Would you like to pass, my lady?” asks the buff Roman warrior wearing a steel helmet and brandishing a long lance that’s blocking my way into the networking dinner. I nod and walk by, flashing Zeus a smile, into a beautifully decorated meeting room here in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace. A scantily clad female model is perched inside an oval hanging from the ceiling, gazing down at the crowd below. Impossibly strong (and impossibly tan) men are placing temporary rhinestone tattoos on my fellow, somewhat giddy meeting goers. Welcome to Vegas, baby.
This is the finale event of the Las Vegas Educational Experience, a 3-day extravaganza designed to give more than 260 meeting planners an inside look at the eight city properties that encompass Las Vegas Meetings by Caesars Entertainment (formerly Harrah’s Entertainment).
Most of the eight properties are within walking distance of each other, making it easy for delegates to hotel hop. Together, they offer over one million sf of function space and 23,000 guestrooms. Plus, planners only have to work with one salesperson when inquiring/booking any of them.
“Our options and flexibility are second to none,” says Lauren LaPeer, Regional Sales Manager for Caesars Palace. “Meeting planners can have an opening reception at Paris, a general session at Caesars and a closing reception at the Flamingo pool if they wish. We really encourage our customers to think outside the box.”
I’m booked at the 2,500-room Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino in a swanky 450-sf “Hollywood Hip” room scattered with memorabilia from the 1993 Johnny Depp hit, Benny & Joon. For VIPs, check out the huge Strip, Apex, Panorama and Boulevard Suites, all with the same movie star drama.
I am completely in awe of the size of the property, the glitzy chandeliers, wealth of ‘Miracle Mile Shops,’ and the larger-than-life promo posters of Holly Madison in the burlesque Peepshow. Total meeting capacity is 88,000 sf with 20 breakouts.
Down the street, the 2,900-room Paris Las Vegas (140,000 sf of meeting space) is the site of our opening breakfast with Tour de France-style stationary cyclists pedaling in the midst of the food stations. Together, they’re powering the lights on a 6-foot model of the Eiffel Tower.
Later that night, we break up into groups for dinner—each one going to a different property. I head to Voodoo Steak & Lounge, located on the top floor of the 2,500-room Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. You’ll be dazzled by the 360° views of the Strip. Make sure to check out the outside patio, pax 150, as long as you’re not acrophobic.
On day two, we head over to St. Jude’s Ranch, a residential campus for neglected and abandoned children about 30 minutes away from the Strip, to spend the day landscaping.
“I really like that we’re doing something for the local area; that we are not just on a voyage of gluttony,” says Tami Baki, IT Systems Analyst for Annapolis-based Aarcher, Inc. “I already like Caesars, but this raises them up another level in my perception.”
After the motorcoaches park, our group disperses to every corner of the campus and gets to work—planting flowers, weeding and sweeping. I’m humbled by the curious looks of children, peaking from behind corners as we dig about in the afternoon sun. By the end of the day, the campus looks like new.