Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show, Long Beach Convention Center

Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show at the Long Beach Convention Center

I registered online as “Trade” and was invited via email to attend as “Press”:

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Press and Trade Credentials for the 9th Annual Los Angel Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

So I got up very early on Saturday morning, got dressed, fed the dogs, had a cup of coffee, and traveled the 405 freeway south to Long Beach.

Saturday Morning in Long Beach (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Saturday Morning in Long Beach (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

I arrived early and paid $10 to park far away in a parking structure next to the convention center. Then I walked a long distance up the block and around the corner.

Travel Show <– Left

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Then I climbed many steps and finally arrived at the Long Beach Convention Center

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Side Entrance at the Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Registration – I’m very early!

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Registration Check In

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

WELCOME!

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dining Area for Food Court near the Press Room at the 9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Empty Press Room and COFFEE at the 9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Complimentary Coffee and Pastries in the Press Room!

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Coffee and Pastries in the Press Room at the 9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Selfie with Pauline Frommer (Frommer's Travel Guides) - We had coffee together in the Press Room at the 9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Selfie with Pauline Frommer (Frommer’s Travel Guides) – We had coffee together in the Press Room at the 9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Press Tour – Credential Check

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Press Tour Credential Check at the 9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Press Tour Welcome with Pauline Frommer at the 9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Press time in the Exhibition Hall (no crowd)

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch Booth

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch Booth – 9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

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They still let kids play with shotguns!

Greenhorn Ranch 1978! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Skeet Shooting at the Greenhorn Ranch 1978! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

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Getting their Taiwan on!

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Taiwan Booth at the 9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Okinawa is OK. At the Japan National Tourism Booth (JNTO):

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

JNTO Booth at the 9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Korea – Be Inspired: VOGUE!

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Korea Booth at the 9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Mongolia!

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Mongolia Adventure Tourism Association Booth at the 9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Thailand! The flowers smelled amazing!

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Thailand Booth at the 9th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Get down, get funky Thailand!

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Indonesian Dancers

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Celebrity Cruises’ (weird) 3D Talking Digital Video Standee:

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Go Climb a rockwall!

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Rockwall – 9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Run around in a big bubble!

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sorry no zip line because of new State of CA regulations, so ride a mechanical bull instead!

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Mechanical Bull – 9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

And it got really crowded fast! Great attendance on Saturday!

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Big Crowd at the 9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Rick Steves’ morning presentation – Standing Room Only

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Rick Steves at the 9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Full house for the Pauline Frommer presentation

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Pauline Frommer at the 9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Travel Stories on the Destination Stage

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Destination Stage at the 9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

There was another event in another ballroom and it got a little rowdy in the lobby!

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

See you next year! Great show!

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

A beautiful sunny day in Long Beach!

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Terrace Walk at the Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

SWAG! Lots of free stuff and giveaway crap, candy and cookies, a ton of collateral material and a big stack of business cards.

9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show - Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

SWAG! Collateral Material from the 9th Annual Travel & Adventure Show – Long Beach Convention Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

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WIN BEN STEIN’S MONEY!

I am reposting an old Geocities blog story because someone brought it up on facebook. It’s not really travel related, unless you’re coming to Los Angeles to be on a gameshow, but it’s a good story.  I have the episode on videotape somewhere.

Win_Ben_Steins_Money

I was a contestant on “Win Ben Stein’s Money”.

I won some (although not all) of Ben Stein’s Money!

Here is the recounting of my game show experience:

I’ve never been on a game show before, or even tried out for one.  I grew up watching gameshows, first the daytime ones with my grandmothers (The Price Is Right, Truth or Consequences and Jeopardy) and then afternoon (Match Game) and evening ones (Beat The Clock, The Joker’s Wild, Hollywood Squares, Name That Tune and the new Jeopardy) as I grew up.

I’ve been a fan of Ben Stein’s since before his appearance in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and often read his articles in Penthouse while I was growing up (yes I read the articles).  So when Comedy Central gave him a game show with “Jimmy The Sports Guy from KROQ” as his sidekick I had to watch.

In case you’ve never seen the show, it’s a “hip Jeopardy for the gen-x generation” although it appeals to intellectual types of all sexes, races and ages.  Ben Stein is the host and Jimmy Kimmel is the sidekick and co-host.  The show is broken down into three rounds: the first, three contestants compete to answer questions, the player with the lowest score at the end of the round is eliminated; the second, two contestants and Ben Stein (who now becomes a player) compete and the player with the lowest score is eliminated; and the third and final round is the “BEST OF TEN TEST OF KNOWLEDGE” where the remaining contestant competes against Ben, both are asked the same ten questions and the highest score wins.  If the player beats Ben he wins $5000.

