Archive for October, 2016
–Contributed by MKTG Chicago
MKTG’s “A Day in the Life” series has spanned the US talking to our amazing colleagues. In this profile, we circle back to MKTG HQ in New York City and chat with native New Yorker Heikal Aliakber. Heikal works in Client Services on the R.J. Reynolds account, managing four mobile tours that conduct consumer engagement activity at music festivals, bars, clubs and retail locations. His days are full on- involving everything from working with major promoters to source/contract events, routing Brand Ambassadors to different locations based on strategic needs and managing on-site at client activations – from communications, creative ideation and sometimes rolling up his sleeves and hitting things with sledgehammers (seriously).
When back home in NYC, Heikel maneuvers his hometown with a nonplussed sense of know-how only true New Yorker’s can encompass – a skill that tourists must definitely gaze at with wonderment.
MKTG: What time do you wake up on a typical work day?
HA: This is highly dependent on where I’m waking up.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you have a routine?
HA: I’m the world’s worst morning person. Seriously. I could go to bed the following night, knowing that the next day will be the best day in recorded history, and I will still wake up and shake my fist in the air while yelling incoherently (like Grandpa Simpson). I feel like my brain doesn’t wake up until about 10AM, and that only happens if I do the following:
1) put food in my stomach prior to trying to actually get things done
2) shower (which may or may not serve as a platform for me to warm up my vocal cords so that I don’t grunt on the first few phone calls of the day
3) catch up on current events and anything that transpired over the period of time I was asleep. In our business, knowledge is power (but also, FOMO is real).
Your day cannot be properly started without ______…
HA: A huge bowl of oatmeal.
How do you commute to work, and do you enjoy your commute? Details please!
HA: I was born and raised in Queens, so dealing with NYC public transit isn’t anything new to me. I’m constantly traveling between Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island (where my fiancée currently lives), so suffice it to say, commuting is a major part of my life. Whether I enjoy it or not depends on the characters I meet. The dude who blasts relaxing string quartet music through a boombox on the Staten Island ferry, while doing his morning yoga routine? I’m cool with that. The dude that carries two live, noisy chickens in a puppy crate onto the E train at rush hour, while man-spreading against the pole that I’m trying to cling to? NOPE.
Does your day have a soundtrack? If so, what’s on your playlist that is a daily obsession or gives you that stroke of genius?
HA: My typical day oscillates between rap, reggae, international music, heavy metal, movie scores and slow jams. My current obsessions? “Amazing” – Spit Syndicate (Australian rap group), “Picture Perfect” – Culture Shock (hip hop/bhangra group), “No Leaf Clover” – Metallica, “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” – Kendrick Lamar, “Made You Look (Remix)” – Nas ft. Ludacris and “Time” – Hans Zimmer.
Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which ones?
HA: Anything NPR-related I find to be gold. But I also enjoy listening to The Joe Rogan Experience, and Anna Faris is Unqualified is charming.
Name your top five apps and why.
1) Venmo – because I’m always leaving my wallet somewhere
2) Delta – checking in early is a nervous tick of mine
3) Netflix – because I hate doing cardio, and watching new series “The Get Down” while slaving away on a
treadmill is the only thing getting me through it currently
4) Spotify – perfect for tuning out the chicken-carrying denizens of the NYC public transit system
5) News – to get my daily dose of what’s real in this world
What are some restaurants or spots near your office that make your day- from a lunch place that knows your ‘usual’ to a beautiful park- what locales do you live by?
HA: The fish tacos at Belle Reve are fantastic. But, I’m a Queens kid at heart, so most of the places I know aren’t local to the office, and are more often than not hole-in-the-wall establishments.
What after-work activity makes your week complete?
HA: I like picking heavy things up and putting them back down.
–Contributed by Heikal Aliakber, MKTG NY & Global Communications team
Last week, MKTG New York held our first Pairings // An Art x Music Experience, an exclusive series promoting creative artists and cultural inspiration. Our launch event featured art by Ralph Miller and music by DJ Zev, who spun beats among our office’s chic, pop art-infused space- a fitting backdrop as MKTGers and Dentsu Aegis Network partners sipped Diageo brand cocktails.
