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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