Five Reasons To Go To ShiftCon 2018

Five Reasons To Go To ShiftCon 2018

I just recently received news that I have been invited to ShiftCon 2018! If you follow me on Instagram, you know I pretty much geeked out on my Insta-Stories. I went to ShiftCon 2016 in NOLA this past year and fell in love! This is THE conference to go to if you are a) a blogger, journalist, social influencer; or b) a human being who cares about their food or this planet. I am pretty much obsessed with this platform and just had to share my top five reasons that ShiftCon is the must-attend conference!

Food

Cajun Jumbalaya

The food at ShiftCon is without a doubt the best I’ve had at any conference. Not only is every meal organic, but mostly sustainable, responsibly farmed, or locally sourced. Did I mention delicious? In a room full of media, we all couldn’t stop talking about food. I mean, I cover food on my blog at all times, but I was wowed by the selection and presentation of the food at ShiftCon 2016. They were also able to make sure and really add some local flair to the prepared food. We dined on some of the finest N’awlins Oysters from the infamous Dre’s, and I tasted my very first gumbo!

People

NOLA

Which ever way you slice it, the ShiftCon attendees and community are some of the most supportive I’ve come across. I truly found my tribe in NOLA last year and have been talking about it ever since. It wasn’t just the media, but also the brands. They were completely engaging, and I’ve made some very real connections in a fast-paced industry where it’s easy to get “lost in the sauce.” The Expo hours were separate allowing brands to sit and dine with media during keynote speeches, or learn alongside each other in various workshops. The connections made were very real and organic. Pun totally intended!

Culture

New Orleans

ShiftCon is structured in such a way that there is plenty of time to experience the local culture. They’ve also made it possible to include a bit of the local culture in workshops, scheduled tours (I was able to enjoy a local ghost tour in the heart of N’awlins y’all), and special guided activities. All putting you in touch with your surroundings, and the good folks trying make #ShiftHappen in these cities. It’s both inspiring and eye opening.

NOLA

NOLA

Education

NOLA

There is so much education at ShiftCon. These folks are passionate about the cause and have lined up an array of educators to help you to spread the good word. They’re fighting the good fight all over the nation and have come from far and wide to share it with all the ShiftCon Shifters. These are some of the most passionate and engaged educators teaching us about anything from soil degradation, agricultural news, and farming practices, to social media growth and SEO courses. A wide range of all things “shifty” if you will. The ways and means on how to report your news and the most effective way to get it to the masses. The panel’s were jam-packed with CEO’s (not marketing reps) from major organic brands answering some tough questions about their practices, and future plans for remaining authentic in a consumers market. I left each session feeling as though I’d learned something new, and feeling more connected to the brands that I use and write about.

Swag

NOLA

If you’ve ever spoken to someone whose attended a ShiftCon conference, then no doubt you’ve heard of their infamous swag bag. I kid you not, I couldn’t begin to even go through it all. There was something inside from every beloved (albeit pricey) organic company I could think of. The swag alone outweighs the cost of the ticket, and is well worth it. I actually had to ship it home to myself because it was way to much to haul in an airport all on my own. The swag bag is given to you on the first day you arrive (perhaps so you have time to figure out how to get it home), and it doesn’t end there. Each day / night there is a new raffle or opportunity to win a new prize. This year, there will be an awards ceremony for the media that is attending, I can’t wait to see what they get to take home!

Either way you slice it this event is a “gotta be there” kind of event, and this year it’s returning to its roots in the OC. Yours truly will be there getting all of the scoop and sharing with all of the other “shifters” via social media. You can join the #ShiftHappens movement by getting your very own tickets here.

See you in California!

Essentially yours,

Erika

Legoland Beach Retreat Is Officially Open!

Legoland Beach Retreat Is Officially Open!

Legoland is one of our favorite retreats. The boys relish in the creative spirit that adorns this property, and we can usually relax and enjoy knowing they are in good hands with the bricktastic bunch.

Now there are even more options when visiting Legoland Florida. The highly anticipated new Legoland Beach Retreat is officially open and we were treated to a sneak peek of all that it has to offer. We spent two days in the fantastic new beach bungalows perfect for a family getaway. If you follow me on Facebook, then you got to see the live video of the inside of this beach paradise.

As usual the devil is in the details, and every aspect of this bungalow screams beach blast for the family! Everything down to the light fixtures gave us that beachside vibe you’d expect.

Legoland Beach Retreat
We were welcomed with Lei’s on our bed!
Legoland Beach Retreat
It’s all in the details!

We were greeted with an easy breezy drive-thru check in and directed toward a grouping of bungalows. The Beach Retreat is just across from Legoland and the Legoland Hotel on the other side of Cypress Gardens Parkway. Perfect for spending a day at the water park and heading back for some beachside fun!

We parked and found our section to find our very own bungalow (okay the boys may have been running there).

Legoland Beach Retreat

Each road has a cool beachy name, we stood at Seagull’s Cove. All of the bungalows face each other (great for socializing and traveling in large groups) and each include a playground in the center of the bungalows. This was perfect at night when returning from our festivities, the parents were able to enjoy a cocktail on the patio and talk together as the kids played until the wee hours. It was a certified beach blast for everyone involved!

Legoland Beach Retreat

The graphics in the bungalows are mostly the same, and über creative. The boys loved how bright and cheery it was, they kept talking about having so many Lego people having fun on the walls. They didn’t waste any time making themselves at home.

