I just returned a few hours ago from my company’s annual conference, held this year in America’s Adult Playground, Las Vegas.   250+ people who love to party, gambling, clubs, gorgeous weather, spas and work don’t always mix, but we did what we could to not work too much.   The rest, well….    Our conference organizers did their very best to maintain order – and they succeeded, pretty much.

The conference was held at Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.   It’s theme is Singapore, Raffles, Southeast Asia, and I’m not really sure what else.   Having been to Singapore and the Raffles Hotel several times, I can say they didn’t really capture the theme all that well.  But, since the chances of the average punter in Vegas actually having been to Singapore are pretty microscopic, I’m sure the hotel designers were pretty pleased with themselves.

It’s at the very end of the famed Vegas Strip, and is shaped in a three-pronged format that gives every room a different view.  Some get a view of the mountains, some the strip, and for those not favored by the Travel Gods, McCarran International Airport.   Guess where I ended up…

The rooms are pretty nice, for Las Vegas.  They’re relatively large, clean and nicely decorated.   The bed is VERY comfortable, which brought this hotel up immensely in my estimation.   There is also a nice little divan next to the window that invites reading a book or sipping something while looking at the view .   That is, if you can get the funky tube-light thing to work.   I never did.  It was OK – they kept us so busy, I didn’t have much time to relax in my room anyway.

The bathroom is quite nice.  It’s decently large, with a nice shower, a deep tub that fills up very fast (kudos to Mandalay Bay!), dual sinks, and a separate toilet closet.   There are two smallish closets on either side of the bathroom door, which I really like.  This way I can keep my suitcase in one closet and hang my clothes in the other.   My own iron and board was a huge plus.  I hate having to call housekeeping and wait for someone to bring one up to me.

The only thing I didn’t like about this hotel was the noise.  The rent-a-helicopters circle over the hotel all night and the airport noise adds to the din.  The hotel did make an effort at noise-dampeners, but it still was enough to be annoying.   A couple of ear plugs took care of that problem, but unfortunately did nothing to drown out the noise of my neighbors.  Not quite sure what was going on each night, but they certainly seemed to have a jolly time doing it.  The hotel security folks were kept pretty busy.  I retaliated by taking down the “Recuperating” door sign and sliding it back under their door each morning.  I hope the maids woke them up very early…

The staff at this hotel are helpful and nice, which is key.  We didn’t encounter a single snarky person working at this hotel.  Wish I could have said the same thing about the restaurants, but that’s another story.   The people in the conference portion of the hotel were just as nice and friendly, and they really worked hard to make us comfortable and on time.   I was most impressed.  Of course, a lot of that can be the people who organized the conference from our company – they’re a really top-flight bunch of guys and gals that really know how to keep such a large group running in the right direction.    The fact that I didn’t see any of them arguing with the Mandalay Bay help (as they have in other years and other hotels) showed that in this venue, our people had a good team assigned to them.

The other item I was most impressed about was the relatively low amount of cigarette and cigar smoke that I had to wade through.  As someone with minor asthma, I’m usually very uncomfortable in Las Vegas.  You have to walk through the casino to get ANYWHERE in these hotels, and getting through usually means pushing blindly through a foggy haze of seriously nasty smoke.   Not this time, and I was pretty stoked to see that.

So to Meryl, Brittany, David, Ian, Dee and Michael – my very chic hat is off to you for putting together a really top-flight conference.  We learned a lot, and had a great time doing it.

The fun had just begun….  Stay tuned for the stories yet to come.  Gotta check with my attorney first to see just what I can tell.  Oh yeah – and take a nap – a looooong one.