Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Secret is Out

Last week, I snuck out of town with Jeff. Originally, he had business in Los Angeles on Thursday and in San Francisco on Friday. At the last moment, the client changed the plans so that the meeting in L.A. was on Friday and San Francisco client visit was moved to Monday. Since I make all of Jeff's travel arrangements, I felt it only helpful that I tag along to help him get through the weekend in California.

Really, who am I to deny him the pleasure of my company in a warmer climate? Obviously, I used my savvy skills and Southwest airline vouchers to maximize my portion of the trip.

When Jeff travels on business, his expenses are paid. Mine are not. Which is why when we travel together in these situations, we have to have separate checks, individual tickets, and receipts for everything little thing. I am a frugal travel planner and I rely on Name your own Price from Priceline, internet web airfares and deals on top of the deals. I could not go along with Jeff unless I was able to afford it. While doing it this way is a complete pain in the ass, it allows me to escape Central Ohio for pennies on the dollar.

In order to leave the happy homestead, say adios to Argenida and kids, I have to do some intense preparations. Argenida and Mitchell helped me with the transportation of the kids to and from school. I pre-packed the lunches, coordinated the clothing, and got the meals made in advance to keep things simple for those in charge back home. It takes me days to plan for my own absence and sometimes I wonder if it is worth it.

This time, it was totally worth it. TOTALLY!

We arrived in Los Angeles and thanks to Priceline, we stayed at the Intercontinental in Century City. Sure, we could have bunked at the Marriott by the airport for the same price, but in the spirit of saving our client money, I was able to work the internet for a better hotel at a better price. WIN-WIN, right? We are Street Fighters after all. We practice what we preach.

The Intercontinental, Century City is/was a beautiful hotel. The lobby was decorated with purple and white fake snow covered pines, and it was California festive with sparkling lights and twinkling trees. The entire staff was friendly and helpful. Our suite was gorgeous, and our outdoor terrace overlooked downtown LA. Jeff smoked a cigar out there while we waited for the bellman to bring us the luggage. I was already in heaven at the thought of sleeping in the King sized bed without any children.

David, our BFF bellman let us know that the lounge and restaurant in the lobby would be closed for a private event hosted by the hotel. As guests, we were invited to join the festivities at 6:00. He mentioned that the catering department was pulling out all the stops to impress the vendors and special clients of the property. He had me at the sound of the open bar.

Jeff and I arrived at the party and were blown away by the appetizers. The event was a smashing success complete with seafood martinis, lamb chops, tuna hand rolls, dim sum, and foie gras lollipops. I befriended the pastry chef and asked him to point me in the direction of the gluten free desserts. With my Makers Mark Manhattan in hand, I was giddy with excitement at the plethora of culinary delicacies. The food was over the top amazing, and I was so satisfied with myself for getting us included in such a swanky event.

I wore my Gucci platform sandals and my Dolce Gabanna suit. I did not look like a mom of 6 from Columbus, Ohio. I blended in just fine and I smiled at the thought of escaping runny noses, whining, and freezing rain. I was in my zone and it felt so friggin good.

The party included a casino night and a raffle for prizes. Jeff chose to go upstairs to our suite, go over the data and prepare for his meeting. He got comfortable and took a shower, while I stayed at the soiree and partied with the patrons. I played some black jack, made friends with the Australian consulate. I hoped that I would win a spa day or something pampering from the raffle. Mama needs a new pair of shoes? NO, mama needs a deep tissue massage and a facial.

As the general manager drew tickets from the fishbowl the prizes got bigger and better. They started small with spa treatments and hotel stays and worked their way up to destination vacation packages. I felt lucky but was completely shocked when they drew my number for the grand prize of the entire evening. I won two, round trip, business class tickets to Bangkok Thailand, and 5 nights at the Intercontinental Hotel there. I could not believe it.

I practically forced the concierge to call up to my room. I demanded that Jeff get his ass back down to the party. After getting re-dressed he was pleasantly surprised at my extreme good fortune. I am so lucky. First J-date, now this. JACKPOT!

Not only did I score a deal on our room, but I walked away with the grand prize. I slept so well that night. I had dreams of Thailand and spending five nights with my guy in a deluxe hotel.

We were only in LA for a day, and I think I maximized my opportunities. I was doubtful that our remaining days in San Francisco could top our 36 hours in Los Angeles.

So now the secret is out. I am gearing up for a trip to Bangkok. Do you have any idea how much pre-meditated planning this is gonna take? I bet if I start now, we could leave in March.

Anyone need a sales and marketing trainer for a keynote, break out session or boot camp in Bangkok? I have the plane tickets and hotel stay already paid for and fully covered. I would be delighted to get separate receipts for the rest of the expenses, now that the secret is out.

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