Top 8 reasons to stay at The Gaylord for the July Get Real Nerium Conference (or any convention that occurs there really…) and a few ways around them if you are diligent and don’t mind the hassle.

My recent experience at the Spring Bash had me contemplating the real costs of attending the event and the pros and cons of staying at the Gaylord versus at the off site Comfort Suites down the road. I decided to put pen to paper and figure out what I actually saved by staying off site and to share the pros and cons with others that might not have large amounts of extra funds available. It is time to start planning for the summer Get Real Conference, and maybe this will help some of you make the decision a bit easier.

(PS: this is a lengthy post and if I had a great editor I would cut it to 1/3 or less of its current length but I really want you guys to get the full picture so, maybe read it in a few separate chunks if you struggle with long winded blog posts?)

1. Parking

Parking at the convention center will run you about $18 with tax. Even buying the Nerium parking discount costs $10. And pay attention here: this is $10 every time you park—not for a full day. So if you think you will save money by driving back to a nearby hotel to eat in your room (or going to a nearby affordable eatery) think again. You will need to add $20 to that amount. Not saving so much now, hm?

The way around it:

If you are willing to haul everything you may need in your car for the day and KNOW you can manage without having to leave the convention center then good for you! Maybe a cooler with your daily meals and all other supplies? I don’t really have that kind of room (or wherewithal) in my car, but this is one option for you clever ones!

2. Electronic charging

This was a HUGE problem at the Bash for a lot of us. So much so that I actually sent feed back to Marriot suggesting they install charging stations like you can find at the airports. It is the 21st century after all. Leadership encourages frequent Tweeting and FB updating and since I love to do this, I was happy to oblige. That meant an almost constant use of my iPhone. To charge the sucker I had to get creative on Friday (plugged in to the decorative Christmas lights wrapped around the saplings at Riverwalk Cantina) and on Saturday I sat on a bench in the hallway charging up—with the rest of the electronic junkies, missing out on a few things like social time. Some people missed big chunks of the main sessions due to battery failure.

The way around it:

Of course it is not that big of a deal to sit and charge your phone/ipad/laptop for a bit. Maybe you could even team up and have one person sit and watch 3-4 people’s devices—and just fill the watcher in on what they missed later. And maybe you won’t use your device as much as I did and will not have this issue. One of my team members had the fancy battery pack iPhone case that extended his phone life, but it was not quite enough for him either. This will be a matter of personal usage mostly.

3. Changing ability

On Friday I showed up in Texas chilly Spring wear (jeans, light cotton camisole and holey sweater) including my 10 year old leather jacket. I FROZE all day. I mean goose bumps and tense tight muscles all over. Saturday I tried to correct it with a similar outfit but a heavier sweater and my heavier coat. I didn’t touch the coat because I ROASTED all day. Had I stayed at the hotel I could have easily run up to my room to change based on the temperature and been comfortable.

It would have been great to change on Friday between sessions just for that fresher rejuvenating feeling, but on Saturday I felt compelled to change for the party. Guess who was hanging out in a remote bathroom with all my nice clothes and make up and my curling iron? This gal. I am not easily embarrassed but getting ready for a fancy party in a public bathroom is a tad inconvenient and a made me feel a little silly. Plus hauling all my stuff between my car to the bathroom and back was a hassle. Even more so once I had put on my pretty high heels. Escalators and stilettos don’t mix.

The way around it:

Clearly I found my way around it for the Saturday night party and so can you. But it is up to you if the convenience and privacy issues are worth sacrificing to save the few dollars. (In my case this time, it was—but next time, probably not so much!)

4. Discounted rates

The Gaylord is typically $300 a night (according to most of my online sources). Can you say fancy pants? The Nerium leadership team arranged for us to get a heavily discounted rate. I was told it was $159/night (plus tax) When else will you get a chance to stay at a $300/night hotel for about half that? The answer is “not often.” I am a firm believer in enjoying a little luxury if you can finagle a way to get it without breaking the bank. Treating yourself is important for the psyche.