Growing up in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, Ralph Miller was influenced by Central American and Caribbean Art. For the past 30 years, Ralph has created cutting-edge experiential media and attractions. DJ Zev, a native of Brooklyn, New York, has spun at some of the most recognized clubs and events around the world; and for celebrities and brands such as Nick Cannon, Fergie, Eva Mendes, Red Bull, MTV, Porsche, Macy’s and Disney.
–Contributed by MKTG Global Communications team
At the prestigious Field Marketing and Brand Experience (FMBE) Awards on October 20, MKTG UK led the way winning the impressive Brand Experience Agency of the Year and scooping two more gold, one silver and five bronze awards.
This leading industry event, now in its 12th year, attracts the biggest and best brands and agencies celebrating work in field, retail and live experiential marketing. FMBE exists to champion best practice in FM&BE disciplines, and to help clients select and get the best results from leading specialist/integrated agencies and their suppliers.
The awards won by MKTG celebrated a body of work that was seen as considerable and versatile by FMBE judges.
The winning category and campaigns are listed below. Congrats to our MKTG UK team!
Brand Experience Agency of the Year
Most Effective Stand/Display (Small Scale)
Most Effective Small Scale or Local Campaign
Gold (London and Partners)
Most Effective Interruptive Experience
Silver (Air New Zealand)
Most Effective Integration/Amplification
Creative Campaign of the Year
Most Effective Stand/Display (Large Scale)
Operational Success of the Year
–Contributed by MKTG UK & Global Communications team
FROM SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL:
Lifestyle/event marketing agency MKTG’s design prowess is evident throughout its sleek offices in lower Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood.
On the walls are two pieces from seminal pop artists Roy Lichtenstein and Keith Haring. “Twenty-five years ago, I had my first office and a $500 decorating budget,” said Charlie Horsey, the agency’s CEO. “The Haring is about having fun, and the pointing Lichtenstein is about accountability.’’
Also on the wall is a certificate signed by Mickey Mouse and Scrooge McDuck, certifying that Horsey graduated from Disney University in 1988, with a “Mousters Degree.” Earning that diploma entailed working at Disney World and donning a Disney costume.
Shoutouts to his hometown St. Louis include a St. Louis Cardinals logo inside of the pocket door leading into his office. “Sometimes, I have to hide it,” he said with a laugh.
New executives of parent company Denstu climb Mount Fuji as a rite of passage. Horsey ascended in June with hundreds of co-workers: “Five and half hours up and 2 1/2 hours down, and we wrote postcards at the top, wishing our clients well.”
Across the hall, there’s a full tavern setup, in tribute to client Diageo, along with a coffee bar. Horsey insists his routine is more caffeine- than alcohol-infused, but his ability to draw a perfect Guinness pint is impressive nonetheless.
MKTG Chief Creative Officer Ben Roth handled much of the office design.
PHOTOS BY PATRICK E. MCCARTHY
|A variety of natural textures and lighting add to the open, inspiring environment at MKTG’s headquarters.|
|Global brand communications director Stephanie Rudnick chooses a soda from the soda machine customized by the MKTG NY Creative Department.|
|Hometown shoutout to Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals, Charlie’s home team.|
|Horsey earned his “Mousters Degree” in 1988.|
|Disney University participants. That’s Charlie in the striped shirt on Mickey’s left!|
|A pint is never far away with offerings from long-standing client Diageo at the MKTG bar across the hall from his office.|
|A subtle, overhead reminder of the firm’s call letters in homage to it’s original NYC HQ in Chelsea Market.|
|Horsey joined new Dentsu employees on an annual Mount Fuji excursion in Japan with Dentsu President and CEO Tadashi Ishii.
Photo: COURTESY OF DAN
Reposted (and a bit revised) from our partner agency 360i’s blog. We were honored to help them fully produce this powerful experience.
To launch the highly-anticipated EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon and 360i gave four photographers an impossible challenge: only 24 hours after receiving the camera, they would have to display the images they captured at a full-fledged pop-up exhibit, produced by MKTG, at the white hot Whitney Museum in New York City’s Meatpacking district.
