Tuesday, July 30, 2013

BlogHer13 Recap ~ the Stay & the Food!

Okay.  Guys.  I'm overwhelmed.

If you've followed TNO blog for a while, you already know that I planned to go to BlogHer for about a year before the actual conference even happened.  All the planning and preparations led up to the fantastic week I had last week in Chicago.  It was amazing.

And now I'm slightly flustered as to where even to start describing my time there.

I did so many things in the whirlwind five days I spent in the Windy City and experienced so many awesome new people, places, and concepts that it was tough to even figure out where to start.  However, I went back and read a few of the posts that were the most helpful for me when planning for BlogHer, and thought I'd progress giving out information about BlogHer 13 in a similar manner - based on specific topics such as lodging, food, sessions, parties, the expo and SWAG!  I'll highlight just a few of those categories each post, so keep reading for the rest of the week to hear more.

Let's start with the basics - lodging and food!


Lodging:

This year at BlogHer, the official hotel was the Sheraton.  After reading up on a few of the BlogHer Facebook groups though, I quickly realized that almost all of the sessions were to be held at McCormick Place in Chicago, which is connected via walkway to the Hyatt Regency McCormick.  I fully recognize that there is a host hotel for a reason and in any other circumstance would have chosen to stay at the hotel designated by BlogHer but it just didn't work for myself and my roommates this trip.  After we factored in the lower cost {almost $100 cheaper to stay at the Hyatt}, the included breakfast, the included parking {which otherwise cost around $40-50 a night}, and the ease of pumping for MJ & I - the Hyatt was a simple choice.

Photo from Hyatt website
Staying at the Sheraton, or the host hotel, would have given us a little easier access to the parties at night and room drops {or little bags of goodies from the BlogHer team each day}, but overall it was just a better choice for our room of ladies to stay at the Hyatt.  Thankfully, I'm a really lucky gal to have Heather as a friend - because she was staying at the Sheraton and was so lovely to pick up an extra room key for me and let me pump in her room during the nighttime events.

Overall, I was really pleased with the Hyatt.  The service was timely and the staff was polite.  The room was extremely new, modern, and clean.  The bed was suuuuper comfortable and I'm pretty sure Kate used our shower {pictured below} about three times a day because she liked it so much.  My only complaints were that the iron got unreasonably hot and burned a hole through one of my shirts {RIP maroon H&M blouse....} and that they used flat sheets in place of a fitted sheet which was a little awkward.


Food:

When registering for the full conference pass to BlogHer, you're signing up for a BlogHer provided breakfast and lunch on Friday and Saturday as well.  When attending any parties, there are also typically appetizers and some full meals served.  I found the food to be good overall, but didn't go into it with very high expectations knowing that they'd be serving thousands of bloggers in a buffet-style set up.  I also know I get the hangries when I don't eat so I packed part of my bag full of snacks just in case.

Our snack drawer, including the most amazing popcorn Nicole brought!
Both days of breakfasts included items such as: scrambled eggs, scrambled tofu, potatoes, fruit, pastries, breakfast meats, juice, coffee, etc.  As far as lunches go, I actually didn't make it to either BlogHer lunch.  My lunch on Friday was provided by the US Cellular sponsored luncheon and on Saturday I ended up making myself a peanut butter sandwich in our hotel room after I pumped.  But, I have it on good authority that lunches mainly consisted of salads, sandwiches, and soups.

As far as dinners, those were not reported to be included in the BlogHer program.  But, I do feel like if you brought just a snack or two {maybe a Larabar?} for around dinnertime, you could get by with dinner by going to the nightly parties.  It seemed like at the nightly parties, BlogHer had a ton of appetizers and real food set up for the party-goers.  At the fashion show after party on Saturday, there were buffet-style tables set up with full entrees and appetizers of both greek and asian-inspired cuisines - as well as a full dessert table.  If you're trying to do BlogHer on the cheap, there are definitely ways to get by on the food without spending a bunch more cash.

I will say, though, that BlogHer's food was quite a bit frustrating for one of my roommates.  While I was able to fairly easily navigate the meals to avoid most of the meat, one of my roommates had a really tough time trying to avoid dairy.  I know it's difficult to please all diets out there nowadays {and BlogHer did have both vegan and gluten free options that I saw in several locations}, but I don't think it would have been that difficult for them to offer cheese on the side of their eggs or some of the other offerings at the buffets.  The BlogHer provided meals were also not anything I'd write home about in terms of culinary genius {and I'm not a foodie in any meaning of the word}.  However, I was just happy enough to be able to eat a meal I didn't have to prepare with two hands while it was still warm and no one else was eating off of my plate.

Overall, I think the food situation was just fine for me, even with the dietary restriction that I prefer not to eat meat.

In the next post, we can chat a little more about the BlogHer sessions I attended and the parties.  But in the meantime -

If you went to BlogHer, what were your opinions on the hotel(s) and food?

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4 comments:

  1. I agree that the food was so-so. Like you, I didn't go in with high expectations. There was certainly plenty of it. Except for coffee, I don't think I bought food all weekend, so I was happy for that, at least.

    I'd be interested to go to the conference sometime when it's all in the same place. I stayed at a different hotel that was close to McCormick, and cab fare ended up being my biggest expense.

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    1. Meryl we ended up cabbing it a few times back and forth between the Sheraton and the Hyatt, because the shuttles only ran for so long, but between four people the cab fare wasn't too bad.

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  2. The food was much better than last year, although I only did Friday lunch and Saturday breakfast. Last year was like cold sandwiches and this year on Friday they had grilled chicken, some pasta, etc.

    I was SO tempted to stay at McCormick because of that but I did enjoy the Sheraton (the price difference). Hyatt is a great brand though.

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    Replies
    1. I think our main reason for staying at the Hyatt was that when we booked, we didn't know there was going to be a lactation lounge. Myself & MJ, the other breastfeeding mama in our room, couldn't figure out how we'd make it to any sessions having to shuttle back to the Sheraton during the day to pump three times.

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