Let’s go to Barcelona!

After wrapping up the 8th annual Spousetivities at VMworld US in San Francisco, it is full steam ahead to VMworld EMEA 2015, once again in beautiful Barcelona, Spain! Let’s face it, leaving your partner behind while you head to another weeklong conference doesn’t gain you many points in the relationship. This year, why not bring him or her with you? He or she can check out what Spousetivities has planned for them while you are busy networking and soaking up knowledge at the conference.

Like the US event, Spousetivities will have some goodies to give away for participants. The first 25 to register will get a backpack with great gifts from our sponsors. Who are these sponsors, you ask? This year we can thank VMware NSX for their Gold Sponsorship. Spousetivities is also pleased to thank Brocade, Cisco, VMUG, The Virtualization Practice, EMC Elect, and Thinware for their support of these events.

If that isn’t enough to get you or your sweetie excited, how about one of the following tours available at 40% off the public tour pricing (again, thanks to our amazing sponsors):

  • Montserrat and Wine Country – The group will head for a visit at the impressive Monastery of Montserrat. Most visitors will have the opportunity to hear the famous Boys’ Choir perform (not guaranteed). You will also visit the “Moreneta de Montserrat”, one of the black Madonnas of Europe, and enjoy a light walk to Santa Cova, where the black Madonna is said to have originally been found and rescued. The tour will then depart Montserrat and the group will enjoy a fantastic lunch of local Catalan country cuisine in a traditional restaurant at the base of Montserrat. Lunch will be followed by a private field tour, guided visit and three-product wine and cava tasting at one of the premier, small, boutique wineries of the region.

  • Costa Brava & Medieval Girona – Guests will visit charming fishing villages, local markets, city gardens, and enjoy short walks to secluded beaches and great panoramic lookout points over this Mediterranean paradise. The Girona city tour takes you through the rich history of one of Spain’s most charming, medieval walled cities that has been very well preserved since it was founded by the Romans in the 1st century. On this journey through time, guests will also enjoy a four-course lunch, in a traditional local restaurant, that includes wine, salads, olives, grilled meats and fish dishes.
  • Wines of Catalunya – One cannot visit Spain without getting some insight into their distinctive wine making. Guests will head out for a truly unique and personalized opportunity to enjoy authentic local flavors via food and wine tasting in private, boutique cellars of the Penedès. We will have wine and food all day in a casual and relaxed pace and manner. Guests visit charming, small, boutique wineries where the local, resident wine makers host Spousetivities participants personally and exclusively. A traditional meal of Catalan fare will be served at one of the venues while you enjoy extensive and varied pours of whites, rosés and reserve reds and cavas.
  • Medieval Mountain Village & Panoramic Trails – Guests begin the day of adventure by exploring a village’s winding cobblestone streets and stone houses dating back more than 500 years. With photo opportunities galore, time will still be made for a quaint break for coffee (or tea) and a pastry before more exploring the streets of this medieval town. This is a day of great mountains, excellent views, amazing history and a superb four-course restaurant lunch in a traditional Catalan country restaurant. For those who wish, we will duck out of the village for a great light hike through wooded trails and cliff-top look outs, streams, rivers, waterfalls and spectacular views of deep river canyons and the forested valleys. Non-hikers can relax on a river-view terrace and enjoy the sun, beverages and a book until the others return.

    Don’t wait–register today!

Celebrating Our Global Gold Sponsors

Spousetivities would not be where and what it is today without the generous support of sponsors, including this year’s Global Gold sponsors (in alphabetical order): Brocade, Cisco, VMware NSX, and VMUG. But why does Spousetivities have sponsors? To understand the answer to that question, you need to look at this history of Spousetivities.

Spousetivities originated in 2008, at VMworld in Las Vegas. I decided that I was tired of the typical business trip with my husband, Scott Lowe. He loved having me travel with him, and I loved going. Being there alone, though, was not my favorite thing. Long story short, Spousetivities was born! (The name came from the community and is a shortened version of “spouse activities”.)

As the idea grew, it became apparent that I could no longer keep offering public tours having everyone buy tickets separately. What if someone missed a bus? Or accidentally purchased the wrong tour? There were too many potential issues. Once again, the community supported me and gave me the idea that I find companies (sponsors) willing to not only “talk the talk” but actually “walk the walk” when it comes to creating a family friendly environment and supporting work-life balance.