Just hours before the event, neither Canon nor 360i nor MKTG knew what images provided by Roberto Valenzuela, Jendra Jarnagin, Alex Strohl and Sue Bryce would look like. But confident in the camera’s abilities, they welcomed 130 prominent members of the media, influencers and New York’s photography community to watch as they were unveiled for the first time around the gallery. As guests arrived, every frame in the gallery was still empty. Then, while the audience watched, the photos were printed with Canon printers and mounted on the walls of the gallery over the course of the evening.
Our partners at Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) recently launched a series spotlighting leaders throughout our network called Time Out with…, and their first profile features MKTG’s very own Marlena Edwards, VP of HR. DAN North America Comms leaders Belle Lenz and Megan Madaris chat with Marlena, delving into her 11-year career with MKTG, from starting off in an entry-level role to leading her department. It’s a fascinating conversation that you should add to your reading list and will be a recurring series moving forward, found on Medium.com.
DAN: So let’s set the stage here. Tell us a little bit about where you’re from and how this all started.
ME: I’m from Rochester, NY, upstate. I’ve been in New York City since 2002 and can’t see myself living anywhere else. I live in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. It’s one of those areas that’s just on the cusp of being gentrified, but you still get all of your services and it’s still pretty cool and edgy. I love it.
DAN: You run HR for MKTG. How did you find your way into it?
ME: That’s an interesting story. It’s really about being prepared for opportunity more than anything else. I didn’t go to school for it. Never imagined a career in HR. From the time I was eight I always thought I was going to be a lawyer. I got a scholarship to law school, but by the time I finished my first year I was questioning what I signed up for. It became really apparent that it just wasn’t that kind of idealized Law & Order kind of lawyer vs. the real life monotony of being in a court room and arguing the same thing every day. So I took some time off law school and I got a job to support myself and after a few years I needed to figure out what I wanted my career to be. I talked to a recruiter and at the time I was working in operations, but my manager had me involved in a lot of employee relations, doing some payroll, etc.
The recruiter asked me if I’d ever thought about HR and as opportunity would have it I was working in more of an operations role at MKTG. I submitted my letter of resignation to take another position more in line with what I was going for with HR in the non-profit sector. An HR employee at MKTG told me that they knew I wanted to be in HR and recognized how hard I worked and my determination and they wanted to give me an opportunity in HR at MKTG.
Literally, just like that they gave me my first opportunity as an entry-level HR person at MKTG, going on 11 years ago. Every year has been an education in HR since, but that’s how it all began.
DAN: So that was 11 years ago. Wow. What has that journey been like for you?
ME: So I think the journey for me has been really kind of significant and similar to a lot of our other MKTG employees. What I love is that MKTG really allows you to own your business and work autonomously and if you can step up to the plate and you’re prepared and you can show people that you’re providing a service and a benefit, there’s always opportunity. Whether it was working on small acquisitions; rebranding and thinking about our culture and what we want to change; introducing a new program in terms of employee recognition; doing surveys and listening to employees and understanding why we were having people thinking about leaving and understanding how important learning and development was… as long as I was able to build a case and present that to our leadership team, I was always given the opportunity to rise to the challenge. Year after year after year there was always some business challenge that called for HR support and I was able to provide a service to our leaders. And 11 year’s later, here I am!
DAN: Is it what you expected? What has surprised you?
ME: Absolutely not! People ask me all the time what makes me stay because 11 years in the advertising/marketing space is unheard of. But every day is a new day. We do a lot of experiential work rooted in events and having employees in 40 different states spanning a number of different industries from sports to wine and spirits, you have a lot of factors that can lead to so many precarious situations. So if it’s someone wanting an alligator at an event, I need to know what our liability is as a company for having that happen. That’s an HR issue because I need to understand our insurance policies and what that means. Or if we’re going to open an office in London, what does that mean about hiring people, and visas, etc. So really having the opportunity to spread my wings and learn and identify mentors — like other HR leads across the Dentsu Aegis Network — have allowed me to learn about situations I hadn’t experienced yet.
DAN: How has it been to grow as a leader within the same company? Some people move jobs every couple of years to get promoted or ascend but it’s different to do that in the same company.