Legoland Beach Retreat

One of the best features (for both parents and kids) is the privacy curtain that sections off the kids room with the signature bunk bed with trundle. The boys loved having their own space, and wasted no time getting acquainted with the complimentary Lego set provided in each bungalow. It’s a great way to keep the kids entertained while outside of the Beach Cafe, or the parks.

Legoland Beach Retreat

Speaking of the Beach Cafe, can we say heaven? Upon walking in you are greeted with a spectacular Lego sand castle free for you to add onto.

Legoland Beach Retreat

The buffet caters to both kids and parents (like everything at Legoland) with altered meals. The breakfast potatoes were plain for the kids and sautéed with peppers and onions for parents. Genius! As always, the signature milk station is available. We enjoyed some fresh shrimp while watching the kids play to the tunes of the Beach Boys (so fitting).

The Beach Cafe offers a full bar selection for parents and is open until 9pm. Outside the cafe is the Legoland Beach Retreat Lighthouse that actually lights up. Families can enjoy food and drinks poolside as the kids build with the infamous rubber bricks (my kids made a lighthouse), or play volleyball on the official sand court. Another playground is available just beside the pool and is perfect for running off some of that after dinner sugar the kids can have. We enjoyed some artisan gourmet pops while watching the kids dance the night away at a pool party.

Legoland Beach Retreat

You can watch this virtual tour of the Legoland Brick Beach experience from check in to check out!

For more information or to book your reservation online visit the Legoland Florida website here.

Essentially yours,

Erika

The Ace Hotel NOLA – A Hipster’s Haven

The Ace Hotel NOLA – A Hipster’s Haven

A little over a month ago I had the pleasure of visiting New Orleans, Louisiana for the very first time. I was attending the ShiftCon conference, and needed a place to lay my head for a few nights. I’d recently experienced great success with AirBnB over the summer, but I was traveling alone and I didn’t feel confident enough with the service to try alone.

Whenever I visit a new city, I like to really get a feel for it. Attend local rugby games in the Bahamas, rent a car and explore Maui, or sun at the locals’ beach in Puerto Rico. There isn’t a dive bar I don’t like, or a hole in the wall I won’t give a shot. When you think of New Orleans, you think of jazz and jambalaya. However I knew there had to be more. I wasn’t interested in Mardi Gras-like festivals, or staying on Bourbon Street. I’ve learned enough over the years to know that the good stuff is usually just beyond the chaos.

The good folks at the Visitor’s Bureau were kind enough to point me in the right direction. I ended up scoring a room at The Ace  Hotel, a boutique hotel that is located throughout the United States. Famed for their vinyl record players (hello, do they know me?) and instruments located in the room.

Ace Hotel

As soon as I arrived, I was in love. This was a hipster’s dream! The way that old meets new, and the decor had just the right amount of “lived in” feeling. The lobby was dim and inviting, good thing they have free wi-fi because my room wasn’t ready and I had work to do. I stopped for some coffee at the adjoining cafe, Stumptown Coffee. A quaint little shop with excellent croissants and a killer chai latte. The manager was equally as cool and really lent to the atmosphere.

Ace Hotel

Ace Hotel

The lobby was so intriguing I had to walk and check out the rest of the hotel. I wandered through hallways, and stairwells, admiring the beauty in a hotel that didn’t feel the need to be overly bright and cheery. There’s a warmth and comfort to the dark hues and laid back vibes. Every detail, from the furniture to the paint, signs, and even chair stools were all timeless.

Am I the only person who admires good bathroom tile?

It’s reminiscent of a different time, all while holding true to a classic modern feel. The staff was incredible, everyone friendly and very helpful. They pointed me in the right direction quite a few times, and I have them to thank for some great dining and fun times at The Frenchmen’s.

The architecture stood out on so many levels. The detail, the lighting, all provided an experience.

Ace Hotel

Ace Hotel

 

I hadn’t even visited my room yet and I was drawn in to the culture of this hipster fantasy.

Ace Hotel

Amenities

Ace Hotel

I was lucky enough to score a room with a view or two! I had my own private exit to a courtyard, a mid-century style SMEG fridge, and my very own vinyl record player in my room.

Sidenote: There are some really awesome radio stations in NOLA that you must listen to, like WWOZ!

Ace Hotel

Ace Hotel

Ace Hotel

Fully equipped with a full bar and even some goodies. Not to mention the complimentary condom that is placed in the room with a stamped envelope saying “Have a Good Time”.

The bathroom had some of the best lighting I have ever encountered in a hotel. We’re talking three straight perfect make-up days here, I may have participated in a selfie or two.

The old-fashioned photo booth in the lobby was a ton of fun (sort of, I never have been able to figure out the timing on those things), and there was entertainment almost nightly. I heard rumors of a wonderful rooftop atmosphere, but unfortunately missed it due to some rain.

Ace Hotel

Perks

Along with the free wi-fi (awesome), the Ace Hotel is also pet-friendly!

Ace Hotel

Umbrella’s are available at the front desk at your request. This came in handy on my final day as I was sightseeing in the rain.

Ace Hotel

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at the Ace Hotel. It introduced me to a different view of New Orleans; a low-key, laid back sultry city with it’s hand on the pulse of a generation who knows where its going, and can appreciate where it all started.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to find this boutique hotel chain, and I’ll always look to them as my ace in the hole.

Essentially yours,

Erika


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was compensated in order to facilitate my honest review. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own.

 

Subscribe to Essentially Erika!

You will receive updates on All Things Organic & Essential!

DON'T FORGET TO SUBSCRIBE!