Skål International Tampa Bay Annual President’s Installation Dinner

Skål International Tampa Bay celebrated the New Year and new leadership during the annual President’s Installation Dinner.

This event is always held in style and this year was no different, being held at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, an entirely distinct venue to the Bay area that features rescued dolphins and the night skies of Clearwater Beach as the backdrop.

The evening began swimmingly with the newest rescued resident dolphin Apollo and his pal PJ greeting guests at the 40 ft. wide dolphin viewing window. The music donated from the Charity Ann Brady Jazz trio filled the venue for the cocktail hour.

We were fortunate to be joined by several Skål International dignitaries to help us celebrate Burcin Turkkan, the newly elected 2022 Skål International President who also served as our Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Also present to help us bring in 2022 were Holly Powers, Skål International USA Councillor and longtime friend to Skål International Tampa Bay; from Orlando, 2022 Skål International USA President Richard Scinta along with Steve Vinciguerra, current President of Skål International Orlando; and Canadian Skål International Councillor Jean-Francois Cote'. Also joined by special guest John Stine, past President of Skål International Orlando and a friend to many of us here at Skål International Tampa Bay.

The attendees then retreated to the ballroom featuring 7200 square feet of space, and floor to ceiling windows overlooking Clearwater Bay. The catering provided by Cabana’s, which has its home in Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club a boutique hotel on Clearwater Beach, showcased its culinary talents throughout the event. The dessert, a tiramisu captured everyone’s attention as it was topped with a white chocolate dolphin in nod to the venue and paired perfectly with the donated wine from Ghvino 21. All of the grandeur of the evening was orchestrated in gratitude to the outgoing 2021 President Steven Rodriguez and to celebrate the induction of the new 2022 President Mike Greundel.

Michael Gruendel has been in the travel industry for 40 years as owner of Travel Discoveries in Tampa, Florida, USA. Travel Discoveries is a retail travel agency established in 1979 with corporate, leisure and luxury FIT divisions. Mike has been a Skålleague since 2014 and Board member of Skål International Tampa Bay for 4 years holding Director and Vice President positions, and is a Board member of the Suncoast Travel Industry Association (STIA), an educational organization focused on the tourism industry located in the Tampa Bay Area. In addition, Mike has been involved in leadership roles with the Boy Scouts of America, American Cancer Society, F-Troop Tampa and Ducks Unlimited, an international conservation organization.

After the new board was announced and the gavel was passed to President Mike Gruendel, guests were invited to preview the video entry submitted for Skål Club of the Year. This video was produced with the help of Visit St. Pete Clearwater and illuminated how Tampa Bay creatively pivoted during the pandemic and grew Skål International membership as a result. Special thanks were also given to 2020 President Kristina Park as many of these efforts were made under her direction.

As visitation in the Tampa Bay area continues to thrive the chapter anticipates another successful year of new connections, creative meetings and fellowship that makes this group a leader in the tourism industry.