ME: It is, it’s very different. It takes a lot of self awareness and hard work because when you are being promoted from within people see you in the role that you came in as and it’s a constant reminder. But if you have a manager or a support system that really believes in your contribution, like I have had, they are championing you 100%. They say, “she has a voice, it’s important and we need to make sure we’re listening to it.” It can be difficult but if you have the right team around you it can work. And if you find a place that you’re comfortable, why not stay there and grow?
DAN: Have you had any career defining moments that stick out to you?
ME: The one thing is definitely submitting my letter of resignation and having someone come to you and say they recognize something in you. That has always pushed me to make sure that I’m always doing my best and it’s not always easy. Sometimes you want to take the easy way out but someones always looking and noticing, so that was the most defining moment for me.
The other moment may be before MKTG was acquired, there was a more senior HR person and I remember being asked if I wanted to be considered for this potential role. I was less senior than I am now of course but I remember being all “yes, sure!” You’re young, you’re ambitious and you want to get it done. Well we had a board at the time and after a week or so the team circled back and explained that one board member thought I needed more experience before they could think about me for that role. I took it really hard and I had to sit down and acknowledge that to someone who didn’t work with me day to day and from the outside looking in I had only been at the company for five or six years, without a huge amount of HR experience, so it made sense.
Once we got through that together they saw me as their person for that role. Showing that you’re there doing your best is always going to work in your favor.
It was a blow of course. It took some time, but there were some challenges that came through the business and I was able to partner with some of our senior leaders and they saw that I could rise to the occasion, stand there in the difficult times and support them. And then once we got through that together they saw me as their person for that role. Again, showing that you’re there doing your best is always going to work in your favor.
Two times that I didn’t think things would work in my favor but some how, some way, they did.
DAN: What would your advice be in that moment when you think you’re nailing it, at the top of your game, and someone says “you are, but you’re not quite where we need you to be”? How do you deal with that?
ME: One of the biggest things I’ve learned is you really do have to be self aware. You have to step outside of yourself and really listen to and hear the feedback that you’re getting. You need to be able to get that feedback and adjust and pivot as necessary.
DAN: And get visibility…
ME: Absolutely. Visibility is really really big. The larger the organization, the harder it is but you have to make that effort to get that visibility and make sure that people understand how you’re contributing.
DAN: Do you ever talk to your teams about executive presence? How do you think about that?
ME: I definitely think that it’s important at all levels to think about executive visibility. From an HR perspective, you never know how people are going to react to the information that you give them. You always want to make sure that you’re representing the department you come from and the company in the appropriate light. What’s good about our organization is that whether you’re talking about our COO, or our CEO, they’re very entrepreneurial people who ask all employees what the they think about different ideas. They’re really all about the think tank approach. So if our employees have ideas I always encourage them to take it to the table, but it’s really about how you take it to the table. Are you able to show the benefit to the company? It can’t just be us spending money all the time. What’s the value? Talking to employees about how they position themselves whether they’re entry or junior level, there’s still a contribution to be made. It doesn’t have to be this huge thing.
DAN: On the flip side of that, people say that HR is a people business and I’m sure you encounter individuals who are not at their best dealing with difficult situations. Do you have any tips for how you help people problem solve those sorts of issues?
ME: When you’re talking to managers who are having a difficult time with employees, they usually are just looking at behaviors. Counseling them on the factors that really lead to those behaviors, and that those factors are what you really need to address with the employee is what’s been most helpful in my experience. I find that when you’re talking to people honestly and transparently, they’re more apt to be honest and upfront and come to a consensus with you. We often get involved in “this is what I want, and this is what you need to do,” type of thinking, and that never goes well. The questions should be more like “What’s going on with you? What can I do to help you?” and a lot of times people don’t come from that “What can I do” perspective when they feel like the other person is in the wrong.
Also, just try to be objective and take all the personal out of it. I’m really proud of counseling people out of some really disastrous situations. There have been quite a few over the years and you’d think people would never be able to stand in the same room with one another again, and after sitting down, really laying everything on the table, as long as there’s mutual respect there, I don’t think there’s anything that can’t be overcome. Respect sometimes means, I need to address really difficult things with you and this just might not be the right fit. Even though that’s a tough pill to swallow, people respect it and they understand it.
