After ranting about Las Vegas for several paragraphs in the “Editor’s Note” in the December 2002 issue of RDH, I wrote, “You may be getting the impression that I don’t like Las Vegas.”
Some people I know like to remind me about that declaration.
I am from Oklahoma. Let’s pause and review a little American history:
• Your forefathers got tired of looking at the Injun’s teepees out in the backyard and shipped the tribe to a reservation in what became Oklahoma.
• Native Americans flourished here for a long time with bingo halls and cheap tobacco.
• Native Americans flourish even more now with casinos.
Here’s what a local newspaper columnist whom I admire had to say about casinos:
“To hear it told, it’s a wonder the Indian casinos can pay their light bills. To hear it told, you wonder why they don’t put in parking meters ... The stories I’ve heard from casino regulars suggest that playing the slots is a game of skill, not empty-headed luck. I know people who have won $700 here, $1,500 there, $2,500 the day before yesterday. A bad day for them is winning $300.”
You have likely met these “regulars” too. My point is that it’s very easy to spend $100-plus before you can bat an eyelash while vacationing in New York City, Orlando, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. So why are folks so preoccupied with losing $100 in Las Vegas? I think the preoccupation with “beating the house” leads to a certain cynicism that kind of puts a damper on things. And that cynicism among gamblers (not the city, residents, or even the casino employees) leads to my ranting about Las Vegas in an “Editor’s Note” every so often.
My advice? Have fun. Don’t worry about winning back the expenses of the hotel bill, airfare, or the early anniversary gift that you buy in what-happens-in-Vegas-stays-in-Vegas Las Vegas.
I like the Rio Hotel All-Suite Hotel & Casino, which is separated by Interstate 15 from the Strip. I’m sure the hotel’s casino has a statistic somewhere supporting the financial success of recouping its losses to the “regulars,” but the casino at the Rio does not seem overpowering or mammoth in size. The hotel’s Mardi Gras theme probably has a lot to do with that, and the staff just seems more courteous to me than their counterparts across the highway.
The Rio, of course, is the host site of the 2006 RDH Under One Roof Conference. This article offers information that may be useful to conference participants, if you plan to join the RDH magazine staff there on July 26-28.
The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino does not have suites in the sense of Embassy Suites (where two small rooms are divided by that kitchenette). But the Rio’s “rooms” are very spacious, hence leading to the suggestion of a suite. If you’re shy about dancing at the Mardi Gras festivities downstairs, you can dance like a fool in your room without tripping over anything.
A wet bar with a refrigerator is the first thing you see as you walk into the room. The main area of the room is very open, even with the bed, sofa, armchair, and desk. The bathroom, closet, and dresser adjoin the main room.
The entertainment center has a larger television than what you will find in most hotel rooms. But, as with most in-room programming in Las Vegas, the casino would prefer you to be doing something else other than sitting in your room watching TV.
If Vegas is not already legendary for its parking lots, it should be. If you are driving to the conference, there is plenty of space available, and valet parking is an option too. If you arrive via the airport, the Rio is a $15 to $20 cab fare away.
You can easily walk to two other hotel/casinos - the Palms and Gold Coast - from the Rio. As for the Strip, although the highway may not sound like much of a separation, you need to remember the previously mentioned parking lots. You have a nice view of the Strip from the Rio, but you do not want to walk there. Harrah’s owns the Rio, and the corporation has several properties along the Strip. One of them is Caesar’s Palace, which you can see clearly from the Rio. Caesar’s, for example, has world-class shopping at its Forum. A free shuttle service carts guests around to the various Harrah’s hotels.
Did I mention there’s a casino at the Rio? Yes, you can gamble, but I am not a “regular” and have no useful guidance to offer.
Please continue to read on about UOR’s group attendance to a show at Treasure Island (Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere). But the Rio does have its own shows. Penn & Teller (the famous illusionists) are the main draw. For the best seats, consider making a reservation online in advance. Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, comedian Ronn Lucas, Chippendales, and Erocktica are other options. The latter two are for adults only.
Speaking of adult themes, the Rio is probably not an ideal place for children. There are great swimming pools and an arcade. But the overall Mardi Gras theme probably discourages the presence of small children. The hotel, for example, offers a free show called Masquerade with the dancing and the throwing of beads that you associate with Mardi Gras. There’s no nudity involved, nothing offensive to most adults (although an after-hours version on Fridays and Saturdays promises a “tantalizing vibe” and “sultry and energetic shows”). If you would not take your children to Bourbon Street, you probably wouldn’t want to bring them to the Rio either.
Getting to the conference
Registration for the conference can be completed at www.rdhunderoneroof.com. Your badge for the program should arrive at the address you provide approximately two weeks before the conference. The envelope carrying the badge will also contain a letter that provides details on what to do when you show up for the conference.
There’s really just one main walkway from the casino/hotel to the meeting area. Upon reaching the hotel’s convention complex, you will pass through a rotunda, and the UOR registration area will be on the right side of this open circular area. You have to pass through the rotunda before you reach the exhibit hall and meeting rooms. Look for a UOR sign that says, “badgeholder/showbag pickup.”
