Trip Report: 2014 BAcon Conference in Las Vegas + Mandalay Bay Hotel

a blue airplane at an airport
***This is part 18 of my “Camels, Bats, and Bloggers” trip report detailing a recent trip to Dubai and Seychelles, with a final stop in Las Vegas to attend the 2014 BAcon conference hosted by BoardingArea***

1. Introduction – Camels, Bats, and Bloggers
2. Emirates Lounge at SFO
3. Emirates First Class San Francisco to Dubai
4. Conrad Dubai
5. Old Dubai, Ski Dubai, and At the Top
6. Emirates Terminal B First Class Lounge at DXB
7. Emirates First Class Dubai to Mahe, Seychelles
8. Four Seasons Seychelles
9. Air Seychelles Economy Class Mahe to Praslin
10. Raffles Praslin Seychelles
11. Island Hopping – La Digue
12. Island Hopping – Praslin, Cousine, Curieuse, St. Pierre
13. Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort and Spa
14. Emirates Business Class Mahe, Seychelles to Dubai
15. 7-Star Luxury at the Burj Al Arab
16. British Airways Lounge at DXB
17. Cathay Pacific Business Class Dubai to Los Angeles via Hong Kong
18. 2014 BAcon Conference in Las Vegas + Mandalay Bay Hotel
19. American Express Centurion Lounge at LAS

We could have arrived in Vegas on Thursday night and gotten a good night’s sleep before the start of the conference on Friday afternoon. But that would have meant shaving a day off of our trip which I was simply unwilling to do.

So instead, I had the ingenious plan to spend 30 hours in transit to Vegas which included arriving at LAX from Dubai at 8AM Friday morning, and then connecting to a Southwest flight to Vegas which would land just in the nick of time.

I was able to check-in for our Southwest flight during our layover at HKG in order to avoid being in the dreaded “C” boarding group, and after an uneventful connection at LAX and short 45 minute flight, we touched down in Vegas. We joined the taxi line that was already 200 people deep, and 30 minutes later were at the lobby of the Mandala Bay hotel.

a blue airplane at an airport
Our ride from LAX to LAS

With Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande headlining the iHeartRadio concert next door at the MGM, Vegas was already buzzing by early Friday afternoon. The check-in line at the Mandalay Bay was incredibly long, but luckily we were able to use the Invited Guest line which helped reduce the wait time.

a reception desk in a hotel
a large room with a large ceiling and a large skylight
Mandalay Bay hotel lobby

We headed up to our room on the 33rd floor, and as the winner of the charity auction, I had been upgraded to a suite at the end of the hall. My wife and I were both physically and mentally exhausted at this point, and with jet lag coming down on us like a ton of bricks, I threw my bags down and jumped on the couch for a quick nap.

Before laying down, I took a minute to admire the gorgeous desert clouds and airport runway views from the room.

a tall building with a glass tower in the middle of a city

It’s been at least 5 years since I’ve stayed at the Mandalay Bay and have to say that the hotel is starting to show its age. The suite is about 40% larger than a standard room, and in the middle of the room was a large couch where I curled up for my afternoon nap.

a room with a couch and a desk

The king bed was very comfortable, although it had a large wooden frame that stuck out far beyond the mattress and was obscured by the bedding. You probably know where this is going. I’m still wearing the scars of two shin-splintering incidents that left me squealing in pain.

a room with a bed and a mirror

The bathroom featured double vanities along with a large soaking tub. The toilet is in a separate room adjacent to the sinks which is great for privacy, but unfortunately the hotel decided not to put any type of ventilation in there.

a bathroom with a tub and double sink
a bathtub in a bathroom

With all the wear-and-tear that Vegas hotels get, they tend to age in dog years. Overall, we had a pleasant stay here, but compared to its newer counterparts like the Delano and SLS, the Mandalay Bay is a step below and we would choose to stay elsewhere next time.

I won’t cover the BAcon conference itself in much detail, but in case you’re interested here’s the agenda. The lineup of speakers was fantastic, and I learned so much in just a short 3-day span – everything from how to tell better stories, to technical stuff like SEO and Google Analytics, and even a legal overview to help stay out of trouble.

a card with a red and white design

It was also great to meet Randy and the rest of the House of Miles folks, and to network and chat with many of my bellow BoardingArea and Prior2Boarding bloggers.

And say what you will about these guys, but they know a thing or two about building readership and generating traffic, and were more than happy to share tips.

a group of people standing in front of a table

The evening events were the best part since afterall we were in Vegas, baby! With back-to-back nights of open bars, you better believe that was like a scene from “Bloggers Gone Wild”. As for myself, I’d grade my Vegas performance as a solid F given that I was asleep by midnight due to jet lag, and didn’t spend any time at the craps tables.

The first night, we headed over to the Linx for a ride aboard the High Roller, which provided some of the best views you can find in all of Vegas.

a palm tree with a ferris wheel in the background
a city at night with lights
Views from High Roller at the Linx

The following night’s event was hosted at the Mix Bar at the Delano Hotel, after which we joined a couple others for dinner at Burger Bar back at Mandalay Bay where I was able to order my favorite Nutella milkshake.

a cityscape with a cloudy sky
Views from Mix Bar at the Delano Hotel
a chocolate milkshake with nuts and chocolate syrup
Nutella milkshake at Burger Bar

Being jet lagged, we were up at 5AM each morning which left plenty of time to kill before the conference’s 9AM start. The first morning we made our way over to Veranda Cafe at the Four Seasons for breakfast. The Four Seasons is connected to the Mandalay Bay via a walkway next to the lobby.

a staircase with a painting on the wall
a roped up entrance to a building

There’s no better way to start the day than with a peaceful outdoor breakfast by the pool. Why was it peaceful? Because all the rowdy youngsters were just getting to sleep, and the demographics of the clientele at this hour were, how should I say it, of the older variety.

a patio with tables and chairs

So we tried our very best to fit in.

a woman reading a newspaper

This food here is simply amazing, and we ordered up an indulgent feast that included tiramisu croissant French toast and chicken and waffles. It was so good that after wrapping up breakfast around 6:30AM, we went back to the room and it put me right back to sleep for another couple hours.

a plate of food with fruit
Tiramisu croissont French toast
a plate of food with sauces and sauce
Chicken and waffles

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