So the procedure for getting on the show:

1. visit http://www.futility.com and get the number to call to be a contestant.

2. Call and leave your info on the hotline.

3. Wait a while.

4. Be ready because they’ll call when you least expect it and give you a ten question quiz (and it’s not easy) on the phone.

5. If you pass the phone quiz you’ll be invited down to KTLA and there you’ll be given a thirty question written test.

6. Then they’ll explain the procedure for you and if you pass the written test, you get to stay and audition for the game by playing in front of the contestant reviewers.

7. Wait a while.

8. If you’re right for the show, they’ll call you and let you know that you’ve made the “contestant pool” and you’ll be asked to tape sometime in the near future.

medium_ben-stein

9. Wait a while.

10. Eventually they’ll call you with a taping date and send you a contestant information packet in the mail.

11. Wait a  while.

12. When your taping date arrives they ask you to arrive at KTLA at 11:15am and be prepared to go until 7pm because they tape three or four shows a day when they tape.

I arrived at 11:15 on my taping day (after having to reschedule once and then being rescheduled once because Jimmy had decided to leave the show) and we waited until a little after 11:30 on the curb at the guardshack to walk to the stage.  We were taken upstairs to the green room and filled out paperwork (rules, waiver, release and W-2).  They reviewed the rules with us and explained the procedure for the game (including the rules in case of a tie or a technical problem).  The we sat and waited.

They came in a picked the first three to play and the rest of us waited and watched the game on closed circuit tv.  They were taping four shows on my taping day so there were thirteen people and the contestant coordinators in close quarters for a while.  The first three contestants taped the first show.  When they came to pick the next three, they picked me to play against a guy about my age and an older woman

We were miked with radio microphones, the contestant wrangler walked us down to the set, the audience was loaded in from the first taping, and the stage manager gave us instructions.  We got to test the buzzers and then we waited for Ben to come down to the set.  When he arrived he greeted us, his competitors and wished us luck.  Because of Jimmy’s sudden departure from the show, they have a new co-host/sidekick a sexy and funny woman named Nancy…but she was still learning the game and the workings of the show (it was only her third day!) so it was a little rough.  She reviewed our intros and we were ready to go.

Nancy Pimental and Ben Stein

Nancy Pimental and Ben Stein

I did well in the first round and was in the lead when it ended.  In the second round Ben smoked both me and the older woman, but because I was in the lead I won and got to face Ben in the final round.  I let Ben go first and he scored a four.  The ten questions were hard.  But I too scored a four and tied Ben!

During the second and third round I had a nice conversation with Ben about his writing and the show.  After I tied him, Ben congratulated me and thanked me for wishing him good luck (he told me that it was “very sportsmanlike”).

The show will air next season, sometime after April.  I get paid 120 days after it airs…so I’ll see the money next summer.

All in all I had a great time!  I spent about eight hours total between the audition and the taping, met Ben Stein, made it to the final round and went head-to-head with him, tied him and won some of his money!  Not bad for a day’s work!

Bueller?  Bueller?  Bueller?

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

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They gave all the contestants a t-shirt and I got to keep my question and answer card
(the scribbles are Nancy Pimental’s notes for asking the questions):

16641109_1683198035040089_87126102288963816_n


Los Angeles Times Travel Show 2014

Saturday at the Los Angeles Times Travel Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Downtown Los Angeles: $15 Parking! West Hall LOT FULL so I parked across the street and walked in.  The lot was not full….

Welcome to the Los Angeles Convention Center!

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Well, I started this blog with a post about last year’s LA Times Travel Show in February, so it’s almost been a year!  I skipped the “Trade Day” on Friday this year (for a variety of reasons) and got a late start on Saturday.  After navigating traffic on the 101 freeway, I arrived at the Convention Center downtown, paid for parking, parked the car and headed for badge pickup.

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Trade Show Floor from the Media Room on the second floor

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

I hit the Trade Show Floor and visited the exhibitor booths.  I collected collateral material, brochures, handouts, one sheets, business cards and a little SWAG.  And I said “HELLO” to some of the industry friends I’ve met over the past year who were exhibiting at the show.

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dunkin Donuts – Thanks for the Free Coffee!