If you have preregistered, all you need to do at the registration area is pick up a badgeholder and a “showbag.” The showbags contain product samples and literature, a show guide (this article is not intended to serve as the actual show guide for UOR), speaker handouts, a trivia game card, drink tickets for the receptions, and CE verification forms. There’s also the standard UOR T-shirt, provided this year by Preventech.
The UOR Web site also contains a link to the hotel’s Web site to expedite registration for a room. If you need to return later to make a room reservation, make sure the group reservation code S07RDH6 appears in the “deal/hot deal” code line.
The agenda for the conference has been published for several months in RDH, as well as posted on the Web site (www.rdhunderoneroof.com). You can also find it in this issue; see Pages 87-94. The lectures at the conference start at 8 a.m. on Wednesday when four speakers get the educational portions underway:
➤ Kristy Menage Bernie, RDH, “Advancing the art and science of dental hygiene through yoga”
➤ Dr. Thomas Nabors, “Periodontal disease: Treating the cause - not just the symptoms”
➤ Debi Gerger, RDH, “Evidence-based solutions to instrumentation”
➤ Dr. Lou Shuman, “An introduction to Invisalign”
Bernie’s course, though, is the only one that is not a “workshop” (even though she does host a workshop on yoga later in the morning). With the other three courses, preregistration is required. UOR’s seminars are broken into four types of formats:
♦ General sessions are open to anyone with a show badge. Bernie’s seminar is the first of eight general sessions during the three-day conference. The last one on Friday is Kristine Hodsdon’s “Products and tips for successful hygiene appointments.”
♦ Hands-on workshops require preregistration, which also includes an additional fee ranging from $10 to $20. Gerger and Dr. Shuman are examples of presenters leading these 22 classes, and, as the name implies, some sort of personalized instruction is involved.
♦ Small-group workshops, such as the seminar presented by Dr. Nabors, also require preregistration. But there is no additional fee involved. The preregistration results only from the limited seating available. The 2006 UOR offers 12 small-group workshops.
♦ The fourth format, “Power Hour Sessions,” does not start until Thursday, which is why an example is not provided above. As the name implies, the seminars are the shortest in duration - one hour - and no preregistration or additional fees are required. Three of the five speakers - Ann-Marie DePalma, Deb Grant, and Lynne Slim - are RDH columnists who are speaking on topics near and dear to them. The fourth speaker, Cheryl Thomas, is a recipient of an organ donation and will be providing information about organ transplantation that every dental professional needs to know.
Networking and relaxation
Las Vegas, of course, screams, “Entertainment.” This is the second time UOR has been hosted in Las Vegas. Chicago, Norfolk (Va.), Denver, Costa Mesa (Calif.) - the other UOR sites - often cause you to pause and think about the entertainment options rather than being bombarded with them via gigantic neon signs.
Regardless of the background distractions aimed at tourists, UOR places a special emphasis on “networking.” In fact, it is not uncommon to meet an attendee who never leaves the hotel during UOR.
This year, UOR will host two lunches and three receptions. All but one of these events occurs in the exhibit hall. The Welcome Reception on Wednesday allows attendees to mingle with colleagues and meet representatives from dental companies while enjoying beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvres. Lunches will be served to attendees on Thursday and Friday.
The Networking Reception on Thursday evening is similar to the Welcome Reception, but the added benefit is a ceremony for the recipients of the Sunstar Butler/RDH Healthy Gums Healthy Life Award of Distinction (see related testimonial from Maureen Murphy Chodaba, RDH). The Networking Reception also sets the stage for UOR’s “group” entertainment. This year, UOR attendees have the option of joining colleagues for the Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere. There is an additional fee involved ($85) and registration for the night out ends June 16.
The costuming in Mystere makes you wonder if this is what George Lucas (Star Wars) and J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) would envision if they collaborated on a theme loosely based on Alice in Wonderland. Like a “three-ring” circus, more than one act often occurs simultaneously. But the production is so well organized that you don’t feel like you miss anything.
The sheer athleticism of the performers is simply marvelous to watch. I’m not going to describe Cirque du Soleil’s version of a clown, but I will say that he is hilarious and provides many lightmoments to offset the dazzling gymnastics and acrobatics.
The Farewell Reception on Friday evening is hosted by Discus Dental. It is the only reception/lunch that is not in the exhibit hall. The Farewell Reception is in VooDoo Cafe on the 50th Floor of the Rio. Discus Dental is launching its Hygienist of the Year Award and will likely promote it at UOR. The winner of the award gets a free trip to LA, $5,000, and will have the opportunity to be in a BreathRx television commercial. Discus will announce the winner next October. Otherwise, the reception is merely a chance to relax and have fun at the nightclub, which is at the very top of the hotel and offers a 360-degree view of Las Vegas.
Finally, there are games being played. Every year, UOR hosts a trivia card game. The basic idea is to visit every booth and obtain an answer to a trivia question. Once your card is filled out, it gets tossed into a drum. A drawing on Thursday may result in your name being called for any of dozens of prizes.