It’s the age old rule, talk to people and deal with people the way that you’d want to hear and receive that information and it goes a long way.
DAN: What are some of the biggest misconceptions about HR?
ME: Ha. That you always have to be careful about what you say! When I meet people at different agencies or in different walks of life they always say they would never imagine that I would be an HR person. Or we go out to dinner or have cocktails after work and people will be like, “oh we can’t talk about this cause HR is here.” We’re not judging you. We’re not here to judge people, we don’t do that. You should look at HR personnel as a resource. We are here to help you get the work done; to help support the business. We like to have fun doing it and we are a part of the culture and the fabric of the business. Talk to us like you’d talk to anybody else. If you’re crossing a line or getting a little fuzzy, we’ll let you know, but utilize HR. I think a lot of people are a little apprehensive when they hear HR or they always thing it’s negative, and it’s not. I encourage people to seek out their HR partners because we’re working with the leaders of the organization to implement change and cultural initiatives and we can help push that forward.
DAN: What do you think makes a good leader? How do you foster a culture of leadership at MKTG?
ME: I think a good leader is somebody who hears their employees and listens to hear not to respond — that’s one of my favorite sayings. A good leader allows their team to drive their business and hears out their concerns . A leader’s job is to listen to that real concern and figure out how to fix it. It might not be fixed in three days or three months, but they’re going to put a plan in place to make sure that the organization is supporting everyone. No good leader wants to do the work of the people on their team; they want to empower their team to run with it.
Listen to hear not to respond — that’s one of my favorite sayings.
DAN: You’ve been with MKTG for 11 years. How do you stay engaged?
ME: I think our industry keeps me engaged. It is ever changing and every two years, it’s a reinvention. We have to make sure we are up-skilling our employees and that we understand what tools they need. What worked two years ago is no longer relevant so it keeps HR and the business busy. There’s so much data and information that we have to stay at the forefront of, that it constantly keeps me engaged. If I was working at a bank maybe I’d say nothing has changed in the last 11 years, but in media and advertising it’s constantly changing so you have to always be at the forefront to understand how to take you business forward.
DAN: Is that stressful?
ME: Haha. Yes, constant change is totally stressful. You have to break it down into bite size pieces and prioritize where you’re going to put your focus. It’s funny we have really focused on learning and development over the last year, and it’s super important to us. We’ve visited the MIT Media Lab, we use General Assembly, offer a Keynote course. It didn’t seem like a big deal if you weren’t a creative to know Keynote but now your client services teams are creating decks and they need to know about how to present. We’ve had to refocus on what’s important. It’s not necessarily about how to put a PowerPoint together, but about how to respond to client needs. We recognize that there needs to be a certain look and feel to everything that we present and that all of our employees need to be able to contribute at that same level. It keeps me motivated to see how engaged our people are with the learning and development opportunities we’re offering. It is stressful though, there’s no way around it. It takes a lot of time, energy and support to identify the people aligned with the company vision who will help you get the work done. That’s what keeps me motivated. I have a great team.
DAN: Is there anything outside of work that helps you destress?
ME: I love to travel. I just tried to take a trip to Bermuda in the middle of a hurricane, which I didn’t make it to… But I love to travel. For me, the perfect vacation is a little bit of beach/rest/relaxation, a bit of culture and a little bit of adventure. So I’ve taken some great trips, would probably say Turkey was so far the best one because there was just so much to do and see. I’ve been to Costa Rica, Morocco, Spain, Paris, London… every year I try to do one big trip and next year is the big 4–0 so I’m planning a big one.
DAN: Do you unplug when you go on these trips?
ME: Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I commit to checking in just twice a day and at most an hour each time I check in. So I give myself very limited times. I think in our world you’re never truly able to turn off. If you plug in and there’s nothing major going on it’s fine to step away again but you kind of have to check in and see what’s going on because things change so rapidly.
DAN: What does a weekend look like for you?
