Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Back in Miami... again!!!

Posted By: Leah
A couple of months ago I went to Miami... again!  It was the third time in 6 months. This time the trip was for the conference that I had spent the previous two trips planning. When I started with my company a year ago, the two conferences like this were logistically already planned. I added the final touches, selected the food, entertainment, and on-site logistics. This conference in Miami was the first one I planned start to finish.

Get caught up on my site visit where I visited Miami for the first time and found the perfect site for the host hotel and conference and experienced Miami Beach for the first time. This post was about my much more relaxing trip. I really had a great time and enjoyed the city.

Back in Miami for the conference there was no time for relaxing, it was four 18+ hour days of work. Fortunately the hotel I selected was gorgeous, wonderful and accommodating to all of my on-site needs and requests. I cannot say enough good things about the property.

Gifts! Yes, I kind of expect personal notes at every hotel now. #spoiled

I arrived and spent the first six hours in my 'war room' aka the meeting room where all my conferences packages were delivered. This was my office and I put together the welcome gifts, name badges and folders. Around 6pm I knew this was my one chance to see the beach, so I ran out just before the sun went down and a storm moved in.

When I came back inside, I had a few final details, but was truly ready for the next day's opening reception and conference registration. What a relief. I ran into a couple co-workers in the lobby and we gathered together some conference attendees and went to an AMAZING dinner. 

The next day I had a little bit of time and ordered a latte. It was a DIY!  cute!

I don't get to take part in the welcome activities because I have to handle registration and make sure everything goes okay with the hotel and guest's check-in. But for those who went to play golf at the Doral, they saw Donal Trump! Here's his helecopter. 

The event went awesome! 

I had a dinner with salsa dancers and Cuban food... so much fun!

I had been busy the first few days of the conference and on the last day had a chance to watch the sun rise. Gorgeous!

Because I was busy all.the.time the chef brought me food to make sure I ate. 
This is salmon and caviar for breakfast!

As a gift for my hard work I received several spa treatments. I wasn't supposed to take a picture, but just had to show the pod! This lady scrubbed me down with a 'caribbean sugar scrub' then closed the pod and jets washed me off. It was like a shower, but in a tanning bed. Ok not the best description but it was pretty cool!

The last day was gorgeous! I mean seriously... check out the view from my room... amazing!

I had to run a quick errand before I left for the airport and took a couple quick pics in South Beach. 

Flights were canceled left and right due to snow on the east coast. I arrived and then was out of work (and Gav was out of school for a week!) due to snow. What a difference!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Me, On Being An Event Planner Part II... Inspiration Flashback

Posted By: Leah
Remember my post last year about how I became a global event planner? Thanks to Netflix, I remembered some more to that post that I left out!

I get asked sooo often about where I learned about corporate and social events, etiquette, style, etc. I mentioned that the movie Pretty Woman inspired me (no, not the hooker part, the fancy Beverly Hills Regency Beverly Wilsire part). This weekend I just happened to be re-watching some of my old favorite shows on Netflix and I found two more inspirations I wanted to share! I bet these will be flashbacks for you too.

The first is Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. That show is fabulous! (Fab 5!) The episodes were made in 2002 or something and they still hold up. From the decor to the fashion, it's truly a timeless show. And I'm SO PROUD of the Fab 5, they have each gone on to do amazing things. ANyhow, in watching the reruns I relived how fantastically hilarious show is, and I have learned so much!

When you're at a restaurant and are eating, how do you let the waiter know you are finished with your meal (other than making eye contact and giving him the 'get over here' face)? The official way to let the waiter know you're finished is to place your silverware in the 4 o'clock position. The resting position means you're still eating. Thanks Ted!

And another thing, that I remembered learning is how to style guy's hair. Back in 2002, I was 3 years away from being pregnant with Gav. But once he was born, I instinctively knew so much about boys, even how to style his hair. You work the product from the back to the front. Thanks Kyan!

Regarding event planning, what this show taught me is that it is all about the details. That the smallest things are what people notice. From how to engage people in conversation and remembering their name (just repeat their name as much as possible and it'll stick! Thanks Jai) to the importance of candles and truly PLANNING AHEAD. The Fab 5 were my mentors!