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The ASTA Booth!  Book your next trip right there on the Trade Show Floor!

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

“Interactive” Booth: Have your picture taken in the newspaper frame!

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Cool travel gadget: Transport your breakables in a $20 inflatable protective Vinni bag!

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

TOO MANY SCAMS!, BAIT AND SWITCH!, and FAKE RAFFLES!
And NO, I DID NOT win a $75 gift card…Bastards.

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

NOTE: There were too many “Timeshare” operations and not enough MAJOR VENDORS at the Travel Show.  I noted the same thing last year, and hoped this year would be better. Where were the major commercial airlines and hotel chains?  The cruise lines were represented but only with co-op exhibitors like Cruiseplanners.  After attending GBTA, LTX, and the Signature Sales Meeting (read my previous blogs), I’ve seen much better vendor attendance.  They really haven’t done enough to attract the major players to this show.

I’m going to rant a little now.  The high cost of parking is a major deterrent in getting the public to attend!  Parking used to be $6, then it went to $8, then $12 and now $15 for the event.  It’s too expensive, and then they charge the public admission ($10-12 per adult).  The show’s attendance reflects the high cost to attend, in that it wasn’t very crowded, which is nice if you do attend but it sure doesn’t help to attract big vendors and exhibitors.  I didn’t attend the “Trade Day” this year, but last year travel agent attendance was also a little light.  My advice would be to target the TRAVEL INDUSTRY and then allow the public to attend.  The other big problem, as noted above, were the SCAMS, BAIT AND SWITCH, and FAKE RAFFLES I witnessed walking the Trade Show Floor.  I wanted to call the LAPD Bunco and Fraud Investigators after seeing some of the blatant BS.  The show producers should monitor and control the “enticements” because when people feel ripped off they don’t come back next year!  There also weren’t enough MAJOR VENDORS and there definitely wasn’t enough SWAG!  I was able to completely canvas the Trade Show floor and see a few presentations in a couple of hours…it should have taken much longer.

There were some good speakers and nice presentations which were well attended, but the show could have been a lot more entertaining.

Mixing a Moscow Mule at the Taste Stage

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Let’s Talk Turkey!

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Great talk with Alyssa Milano in Petree Hall about her travels with UNICEF in Africa.

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

It was such a beautiful day in Los Angeles, it was almost a shame to have to be indoors.  I took this pic of the Convention Center, Nokia Theater, Ritz Carlton, J.W. Marriott and Staples Center from the “smoking” patio just outside the show floor on my way out.

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Walking back to the car. West Hall Parking

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

And just to add insult to injury, I had to walk all the way back to my car through the West Hall Parking Lot because a little lady in an orange vest didn’t know the lot wasn’t full.

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Signature Sales Meeting and Trade Show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas!

The Signature Sales Meeting and Trade Show 2013 at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. (See other peoples posts and pictures at #Signaturesales2013 on facebook)

NOTE: This Blog post is currently UNDER CONSTRUCTION!  I want to put it up now, but please come back and check it out again when I finish it!  You can get updates if you “LIKE” my facebook travel page: http://www.facebook.com/joshwilltravel

Wednesday 1pm:  Road Trip!  Off to Las Vegas, Nevada for the annual Signature Sales Meeting and Trade Show! Finished my last minute work and ran a few errands, packed up the car and hit the highway. 101 south to the 134 east to the 210 east to the 10 east to the 215 east to the 15 north.  Other people from my office chose to fly but I prefer to drive.

Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The Right Time to Road Trip to Las Vegas! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Going east to Nevada, with the setting sun in the mirror (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Going east to Nevada, setting sun in the mirror (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Stopped in Barstow for gas and a Double-Double burger at In-N-Out.

In-N-Out Burger, Barstow, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

In-N-Out Burger, Barstow, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Weird rainbow and purple desert skies at sunset and the approaching lights of Stateline:

Sunset! Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sunset Behind Us! Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Stateline - Primm, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Stateline – Primm, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

“Vegas Baby, Vegas!”

MGM Grand, Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand, Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

New York-New York and the MGM Grand Hotels in Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The first thing you notice about the MGM Grand is it’s money green color.  The second thing you notice is that it’s HUGE!  You’ll notice this as you drive around the self parking structure and as you try to navigate your way to the registration desk, and as you stand in the long line to check in.  You’ll be reminded during your stay of how huge it is just trying to get from point A to point B, in particular the distance from your room to the Conference Center where your sales meeting and trade show is being held.