Because of these incredible companies, Spousetivities has been able to offer activities to the friends, family, and loved ones of those attending VMworld for 8 years. To thank a few of them, this is a spotlight post on our Global Gold sponsors for 2015. Here they are, again in alphabetical order:

  • Please welcome Brocade this year as a fantastic new sponsor of the Spousetivities community. Brocade’s support means that you get to enjoy time out in the wonderful city of San Francisco without breaking the bank.
  • Also welcome Cisco Systems to the family of supporters that faithfully support Spousetivities each year. Cisco’s support has allowed these activities to be offered at reduced cost, while still allowing them to be both exclusive and private (like our wine tour outings this year!).
  • For the second year in a row, VMware NSX is supporting Spousetivities in a big way. As the sponsor of the ever popular “Get to Know You” breakfast, VMware NSX continues to promote a healthy perspective on work/life balance to families.
  • Finally, for the 5th year in a row, the folks at VMUG are continuing their support of Spousetivities. Their support is not only via funding to keep your costs low, but also by providing “behind the scenes” support as well to help enhance the experience of Spousetivities each year. Being community-minded themselves, VMUG understands the need to support the IT community as a whole.

In short, Spousetivities can only do what it does (offer fantastic activities at reasonable prices) thanks to the support of some great sponsors. If you’re traveling to VMworld this year, either as a spouse or as a conference attendee who is bringing your spouse, please take the time to thank Spousetivities sponsors for their commitment and dedication to community, family, and a healthy work-life balance.

Finally, don’t forget to register for Spousetivities before the events sell out!

Spousetivities at VMworld Barcelona

Now that VMworld US 2012 is in the books, it is time to start planning your trip to VMworld EMEA 2012, in beautiful Barcelona, Spain! You know you don’t want to be in the doghouse for heading to Spain without your partner, so check out what Spousetivities has planned for the ones you care about while you are busy soaking up knowledge at the conference.

Like the US event, Spousetivities will have some goodies to give away for participants. In the past, that’s included things like iPads, iPods, Kindles, and other nifty electronic gadgets. If that isn’t enough to get you or your sweetie excited, how about one of the following tours:

  • Barcelona City Tour – Participants of Spousetivities will enjoy a full day of touring the city by private motor coach. This tour boasts panoramic views of Montjuïc Hill, a drive through the posh Eixample community, and a visit to Santa Maria del Mar. This is only a glimpse of the sights this tour will expose our group to on this amazing tour. There will be a stop for lunch during this beautiful tour as well. Lunch, of course, is included in the price.
  • Dali Tour – This is a long tour but well worth the time. After we depart from Marriott, we will enjoy a full day of sightseeing and amazing history. We will see the coastal village of Cadaqués then on to Dali’s chosen place of peace and quiet, Port Lligat. This tour will also take us to Cap de Creus on the eatern point of the mainland Spain. The tour includes tickets to 2 museums we will visit as well as a private guide and private motor coach. Once again, lunch is included so pack your camera and let’s go.
  • Montserrat and Cava Trail – One cannot visit Spain without getting some insight into their distinctive wine making. We will tour Codorniu and their magnificent underground cellars. We will also visit a must see destination of Montserrat Shrine as well as enjoy a fantastic lunch and a stroll at Cava Trail. This is a full day!

These tours are an amazing opportunity that you won’t want to miss. However, there is not a lot of room and the spaces will fill quickly. Don’t wait–register today!

North Sealand Tour at VMworld Spousetivities October 19, 2011

Today’s North Sealand Tour is leaving the Copenhagen Marriott promptly at 9 AM. Please be sure to arrive at the Copenhagen Marriott by 8:45 AM so that we can leave on time. We have a lot of great stuff to see, so we don’t want to get started late!

Note that lunch is not included in the tour price, but we are stopping for lunch as part of the tour schedule. Lunch options were e-mailed to everyone who registered. The restaurant where we are stopping accepts both credit cards and currency (Danish kroner only, please), so please be prepared to pay for your lunch. Again, the lunch is not included as part of your tour price; it’s separate.

I look forward to seeing everyone soon!

Spousetivities Returns to VMworld EMEA

I am delighted to announce that Spousetivities will once again be offered in Copenhagen during the VMworld EMEA events. Those of you familiar with Spousetivities know that there will certainly be plenty to keep you busy. I learned a lot last year so this year is sure to be fantastic!

As we learned last year, it’s cold in Denmark in October! So, all the tours this year are via private bus (with heat) and include an English speaking guide. We will see castles this year, but we will also tour City Hall Square, take a canal tour, and visit Sweden. The best part is that you can participate in all of the activities for around $250 US. Which leads me conveniently into the next thought.

Please take time to thank EMC and The Virtualization Practice for making these events possible! Without great sponsors, we, the spouses and companions, would not be able to enjoy these events and time together.

