Last Wednesday, I boarded a plane for Vegas. Settling into my seat, the passenger sitting next to me said, “So, are you heading to Mecca too?” I responded, “That’s not what I would call it.”
For me, Vegas is anything but Mecca. As a non-gambler who prefers an intimate night out with friends over a showy club or restaurant, traveling to Vegas is more akin to a boat ride across the river Styx than it is to a religious pilgrimage.
“What would you call it?”
I knew that the Mecca that this man referred was not Vegas, but rather CES, to which I was indeed going. Instead of my usual off-putting response to thwart fellow passengers from striking up longer conversations, I replied, “Are you looking forward to the show?”
For the next hour, we talked home networking & start-up dynamics (my job); imaging technology & M&A strategies (his job); linguistics & travel (shared interests). Upon landing in Vegas, I cabbed it to the Wynn of a fantastic dinner hosted by Foundry Group, my company’s lead venture partner. Again, great conversation with many like-minded folk—all a-twitter (literally) about this tear’s major CES themes: 3D TV, wireless gadget charging, the return of The Tablet.
Sated and tired, I returned finally made it to hotel around midnight. We stayed in City Center, which boasts itself as “The Capital of the New World.” The cab pulled up to our hotel, Vdara, situated dead center in City Center. Towering before us was a hodgepodge of colorful canoes crashing into one another To my bleary eyes, this massive sculpture (which I learned later was called called Big Edge) seemed a fitting metaphor for this colossal crossroads. The doorman ushered us into Vdara’s sleek, spa-scent-infused, casino-less lobby. It was the perfect nightcap.
The next two days were packed with meetings and show-floor trolling. The show buzzed with its annual pilgrimage and the walls of razor thin LED screens were sufficiently impressive to make one wail. Saturday night I managed to talk Nick into flying in and after a couple of hours at the Vdara spa, we went out for dinner at Aria’s American Fish and then to the MGM to see KÀ. Both were superb.
After all of these years maligning Vegas, I’ve finally begun to warm to it. It will never be my Mecca, but I can see an occasional weekend splurge in my future.