It truly is a “mega-resort” and has something for just about everyone.  It also has the two biggest problem of a “mega-resort” operation: nobody is directly in charge and the important details get missed and/or overlooked!

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lobby of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Wednesday 6pm: Standing for 30 minutes in line at Check In until an “on the ball” Manager came and helped speed things up.  You can see your tweets on the big screen while you wait…

The line at Check In at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The line at Check In at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

There was a good Group Rate offered to our convention with substantial savings on the Friday and Saturday rate, but the Casino Rate was better for Wednesday and Thursday night. Be sure to get your “M Life” Players Card to take full advantage if you’re a gambler!

Lobby at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lobby at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

After finally checking in, I checked out my Grand King room (with a view) on the 24th floor. It was down a very long mega-hallway.  I had requested a refrigerator with my reservation, which was promptly delivered, as were the extra towels and pillows when I called down to Housekeeping.  The room was very clean and comfortable, but the bathroom was a little small.  I was also comparing it to my recent stay at the Venetian in an Executive King in September for LTX (the Luxury Travel Exchange) which was great.  See the Blog!

I want to compliment everyone at the MGM Grand.  Everyone I talked to in person or on the phone was friendly, courteous and professional.  When I complained about a problem they were quick to apologize, tried to correct it or offered a F&B Credit.  Eventually, my F&B was comped by my “M-Life” Casino VIP Card, so I made the request and they comped one night of my stay instead.

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Hallway at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand, Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

I went to get my luggage and when I got back to the room, a Welcome Amenity was waiting!  Snacks and bottled water from the “on the ball” Manager at Check In, very well done!

MGM Grand Welcome Amenity (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Welcome Amenity (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

I had a $50 Food and Beverage Credit so I decided to try the MGM Grand Buffet $30 plus tip paid in advance. I was left wondering who oversees the food quality.

(IMPORTANT NOTE: BAD FOOD ALERT!!!)

The worst buffet ever!  Everything was overcooked and under seasoned!  I really didn’t eat that much, but I tried to taste most of the food and ended up feeling sick to my stomach for all three days I was there.  When I say everything was bad, I mean EVERYTHING WAS BAD except the fried chicken.  Here are pics, the food looks okay but it had little to no taste and wasn’t prepared well (mostly overcooked or cold).  How do you ruin crab legs?

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi and Crab Legs at MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Mexican chicken and rice, pepperoni pizza, pineapple, and a roll at the MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Baby back ribs, macaroni and cheese, oriental chicken, corn on the cob, and mashed potato at the MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Steak w/peppercorn sauce, chicken potstickers, and one crab leg at the MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Fried chicken, mashed potato with brown gravy, turkey with gravy, and mashed potato at the MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Desserts: various types of flavored plastic cup desserts, baked goods (brownies, cupcakes, muffins all overbaked, hard and tasteless), shortcake, and ice cream.

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Quite a selection, and I love dessert, but I tried a lot of different things and was amazed that even the deserts were mediocre to just plain bad.  As I told my friends, there are great buffets in Las Vegas, this isn’t one of them.

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Leaving the MGM Grand Buffet! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

After dinner I explored the hotel and casino, went across the street to the Tropicana and eventually ended up “working” back in my room.

Tropicana Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Tropicana Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

New York-New York Hotel (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

New York-New York Hotel (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Yes, I did a little gambling. Played some video poker and had some fun winning:

ACES! Video Poker at the MGM Grand Hotel (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

ACES! Video Poker at the MGM Grand Hotel (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Working in the Room at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

NOTE: The pillow stuck in the bedframe!  I banged my shin on the sharp corner twice, the second time drawing blood!  So, I was forced to improvise and used the pillow to prevent further injury.  When the room service waiter came she laughed when she saw it…because she and everyone she works with have banged their shins too.

Must Prevent Further Injury! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

DANGER! Sharp Corner! Must Prevent Further Injury! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Day One – Thursday – Signature Sales Meeting and Networking Session #1

Woke up to find out the TV and WiFi wasn’t working hotel wide.  No internet makes my work as a travel agent very difficult.  I got ready for the first day and walked the mile to the Conference Center and arrived at Registration at 8am.  There was a continental breakfast buffet and coffee service for attendees.

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Breakfast was hosted by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and offered muffins, danish, fruit, and fruit juice served on carts in the event lobby. Coffee and tea was also available all day long.

