That's Vegas, Baby

By normal standards, four days in Vegas is way too long.

This trip, I went for work...and I was far too busy to worry about the city's other distractions. I saw some fabulous speakers, learned a ton and quite head is still spinning.

Flying into town, Vegas appears like an oasis in the middle of the desert. After soaring over vast stretches of dry, barren land, slowly you begin to see signs of civilization. Tract housing with shimmering swimming pools glint in the sun. Development becomes more concentrated and then, as we circle in for a landing, a blinding light reflects off golden windows at the Mandalay Bay hotel.

The plane lands and we walk out on the tarmac alongside a slew of private planes. The airport landing strip is juxtaposed against the famed Las Vegas casino strip-- dangerously encroaching on eachother and battling for dominance over too little space.

The conference was held at Caesar's Palace. Picture opulence in marble with Roman and Greek artwork throughout every conceivable space. Resisting the decadent seduction, somehow, I managed to avoid the gaming tables and slots entirely. I parted with plenty of money on the day to day business of meals and occasional beverages. ($4 for a bottle of water!)

Overall, I've never been a big fan of Vegas.

My brother lived there in the early stages of the building frenzy. Instead of hanging out at the strip, I was happier lingering at his house. I mean, really, who wouldn't? For him, home sweet home meant 5,000 square feet of splendor with a pool and a waterfall Jacuzzi...alongside a golf course that cost $400 to play. By day, you had a fantastic view of the mountains, and at night, the city glittered in the distance. All the Vegas lux...and none of the crowds! Win-win.

This trip, I was too busy with the conference to worry about anything else. Okay, wait. That's not true. My room was....interesting. I had a lovely view of the Flamingo Hotel and giant promotion for Toni Braxton. My bathroom was floor to ceiling marble...blah, blah blah.

BUT, what threw me was...the column-encased mirror over my bed!


The Vegas highlight? At the conference, I stumbled on an opportunity to spend quality time with NBA basketball legend, "Magic" Johnson. (What's the saying...dumb luck favors the fools?)

Magic's portfolio includes 110 Starbucks, movie theaters, TGI Fridays, and other real estate development projects in the heart of urban America.

As we were discussing his projects, he leaned in and said, "You've got to know your customer. At my Starbucks, urban America doesn't want scones." With clear distain, he practically spat the word 'scones.'

Then, his voice favored a Southern drawl, "Honey, at my Starbucks, we're serving up peach cobbler and sweet potato pie!"

To further illustrate his point, he added, "At my TGI Fridays? We're the only ones in the country serving Dom Perignon and Crystal...because that's what my customer wants! Always, always do your research...and know your customer."

As surreal as Vegas is, they've mastered Magic's point. Clearly Vegas knows their customer.

I, on the other hand, am not the Vegas target market. I don't want mirrors over my bed and I fail to appreciate enormous replicas of Michelangelo’s David in...the middle of a shopping mall. I enjoyed my Ecuadorian cab driver far more than the wonders in my hotel. I am definitely NOT the Vegas target market.

Ah, lovely lush and green's good to be back!