At press deadline, a separate game was being developed for attendees on Friday. Look for details on the Web site or in RDH eVillage.
1)During the conference, you will notice about a dozen or so people standing around who are wearing the same type of shirt and similar slacks. These people are the personnel that PennWell sends to staff the conference. If you have any question at all, please ask them. That’s what they are there for.
2) UOR usually offers an enticement for early registration. If you register before May 31, you will receive a two-piece hanging travel tote and makeup bag.
3) Las Vegas is hot in July. But bring a sweater anyway, so you don’t have to worry about the temperature of the air conditioning in the hotel.
A Testimonial From a UOR Attendee
In 2005, I attended the RDH Under One Roof Conference for the very first time. I was blessed to be a recipient of the Sunstar Butler/RDH Award of Distinction. When I received the shocking news that I was to be one of the award recipients (believe me, you have no idea how shocking that news was!), I actually had reservations about attending UOR.
I really wasn’t going to personally know anyone else who was attending the conference, and I am not a “worldly” person who is used to jetting off to conferences around the country. However, I knew that the award was a once-in-a-lifetime honor, and I would be a fool to let the opportunity slip by.
How fortunate I was to make that decision! UOR proved to be an experience that I will never forget, and one that I long to repeat! This year my husband is planning to join me for the trip to Las Vegas, and we are both very excited! UOR is a very special experience for dental hygienists. It is a conference that is all about us ... the everyday RDH! The classes that you can attend at UOR will not only enhance your career as a dental hygienist, but will enhance your life in many other ways.
Dental hygiene is a hands-on healing profession. There is no place where that is more evident than at the RDH UOR conference. Dental hygienists touch lives ... not just teeth. When you attend RDH UOR, you will meet the best of the best in dental hygiene - the well-known RDHs that you read about in RDH magazine - but also the “unknown” real-life RDHs who make a difference in the lives of their patients on a daily basis. Not only will you meet them, but you will be inspired by every single one of them! This is such a wonderful profession! I’ve been doing it for 29 years now, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Attend RDH UOR 2006 in Las Vegas! I hope to meet you there! I’m sure you can inspire me!
Maureen Murphy Chodaba, RDH
1) If you are toying with the idea of attending a hands-on workshop, you should make a decision fairly quickly. These popular courses tend to fill up in a hurry.
2) Many of the speakers have presented at UOR before, but most of them choose new topics for their return visits. Some “new faces,” however, are in the lineup (see chart below) for the UOR “alumnus” who is concerned about hearing the same thing he or she heard last year.
3) Since she is an RDH columnist, I chat with Dianne Glasscoe, UOR’s keynote speaker, from time to time. She kind of slips details every now and then about what she has planned. I don’t think you’ll want to miss the keynote session at 8 a.m. on Thursday.
1) How you entertain yourself on Thursday night is your call. There’s no pressure from us for you to go to the Cirque du Soleil. In past years, UOR has arranged for group entertainment on a ship in a Virginia harbor, as well as dinner theaters in Chicago. I have attended all of them. To say they have been thoroughly entertaining evenings would be an understatement.
2) At the receptions, introduce yourself to as many strangers as possible (including me, if you see me).
3) If you have any room in your suitcase - any room at all for the trip home - play the trivia game. The prizes donated for the drawings are pretty incredible.
Hungry? Hartley's Tips
1) Tammi Booth-Peck is the restaurant events manager for the Rio. I asked her what her favorite five meals were at the hotel’s restaurants:
➠ Alaskan king crab legs at Buzio’s. “This is my favorite. They have the best! It’s flown in fresh daily. The nice part is that they have them already precut so it’s easy to take out of the shell, and the creamy butter they drizzle on is amazing.”
➠ Chilean sea bass at Buzio’s. “It’s miso-glazed with mushroom broth and a handmade seafood ravioli - what a great taste, a wonderful piece of fish.”
➠ Osso Buco at Antonio’s Ristorante. “A veal shank that falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. Wow!”
➠ The ribeye at Fiore Steakhouse. “It can be cut with a butter knife, and the flavor is to die for.”
➠ The VooDoo Ménage at the VooDoo Café. “It’s a trio of a six-ounce filet mignon, lobster tail, and two grilled prawns.”
2) A public relations representative who answered an offhand question about “favorite places to eat” at the Rio said Bamboleo (Mexican) and Buzio’s (seafood).
3) Although I have not eaten at the aforementioned restaurants, I have to give a thumbs-up to the perhaps inappropriately named All American Bar & Grille. When I first heard the name, I thought it must be the hotel’s primary “diner” (instead, the Sao Paulo Cafe is; and the breakfast menu there is good). The emphasis should be on Grille. The restaurant offers a good variety of moderately priced burgers, chicken, and steaks, as well as tasty entree salads. Somebody will probably try to convince you that you need to eat at the Village Seafood Buffet. I have eaten there twice. There’s an interesting variety of seafood prepared in several international styles. To me, though, it still tastes like a buffet, so consider some of the other options.