Arriving at Las Vegas & Caesars Palace
The last time I was at Vegas was almost 4 years ago. Quite a few things have changed. Notably the airport had been renovated. Gone was the 80s looking baggage pickup area. The cab to Caesars Palace was about $25 plus a $3 credit card and $2 transaction fee for traveling from the airport. The weather and temperature was 26 degrees which was just right for me.
I got to the hotel at around 3:00pm which was when most SANs attendees were about arriving. There were huge lineups at the counter. They didn’t give me a room until 5:00pm due to the huge influx of guests. This varies based on your luck – I heard some got them as early as 4:00pm. You can drop off your baggage at the bell desk for pickup later when they have your room available.
5 Star hotel – 2 Star room
My hotel room was at Roman tower where most attendees are assigned. If you’re lucky you might get assigned another location where the rooms are much more modern. Anyways I don’t know what star I can rate the rooms at Roman tower as there’s no fridge, no coffee maker, no bottled water and the decor was pretty old and worn. Fortunately there’s internet. The internet is wireless and SANS will comp you for 1 device only (based on mac address – NAT and mac spoofing works fine).
The SANS registration was held at the conference center between 5:00-7:00pm. The courses and all the weeks’ events are also hosted here. Caesars Palace is usually the host for many other well known security conferences like Blackhat and Defcon. Arriving on time to register for your name tag, pickup your course material and sign up for the night and lunch events is recommended. There are a limited number of seats available for lunch and night classes.
Make sure to sign up for the lunch vouchers too as they are separate and disappear quick.
I picked up a bottle of beer and some snacks at the welcoming area and proceeded to mingle with my colleagues who were already gathered in that vicinity. I heard next year they are going to make the sign up sheets available online so you can check what you have signed up for on your mobile device.
At 7:30 there’s an official welcoming seminar for first time attendees hosted by Dr. Eric Cole who is one of the more senior fellows at SANS. Dr. Cole was the guy who did the course material for SEC 401. More info about him could be found here.
Restaurants & Hotel attractions
At Vegas there’s no shortage of great dining locations. Inside Caesars Palace, there’s a bunch of celebrity chef restaurants. To name a few there’s Nobu’s Nobu, Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill, Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill. If you’re super hungry the Bacchannal buffet is also the best in town! For those on a medium budget, there’s a Cheese Cake Factory and an Italian restaurant called Trevi where you can load up on bread instead of ordering an appy.
Caesars wants you to spend your time on the card table and not the elliptical
There’s plenty of activities on the strip, for those who want to do some excercise after a heavy meal, it’s best to stroll around in the Forum shops or head out onto the strip. I mean they charge you $25 per visit to the gym!