Straight off the plane from Europe, hardly getting any sleep after the ski trip to Kittelfjäll, I went to work at a big press event at the Peabody Hotel on Monday night. There is a company called Pepcom that arranges Mobile Focus cocktail receptions for press and analysts the night before all the major tradeshows in the US where various players in the wireless industry book a table and showcase their latest phones and applications. This is a good way for media to be updated on the news of the show and meet the key players in one focused place for a few hours. When the event was over I must confess that I was glad to go to the hotel and sleep. I met my boss at 7am the morning after to finalize presentation material for an analyst session, and then I had a number of press meetings at the Sony Ericsson booth during the show.
The second night I attended a Sony Pictures Television Mobile Entertainment party at the Hard Rock Hotel’s Lobby Lounge & Velvet Bar. It was a nice mingling party but I am pretty sure that the house/techno DJ was disappointed that noone was dancing. I met Art and Gerardo from a former partner company and had a really good time.
I stayed at the Portofino Bay Hotel on Universal Boulevard. This was located on the Universal Orlando Resort properties and you could actually take a boat ride for free from the hotel ‘harbor’ to Universal Studios. I must say that the Portofino was a rather nice hotel – granted artificial, reminding me of the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas but with a more relaxed style. The Portofino properties were big and everything was built to imitate an Italian fishing village with the same name. The hotel and restaurant staff greeted you in Italian, all the signs were in Italian and the architecture was ‘Mediterranean-looking’ with colorful facades (not that old buildings normally are very colorful in Italy, but I suppose that different shades of pink, yellow and orange are prettier at sunset). I love Italy so I thought the concept was great! It helped you relax after a hard day’s work at the tradeshow and feel like you were on vacation.
Every night after sunset, there was a Musica della Notte show on the balconies overlooking the Harbor Piazza. A spotlight was switched on to highlight the singers as they performed old romantic Italian serenades, pieces from operas or Dean Martin songs in English. I’m a romantic fool so I wished I could have danced on the piazza with some dark, handsome stranger… ;-)
I visited four different restaurants located around the Harbor Piazza at the Portofino, mostly together with colleagues:
- Bice – high-class Italian restaurant with good service, excellent food and wine; a place where people dressed up to eat.
- Mama Della’s Ristorante offered a more family-style dinner with incredibly good pasta dishes and live entertainment at the table.
- Trattoria del Porto – excellent pizza and a good place to sit and listen to the Musica della Notte with a view of the whole harbor at the outdoor tables.
- The Thirsty Fish – nicely located with outdoor tables next to the water in the harbor but with terrible service and only “nibbles” to eat.
The weather was beautiful and sunny. Coming directly from skiing in Kittelfjäll, I found Orlando quite hot, 25-28°C, and humid. The Portofino had three different pool areas. On my last afternoon in Orlando I spent a few hours at the Beach Pool where all the families with small kids had gathered. I laid down on a sun bed, ordered a beer, read a book and within minutes fell asleep…I wouldn’t mind more work days like this.
I took a walk round the hotel properties and passed also the Villa Pool which I would imagine is used by adult parties and older people who want a little more piece and quiet. This pool area also offered a hot bath and Jacuzzi.
Everyone I talked to in Orlando, from the limo car driver to the hotel cleaning lady, the waiter at the pool, the Trattoria bust boy who brought me a double espresso without even charging for it (just said, “Don’t worry about it!” when I tried asking), the store clerk at the Universal Orlando Resort gift shop – whom had taken a cruise with her husband in Scandinavia last summer and “loved Stockholm” – to the female janitor with bad teeth at the Convention Center who complemented my high-heel Betsey Johnson shoes, were very down-to-earth friendly and laid-back. To me they appeared sincere in their happy politeness and seemed content with their lifestyle no matter where on the social ladder they found themselves, and who can blame them when they get to live in a piece of paradise with sunshine every day.