Somewhere between rooming together in $500 a night rooms, the Disneyesque architecture, and being completely sober yet managing to throw-up in front of my boss in a posh Bellagio nightclub, it was an incredible experience!
Each year my firm takes a few days off work and sends everyone to Las Vegas, NV for the Hospitality Design Expo. I was just lucky enough to be hired approximately 6 weeks before the show.
We all arrived at work on Wednesday, April 26 with all our luggage ready to go and left for the airport around noon after working a few hours. The flight went by quickly. Continental seems to be one of the few remaining airlines to provide amenities during flight. I especially enjoyed seeing the Grand Canyon through my window.
Upon our arrival in Las Vegas, we took a shuttle to our hotel, The Wynn, and quickly changed into “going out” clothing for the evening’s events. We started by heading downstairs for cocktails with a products rep and then went to dinner at the Wynn Country Club with another rep. My swordfish was good, but the corn chowder I had as a starter was truly memorable. From now on when I make corn chowder, I will be adding arugula and cilantro. Mmmmmm.
The Wynn is one of the newer hotels in Las Vegas. It was built by the same person who built the Bellagio and other newer upscale hotels. There is fine art in the lobby, a golf course ($600 to play a round), and special touches everywhere. For a my firm, which specializes in hotel design, it was like Disneyland.
After dinner, a group of us went and saw a show, La Reve. It’s a water show, designed by the founder of Cirque D’Soleil. It was beautiful, and at times thrilling, but would have been better if we hadn’t gone so late. The show started at 10:30pm, which was after midnight to someone running on Central time. I was having a hard time keeping awake by the last half hour of the show.
When we got back to our rooms (on the 24th floor - great view of the city lights!) we found that the Wynn has a turn-down service. Housekeeping comes in sometime in the evening and turns on soft lights, turns down the beds, and even folded our toothbrushes into little towels. The next morning we found that they’d even filled the ice buckets. You don’t find that at Motel 6!
Thursday was designated as the “Day to go see the Expo”. We got up early to have breakfast with a rep before walking around the Sands Convention Center, attached to the Venetian Hotel/Casino. The show was huge, and more than a little overwhelming to me. I’ve only been in this industry for month, so it was really neat to see all the possibilities out there. I latched on to two of the more experienced people in my firm and tried to ask questions about the products to get an idea of how or if we’d use them. Lunch was with another rep. Really, I barely spent money except on cabs.
After the show we had cocktails with another rep before heading out to various parties hosted by companies at the show. We started the night at Pure, a nightclub at Caesar’s Palace. I was told about various celebrities who had parties there, and that normally I would need to spend several hundred dollars just to walk in the door. Drinks and food were on the host and the music was great for dancing. After that party started to wind down, we headed to The Hotel at Mandalay Bay.
The Hotel is a newer addition to the Mandalay Bay Resort. It is uber-modern with very stark and clean design touches. The Mix nightclub on the top floor was our destination. I was pretty tired at that point, so I spent a lot of time standing on the balcony viewing the city lights.
Each of the nightclubs we visited was decorated with bleeding edge interior design. It was what we'd do if we had unlimited budget, so the best part was seeing all the things we'd always dreamed of doing. Also, many of them were very expensive to enter, and normally we'd never have bothered to go out to so many clubs on a visit to Las Vegas. All these sponsored parties made high design affordable for us to see.
The next morning I had breakfast with a few people from my firm before heading out on my own to see the hotels. I took a cab down to Mandalay Bay and started walking back, checking out restaurant designs in the various hotels along my way. I spent time in The Hotel, MGM Grand, New York New York, Paris, and finally Bellagio where I had a late lunch.
After lunch I took a cab back to the Venetian for a scheduled manicure at the Canyon Ranch Spa (paid for by a rep of course!). Others in my firm were getting pedicures, but those are just a little too weird to me. I’m waaaay to much of tomboy. However, I must admit that all this wining and dining was a huge amount of fun.
The fun continued as the evening got underway to two clubs in the Venetian. I walked around admiring the decor and enjoying the lobster and exotic cheese hors d‘oeuvres provided by the hosting company. Then we got into a cab to head to The party of the year, held at Light at Bellagio. The host that evening were Lighten Up (lighting manufacturer) and Valley Forge (various wall-coverings and textiles). In keeping with the theme, every drink had a plastic ice cube with a rapidly blinking led inside. All the glasses in the place were glowing. The music was great too! For some reason, I hugely prefer dancing to music that I can sing along to, and I knew pretty much every song that played. Several of the other people from my firm were busy getting drunk, but I was having too much fun dancing so I switched to water after 1.5 Midori Sours. Somewhere in there I started feeling not so well and decided to sit down. A few moments later I was running for the bathroom with my hand over my mouth.
Not long afterward I took a cab back to my hotel to try to get some rest. I ended up throwing up til 3 in the morning, getting very little sleep. My Las Vegas experience became an ordeal with my bed at home being the light at the end of the tunnel.
I felt somewhat better in the morning but my stomach was very empty and my appetite non-existent. I tried eating some fruit and drank water. Our plane was delayed due to weather, so I spent most of the morning in the airport trying to sleep. I slept the entire flight. As we waited in baggage claim several people from my firm commented that I looked much better. I felt better and able to drive home safely from the airport. I got home and went to bed, skipping dinner and only emerging the next morning.
Kneeling at the toilet in the Bellagio nightclub, I said to Jenne (person at my firm) that thowing up around the people I work with (especially my boss) was hugely embarrassing. She reassured me with, “You’re just making memories.“
Good and the bad, I’ll remember this trip. Oh... and I think it was food poisoning.