Wednesday, July 20, 2011

SHRM 2011 Conference - VEGAS!

I approached my bosses a few months ago about the opportunity to go to the national Society of Human Resource Management conference in Las Vegas this year.  I was happily a bit surprised when they approved the request.  We were pretty busy in the weeks leading up to the trip so I was in more of a time crunch than I like while packing.  I started with the items I'd need to keep up my training for the triathlon.  The suitcase was pretty much full at that point.  It left me to have to be pretty creative with the remaining items.  Once I was there, I realized that most people took huge bags and checked them.  I, however, was trying to keep my company's cost down as low as possible.   

Before our first speaker of the conference, the Viva Cirque show put on a small preview of their show.  I loved it!  It was the only show that I really wanted to see but wasn't playing when I could go.  :(  This was a nice treat!

Our first speaker was Sir Richard Branson.  He was pretty amazing.  Even though I am on the "no more books diet", I had to buy one of his so that I could meet him, have him sign it, and then read it.  It was worth it!  Having just a couple of  "real" books (other than Kindle books) around the house isn't so bad, is it?  I just need to remember to keep it to just a few!

After attending the Sunday session and then seeing Sir Richard Branson, I ventured out to check out the town.  First I saw this fountain at Ceasars Palace.  It was beautiful, but nothing compares to the real thing!
Same here with the Paris hotel and their version of the Eiffel Tower.  This one didn't have any of the sparkly lights that the real one has at night.

Bellagio's fountains really were "all that".  They were beautiful.  The first time I happened upon them playing, they played Bocelli's Con Te Partiro, which was one of the songs we played at our wedding.  Super cool but made me miss the hubs quite a bit.  Another time I witnessed Viva Las Vegas which I loved as well, being the huge Elvis fan that I am.

I had researched the buffet scene a bit at home before I left and saw that The Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan Hotel was rated well and people raved about the variety.  I decided to check it out.  

Plate #1

 Plate #2

Plate #3 - the one that counts...

Verdict:  I wasn't sure what to think.  It was fabulous but I didn't really have anything to compare it to since this was my first non-conference meal in Vegas.  I later realized that it truly was spectacular!  I loved the dessert bar (shocking, I know) but the other areas were remarkable as well.  

My hotel: The Mirage
The conference had a short list of hotels that they assisted with reservations through.  I looked for a hotel with a gym and free wifi.  This one fit the bill, but was also perfect in so many other ways.  Talking to someone on the conference shuttle, I realized that the pool is really well known and I understand why.  I spent some quality time soaking up the rays and it was a great place to be.  I really felt like I was in the tropics.  It was SUPER hot but the pool helped melt away all of that.  I found that I greatly enjoyed the "dry heat" people talk about.  My skin and hair may not have but overall, I thought it was bearable even thought it was over 100 degrees at all times.  

My mom is a HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE Donny Osmond fan so I made a point to go to the Flamingo and find their Donny swag.  Here I am with his trophy and outfit from Dancing with the Stars.

More research led me to eat at Wolfgang Puck's Pizzeria and Cucina.  I had the "Ricotta Gnocchi, Sausage Bolognese, Italian Parsley".  I loved it!  The restaurant was located in a hotel area called The Crystals which was very close to my next stop... put on a concert: Natasha Bedingfield.  It was a nice (free) surprise.  This boy band, Mosaic, opened up for her.  She was a superb performer.  I also made some friends from Cali while I was there.  Traveling alone wasn't my favorite way to go but meeting new people comes easy to me.  My new found friends were a bit obsessed with getting these Monsters that Monster had at the bar area.  They each were able to get one.  They asked me quite a few times why I didn't want one.  I informed them of my suitcase issue, but really, what are you going to do with those things?  They were huge!  I had picked up a small one at the expo earlier in the day and it was plenty!

The official entertainment of the conference was a show by Keith Urban.  I had debated going because I was exhausted and it is a bit weird to go to a concert by yourself, right?  However, I reminded myself that I love Keith.  I ended up getting very close which was fun.  He is such a nice and easy going performer.  I saw him in concert a few years ago and he was great then too.  He invited three fans up to compete for the chance to sing a song with him.  They all did a great job and were so happy.  

Since I was tired before I left for the show, heading back was even worse - especially because I was hungry too!  Needless to say, I took the lazy route and ate at the LAME  and overpriced buffet at my hotel.

 This was the only thing that was somewhat notable. 

On my last day, I had time between when the conference ended and my plane left.  I decided to head to the other end of the strip to check out a few things.  First, the Lions at MGM.  Wow.  That guy was literally playing games with the lions.  They were so pretty, but fierce looking!  

New York New York.

Mandalay Bay.  I guess this wine contraption was in a recent season of the Bachelor.  

The Statue of Liberty made out of Jelly Bellys!

My last meal.  I happened upon this restaurant at Paris.  Mon Ami Gabi was delicious.

Remember that heat?  Well, I sat outside to eat.  It was over 100.  The table was on fire where the sun touched but otherwise, it was a nice atmosphere.  The seating was on the strip so people watching was awesome!

My random thoughts about Vegas.First, I loved the conference.  I sold it to my bosses by saying that I needed more continuing ed credits for the maintenance of my PHR certification.  This was true but I also love learning and loved being with 14000 other HR professionals!

I have to admit that I didn't hit every session that I had planned to attend.  Remember that pool?  It was truly amazing.  I was, however, appalled to meet a woman on the elevator who told me that she "always" comes to the national conference and "always" avoids the whole thing!  She just goes to hang out and have fun.  Talk about HR nightmare, but wait, she is HR?  HUH???  

Slot machines in the airport - really?

I can't believe these freaks from Florida complained about the dry heat.  They actually told me that they like the humidity.  They like to sweat.  They are g.r.o.s.s.

People must save for years before visiting. They don't just blow money on gambling, drinking, shows, etc.  There is also loads of very expensive shopping and expensive restaurants.  They literally spend $20K before hitting the tables.  I could think of many other things that I'd rather do with that much money.  To each their own, I guess!

Lastly, I am definitely an independent person and have never had a problem eating alone, etc. but traveling with the hubs is SO much better.  He is the sunshine in my life.  

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