Thursday 8:30am: Workshop #1 – The Inside Track on Signature’s 2014 Hotels and Resorts Program.  Industry trends, recent hotel additions to our consortium, updates regarding to our hotel programs, and special offers and amenities for our clients were the topic of the seminar. After the first session there was a break with refreshments hosted by Hertz (baked goods, soft drinks, bottled water, and coffee/tea service).

Thursday 9:45am: Workshop #2 – Mexico: Grow Your Business with Destination Expertise presented by the Mexico Tourism Board.  More Americans travel to Mexico than any other destination! After the session there was another break with refreshments hosted by Hertz.

Thursday 11am: General Session (welcome) and Lunch hosted by Classic Vacations.  There was a general update, a tribute to Michelle Morgan the past President who recently died from cancer, and a keynote address by Shawn Achor “The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance”.   

Lunch: Cheddar cheese, ham, swiss cheese, and turkey slices; bread and butter, lettuce, a quarter hard boiled egg and tiny tomatoes with an iced tea. Red velvet cheesecake (made with cheesecake flavored whipped topping not cream cheese).

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Networking Session

Thursday 1:45pm: Networking Session #1 with our Vendor suppliers.  I was assigned Blue Table 172 and was seated with three other agents.  We stayed seated and the vendors moved from table to table and gave a short 8 minute presentation and then answered questions before moving on.  At 4:15pm the session ended and there was another break.

Thursday 4:30pm: Workshop #3 – Selling Travel to the Millennial Generation.  A panel discussion moderated by Paul Wiseman the President of Trafalgar

MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sunset View from my room at the MGM Grand – the mesh is the colored green screen over the window (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Welcome Reception on Thursday night hosted by Mexico Tourism:

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Open Bar!

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Mexican Food Buffet!

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Mexican Dancing and Live Musical Entertainment!

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Day Two – Friday – Sales Meeting and Networking Session #2

Breakfast, Sales Seminars,

Lunch

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Networking Session

Cocktail Party hosted by Tauck and Switzerland Tourism

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Cocktails and Appetizers for invited guests.  Cheese, crackers, crudite’ (carrots, celery and dip) and an open bar. Networking, short host company presentations and someone won a trip to Switzerland, but it wasn’t me.

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

They took all the chairs out of the room, so it was a standing event after a long day and lots of walking.  There were two food tables and two bar stations, but the lines for food and drink got long very fast as the guests arrived.  It quickly became a lot of people in too small a space.

There was a guy blowing a Swiss horn for entertainment and he let a couple agents try to play it.

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Swiss Horn at the Party hosted by Tauck and Switzerland Tourism at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas  (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner hosted by Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara Cruises

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Presentations by the Host Companies and Dinner

Dinner at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Two offensive cruise comedians and the BeatleManiacs entertained us!  The travel agents went wild, rushed the stage, and danced to the (almost) Beatles!  The guys were good musicians and the tunes were catchy, but their resemblance to the actual Beatles was questionable.  Great wigs and costumes!  Go ahead sing along, they know you want to.

BeatleManiacs! at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

BeatleManiacs! at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Room Service!

Bacon Cheeseburger and fries for breakfast! $18 plus tax and $4 room service fee and a $5 tip = $29 Craving for good food at 5:30am.

Room Service Cheeseburger and Fries at the MGM Grand (copyright 203 JoshWillTravel)

Room Service Cheeseburger and Fries at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Day Three – Saturday – Sales Meeting and Trade Show

7:30am Breakfast Session

Breakfast Seminars at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Breakfast Seminars at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Breakfast Seminar at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Breakfast Seminar with Lindblad Expeditions at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Trade Show

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch

Late Check Out at 2pm done by telephone with Guest Services, long walk back to the car and so looking forward to Saturday night in Las Vegas!

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Off to the Rio! COMING SOON: the next blog – the Rio All-Suites Hotel Saturday night and Sunday afternoon adventures in Las Vegas.

Business Cards, Collateral and SWAG from the Signature 2013 Sales Meeting and Trade Show (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Business Cards, Collateral and SWAG from the Signature 2013 Sales Meeting and Trade Show (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

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“The Art of Hospitality” LWH Hotels event at the LUXE Hotel on Sunset

LWH Hotels presents “The Art of Hospitality” at the LUXE Hotel on Sunset

First, I want to say this was an excellent “first class” event.  The LUXE on Sunset is a beautiful property and in addition to the On Sunset restaurant they have great event space!