The way around it:

This one doesn’t really have a “way around it” exactly—but consider a roommate if you want to have the best of both luxury and savings! (See my breakdown below to find out how much more I could have saved had I shared a room at the Gaylord!)

5. Stress free meals (even in your room)

I had this idea I was going to run out at mealtime and eat at Freebirds or Chipotle or even in my hotel room (I brought my Vitamix, protein powder, tons of greens and fruit, and nuts and other snackies galore. If I had had the omnivore with me I would have included sandwich stuff in that equation.) That plan was tossed when I did the math. On Friday, my meal at the Cantina was $20 including tip (I tip big thanks to a background in food service.) It cost me $10 to park at the convention center once, and would have been another $10 to do it again. So going back to the hotel would have saved me a mere $10 (not accounting for gas.)

Plus my hotel was a full 10-15 minute drive assuming no bad traffic and assuming I didn’t get lost in the construction all through Grapevine on the freeways. (I did in fact take wrong turns twice on my trips between my hotel and the Gaylord, adding 10 extra minutes each time.) We were released at 4 ish both days and had to be back at 630 or 7 and 8 on Friday and Saturday respectively. The rush to leave, eat, and return was just not worth the added stress when I was supposed to be focusing on the information being taught.

Point being had I stayed at The Gaylord I could have eaten in my room and still had time to sit with everyone at the restaurants and drink water, saving me money, time, and energy. Actually eating exclusively in my room at the Gaylord would have saved me about $100.

The way around it:

Ok well this one is maybe tougher for me than for most people. I follow a pretty strict diet (plant based, daily green smoothies, supplements, gluten free as much as possible) so eating in my room at least some of the time was a necessity. Since I didn’t stay at the hotel I didn’t stick to my normal eating habits as much as I wanted to (couldn’t have really made a green smoothie with my Vitamix in the Hotel hallways!) and I was sorry for it. When I eat too much restaurant food I am never as energetic as I can be and often feel sluggish and dull.

But many of you would have no problem keeping a cooler in your car/trunk with sandwiches and snacks. Of course, you could do the same out of a room at the Gaylord a bit easier perhaps…but the option remains.

6. Having a Few at The Party

This was my first big event so I was not fully prepared for the Saturday night party to be such a big fun deal. Finding the dance floor packed by 830 (and it remained packed until I left at 1130) was quite a surprise. I am not a big drinker but I enjoy an occasional cocktail or glass of wine. I was a bit concerned, however with the idea that some people like myself had to drive back to a hotel after this event. Had we all stayed at the Gaylord there would have been no worries about enjoying a few cocktails. There is no law about hiccupping your way up the elevators to your room!

The way around it:

If you are planning to imbibe with any seriousness the only way around this is to take a cab back to your room and return for your car in the morning. Or I suppose you could bribe someone into being your designated driver. Whatever you decide, please be SAFE and never ever drive after more than ONE drink. Make it a strict solid rule!

7. Chance encounters of the leadership kind + random acts of coaching

Friday after the main session I was meandering towards the Riverwalk Cantina (the meal place choice of our team leader) and my route took me through the sports bar where I nearly ran headlong (literally) into The Millionaire Maker himself. He was not surrounded by a large group of fanboys and girls, nor was her particularly busy—he was simply waiting for his table it seemed, and chatting casually with Dennis. Yeah, THE Dennis. Had I had a specific question I would have had the perfect moment to ask them. Or with a bit more intestinal fortitude I could have shaken their hands and taken a quick picture.

Also, the more time I spent at the actual convention center the more chance I had to ask questions of my own leadership team or to over hear informal coaching sessions being dolled out every where. Perfect example: I had the good fortune to stand near Mark X while waiting in the Nerium store and listen to him answer quite a few questions and share a few words of encouragement with those around him.

The Way around it:

Obviously you might have these kinds of magical moments of kismet regardless of your hotel choice. But my point is you are statistically MORE likely to have them the more time you spend at the convention center.

8. Energetic surrounding (people and place)

There is something magical about being with a large group of like-minded people. Put those people in a truly lovely and tranquil setting like the Gaylord and you have the potential for that coveted mountain top experience we all need periodically for our emotional and spiritual health.

