My team and I were given the opportunity to attend Elevate Summit in Palm Springs over the weekend. Although I grew up in Southern California, I have not been back in 6 years. I also have never flown in to Palm Springs airport. It is small but surreal: open canopies, lawn chairs, grass and palm trees alongside shops and restaurants. There are even umbrellas you can borrow once you pass security to get to your gate. It felt like a Hollywood set. I kept expecting to see a movie camera peeking out somewhere. A truly bizarre experience.

We arrived late Thursday evening, the last flight to arrive at the airport really, and landed around 11pm. There was a man effectively directing and coordinating taxis for everyone. It was warm. I don’t miss the desert heat and hot air.

We stayed at the Saguaro hotel, a hotel that manages to look appealing in website photos, and under certain diminished capacities such as it is late at night and you are too tired to care. The place is a maze. The room numbers do not seem to make sense. In the morning, I realized the weird slanted windows give it a Fred Flintstone vibe along with the bright colors.

We had four rooms total. One colleague had a room that reeked of cigarettes despite being non-smoking. Two rooms had their own bluetooth speaker while the other two didn’t. The room I shared with a colleague had a weird odor that others said was the smell of cocaine (I wouldn’t have recognized that smell). A co-worker started sniffing the walls and said we should flip the mattresses because it smelled like the room was somebody’s stash house.

The inner courtyard is also a maze of construction, metal decorative mesh wall-barriers (as shown in the right of the photo), a large pool, two hot tubs, and flowers where dozens of hummingbirds zoom by your head and do battle. You will feel like Pocahontas about to sing “Colors of the Wind” if you stand close to the flowers in the morning.

It became even more fun when, in the morning, I asked the front desk where Elevate Summit was being held. The guy instructed me to board a shuttle outside. We texted the rest of our group that information and boarded. We were driven to the Palm Springs Convention Center where a science teacher’s convention was going on and the shuttle nearly left me there in error.

When we got back to Saguaro, we realized the front desk failed to mention that Elevate Summit was upstairs and did not require a shuttle ride. I guess the guy just assumed I liked like a science teacher. Is that a compliment…?

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