I’m not so good at remembering to do these right after I come back, but oh well. About a month ago, I was in Orlando for the American Psychological Association’s Annual Convention. This is not one of the usual cities that this convention rotates through, so I don’t know that I will be back anytime soon. Which is perhaps just as well. Like Anaheim and Dallas, it wasn’t a great conference destination. For me, a good conference destination is one where I can walk to non-hotel restaurants, and ideally non-chain restaurants. This was not so much the case here.
Stayed at: APA staff were booked in various hotels, and I was at the Hilton Orlando. Technically this is connected to the convention center, but after one very long walk that took me on two skywalks, through another wing/building of the convention center and through the very large amount of convention space at the Hilton, I just took the shuttle. The hotel had a lot of space in the lobby for lounging and gathering, which was nice. I had not bothered to look up any information about it, and had also decided against bringing my swimsuit as I figured the likelihood of my being interested in going to the hotel pool, and having time to do so, was slim. However I regretted that after my arrival, because I discovered that this hotel has a lazy river. D’oh! Lesson learned: Always pack your swimsuit if you’re going to a warm climate.
Ate at: I ate at a couple of the restaurants in this hotel. The gastropub was great for dinner, and had a lot of different types of seating to accomodate groups for a meal, as well as groups who just wanted to lounge around. They also had two pool tables and a good beer list. We had breakfast at The Bistro one day, but I found it to be a little expensive. (Now, the question here is how much of that perception was colored by the fact that I had a per diem for this trip which I definitely did not want to go over.) There’s also a small convenience store that has a Starbucks, so I had breakfast there the other two days, and they had a good selection of snacks and go-go entrees if you just wanted to have something to eat in your room. I also had a drink at their lobby lounge, which had a great piano player and lots of people watching while we were there. The convention center is huge and has several different parts to it, and so can host more than one convention at a time. The Hilton was hosting people from my convention, from a cigar trade show, and from a leadership conference run by Yeshiva University. Amazing people watching at that lounge! (Plus a nice, if small, beer list.)
Other than that, I ate at a couple of unremarkable places in the convention center, and went with my boss and her boss to The Oceanaire one evening, where we basically each blew our entire per diem for the day. It was very good but made me glad that we don’t normally have per diems, and also have a policy that the highest-ranking APA staffer at the table pays the bill. (I make good money but I am not interested in spending my own cash to eat with coworkers at conferences.)
Getting around: With one exception, I did not leave the convention center area — I attended a reception hosted by APA’s president at the Orlando Museum of Art. Shuttles were provided, so I didn’t have to figure out the transit system. It is a pretty nice museum, though I had a sour note almost immediately – in the first main room I went into off of the foyer, there was a huge Dale Chihuly piece . . . that needed to be cleaned. Anyway, back to transit – I took taxis to and from the airport, which was easy enough to arrange. As a side note, the TSA at the Orlando airport was very well organized – which was a relief to me, as there were families everywhere, and lots of folks who clearly didn’t fly often. (I flew home on a Sunday.)