Whether you fully buy in to the woo woo of energetic connections or not, few who attended the Bash last week would argue there was a certain something in the very air—electricity and just plain good will. Kind of like that pleasant feeling you get in a holiday shopping crowd (not the angry hordes that some people experience but the smiling, happy charitable folks who have a little extra cheer and love in their hearts while hunting trinkets for loved ones.) the last few weeks before Christmas.

There is a reason why people go on “retreats” to rejuvenate, do some self-reflection and tune out the world. Treating the event like a retreat, surrounding yourself 24/7 with the atmosphere and the people that make up this company will do you good on several levels. I ended up hanging out a good deal later on Saturday night to soak it up knowing I would not have to get up early in the morning for anything. But on Friday I left before the desserts and cocktails mixer due to just plain exhaustion and the concern that driving home even 30 minutes later would be too dangerous.

The Way around it:

Again this may be something you don’t buy into. But stick with the Nerium group long enough and you probably will! You could always just commit to arriving early and staying late regardless of where you choose to stay.

FINANCIAL BREAKDOWN:

So here is an approximate breakdown of what I spent staying at the Comfort Suites down the road, and what I would have spent had I stayed at the Gaylord (two ways—both not sharing and sharing a room.)

Comfort Suites

250 Hotel rate(w choice discount)
20 parking (didn’t go back to my hotel at all-which helped but meant I hauled all kinds of stuff back and forth with me)
12 Friday lunch salad + tea + water
20 Friday meal
60 Saturday snacks + meal + wine (including late night treats, one latte, and big tips)
21 Saturday party drinks (1 vodka sodas and 1 water)
20 Miscellaneous

TOTAL $402 (plus hotel tax)

GayLord

(staying alone-no roommate splitting the room costs, eating every meal in the room)

480 (hotel) (not including tax so…there is that)
(all meals and snacks could have come from hotel room)
20 Saturday party drinks
20 Miscellaneous

TOTAL $520 (plus hotel tax)

GayLord
(split between 2 people and spending the same amount on food at the hotel)

$240 (plus tax)
12 Friday lunch salad + tea + water
20 Friday meal
60 Saturday snacks + meal + wine (including late night treats, one latte, and big tips)
21 Saturday party drinks (1 vodka sodas and 1 water)
20 Miscellaneous

TOTAL $383 (plus hotel tax)

So I saved an approximate total of $118 by staying at the Comfort Suites down the road. And this time around, that $118 dollars was certainly needed elsewhere (my radiator blew on the trip home and had to be replaced for $120! HA!) but with a bit more advanced planning I could easily have afforded the extra $118 and saved myself mountains of stress, time, and hassle, while increasing the value of my experience 10 fold. And you can’t put a price on the quality of your experience.

Splitting the cost of the room with a roomie would have put staying at the Gaylord WAY less expensive than staying off site—it would have been nearly half the cost if I had eaten everything in the room. (And about $20 less than staying off-site had I spent the exact same amount eating at the hotel)

This was a hard option for me to wrap my introverted head around, but now I wish I had taken up the offers to share a room and just sucked up my discomfort a bit. Live and Learn.

Each situation and person is different, and there is certainly no right or wrong way to go about this. If for example you split an off site room, brought all necessary meals with you in sandwich form, and just operated out of your vehicle the entire time, then you could probably save the most money. On the other hand, if you fly in and were not planning on renting a car but only taking cabs back and forth between the other hotel and the Gaylord, that would be an entirely different amount. And maybe, like us, you have enough points to stay in a nearby hotel for FREE. That certainly changes the numbers dramatically!

But if you have committed to go to the July Get Real conference, at least now you know what some of the options are, and hopefully have a better understanding of the costs and where you might be able to cut a few. My recommendation is definitely to stay at the Gaylord if at all possible—even if it means putting 2, 3 or even 4 people in a room to split the costs. The benefits far outweigh the costs in my opinion and it will be what we do in the summer for Get Real 2013! See you there!

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