Traffic was bearable coming from the San Fernando Valley on the 405 freeway.  Massive construction at Sunset Blvd, but with a little patience I arrived early and dropped my car with valet parking.  It was unusually quiet in the reception and lobby area, but it’s a familiar space now. (I toured the property recently and was also here for the Holland America Line seminar last week – see my past blogs for more on both of those).

The Front Desk and Reception Area:

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Entrance LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Front Desk at the LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sitting area at the LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The Bar and Lounge off the Lobby:

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The Lobby Bar at the LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The Lobby Bar Lounge at the LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

ON SUNSET Restaurant:

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

LUXE Hotel – On Sunset Restaurant Patio Dining (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Exterior Courtyard and Ballroom Patio Area:

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Courtyard walkway and patio for the Ballrooms at the LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Fountain at the LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

LWH HOTELS “THE ART OF HOSPITALITY” EVENT (with American Airlines)

Ballroom patio area pre-party:

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Patio Area at the LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Open Bar!

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Endless Sushi! Also a carving station with turkey and prime rib, pasta salad, green salad, cucumber/tomato/onion salad, artisan bread, and a risotto bar (choose your ingredients) and then a great pastry dessert table with coffee/tea service.

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Endless Sushi at the LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Carving Station:

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Prime rib and turkey, horseradish sauce, cranberry sauce,  and hot gravy:

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Risotto Bar (choose your own ingredients, made to order):

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Dessert Table: petit fours, pastries, cake pops, creme brulee, chocolate mousse, etc…

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Trade Show with Vendor Tables from LWH Hotels around the world: http://www.lwhhotels.com Don’t book online, contact me joshuawwilletttravel@gmail.com or another travel professional to book your reservation!

Los Angeles (On Sunset, On Rodeo Dr, and City Center at L.A. Live Downtown), La Jolla, San Diego, New York, Monterey Bay, Sedona, Colorado, London, Paris, Milan, Sorrento, Tokyo, Sydney, Vancouver and Toronto were all represented.

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Presentation and Raffle Prize Drawing!

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

LUXE Hotel on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

After the last prize drawing, everyone headed for the valet parking, so you had to move fast or you might end up waiting a long time to get your car back.  On exiting onto Church St and then heading north on Sepulveda, there was more construction: lane closures and the 405 freeway entrance was closed at Moraga…

BIG THANKS to LWH Hotels, LUXE on Sunset, and American Airlines for the invitation!

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ARTA 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner

ARTA (Association of Retail Travel Agents)

50th Anniversary Gala Dinner (and Insurance Seminar and Trade Show)

at the Radisson Hotel Los Angeles at LAX

ARTA 50th Anniversary Party (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

ARTA 50th Anniversary Party (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

ARTA 50th Anniversary Party (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

ARTA 50th Anniversary Party (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

ARTA 50th Anniversary Party (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

ARTA 50th Anniversary Party (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

There are more pictures coming! Check back soon.

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Luxury Travel Exchange (LTX) Trade Show in Las Vegas

The Luxury Travel Exchange (LTX) Trade Show at the Venetian Hotel and Sands Expo in Las Vegas – September 10-12, 2013

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

St. Mark’s Square at the Grand Canal Shoppes:

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

King Suite (upgrade)

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

View from the 29th floor

View from my suite on the 29th floor

View from my suite on the 29th floor

View from my suite on the 29th floor

LTX - Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX – Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX - Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX – Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX - Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX – Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX - Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX – Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX - Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX – Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX - Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX – Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX - Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX – Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX - Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX – Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX - Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX – Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

Expo Floor:

LTX - Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

LTX – Luxury Travel Exchange at the Sands Expo

Outside the hotel:

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Late Night at the Grand Lux Cafe (pizza to go):

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

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08-MAY-13: Shakespeare Santa Cruz

Shakespeare Santa Cruz (at the University of California, Santa Cruz)

Founded in 1981, Shakespeare Santa Cruz (SSC) is a professional repertory company operating in cooperation with the Theater Arts Department in the Arts Division at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC).  The support of the Arts Division and the work of the Theater Arts faculty, students, and staff play an important in shaping the SSC aesthetic.  Through this partnership, SSC has attained a national reputation for linking the best in contemporary scholarship with the highest artistic standards of production and the exciting possibilities of repertory performance.  In addition, SSC and the UCSC Theater Arts Department collaborate directly on two projects each season – the Shakespeare to Go touring program that brings Shakespeare to over 7000 students annually, and the annual holiday show.

