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While the early years of PMB meetup were the traditional setup of meeting like minded folks over a drink, recently I have pivoted to hosting experience based meetups (think FT DO’s) which allow attendees to not only chat points, but also engage in a niche experience. After recent success of the Vancouver meetup which saw 20 points geeks island hopping on chartered seaplanes and public ferry rides, I was keen to test out a meetup outside Canada.
An online conversation about Hyatt mattress runs had a few of us wondering if a Vegas trip was in order. Sure enough, I put a call out on my weekend stream and we had an active group of 8-10 folks keen on being in Vegas together. This being the first time bringing a group to Vegas, I made sure that the itinerary was not too busy – two group meals, and a marquee evening event, over a weekend.
Getting there: YOW to LAS
I used 4071 AirMiles (~$407 CAD in value) to book an early morning flight out of Ottawa (YOW) to Vegas (LAS), via Toronto (YYZ). The good thing about booking with Airmiles is that it books as cash fare, and I was also be able to use my Air Canada (AC) e-upgrades in hopes of flying a little more comfortably. Unfortunately, the e-upgrade for my 50 minute flight from YOW-YYZ cleared but YYZ-LAS did not.
Ah well, my first segment of 50 minutes was spent in relative comfort on Air Canada A220, with a full breakfast tray in the business class cabin. Gosh, it’s so easy to impress me.
4 hours in Economy on the YYZ-LAS leg – I got this! As a 100k member, I was looking forward to the free Wifi onboard (select benefit) to get some work completed. The Wifi service on this flight was great – active as soon as we hit flying altitude and did not drop until we were ready to land. The crew proactively checked in on my snack and drink preference as well – a lesser known perk of Aeroplan, where 100k members can enjoy one free alcoholic beverage and one free snack item when traveling on AC in Economy Class.
This was only my 3rd time to Vegas, and I was not expecting to see snow capped mountains in early November. But there they were, beautiful views out the window (somewhere over Utah, and into Nevada).
Seeing snow capped mountains from the LAS tarmac?! The picture captured an interesting mix of flights, hotels (Mandalay Bay, and bit of Luxor), with the Nevada mountains in the backdrop.
Staying in Vegas
Since the group was mostly Hyatt runners, we stayed either at Park MGM, or the MGM Grand for the weekend, and a combination of Excalibur/Luxor the following week. Thanks to a bit of casino play on my previous visits to Vegas, the MGM app often shows great rates, however, the weekend of meetup was exceedingly expensive with Raiders game, and other conferences in town. I decided to use my Hyatt points to book Park MGM (12,500 points per night) for the weekend, and paid cash rates for Excalibur ($19/night).
The $20 trick is alive! I had checked in online for my stay at Park MGM, and was allocated a standard room on the 5th floor. Once I arrived at the property, I made my way to the VIP desk (thanks to Hyatt Globalist –> MGM Gold status) and inquired about a possibility of a better room. While the staff checked, I slid in a $20 politely and said “this is for you, please see what you can do for me, I don’t want to be stuck on the 5th floor”. And sure enough, they were able to confirm a ‘Stay Well King room, with view of the strip’, on the 24th floor. I asked what the ‘Stay Well’ meant, and was informed that these rooms came with air purifier, aromatherapy infusers, memory foam mattress, and Vitamin C infused water in the shower – Oy, that was the most Vegas thing I had heard.
PMB Meetup Day 1:
All checked in, next order of business was to meet the rest of the group for lunch at Yardbird, located at the Venetian. Yardbird is best known for their indulgent southern style comfort food, and bourbon cocktails. Laughs, happy faces, and even happier points stories were shared by Dan, Sarah, Christian, Anthony, Chapman, and Mo. Tamy was missing at this table, but the meetup was well and truly underway.
Bird out of the way, the group was keen on warming up at the Venetian casino. Chapman ever so keen to stay at the Venetian, because of happy memories from last time, was no match to Anthony’s aggressive enthusiasm for all money to be spent at MGM properties only. He lamented that we had just eaten lunch at the Venetian which is not part of MGM – Ok then.
MGM (and Hyatt) veterans know the power of logging all spend within the brand, which brings better offers, room rates, and stay credits for future. That’s right, as long as you are at any MGM property, you are able to credit everything to ‘your room bill’. Stay in Park MGM, eat at Aria, and gamble at MGM Grand, it all counts.
After we are forced back to the Park MGM, Anthony and Chapman disappeared into the cacophony of lights and sounds of the casino floor. While I made my way back to the room to reset (code for “I took a nap”) for the long evening that awaited the group. The plan was to regroup at the casino floor, for “group gambling”. Little did I know that the rest of the evening would be spent sending/reading messages of ‘who was where’ – welcome to Vegas, everyone is here, but no one knows who is where. I did my best to understand the whereabouts of 7 others who hopped and skipped across 2-3 casinos, all connected to each other. Met with Dan at New York New York, conversed with Sarah and Mo at MGM Grand, and then ran into Anthony and Chapman back in Park MGM – I could swear that I had just seen them at the Blackjack table back in MGM Grand. Time had lost all meaning.
But nothing brings people together like the lure of good food. It was time to check off another Vegas institution off the map before calling it a night – Tacos El Gordo. One group message, and shared Uber rides later;
PMBmeetup Day 2:
Day 2 had started late for obvious reasons. While Anthony was keen on using his MGM credit at Din Tai Fung (DTF, in Aria), the rest of the group had a lunch reservation at Lotus of Siam – Northern Thai food joint popularized by Anthony Bourdain – the food so good that I did not take any meaningful pictures. Mo had yet again chosen a winner, as this was the best food I ate on this trip!
Bellies full, the points DP’s and anecdotes continued on our way to the Vegas Loop (The Boring Company product). Thanks to Dan who had done it before, he led our way to Las Vegas Convention Centre Loop (LVCC) – an all electric, underground public transportation system. I think I say this for the group, it was a fantastic experience! A detailed review of the LVCC experience is coming up soon 🙂
A quick refresh back in our hotels, and it was time for the marquee event of #PMBmeetup – Topgolf! Think an elevated golf driving range, with giant targets, and gamified interface. The group made its way into a VIP bay on the 5th floor, with unlimited game play, access to the lounge, dedicated staff serving handcrafted drinks and food, and a stunning Vegas view for the gram! #PMBmeetup experience at its finest – if I may say so myself.
Few drinks in, and the banter became heavier, competitive sledging sharper – this beginner golf group really got into the groove. Same with points talk, expect it was no beginner stuff 🙂
Vegas Day 3:
Day 3 was not officially part of the itinerary, as most of the group was making their way out of Vegas. However, Christian and I (thanks yet again, Mohammad) found ourselves at the allegiant stadium, with 65,000 others, watching the Raiders game (NFL). This was my first ever NFL game experience, and wow! I don’t follow NFL, but I can see why it is such an entertaining package, atleast watching it live. The passion of the ardent fans, the roller coaster of emotions, the primal feeling.
I would call this test-meetup a ‘Y-U-G-E’ success. The feedback received has been overwhelmingly positive, with lots of chatter about a return already. It’s hard to pass on the idea that #PMBmeetup will return to Vegas in 2023 as well – watch this space, and PMB social handles for more updates. 2023 will see us return to Toronto, Vancouver, Vegas, with Halifax, Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal also in the works – hope to see you at one of these events!