Here is my traditional disclosure post for the inaugural VeeamON conference.
All flights, accommodation, and hotel transfers were paid for by Veeam. I stayed at the Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas, which was the conference venue. It’s a very nice hotel, though I’ve not seen any other hotels in Las Vegas, so maybe it’s normal for there. I’ll find out in a week or so when I go back and stay at the MGM Grand for NetApp Insight.
I paid for my own parking at Melbourne airport, and my own travel insurance, as usual. I also bought the odd drink for friends, and tipped people with cash.
My welcome pack included a bunch of flyers from vendors and a golf polo shirt embroidered with the Veeam logo, in a medium, so a bit too large for me.
Sometime after I checked in, a sneaky gift fairy left me a welcome gift ostensibly from Ratmir Timashev (CEO) welcoming me to VeeamON.
The bag contained:
- A box of five expensive looking chocolates. I brought them home as a gift for my wife for having to look after everything while I was away. She said they were tasty, but milk chocolate, not dark, which is her preference. Apparently there was one dark chocolate, but it was filled with peanut butter (or something similar). She, like me, does not understand the American obsession with putting peanut butter in chocolate and vice versa. It’s nice, but it’s not that nice.
- A tin of Las Vegas branded “gourmet nuts” which means salted peanuts with a scattering of broken brazil nuts. They were tasty, if salty.
- A bottle of 2012 Californian Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a cork! Remember those? I gave this to my wife, and she hasn’t decided to open it yet, so I have no idea if it was actually worth the hassle of having to check my bag for. And I travelled light so I wouldn’t have to do that. Damn you Veeam with your obvious attempts to make me love you!
- Have I mentioned how much fun Veeam is to say? Go ahead. Veeeeeeeeeeaaaam. See? So fun.
Monday night there was a welcome reception, at which I had a glass of Guinness from a can. Yes, really. They just poured a Guinness out of a can into a glass. Canned Guinness has The Widget which helps with the head (at least it used to), so this isn’t as bad as it sounds. Besides, Guinness with Las Vegas water just sounds nasty. I also had a couple of gin and tonics.
For dinner I joined a group of bloggers to crash a partner dinner at D.O.C.G. at the Cosmopolitan, which serves “Italian” food. The pizza (served to share as an appetiser) had excellent thin base, and the Napoli sauce was quite good, as was the bocconcini, but there wasn’t enough basil to really make a decent margherita, but a decent attempt nonetheless. The pasta main (spaghetti and meatballs, basically) was forgettably bland. The wine was drinkable, but nothing special.
But! Dessert was again to share, and I had two or three spoonfuls of the most amazing vanilla cheesecake I have ever had in my life. I will dream about this cheesecake in years to come. It has become the standard against which all future cheesecakes shall be measured. Other cheesecakes will be tested and found wanting because of this magnificent cheesecake archetype. This accursed pinnacle of cheesecakeness has ruined me for all other so-called cheesecakes and now I must wander the world tasting only suboptimal cheesecakes in a vain search to relive that one, glorious moment of cheesecake perfection.
Man I could really go for some cheesecake right now.
Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville on the strip serves a disappointing margarita. Doubly disappointing because I paid for it myself and people lie viciously when they suggest that food or drink is cheap in Vegas. It’s as bad as San Francisco or Melbourne. Yikes.
Breakfast was in the press room. A bain-marie mini-croissant stuffed (stuffed croissants! I know) with egg and bacon. It was fairly blah, when it could so easily have been stupendous. I don’t know what happened. Each of the ingredients is wonderful! Ah, but American eggs, as I have previously described, are flavourless. Perhaps that was the problem. I also had fruit and yoghurt, and an American coffee-inspired breakfast beverage.
Lunch was press room again. Really nice long beans is some sort of dressing, leaf salad, rotisserie style chicken, and some mac-n-cheese that I tried because America. Apparently it was a good example of the genre, and I can understand the appeal. I also had a diet Coke because no Dr Pepper. #sadface.
There was a snack in the middle of the afternoon. I’m taking to avoiding these things, because otherwise I come back from a conference smuggling an extra kilo of stomach fat, but sometimes you just have to try things. Today it was enormous strawberries dipped in chocolate that looked much more exciting than they turned out to be. There was an accompanying lemon curd that was, however, delicious.
Dinner was browsing on the show floor, mostly skewers of braised beef or chicken. The beef was chewy, the chicken quite good. I foolishly allowed a barman to mix a “variation” of a margarita for me, and for some unknown reason he figured a splash of red wine would make it more interesting. He reasoned incorrectly.
I consoled myself with a trip to the excellent dessert bar for some vanilla gelato and was very lucky that @ExchangeGoddess wanted to explore the Strip or I would have stayed there all evening eating my own weight in glorious sugary confections.
Clearly Las Vegas does dessert well, and I should eat nothing but dessert next time I’m there.
A gift of your choice of conference shirt. I selected a VeeamON 2014 one so I can pull it out for nostalgia value when I’m old.
Breakfast in the press room. Fruit, coffee related liquid, and a scone with bacon and scrambled egg in it. Simply fuel for the machine.
Lunch was a press event at D.O.C.G. again, which was the same as last time, without wine.
Dinner was at the VeeamON party, at Light nightclub at the Mandalay Bay. There was a buffet with mashed potato and slices of roast beef that was tasty enough I guess, but not so tasty that several of us didn’t buy our own late-night supper at Aria. A really good green chicken curry, properly spicy, just like I’ve had in Thailand. Highly recommended.
I slept in and skipped breakfast, which was no great loss after the wonderful curry from the night before and the probable bain-marie fare that I’d come to expect.
After the keynote, there was a VIP meet-and-greet with the speaker: Alexis Ohanian of Reddit fame. He actually seems like a decent guy, but he’s also very well practised at the meet-and-greet, so he could also just be a polished actor doing his thing. We had a quick chat and I did the selfie thing that everyone else was doing because why not.
Lunch was a hurried scoff of Mexican soft tortilla, shredded chicken, rice, and beans before I ran to my next interview. Oh, and a diet Coke. I guess Dr Pepper isn’t a thing in Nevada.
I also grabbed a protein bar thing from the press room as an emergency snack for the plane trip home. It was peanut butter flavoured, as I discovered after I got it all the way home.