Shakespeare Santa Cruz 1984

Shakespeare Santa Cruz 1986 Season

The 2013 Summer Season in the Glen at UCSC Performing Arts July 23 – September 1: The Taming of the Shrew, Henry V, Tom Jones the Fringe Show!   

2013-season-slide

One for the Road/The Lover (a collaborative production with Shakespeare Santa Cruz starring Paul Whitworth, Mike Ryan and Julie James) is currently running at the Center Stage Theater in Santa Cruz. http://www.jeweltheatre.net/

University of California, Santa Cruz Barn Theater - Santa Cruz, CA

University of California, Santa Cruz Barn Theater – Santa Cruz, California

Schedule of upcoming art events at UCSC: http://arts.ucsc.edu/news_events/all_upcoming_events

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UCSC Performing Arts Map 2012

University of California, Santa Cruz Performing Arts Map 2012

U.S. Travel Association - www.ustravel.org

U.S. Travel Association – http://www.ustravel.org

UPDATE: November 13, 2015 – Summer 2013 was the last season of Shakespeare Santa Cruz. The University foolishly decided to withdraw funding and cancel the partnership of 30+ years. A tremendous effort was made to save the program and it was renamed Santa Cruz Shakespeare an independent non-profit currently prepping it’s 3rd season. https://www.santacruzshakespeare.org



Pic of the Day 02-MAY-13: HOME – Silverlake, CA

HOME – Silverlake, CA

Vaudeville Comedy Show at HOME in Silverlake, California on a Wednesday night.

HOME - Silverlake, CA

HOME – Silverlake, CA  (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Exit the 5 freeway at Fletcher and it’s on the corner at Riverside.  They only have valet parking, but there’s free street parking if you don’t mind hoofing it a block or two.

HOME - Silverlake, CA  (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

HOME – Silverlake, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Enter the bar and restaurant through the outdoor patio.

HOME - Silverlake, CA  (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

HOME – Silverlake, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Free Comedy! 9pm – So I got there at a quarter after nine.  I sat at the bar and decided to order a “Homemade Bloody Mary” which the menu claims was “Awarded best in city search!”.  I called for Stolichnaya vodka. My bartender Sasha was friendly and the service was fast, because I was the only person at the bar.  The Bloody Mary was only okay. $10 + $2 tip

HOME - Silverlake, CA  (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

HOME – Silverlake, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

I went into the side dining room which partitions off with curtains into a cool performance space.  There’s a curtained stage and PA with booth and table seating. They had a few technical problems with the stage lights once the show started, but they fixed them.  My waiter David took my dinner order: a Classic Burger and sweet potato fries. The service was very good. $12 + $3 tip

The show started around 9:45pm.

HOME - Silverlake, CA  (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

HOME – Silverlake, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

They turned the house lights all the way down. and the comedians were standing too far forward so most of the time it was “standup in the dark”.

The two Host-Producers need to step it up or let someone else HOST the show.  It was a mixed lineup of six comedians.  The highlight was Ron Fuchas:

HOME - Silverlake, CA  (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

HOME – Silverlake, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

And the headliner was the hilarious and ascerbic Kyle Kinane:

HOME - Silverlake, CA  (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

HOME – Silverlake, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The show ended at about 11:30pm and the Host-Producer warned the audience that it was Karaoke time!  And then he burst into off-key wailing.

Time to make a speedy exit!!!

HOME2500 Riverside Dr (at Fletcher) in Silverlake, CA

NOTE: Free comedy cost me $27, but it was a good burger and fries and the bloody mary got better as the evening went on.

Dinner & Show: Thai Food at Chan Dara & “Dreamgirls” @ the Met Theater in Hollywood

Friday 12-April-2013

Drove the 101 Freeway into Hollywood (no traffic!) and picked up my friend Jessica on a warm Friday evening for dinner and a show.  Reservation for 6:45pm at House of Chan Dara (Larchmont) and a lovely Thai food meal ahead.

A quick car ride and a short walk after self parking on Larchmont, we arrived at our destination:

House of Chan Dara - 310 North Larchmont, Hollywood

House of Chan Dara – 310 North Larchmont, Hollywood

ChandaraPIC

We were both hungry, and I didn’t take the food pics until after we had both eaten, so apologies (or not, because it was delicious) and imagine the plates with even more food!