ME: Generally it starts out in Manhattan. I work out, just because I have to! I joined ClassPass and some of my favorite classes are around here [Tribeca]. So the day starts with a workout and I am a firm believer in walking around local cafes and shops, so I’ll just put on my walking shoes and walk. Sometimes from Bed Stuy all the way across the Brooklyn Bridge and around Manhattan. One of my key rules is that I’ll stay at work as long as I need to (whether that be 8 or 9 o’clock at night) but when I go home, I don’t take my computer home with me on weeknights or the weekend. Everything can generally be answered by email on my phone, if needed. That is my firm rule to have some downtime. Monday through Friday, I’ll give you all the hours you need and then on the weekends and after hours I turn it off.
DAN: Have you ever had any resistance to that?
ME: Never. The model at MKTG is that as long as the work is getting done people don’t generally care about the hours or when or how you do the work, as long as you’re being responsive to the business needs.
The clothes that I wear are really my armor. Our industry can be very casual and people always ask why I’m so dressed up, but I think that being a woman you sometimes have to put that armor on so that you get that respect.
DAN: Do you have any good luck charms or rituals that you do/wear before a big meeting or other important occasions?
ME: Not necessarily any good luck charms but I love fashion. The clothes that I wear are really my armor. As you know our industry can be very casual and people always ask why I’m so dressed up, but I think that being a woman you sometimes have to put that armor on so that you get that respect. Coming up in the industry and being promoted from within, fashion has always been a way to project a confident exterior that leads the interior along, and pushes me forward.
DAN: Do you have any advice specific to women coming up in their career?
ME: My first HR opportunity was because someone saw that spark in me and it was because of that person’s mentorship that I am where I am today. One of the things that I’ve learned is to always keep that door open. When I see talent or someone who is trying to take that next step I try to offer advice and pointers because it’s also about perception. People rarely tell you — especially if it’s not positive — how you’re perceived in an organization. Having a good mentor helps you get those pointers to figure out the changes that need to be made so that you can grow in your career. Even just making a connection with one person who you look up to and who can impart wisdom, who can give you real coaching and life advice, will be extremely valuable. It doesn’t have to be time consuming, but it has to be someone who understands where you want to be, your contribution and are willing to give you honest advice. If nobody tells you, you’re never going to learn.
I remember my mentor telling me that I always interpreted things as very black and white, but that in our industry there’s a lot of grey and you have to find out how you’re going to navigate in the grey. She warned me that you’re going to put a lot of people off by always saying no. You can be the best at what you do but if no one wants to work with you, there’s no point in having you here. It’s some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten and I’ve had to learn how to live in the grey. And I still do to this day.
–Contributed by DAN North America Communications team and MKTG
MKTG UK Managing Director Michael Brown pens his monthly thought leadership for Event Magazine. This time, Michael looks at how brands are reimagining the concept of brand museums, utilizing an old idea to tell their history in the live space. He highlights clients such as Guinness for their highly-regarded brand museum.
Head to Event Magazine for the article here.
Article by: Michael Brown for Event Magazine
Fountainhead MKTG scooped up four accolades for their outstanding client work at the EEMAX Global Conclave & Awards 2016. Organized by the Event and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA), the ceremony was held from October 17-18 in Mumbai. The annual event, targeted India’s events and experiential industry, had experts from various parts of the world share experiences from their respective areas of focus.
Fountainhead MKTG won:
Best use of Technology for an Event or Activation (Silver): The Aditya Birla Awards for Outstanding Achievement 2015
Best New IP – Event or Activation (Silver): Aadyam
Best IP – Event or Activation (Bronze): Mahindra Blues Festival 2016
Best Integrated Communication Program for an IP (Bronze): Mahindra Blues Festival 2016
Read full coverage of the event here!
–Contributed by MKTG Global Communications Team
The MKTG Rewards program is designed for MKTG employees to recognize and nominate fellow team members each quarter for their outstanding work at MKTG. At the end of the year, quarterly nominees become eligible to win an all-expenses paid international or domestic experience. 2015’s winners were announced in June, and lucky recipients have spent this summer taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity. Andrew Leubner is a Regional Director based in Scottsdale, AZ, and was the lucky winner of a domestic trip. Andrew and his wife decided to spend their 5th wedding anniversary making the most of Lake Tahoe’s beautiful vistas hiking- and dining their way throughout this unique terrain. Read on for Andrew’s recap….
