swept the beach with their eyes. They picked up shells and peered inside them.
“Is anybody home in there?” Mrs. Rambo asked. If a mollusk was inside, she placed the shell back on the sand. That is the rule in these parts — no live shelling. Before a 1994 law, people hauled boxes of shells away and began depleting the shoreline.
In front of the lighthouse, a teenage boy picked up a starfish and showed it off. A woman from North Carolina dug a hole. She recognized Mrs. Rambo. “I’ve probably found 15 bittersweets,” Denise Kisko, 56, told her, referring to a scallop-shaped shell. She glanced at a 13-year-old girl who was snooping in her spot. “Don’t you find anything in my pile,” she said, kidding, sort of.
Competition is stiff. The morning last October that Mrs. Rambo found a precious, elusive junonia, a species of sea snail known for its brown spots, she had told friends to meet her at Blind Pass at sunrise. Hoping to beat the competition, she got there before sunrise, with a light on her hat, to hunt solo. She spotted the junonia in a little trench. It was her eureka moment.
“I started screaming,” she said. “I was a shellunatic.”
Never mind that her husband has found four junonia over his lifetime, a remarkable feat he loves to sprinkle into conversations. After he posted a photo of his fourth junonia online, it proved too much for the shell crowd.
“They started booing him on the Web site,” Mrs. Rambo said, with a laugh.
The World War II ship the USS Mohawk was scuttled 28 miles off the coast of Sanibel Island in the early afternoon of Monday July 2nd. It is now an artificial reef for divers and anglers and is a veterans memorial.
The county’s Marine Services Program and Reefmakers LLC, a Key West company that specializes in sinking ships as artificial reefs, was scheduled to scuttle the 165-foot World War II Coast Guard cutter at 11 a.m., but it was delayed by nearly two hours.
Just before 1 p.m., there was a loud explosion, debris flew off the ship and it slowly descended to the bottom of the Gulf. It took just three minutes to sink below the water line.
“It’s a big day for us. We’ve done artificial reefs in the past, but we’ve done nothing that was like this. We’ve got the opportunity to take an old historic vessel and give her a final duty that’s fitting of the service that she’s given to this country,” said Steve Boutelle, with Lee County Natural Resources.
Joe Weatherby and his team spent two months in Fort Myers Beach preparing the rusted ship, removing hazardous oil and readying her for her final destination.
“She’s still got her propellers, she’s still got her guns and her life raft back on board and you never ever, ever see artificial reefs going into the sea looking like this,” Weatherby said.
Six charges were placed on the USS Mohawk and detonated at different times, allowing thousands of gallons of water to rush into the ship at once so that it will sit right side up.
Sunday morning crews towed the ship to its final destination and anchored it in preparation for the sinking.
“They spent a lot of time and a lot of money getting the ship ready environmentally – making sure it’s clean, there’s no oil leaking or any problems with that. The guns were taken off, decommissioned, and put back on. The props were put back on, so from a diver’s perceptive, it’s as if the boat did sink accidentally and it looks like it was operating when it went down,” explained Jeff Miller, President of the Coastal Conservation Association.
Similar artificial reef projects have created millions of tourism dollars throughout Florida.
The USS Mohawk will make the only artificial reef of its kind in Southwest Florida, and it’s the first to honor veterans.
January 12, 2012
BILL SCHILLER (email@example.com ) , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home, but sometimes, there’s good reason to brag. While the picturesque paradise that is Sanibel Island is well recognized by anyone who lives or works here, the community may attract a number of new admirers due to the release of several new reports that further herald Sanibel’s status as the most desirous of Florida destinations.
In a recent U.S. News & World Report ranking of the eight best beaches in Florida, Sanibel shined as the #1 spot. Neighboring communities like Naples (#2) and Fort Myers (#8) were included on the list. In accompanying text, travel writers said, “You’ll be hard-pressed to find a place in Florida with quieter and clamer shores than Sanibel Island.” Pleasant weather and low-cost lodging venues were credited with making Sanibel enjoyable all year long. Online media attached with the article also paid tribute to area attractions such as Captiva Island, the shops along Periwinkle Way, programs at Big Arts, Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum and J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The multimedia presentation is available on the Internet at www.travel.usnews.com.
Bowman’s Beach on Sanibel secured distinction for itself in a Top 10 of Most Secluded Beaches as surveyed by principals of the popular travel website known as “shermanstravel.com. Bowman’s, which is located along a corridor of the San-Cap Road took top honors. It was regarded as a great place to find shells, but not a lot of competition from other shell collectors.
TripAdvisor.com, which is reportedly the world’s most widely-used travel-related website, also recently announced their Top 15 U.S. Destinations for 2012. These were determined through a poll of TripAdvisor travelers and editors.
Fort Myers, which ranked in 3rd Place, was distinguished among the top vacation hot-spots. The accompanying text, however, regarded Sanibel and Captiva among the area’s top attractions.
Of course, Sanibel and Captiva remains first and foremost in the hearts and minds of so many who live here, but such polls have been shown to influence destination choices made by tourists. Given the degree that this community achieves favor in this kind of national reporting, locals may soon see even more visitors with which they can share their love of Sanibel.