One Evening in Las Vegas: Cruising the Strip with The Commercial Observer.
Daniel Geiger May 23, 2012, 7:30 a.m.
The ICSC conference began thinning out by the mid-afternoon Monday as conference attendees switched gears from work to fun and headed from the convention center to the host of parties that had been scheduled in the weeks and months leading up to the Superbowl of Retail. Daniel Geiger took a walk on the wild side and discovered why they call it Sin City.
5:10: The Commercial Observer finally gets it through our skull that there’s no more networking to be had at the convention and steps out into the oven-like dry heat of the cab line.
5:30: The CO drives across town in a cab making small talk with our Chinese cabby. “I moved to Las Vegas six years ago to retire,” he said. We ask him if he likes Vegas as we drive down the strip, a spectacle of huge garish hotels with amusements and eye-catching displays like pirate ships, fountains and the New York skyline. “Not really,” he responds.
5:45: The Paris, a hotel with a one half scale version of the Eiffel Tower in front, is host to a party being held Jones Lang LaSalle. Despite very passionately arguing our case, the CO is turned away at the door due to a RSVP snafu on our part. On to the next party.
6:00: More time in the cab. Robyn Reiss, The CO’s ad-sales executive is moaning about all the logistics of changing her maiden name – she was married last November. Our cab driver turns around, “in Ethiopia, my home country, the woman doesn’t change her name.”
6:05: The CO arrives at the Four Seasons at Mandalay Bay for a party hosted by Cushman & Wakefield. Unfashionably early, we settle at the bar to kill time. A gentleman next to us orders an interesting drink, gin with a large round ice cube. “It’s cucumber ice,” he explains. “I needed something refreshing.”
6:35: The CO is scarfing down fish tacos, we haven’t eaten all day. “That’s real Las Vegas fish right there,” Stephen Hekman, an executive with Kingsmen, which is based in Las Vegas, says. “Fish sticks.”
7:00 The C&W party is full and pumping and yet The CO, feeling bold, decides to venture on.
7:18: The CO arrives at the huge cab line at Ceasars Palace.
7:21: The CO is already lost in Caesars unfathomably large mall, which is fashioned like a Roman streetscape complete with a towering ceiling that is painted blue with clouds. It’s a freaky simulacrum of the real thing, except with retailers like Bally, Victoria’s Secret and Fendi.
7:50:The CO, after trekking for what seems like miles finally arrives at Il Mulino for an intimate party hosted by Massey Knakal. The food at Il Mulino looks delicious but The CO is unfortunately full on fish-stick tacos. Perhaps noticing that The CO is starting to look peeked, James Nelson, a top executive at Massey Knakal, orders us a RedBull on the rocks. “It gives you wings,” the server quips.
8:10: The CO arrives at the marquee attraction of the night, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s epic yearly bash at, appropriately, the club Marquee at The Cosmopolitan, one of the nicest hotels in Vegas we’ve heard. There’s nothing like seeing a bunch of over-the-hill real estate executives sway to throbbing electronic music on a roof top lounge.
8:35: A real estate executive who will remain unnamed for obvious reasons points out a stunningly attractive young woman at the bar to his cohort. “Look at that, she’s not wearing a bra or panties,” he declares. The CO asks how he has liked Vegas’s famous pool parties. “I’ve gotten a ton of numbers,” the executive says. The CO congratulates our Vegas friend on his pick up artistry. “No it’s just catch and release,” he says. “I’m married.”
9:15: Still on New York time – and with the buzz of that Red Bull long since gone – The CO is fading again. Adam Leitman Bailey, a high profile real estate attorney in NYC, pops over and revives us. “I’ve been at the pool all day,” he says, after we comment on his dark tan. No wonder he’s so energized.
10:15: The CO is thinking about bed and is nearing the exit when we bump into CBRE’s Brad Gerla looking chic in an unbuttoned black dress shirt and blazer. “The conference was good but a little quiet towards the latter part of the day,” he observes. He points to the briefcase in The CO’s hand and the ICSC press badge still around our neck. “Uh, why didn’t you drop that stuff off at your hotel room?” Mr. Gerla asks. “I would lose that stuff. That’s not a good look.”