New Year's Eve on the Delta Queen

Wow! We had such an amazing weekend performing aboard the Delta Queen for New Year’s Eve weekend. The Delta Queen team was at the top of their game for the huge boat-wide New Year’s Eve party. Special kudos to Hotel Manager Lloyd, Chef Joyce, and of course operators Leah Ann and Randy Ingram.
The New Year’s Eve event was marketed as a private event package including hotel stay, DJ and dancing down in the Orleans Room, Laura and I having a blast with the crowd in the Texas Lounge, and Joyce’s amazing food stations scattered downstairs, all along the Forward Cabin Lounge, and up in the Texas Lounge. What an amazing buffet!
Thanks so much to the wonderful guests that supported the Delta Queen by ringing in 2012 with us. We had so much fun with you and look forward to the next time we can all enjoy an evening together aboard the legendary Delta Queen.

Xanterra Parks & Resorts has completed the purchase the assets of bankrupt Ambassadors International, Inc. This includes the Delta Queen. For at least the foreseen future, this will not affect of the charter lease operation of The Delta Queen Hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee. With her long-term future uncertain, I encourage you to experience the Delta Queen while you can. Visit www.DeltaQueenHotel.com for more information and reservations.

To read more about Xanterra’s acquisition, click here or click here.

Laura and I have had such a great time performing on the Delta Queen for all the holiday parties, events, and festivities since Thanksgiving. What a wonderful place to spend a holiday getaway. Put it on your calendar for next year. The boat was decorated beautifully, and with all the poinsettias along the Grand Staircase, we thought it would make a perfect holiday card photo (see below). We hope to be back on the boat soon, but until then we wish you all the best and a very Happy Holiday.

A nice letter of support for the Delta Queen remaining in Chattanooga was written by R.J. Johnson and published by the Chattanoogan:

Chattanooga Can Help Save The Delta Queen
posted October 24, 2010

A city that can build an aquarium, save a century-old bridge, and restore a deserted downtown and riverfront to the level of global recognition, can surely save a riverboat.

I understand the Delta Queen is priced at $4.75 million, which is a lot of money, but it’s only a pittance to what Chattanoogans have raised before. When you consider the accomplishments of the last two decades, this should be chump change to us.

A shimmering jewel of history is in our midst, and we have one chance to permanently rescue this world-renowned vessel.

Thank you to Leah Ann and Randy Ingram, current operators of the Delta Queen Hotel, for your vision in establishing the Delta Queen Preservation Foundation. I hope Chattanoogans will support this effort, including the “Rally on the River” fundraiser on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Delta Queen Hotel owners Leah Ann and Randy Ingram are working to make sure the Delta Queen remains in Chattanooga and to preserve her historical integrity. The boat is for sale by owners Ambassadors International. Other buyers could move and alter the boat significantly. To read more about the efforts in this Chattanoogan article, click here.

To see the poster for the event, click here.

For details about the daytime events, click here.

A terrific event will be held on the Delta Queen on November 4 to promote and raise funds for the establishment of a non-profit organization to be called the Delta Queen Preservation Fund. The Chattanoogan ran this article:

Delta Queen Operators Say Future Of Riverboat In Jeopardy
“Rally On The River” Set For Preservation Fund
posted October 23, 2010

New operators of the Delta Queen hotel say the future of the historic riverboat now docked at Coolidge Park as a floating hotel remains in jeopardy.

New managers Leah Ann and Randy Ingram said they are striving to establish the Delta Queen Preservation Foundation, “which will allow the Delta Queen to become a permanent piece of our city’s riverfront.”

Ambassadors International, owner of the Delta Queen, has contracted with real estate broker Colliers International to sell the grand riverboat.

The Colliers listing for the Delta Queen sets the price at $4.75 million. The potential private or public uses listed are as “a hotel or restaurant, day charter or cruise service, museum or historical display, entertainment venue, theme park or tourist destination, or other uses as deemed appropriate.”

A “Rally on the River” fundraiser has been set for Tuesday, Nov. 4, from 6:30-9:30 on the Delta Queen.

The Ingrams said, “The Delta Queen is currently for sale with potential buyers making appointments to tour the boat with purchase options in mind.

“Some want to dismantle her for pieces of her valuable infrastructure, while others have ideas of turning her into a time share.

“Any option that takes away from this boat’s unique history or changes her infrastructure could put her historic designation in jeopardy, which means one of our city’s favorite attractions could soon go away.”

They said at the upcoming event “we will be raising funds and awareness about plans that will keep the Delta Queen – a part of maritime history – intact for generations to come.”

The event will include calliope concert music from the Belle of Cincinnati, the Southern Belle and the Delta Queen.

The Delta Queen’s paddle wheel will turn throughout the evening.

There will be progressive tastings with wine pairings from the Delta Queen’s new executive chef.

After dinner, the group will board the Belle of Cincinnati for after dinner drinks and entertainment.

A portion of each ticket sold will go to the newly formed foundation.

Single tickets are $125 and couples are $200.

For more information or to make reservations, call 413-3804 or Julie@AllAboardUSA.net

Laura and I will be performing on the Delta Queen for the November 4 “Rally on the River” fundraiser event to promote and raise funds in support of the creation of a non-profit organization called Delta Queen Preservation Foundation.

We are on tour through Thanksgiving, but when we received the invitation, we were thrilled to find that we had that date open and our show the night before was in Savannah, GA, so we’re driving up just for that date and excited to get to be a part of this event.

