The first time I realized there was such thing as a water sommelier was at the 2019 Hot Springs Connection, a conference held in Indian Wells and Desert Hot Springs, California. I was the room moderator for a panel presented by the Balneology Association of North America and spear-headed by the organization’s president, Janet Abbott, a water sommelier.

Abbott also led a water tasting featuring five California waters from Mission Springs, Palomar Springs, Carlsbad Springs, Castle Rock Springs and Tahoe Artesian Springs. When the 2018 conference was held in Glenwood Springs, she featured Colorado waters from a local spring and the drinking springs in Manitou Springs.

Raised in western New York south of Niagara Falls, Abbott describes a childhood in an area blessed with water and bountiful springs. “I grew up on beautiful, pristine water,” she says. Abbott began studying with the Fine Water Academy in 2018, created that same year by two well-known water sommeliers, Michael Mascha and Martin Riese, who were trained in Germany.

“The profession lines up closely with a wine sommelier but still adds an element of surprise for people. How do you taste water?” Abbott explains, “You have to understand the story and source, spend time and practice. Soon, your palate starts to define tastes and compositions. … Water also has age and vintage.”

Abbott prefers to have at least 1.5 hours to provide an overview, tell the story of each water and allow participants to sample the waters “easily and gracefully.” She says, “It is possible to buy water like a fine bottle of wine, and water can be used as an aperitif and digestif.”

Another exciting development for water sommeliers is that “we are starting to turn people around to make water part of the meal and to actually taste it,” Abbott says.
 
When introducing water to participants, they could be drinking water that is 10,000-plus years old or only a couple months old. “We are drinking time,” she emphasizes, “and that idea takes water to a new position in our brain and our lives on this planet.”

Over the years, any corporate event planner can admit to spending countless hours researching the perfect venue or vendors for their gatherings. After attending or hosting hundreds of events, New York-based Daphne Hoppenot was no stranger to this research and was frustrated by its repetitive nature. However, it was planning her wedding in 2018 that pushed her to realize the lack of resources in the corporate events market compared to the wedding industry, and set out to see if other meetings and events professionals were struggling with the same problem.  

 

Freelancing has become a new ball game since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as many companies cannot afford to keep full-time positions, but still need those tasks completed. Although many more professionals have had to join the freelancing community since March, Tracy Judge had the passion for the freelancing community two years ago–long before the pandemic hit–and founded her company Soundings Connect in order to directly connect meetings and events industry freelancers with customers. 

 

The 18-story, 303-room Hyatt Regency Frisco-Dallas is now open for business. Located within Frisco’s Stonebriar Centre, the hotel includes a 27,500-square-foot conference center with Regency and Junior ballrooms and additional breakout spaces, most with floor-to-ceiling windows for natural light.