After months of waiting, last week was finally the week I got to attend Designer Vaca. Described as "A Vacation For Pretty Pixel Pushers", my three days in Palm Springs felt like a lot more.
The trip began last Tuesday with Lindsey and I hitting the road for one of my favorite places, Las Vegas! We'd decided to take a gamble (hah!) by booking through Priceline's Name Your Own Price and totally lucked out. We scored a night in a room at Vdara, a stunning hotel nestled between Aria and Cosmopolitan. Our room was HUGE and completely stunning with a giant bed, couch, eating area, and just about the best bathroom I've ever seen. After checking in we ate a quick dinner in the room and threw on some nicer clothes to go wander the strip in.
Too many slot machines, and too little money later we were coerced into spending some time in one of the clubs at the Bellagio. Much to my surprise, the place was pretty awesome (the free drinks didn't hurt either!) and after some time we stumbled back to our hotel room for a midnight snack of mac'n'cheese.
We awoke early the next day to make the 4 hour trek to Palm Springs by way of I-15. The drive was slow and a little hard on the eyes so we broke it up by stopping at Alien Fresh Jerky, where I was able to stock up on some crazy hot sauces and begrudgingly step away from some fantastically tacky souvenirs.
After not much longer on the road, we arrived at The Ace Hotel where we met up with our roomies and fellow Utah natives, Val and Sarah. That night we met roughly 90 other designer women for cocktails, conversation, and some seriously delicious tacos! Jessica Hische addressed the room for a sort of impromptu Q&A, which set the tone of learning and fun for the next couple of days.
The next day our small group woke up for breakfast at The King's Highway (the eggs were fabulous, the parfaits less so), after which we rejoined our large group of designer babes in the clubhouse by the pool. We spent the next couple of hours learning from each other and engaging in conversation about many topics including self-branding, pricing, and project management.
Our afternoon was spent grabbing lunch at Kaiser (great food and cheap margaritas) before hitting the pool with a bunch of our fellow pixel pushers. After hours in the sun, we rushed back to our room to get ready for dinner, where all 100 of us were split between two different restaurants. My group ended up at Lulu's California Bistro where Lindsey and I were lucky to sit at a table with some chatty and fascinating women. After dinner we called it a semi-early night and our room of four was fast asleep.
On our last day we ate breakfast in The King's Highway again (try the breakfast burrito, no regrest!) and hustled back over to the clubhouse to meet the whole group for a creative exercise with the amazing and lovely Kathleen Shannon. Our whole vacation wrapped up with a group discussion on various topics and some farewells to our new friends and old ones. Lindsey and I hit the road for our 10+ hour trip back to Salt Lake City and after a wild ride through the desert, a pit stop at Del Taco, and too much caffeine, we made it home.
Now that this post has run MUCH longer than planned, I suppose I should do the wrap-up! Designer Vaca was a great experience and I had SO MUCH fun with some incredibly talented ladies. Would I do it again? Maybe. With such a large group it was hard to really talk to some of the people I was most interested in meeting, and to be perfectly honest, I felt like the event wasn't quite as organized as it could have been. However, I don't regret going and I learned a lot while still making some great memories. I think Vaca is one of those things where being more outgoing definitely works to your advantage, perhaps next year I'll be a bit better socially equipped for the adventure.