Travel Posts

Happy New Year Thoughts for 2009

This past year has been a great year overall!  I spent a lot of time traveling  to cities across the country.  Some of my travels were to familiar placed I’d been many times before like San Francisco, Aspen, Las Vegas, Denver and Chicago – all great cities with unique personalities that make them great.  I also visited cities like Austin and Duluth which are more off-the-beaten-path, but were great as well!  I’ll actually be back in Austin in just a few weeks from now and am looking forward to visiting again.  It’s about a 6 hour flight from Orlando to Austin in the Cirrus so it’s a bit of a trek, but well worth it once you arrive.

Besides doing lots of traveling and a good number of conventions and meetings, 2008 was also a busy year in terms of actual business.  We once again had solid growth and I couldn’t ask for a better staff of people who really care about treating our customers well and taking care of their needs.  On a more personal note, it seems my to-do list is never-ending, but I’m getting through it slowly but surely.  There are a lot of on-going projects and goals that I haven’t yet accomplished, but will continue working towards completing in the year ahead.

As I look forward to 2009, I see a very good year ahead.  I know you’re probably shaking your head right now wondering if I’m the only person in the world who’s not a pessimist with all the news of the economy and so many bad things happening to so many good people.  Sure, I’m keenly aware of the disastrous state we’re living in right now, but I’m choosing to keep my thoughts positive which I feel is the best way to get through this challenging time.  Negativity breeds like cancer and is crippling to a person’s ability to succeed at their goals.  It skews your perceptions by putting a dark tint over everything in life.  This darkness makes problems feel even deeper and you begin to loose hope right at the point when you need it the most.  It’s a downward spiral that’s hard to recover from once it begins.  As I mentioned earlier, I have a lot of goals for the year ahead – some of them are small, but others are huge and won’t be accomplished overnight – but they will be accomplished.  I know that I’ll reach them because I’m keeping my head high and my attitude positive.  You’ve got to believe that your dreams can become a reality, that tomorrow will be a better day than today, and that you can accomplish great things.  Believe in those people around you who are positive as they’re you’re best ally and will give you the strength to believe in yourself.  They are the ones who you can trust and reach out to for motivation when times get tough.  There will be situations that are out of your control, challenges and hurdles that seem impossible to overcome, to-do lists that are daunting, but a positive attitude is they key to overcoming those obstacles.


Do those things and you’ll be amazed at what a great year 2009 becomes!

New TSA Uniforms Reduce Airport Security

Anyone who’s traveled commercially lately has likely noticed the new blue TSA uniforms worn by screeners. I have to admit, the new uniforms look good – but were they really worth the $12 million it cost for them? It looks like taxpayers have coughed up roughly $250 per screener in this classic example of government waste. Here’s the dirty little secret behind the new uniforms – instead of sewn on badges, they now have shiny new metal badges. I know what you’re thinking… So what? Well, the new metal badges set off the metal detectors at the screening checkpoints. After discovering this blunder, the TSA promptly updated their screening policy – TSA screeners no longer need to pass through the metal detector to be screened! Out of the 48,000 TSA screeners, common sense tells us that there are bound to be at least a few bad apples – even if the vast majority of the screeners are good, honest people. In essence, the TSA has now reduced security for the flying public and spent your tax dollars doing it! We live in the greatest country in the world – let’s start acting like it and focus our resources on implementing valid security measures to protect it.

Brad's Best Hotels in Las Vegas Guide

I’m getting ready to head out to Las Vegas for meetings and was thinking about all the great (and some not-so-great) hotels I’ve stayed at there in the past.   So, here’s Brad’s Best Hotels in Las Vegas Guide:

Best View: Undoubtedly, the Bellagio wins hands-down.  Spend the extra money for a fountain view and you won’t be disappointed.  I must have watched dozens of fountain shows during my last stay. The movement of the water to the music is almost mesmerizing.  Keep the TV channel turned to the music channel and you’ll almost instinctively run to the window each time a show starts.

Best Service: The Wynn takes the top prize, despite being a mega-hotel.  One disclosure on this choice: I was staying at the “Tower Suites” at the Wynn.  It’s basically a separate hotel within the Wynn hotel – separate entrance, check-in area, bellman, concierge, etc.  You pay a premium price for these services, but they are well worth it in my opinion.  Each morning when I walked out the private tower entrance, the doorman addressed me by name and would ask if I needed a ride to the convention center – this even happened with doormen I hadn’t even spoken to before.  This hotel has figured out that communication between staff members to identify and greet guests makes people feel good.

Best Biggest Room: If you want a room the size of a palace, the only place to go is Caesar’s Palace!  Big rooms and big whirlpool tubs in the bathroom are a signature item of this hotel.  My only complaint with Caesar’s is the propery itself is just too big for my tastes.  It’s a trek to go virtually anywhere within the hotel, especially if you’ve got on-site meetings to attend.

Best “At Home” Feeling Room: The Venetian wins this one with their all-suite rooms.  I loved the the couch area with the TV and other amenities in the “downstairs” living room area.  Granted, it’s only about three steps down from the bedroom level, but even this minor elevation difference makes it feel like a truly separate room.  BTW, if you’re looking for a great snack or quick meal, check out the food court at the Venetian.  The Sicilian pizza is fantastic (and inexpensive)!

Best Honorable Mention: My first visit to Vegas was to the Mirage.  That was back in the day when the Mirage was the hottest, most amazing hotel on the strip.  The huge fish tank behind the check-in desk and the tigers in the lobby were elaborate.  By today’s Vegas standards though, they pale in comparison to others on the strip.  This hotel is still worthy of an honorable mention though since it’s a solid, nice property even if it is a bit dated.

Not-So-Great Hotels: No best of hotel list would be complete without a few tidbits of places to avoid.  The Flamingo (pink carpet = way too tacky!)  It may have been legendary back in the day, but that day has certainly passed.  Nice staff that works there and a terrific location on the strip, but I still would forgo the 70’s look and feel for something a bit more modern.  The Hilton (Star Trek theme = no dice for me)!  I stayed there for a convention once because that was the “official” hotel.  Worn-out hotel, mediocre service, a bunch of old men at the tables, and worst of all, a Star Trek theme!  Some may love it, but unless you’re and 80 year old Trekkie, go elsewhere!  Lastly, to finish out the not-so-great list – Treasure Island.  How do I put this eloquently?  It’s a dump!  The Sexy Sirens pirate show is cool out front!  The nightclubs are cool.  The Mystere show is cool.  The service and the rooms however resemble a Days Inn or worse.  One disclaimer:  I was staying on one of the top “premium” level floors.  I can only imagine how much worse it would have been in a “regular” room on a lower floor.  Fortunately, my stay was only one night so I escaped with little more than a rough night’s sleep.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed my little unofficial Vegas hotel guide.  Stick with one of the properties I’ve listed above and you’ll enjoy your stay.  Heck, even if you stay at one of the not-so-great hotels, you’ll still have a great time!  After all, it’s Vegas, baby!