This week has been an absolute whirlwind. I can’t believe that it’s almost over – time flies when you’re having fun. Here are the highlights:
Tuesday – Meetings, meetings, meetings – we were in South and Central America today, so I got to spend a little time with my new friends Javier and Dalia from A&K South America. After a long day and a decent nap, it was time for cocktail party night. Almost every night at Travel Mart has cocktail parties, but this particular night does not include any dinners, so it’s usually the night of choice for multiple parties. Laura and I had limited time due to dinner plans, so we jumped to Travel 2’s event (the amazing company I went to French Polynesia with) to see our favorite Aussie, Emma, before briefly swinging by the Tourism New Zealand event to see Carolyn (got there right after they gave out a free trip to NZ including business class air – I just know I would have won) and grabbing a cab to the Palazzo.
Patrick (@PM_Traveler) from the Ritz Amelia Island and his boss, Kevin (@MrKevinDonahue) were gracious hosts for our dinner at CUT by Wolfgang Puck. This was hands-down the best meal I’ve had all year. LA & I made our own surf-n-turf by sharing a steak and lobster and it was the only time in history that I was too full for dessert.
My night ended in the most unusual of ways: Laura, Patrick and I went to meet Jonathan, who had been hosting a group of Irish hoteliers. We didn’t even have to ask where their table was – we just followed the voices singing at the top of their lungs. There have been several movie-like moments during this trip to Travel Mart, but this had to be my favorite. Let me paint a picture of what we walked into: six Irish Hoteliers, one Irish Broadcast Journalist and one Alabamian Jonathan Epstein, seated in one of the nicest restaurants at the Bellagio, singing traditional Irish folk songs in front of a perfect view of the famous Bellagio fountains. Although unintentional, it seemed as though their voices would rise and fall in harmony with the cascading water. If anyone ever makes a movie about the travel industry, which I think should be done, this is a scene I would definitely include. Also, I was very surprised to find out that a group of predominantly Irish guests would know Garth Brook’s “Friends in Low Places” – but they knew every line.
Wednesday – More meetings, meetings, meetings. We were in Europe today, so I got to see some of the great people I’d met the night before, including Frank & Leon, the concierge and general manager from The Stafford (ladies, these are the most handsome Brits you will ever meet – you officially have no reason to stay anywhere besides The Stafford in London). That night was the Hotels & Resorts Dinner, where I sat with the Ritz Amelia Island, the Ritz Orlando, and the Ritz Key Biscayne – wonderful hosts for the dinner, which ended with half of the room salsa dancing as Laura and I high-tailed it to Baccarat. I’d had a long day and knew that today would be even longer, so I turned in about an hour early to get a much needed night’s sleep before tonight’s closing ceremonies (which I’ve heard are pretty insane – that 7:15 AM flight home isn’t looking so good right now).