Your Catersource 2018 experience begins with the site visit
From: Minneapolis, Monday, June 19 11:15 am CST: 67 degrees at take off
To: Las Vegas, Monday, June 19 12:35 pm PST: 105 degrees at landing
Catersource staff: Ron Bigley, Brand Director; Dave Pruka, Director of Sales; Crystalyn Bauer, Event Coordinator; and (me) Kathleen Stoehr, Director of Content & Education…plus a host of advisors including ICA Board member Ken Barrett-Sweet, BG Catering & Events, who will be assisting with the culinary track experience
Purpose of visit: Site checks of host hotel Caesars Palace, the Las Vegas Convention Center (tradeshow location), and various properties around the Vegas area (for our annual evening industry party).
Every Catersource Conference & Tradeshow begins with this crucial trip, as we begin to assess the hotel for the conference experience, networking, awards, and welcome receptions; where we will place registration, stages, and other booths on the tradeshow floor; and what amenities are available for our attendees while attending Catersource 2018.
This is your sneak peek—follow along with us on our four days and three nights of planning for this game-changing 2018 show!
Day One: A late start, as everyone was flying in on different airlines and time zones. Two venues were toured for the evening party:
• The Venue. Located in the “old” Las Vegas area, we are captivated by this new (2015) venue and very large kitchen. Views from the multiple balconies display a wide swath of sky with mountains in the distance.
• Chateau Nightclub & Bar at the Paris hotel is at the base of the "Eiffel Tower" and within walking distance from Caesars Palace (our host hotel). Three areas in the nightclub with three very separate identities would combine for the evening, offering a host of indoor/outdoor amenities.
Restaurant Recommend at Caesars Palace: Gordon Ramsey’s Pub & Grill, within steps of the Forum elevators finds Dave, Kathleen, and Ken discussing the annual DICED competition and Tasting Bar sessions on the tradeshow floor. Stay tuned: the team has revamped the look and feel of the Tasting Bar and DICED Culinary Arena. It’s going to be an exceptional education space!
Day Two: In record-breaking heat (118˚), the team toured six properties across the city to assess for the evening party:
• Meet Las Vegas. Located just two blocks from the Fremont Street Experience, MEET offered convenient parking, a “white box” opportunity to take event design wherever we wish, plus ample in and outdoor space. We especially loved the brilliant (and branding-capable) fog wall.
A walk on one of the Springs Preserve trails
• Springs Preserve. The beauty and wonder of the Nevada landscape unfolds at Springs Preserve, offering the opportunity for our attendees to get outside the city and see interactive exhibits inside, but also enjoy a sizeable amount of time outside under the stars, surrounded by hiking trails and beautiful botanicals.
Fish tacos from Divine Cafe
Restaurant Recommend off site: The team also enjoyed lunch at the Preserve’s Divine Café, run by LCA caterer Pam Howatt’s Divine Events. The plating itself in a café setting was exquisite, with food that matched. Delicious!
Divine Event's Pam Howatt
Casa Shenandoah, owned by Wayne Newton
• Casa Shenandoah. Casa Shenandoah is the home of “Mr. Las Vegas” aka crooner Wayne Newton. Catersource toured the mansion and grounds, saw Newton's exotic pets, classic cars, and memorabilia, and enjoyed a few sightings of peacocks that walk the grounds. Side note: There are not a lot of people in this world that can say that they have been sprayed with a water hose by a capuchin monkey owned by Wayne Newton...but I definitely can.
An expansive ballroom at Enclave
• The Enclave. Another very new “white box” space, the team was wowed by the expansive event space, 30-foot high ceilings, and exceptional acoustics. Just four miles from the Vegas strip, this property offers Catersource a lot of possibility for building a unique party concept.
• Brooklyn Bowl. Catersource held its Premonition Monday Night Party at the Brooklyn Bowl in 2015, and was so impressed by the facility and flow of that party, we felt it warranted a repeat look. The property has received some upgrades since that time and once again, we found the space terrific and its walkable distance from Caesars Palace a big plus.
• Top Golf. Another property within walking distance of the host hotel, Top Golf is new to the Vegas strip and offers more than competitive fun, but also a sheltered “outdoor” experience.
Restaurant Recommend at Caesars Palace: Joe’s, located within the Forum shops area. The team sat down for dinner with our tradeshow floor exhibition building team, Freeman, for a spirited evening. Terrific cocktails, impeccable service, fantastic seafood and meats.
Day Three: A day spent at the Las Vegas Convention Center discussing placement of stages, wash stations, registration, and other miscellaneous. It’s a great location, with taxi, Lyft, Uber, Monorail, and our Catersource bus fleet within a short hop, skip, and a jump. We are so very excited about the amenities we will be providing for our tradeshow attendees! More on this to come as we finalize all that was discussed.
Restaurant Recommend near the LVCC: Less than five minutes from the Las Vegas Convention Center (I timed the return trip, which clocked in at 2 minutes) is FireFly Tapas Kitchen & Bar. We ordered a variety of small plates, with standouts being stuffed dates, babyback ribs with mango BBQ sauce, boquerones, mozzarella stuffed peppers, tuna tartare and a lovely plate of serrano ham and manchego cheese.
Restaurant Recommend at Caesars Palace: The Palm Restaurant, located just steps inside the Forum shops. I found this restaurant when I was at Caesars in 2015. My feet hurt after a long day and I stumbled in, grateful for the quiet and convenience. It has a great wine list and I love the carpaccio, coupled with a small wedge salad.
Gambling at Caesars: The slots are fun and do pay off for some (though not for me). Here’s looking at you, big winner Ken Barrett-Sweet.
The Augustus Ballroom, site of our Opening General Session.
Day Four: A walk of the Caesars Palace third and fourth floor conference area plus back of house kitchen and prep spaces, followed by lengthy conversations about AV, culinary needs, and other logistics. If you attended Catersource in 2015, you will recognize the space, but renovations have occurred and of course, we are mixing up the placement of various sessions, lounges, and luncheons. It is thrilling to walk into an empty ballroom and envision it packed with attendees, learning from the roster of speakers!
Restaurant Recommend at Caesars Palace for breakfast: A Starbucks is located within the food court area, right off the Forum towers. Additionally, near the Bell Stand by check in is Brioche by Guy Savoy, with coffee, pastries, and a terrific yogurt parfait selection. Near the conference area of the hotel (Palace Towers) is Payard, a beautiful pastry shop and bistro.
• Omnia nightclub. The final site visit for our annual party was located within the Caesars Property. Completely renovated, the club wowed us. On the rooftop, one can enjoy a colorful view of the Vegas strip, but also find quiet places to converse, or lively places to dance and enjoy great music and entertainment. This club has it all.
It’s going to be a hard decision to select our venue—we’re waiting for the bids to come in. If you have an opinion, add a comment below!
From: Las Vegas, Thursday, June 22 6:45 pm CST: 113 degrees at take off
To: Minneapolis, Thursday, June 22 11:30 pm CST: 65 degrees at landing
Watch for more sneak peeks as we work together to bring you the best in conference education and tradeshow products and services. Click on the Return to Las Vegas link below to be on the of the first to receive all of the details!