Another show that inspired me was off of the Style Network (is that even a channel still?) is Whose Wedding is it Anyway. There are several wedding planners on the show, but my absolute favorite was Mary Dann. I completely forgot about the show and Mary. I am so excited to have found it and watch the re-runs. A lot of the issues/problems/solutions, things that are common for events... are experienced on the show. Little things like how to handle running late to an appointment with a vendor, to huge things like a no show photographer... I see the way the issues were solved on the show and think omg this is how I knew what to do in that EXACT situation when it happened to me! And yes, this show was back from around 2003 as well. 

Example: How to handle when a wedding was taking place at a property directly next to MY event.  
(It all turned out perfectly, but I was nervous for a moment... AND the wedding left all their florals and I was able to incorporate them into my conference over the next few days. Bonus!)

What shows from way back have inspired you in your life or career or both? I am so grateful for Netflix and whoever chooses the programming. I haven't had cable for 5 months and have not missed it for a second! (Thanks BF who shares his Netflix acct with Gav and I!)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Need your help please! Warby Parker Glasses

Posted By: Leah
I don't know if you know this about me or not... but I wear glasses. From the months of February to May every year I wear glasses because without them I would itch my eyes out due to seasonal allergies North Carolina pollen.

I got my last glasses from Warby Parker. I love that site. They have designer glasses for $95 including lenses, shipping and 5 pairs to try at home. Don't get excited... this isn't a promo post, I genuinely need your help with picking out my next pair of glasses.

Current Glasses- Langston in Whiskey Tortoise Matte, by Warby Parker

I love my old glasses... I really do. But they are 2 years old. I think it's time for an update. Not necessarily even for work. I was some fun glasses for me. Cute glasses...

 I want some geeky chic, cool, nerdy, you know the style...

So here's what I ordered in my free 5 pair at-home trial from Warby Parker

1) Chamberlain in Whiskey Tortoise
2) Fitz in Whiskey Tortoise
3) Baxter in Pinot Noir
4) Linwood in Revolver Black
5) Seymour in Whiskey Tortoise

*Sorry for the weird faces! It's impossible for me not to make them in selfies.
Which pair of Warby Parker glasses look best on me?
1 - Chamberlain in Whiskey Tortoise
2 - Fitz in Whiskey Tortoise
3 - Baxter in Pinot Noir
4 - Linwood in Revolver Black
5 - Seymour in Whiskey Tortoise
6 - Keep your old ones!
Poll Maker

Oh wait... you aren't familiar with Warby Parker? Just like companies including TOMS, Warby Parker donates a pair (of glasses not shoes) each time a pair of glasses is ordered to someone in need. Warby Parker has boutique glasses styles and the highest quality frames and glair free lenses. They even offer a free 5 pair at-home try-on. They just call your eye dr. and make sure the prescription is less than a year old and you're set. Did I mention they are only $95? And if you don't like any from the at home try-on that's cool too. You don't pay until you order the actual glasses you want. It's awesome. You can keep sending them back and have all the at-home tryons you want with all the styles in colors. They make sunglasses too... and... wait for it.. they even sell a monocle.

Again, like I said... no referral or codes or me getting any kickback from Warby Parker. It's truly an awesome company and I have nothing but amazing things to say about them.

So back to the question at hand... which of the 5 glasses are your favorite? (or did you like my old ones and think I should stick with those??)

PS - Thanks to everybody who has already voted on Instagram (which has taken over blogging, duh). The results so far (according to Instagram only) are 3, 4, 5 and sticking with my current pair.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Back in Miami

Posted By: Leah

Apparently I'm on that "Miami every 3 months" lifestyle thanks to my job. I'm getting ready to fly back down there in 2 weeks, but had to post about my most recent trip from November before I go back!

This trip was a lot more relaxing than the last one. Catch up on my equally awesome, yet super busy trip to Miami a few more months back HERE. 
The afternoon started off with meetings for me. I flew to Miami and as soon as I arrived at the hotel, I met with members of their conference, banquet and A/V team to discuss the upcoming event I am planning.

The absolute BEST part of what I do (other than traveling and seeing cool places) is the tastings! Aside from becoming more acquainted with the conference staff, the main reason I flew back to Miami Beach prior to the conference was for this tasting. You know, to pick the items for the event's many meal functions. 