We shared a tasty chicken satay with peanut sauce appetizer (4 skewers),

Chicken satay with peanut sauce  appetizer (4 skewers)

Chicken satay with peanut sauce appetizer (4 skewers)

a spicy beef panang which was delicious but the meat was just a little overcooked,

Spicy Beef Panang

Spicy Beef Panang

a great plate of chicken and shrimp pad thai noodles,

Chicken and Shrimp Pad Thai Noodles

Chicken and Shrimp Pad Thai Noodles

and an order of yummy sweet and crispy mee krob.

Crispy and Sweet Mee Krob

Sweet and Crispy Mee Krob

I had a Thai iced tea with no cream and Jessica had a glass of red wine.

My friend Jessica Jolly is a very talented actor/standup comedian/writer/producer/director and currently be seen in “The Broad Casters – Football for Girls Who Like Football” on Funny or Die: http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/cd317b2861/the-broadcasters (NSFW)

Jessica enjoying the sweet and crispy Mee Krob

Jessica enjoying the sweet and crispy Mee Krob for the camera and making me laugh!

The food was fantastic, and it is every time I eat here or at the other Chan Dara (at Cahuenga and Sunset in Hollywood proper) and the price is very reasonable.  Dinner for two (or four if you count the leftovers) with drinks and tip ~$75.  The service is very good, and the portions are big, so we had a lot of leftovers to take home.  But, it wasn’t time to go home yet…

Dreamgirls-postcard-5x7-2-736x1024

My friend Keith Arthur Bolden is starring in “Dreamgirls” at the Met Theater in Hollywood presented by the Doma Theatre Company http://www.domatheatre.com.  He’s a great actor and he absolutely brings it as Jimmy “Thunder” Early along with a very talented cast and chorus.  The LIVE BAND did a fantastic job and rocked the house, with a special shout out to the keyboard player and conductor!  The show is getting rave reviews and has been extended through May 5th.155602_10152737492845584_1320352895_n

View Keith’s IMDB pagehttp://www.imdb.com/name/nm1080768/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

The Met Theater is in East Hollywood, on Oxford, just east of Western, and just north of Santa Monica. Parking is tight but there are two lots that are available for the theater, stack park at Earl Scheib, or park at Catalina Marketplace (enter alley just east of Western off Santa Monica) for $5.

The Met Theater - up the stairs to the Lobby

The Met Theater – up the stairs to the Lobby

The Lobby at the Met is too small for the house and the Box Office is inside and on the far side of the Lobby.  The show was full but not sold out and the lobby was hot and crowded.  Because of some technical difficulties the show started about a half hour late, and the show producers offered free drinks at the bar while we waited.  BRAVO!!!

Technical Difficulties = Free drinks at the bar!

Technical Difficulties = Free drinks at the bar!

Jessica had a glass of red wine and I had a Heineken and we continued talking while we waited.  We went down the stairs to the landing where it wasn’t crowded and hot and it didn’t take very long before they solved the problems and opened the house.

Dreamgirls "Stage" Set at the Met- preshow

Dreamgirls split-level “Stage” Set at the Met – preshow

The show was worth the wait!  It was well staged and wonderfully choreographed.  The music was performed live and the band rocked the house.  The lead actors were extremely talented and gave strong performances. The large chorus did a great job acting as supporting characters and executing the large musical numbers.  The singing and dancing was very well executed, and the staging was creative and entertaining.  The production value was amazing!  The set and lighting design was very effective.  The period wigs were hilarious!  And the costumes were absolutely fantastic!  Special congratulations go to the costume designer  and director for a job well done.

My friend Keith was terrific!  I had only seen him do heavy, dramatic material prior to this show and was pleasantly suprised to see him sing and dance as well as act.  He had the  entire audience cheering as he sang “Jimmy Wants More!” so it’s not just a biased opinion.  I was again reminded of how many talented people there are in Los Angeles, who perform in smaller theaters every weekend while chasing the Hollywood dream.  The show was fun but wasn’t perfect.  The performances were mixed,  with some actors not as strong as the leads.  And the show was long, with the first act running 90 minutes and the second act running almost an hour with a brief intermission.  Overall it was an entertaining and exciting piece of musical theater with a very talented cast, and at a caliber not often seen in a smaller theater space. Check out the reviews and go see it!

Watch a preview  of “Dreamgirls” at the Met on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyA7MqoogTw

We waited for Keith after the show, thanked him for the tickets and congratulated him and other members of the cast.  It’s always good when you see someone you know perform and it’s great (not so good when it’s not good).  We talked for awhile and after saying goodnight and a fast walk to the car, I drove Jessica home and then headed back to the valley.  It was a very fun night!