Looking for a change of pace from our usual major city destinations, my wife and I thought it would be nice to relax and celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary in the mountains, so we decided on Lake Tahoe. Our goal was to explore as much ground as possible and experience Tahoe from a local’s perspective.
On Thursday we made the quick drive from Reno Airport to Lake Tahoe. As we descended the peak of Mt. Rose, we drove into a snow flurry that followed us all the way down to Incline Village. We found our resort, toasted with a glass of champagne and got settled at The Hyatt Regency. It was the quintessential “luxury mountain lodge” experience. Excited to get as much hiking done as possible, we found a couple of short, close hikes to start with. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Diamond Peak and Stateline Lookout’s very different trails.
After a long day of hiking, we were ready for some good food. We discovered a favorite local spot, T’s Rotisserie, which we ended up revisiting throughout the trip. They serve up deliciously massive burritos stuffed with rotisserie chicken, tri-tip, rice, beans and everything in between. Sitting at the counter and watching the staff work their magic in close quarters only adds to the fun, laid-back vibe.
The next day we got up early and had breakfast at the lodge’s restaurant (which boasts amazing views of Mt. Rose). To our relief, the freak cold snap that followed us from Reno the day before was gone now and the weather was perfect. We decided on a scenic coastal hike to Secret Cove and then Chimney Beach. This was a definite highlight of the trip. There was so much to take in, from the crystal clear water that went on for miles, to the massive pines towering over us. There were blue jays, squirrels and chipmunks at every turn. It was like stepping into a fairytale….a fairytale that ended with a lot of naked strangers! It turns out that Secret Cove is a nude beach- and a very popular one at that! Suffice to say, our shore side lunch ended quickly.
While on the hike, we fashioned a pair of hiking sticks, smoothing them out on a granite boulder and left a pair at the trailhead for any future hikers that might have needed some extra stability. Once we made our way back, we drove to Crystal Bay on the California side of Lake Tahoe and stopped at Mellow Fellow Pub for some local-made elk sausage and pulled pork nachos. For dinner that night we chose a local tapas-style restaurant called Bite. We were quite impressed with the spinach and brown rice arancini and Indian spiced chickpea butter lettuce wraps.
On Saturday we drove to South Lake Tahoe, which is about 30 minutes from the North side, with stunning lake views along the way. We found ourselves in a bustling ski resort town with lots of touristy shops and a big gondola transporting visitors to the top of the mountain. Once we were full from a burger lunch we made the drive back to the much less touristy North side and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and walking around the resort’s beaches and parks. One of our favorite things about the Hyatt were the nightly massive fire pits throughout the grounds. We met so many interesting, friendly guests over campfire s’mores and nightcaps under the stars.
The following morning, we were eager to get out on the lake and quickly headed to Sand Harbor beach. We rented a tandem kayak and got paddling. This was for sure our favorite activity of the week, with breathtaking views from the middle of the lake. We kayaked away from home base for a good 90 minutes until the wind picked up and made it comically difficult for us to navigate. It doesn’t matter if you’re married five or 50 years- co-piloting a tandem kayak does not come any easier, or so I’m told!
Later that day we scoped out a local brewery called Alibi Ale Works. Any dog-friendly brewery is going to be at the top of our list, and after giving Abby (their resident pit bull) some well-deserved belly rubs, we were able to sample an assortment of their expansive beer selection in 4oz. offerings. Our favorite brew was the “Evil Jungle” Saison, followed by the “Dog Day IPA,” which donates a percentage of sales to their local Humane Society.
On the final day we said our goodbyes to the staff and the grounds, then made our way up the mountain for one last hike around Spooner Lake before driving back to Reno. It was such a great trip, we spent much of the last day discussing our plans to return. To MKTG and everyone who participated in the rewards voting- I cannot adequately express my gratitude for the opportunity to discover such an amazing new place. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for this unforgettable experience.
–Contributed by Andrew Leubner, Regional Director, Scottsdale, AZ