There will be tours of the vessel offered that day and calliope concerts featuring music from the Belle of Cincinnati, the Southern Belle and the Delta Queen. In a rare treat, the Delta Queen’s boilers will fire up enough steam to rotate that historic paddlewheel. There will be progressive tastings with wine pairings as guests roam the historic vessel.

Laura and I will present our “Delta Queen – A Musical Journey” show that we created during the boat’s final cruising season. It chronicles the boat’s fascinating history and shares an array of songs that we found had been written about this national treasure.

Single tickets for the fundraiser are $125 and couples are $200. For more information or to make reservations, call 423-413-3804

A country group called “Nash Street” filmed a video for their song “Mississippi Queen” on the Delta Queen. It looks and sounds great. Lots of fun shots on the boat. Watch it on YouTube:

Leah Ann and Randy Ingram have purchased the charter rights for the Delta Queen Hotel. I know Leah Ann from her more than a decade as a motorcoach vendor and tour operator for the Delta Queen Steamboat Company. She knows the boat and the importance of its historical significance. She’s also a dynamo with more energy than any one person should have and her love and enthusiasm for the Delta Queen is immense. She’s a great marketer and manager and will be a terrific overseer of the Delta Queen.

Here are highlights about the new owners from an article in the Chattanoogan:

Delta Queen Has New Owners

Leah Ann and Randy Ingram, founders of All Aboard Travel have purchased the charter rights of the Historic Delta Queen from Sydney Slome and have assumed full responsibilities and operational control of the Delta Queen hotel.

The transfer was financed by Gateway Bank and Trust at a non-disclosed price.

Mr. Slome said, “This couple has an enormous energy level. They seem to have a solid business plan that revolves around groups and tour business. It was an honor to have served the Queen.”

Hotelier Slome, owns the historic StoneFort Inn in Chattanooga, and recently relocated following the acquisition of two boutique hotels in North Carolina.·

Mr. and Ms. Ingram have over 40 plus years combined experience in the hospitality industry. Their five year plan for this boutique hotel is to increase occupancy, ADR and overall revenue from all outlets on the Delta Queen Hotel.

The management team has designed a marketing plan that is aimed at repositioning the boutique hotel into the top ranks in the Chattanooga area.

“This historic landmark is well-known worldwide, and by her name alone, will attract a wide range of visitors to Tennessee and the Chattanooga region,” said Ms. Ingram.

The current management has created a marketing plan which will target increasing occupancy to 60–65 percent. The average daily rate needs to remain competitive in the local market but also needs to reflect specific benefits, such as complimentary breakfast and valet parking, it was stated.

Ms. Ingram is a travel industry expert and the owner of All Aboard USA, a group tour and motor coach transportation company based in Chattanooga. The company offers customized tours throughout the United States catering to a broad range of markets, specializing in educational and senior travel planning. The company’s fleet consists of 56 passenger fully equipped luxury motor coaches, 28 and 14 passenger mini-buses for local shuttles.

All Aboard was founded in 1996. The company began a relationship with the Delta Queen immediately, providing ground transportation coordination and city tours for passengers during stops at port. This relationship continued in this manner until the Delta Queen stopped sailing in 2008.

Most recently, Ms. Ingram partnered with the Delta Queen Hotel as the exclusive agent for group arrangements. She is responsible for growing the hotel bookings significantly since the boutique hotel’s opening, and continues to work with the historic Delta Queen to improve efficiency and offer the best experience to group and leisure guests on board.

Mr. Ingram has over 20 years of experience in the tour and travel industry. He is a former co-owner and founder of Premier Transportation in Knoxville. Premier was founded in 2003 and increased initial gross revenues from $720,000 in the first year to over $3,000,000 by the year 2008. He is currently a co-owner of All Aboard USA with his wife.

All Aboard is a leader in the group travel industry and serves as the exclusive group sales agent for the Delta Queen Hotel. All Aboard also operates several motorcoaches. Randy and Leah Ann have numerous contacts throughout the United States in the tour and travel market. All Aboard is a member of the American Bus Association, United Motorcoach Association, and Tennessee Motorcoach Association, where Mr. Ingram is the current president of the association.

Julie Dodson, sales and marketing director, received her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and began her career as a teacher of high school English. After eight years of teaching in the Knoxville and Nashville areas, she moved to Memphis and joined the forces of United Airlines as a ticket and gate agent. Needing to return to East Tennessee, she continued her work in the travel industry at a local travel agency. As an agent for five years and the manager for five years, she traveled extensively as a tour director for groups of 100 or more. Countries visited were Mexico, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and others.

The next career stop took Ms. Dodson to the Chattanooga Choo Choo, where she worked in sales for five years, them became its marketing director for 15 years. Her responsibilities included all media and public relations, packaging the hotel with attractions, all print collateral, trade agreements, in-kind services, and more.

In November, 2009, Ms. Dodson joined the Delta Queen Hotel crew as the director of sales and marketing. She is also managing all marketing responsibilities at All Aboard USA and Reliable Transportation.

Delta Queen in Chattanooga

The grand old lady of the river turns 83 today. Isn’t it amazing? Her first cruise was June 2, 1927! And she ran America’s rivers for more than 81 years. If you traveled on her, go to Chattanooga and visit her. If you never had the chance, then go and experience this very special place. Visit www.deltaqueenhotel.com for more info.

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