Tastings are awesome, because the chef prepares a ton of food and comes and tells you all about it. This one was especially rad because Cuban food is AMAZING and Miami has the best seafood and Latin-inspired food!

See that stuff at the top that looks like some sort of seafood salad? It's ceviche and my FAVORITE! I had it three times over the course of the weekend lol!

We had desserts and lots of goodness. I was STUFFED.

I had a few minutes to walk on the beach before the sun completely set that evening. After the sun set, the hotel had  a dinner on the same lawn where my opening reception will be. It was totally worth the trip to see this hotel in action. They do such a great job!

The next day I met with a local planner and we toured around the city in a chauffeured SUV (what!? YUP! We had a black lincoln navigator. It was seriously like I was a celebrity) . I pretty much knew the plans for my conference at the hotel, however it was SO helpful visiting the other sites around the city with a pro. 

We had lunch at a DELICIOUS place called Yuca. And of course... I had more ceviche. I spent some time on the trendy Lincoln Road. If you're ever in South Beach, this is where the most concentration of restaurants, shops, art galleries, etc. is. It's a closed off street about a block off the beach. 

Highlights of my tour with the local planner included visiting the super cool Mondrian hotel.

And the amazing views of South Beach from the top of Juvia restaurant

There's a super popular place to get stone crab, but it was Saturday night and that place was slammed. I went to Monty's instead and it was amazing! SO glad I finally got Stone Crab (and even more Ceviche).

Of course I had to make a stop on Ocean Drive... it is so busy and crazy all the time. I think it's pretty much just for tourists, but who knows. It's like a non-stop club that spills out into the street. It has the neon and the art deco Miami's known for. 

I had a little bit of down time on Sunday and got to hang out on south beach!
(Plus the rain held out, thank you sunshine!) 
This is a view from the beach of the hotel I chose for the conference. Picking out hotels is like picking out your wedding dress. You always wonder if it was the right choice, and know everyone will be looking and commenting. I feel so good about this property. It is just great. Not that I didn't love it when I chose it back in August, but this trip cemented my feelings and I am looking forward to my conference in February. I know they will take amazing care of my entire group. 

As soon as I started to relax, it was time for the next property! 
This one was in the true heart of South Beach. 

Yes, I could have stayed a 3rd night at the property where my conference will be held, but due to the busy time of year I was visiting, they could not comp my entire stay. Because my work was paying, I did the right thing and found a slightly less expensive hotel for my last night. I absolutely LOVED this hotel. No, not loved it more than my conference hotel. But this is a place where if I ever came back to South Beach on vacation, I would 100% go back. Yay for Orbitz and the great deal! 

What made this hotel different was the crowd was hipster young professionals, lots of people from Europe, and just a really hip, fun atmosphere with an AMAZING pool. They had beach butlers!!! Like, this dude who worked at the pool laid down my towel and made me a little pillow. Even brought sunscreen and magazines. On the beach, the butlers do the same thing, and make up the lounge chair with towels, bing you food & drinks and give you sunscreen (no I didn't have them apply it... but probably should have... just wait for the photos below...)

One of the highlights on this trip, was on Monday I had a chance to go back to a wildlife sanctuary in Miami. Unfortunately, we'll be going in a different direction for the off-site dinner during my conference, but I did get some more amazing photos and time with the super sweet animals while I was there! Also got to see the bird show with macaws and other gorgeous birds flying overhead. 

I tried to edit this one, because I got a BAD sunburn Sunday when I had a chance to hang out by the beach. The Miami sun is HOT even in November. I was sitting indian style for literally only 30 minutes and had a completely roasted leg (just 1 leg) hahah. 

Oh and I had a roasted chest. 

I can't wait to do a future event in Miami, because I truly think this is a special place. What attendees wouldn't love coming home with once in a lifetime photos like these?  I consider myself very lucky and fortunate that I had the opportunity to visit  and hold amazing animals two times during my Miami sites. 

 In a recent meeting, one of the top sales people in my company said something that I think is so true. He said "I've found that the harder I work, the luckier I am." I couldn't agree more! I have some AMAZING trips in store for 2014. I work my booty off for each conference, and feel blessed that this is the career path that I have chosen. Every job before this was a stepping stone to where I am now. I've always been at the right place at the right time in my life. 

Big things to come!  But first... next stop... back to Miami!
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