All of this sounds great, but how in the world do I register, you ask? Well, just visit the registration site and sign up for any or all of the activities listed. Then all you have to do is show up and enjoy your time in Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmo, Sweden.

See you there!

Why Sponsor Spousetivities?

With spouse activities for EMC World 2011 behind me and VMworld US 2011 right around the corner, I’m actively seeking additional sponsors for Spousetivities. So the question naturally arises: why should I sponsor Spousetivities?

Naturally, I’m a bit biased, but I think that sponsoring Spousetivities is a great way for companies to say “Thank You” and give something back to their employees and customers. When a company hosts a conference, they ultimately expect attendees to give up as much as a week of their time to come hear about their products and how these products or services can benefit them and their employers. Instead of asking attendees to come to a week-long conference and leave their families behind, a Spousetivities sponsor is telling attendees it’s OK to bring the family. While the attendee is learning about that sponsor’s products and innovations, the attendee’s family will be enjoying some great activities. And when the day is done, the attendee and his or her family can be together instead of spending that time apart. Most companies boast a family friendly attitude, and sponsoring Spousetivities is a way to show that attitude in action.

This is true not only for the sponsor companies–those companies that organized the conference–but for all companies. And the size of the company doesn’t matter; I’ve had companies both small and large decide to help sponsor Spousetivities.

In addition to supporting families, sponsoring Spousetivities offers companies a unique way to advertise. Given that their logo is put on T-shirts, menus, blogs, and other items, they have plenty of visibility in the community. Companies benefit not only from their pro-family support, but from the attention drawn to their company through these events. It’s a “win-win” situation for companies.

So, if you’re a company that wants to join in this exciting opportunity to support your employees and customers, and advertise in a unique way at the same time, simply contact me. Upcoming events include VMworld US 2011 and VMworld EMEA 2011, and I’m still seeking additional sponsors for either or both of those events. I can also plan activities for other conferences, VMUG’s, or company-hosted events. For more information, please contact me for arrangements.

2011 Activites

Hello again! It has been a while since I have posted any new content. With a new set of conferences for 2011 getting closer, new posts will be coming more rapidly, so stay tuned! For those of you new to Spousetivities, please see my about page for a little background. For those of you who have had the pleasure of participating, this year will not let you down.

First, I’d like to provide a quick update on the conferences I’ll be covering. This year I am actively planning activities for EMC World, VMworld US, and VMworld EMEA. Both EMC World and VMworld US will be held in Las Vegas, NV; VMworld EMEA will be back in Copenhagen.

For these conferences, I’m currently looking into a wide range of activities. Included in these are some traditional events as well as some that I think are over the top! I am also trying to organize very family friendly activities so that those of you attending either of the US conferences and interested in bringing your children will have options outside of the main Las Vegas area. I am hoping to get some feedback from everyone on activities and events you’d like to see this year and in years to come. I’ve been asked about having informational sessions, cooking classes, spa days, horseback riding, and of course, shopping! I am even trying to get together a “Men’s Day” at Lake Mead for the VMworld US event. After all, it’s not just ladies that are spouses and significant others. More and more women are becoming leaders in the IT industry and I want to make sure they feel like they can bring their spouses and partners to join in the fun.

I would like to thank EMC for already agreeing to sponsor activities once again. EMC is a sponsor of EMC World, VMworld US, and VMworld EMEA. I’d like to thank EMC for helping make these events possible. I am looking forward to adding more names to our list of sponsors soon. If you are a company that would like to be a part of this, please contact me right away. Last year’s sponsors got some great attention through Spousetivites!

As I continue to obtain sponsors and organize activities, I will post updates and information here. In the meantime, please post any ideas, suggestions, or feedback on activities you’d like to see at this year’s conferences in the comments.

Travel Safety

With all the media attention surrounding Americans being warned about travel in Europe, I felt it appropriate to do some research and post my findings here. While nobody is truly safe anywhere these days–including driving to the office each day or sending our children to school–there are some things that travelers in general can do to make their experience a little safer and thus, more relaxing.

  • Use common sense. For example, if there is a package with nobody nearby, walk away and notify authorities. It might be nothing, but it is always better to choose caution.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t be so anxious you have a panic attack, just make sure you are aware of things going on around you.
  • Keep your travel plans to yourself. If you are out in the city, don’t share with the world where you plan to go and what you are planning to do. Also, don’t flash any identifying information that will let a predator know where your hotel is or what room you are in.
  • Keep your money safe. You might say well, duh, on this one but people lose money all the time. In addition, Copenhagen has pickpockets that target tourists. If you have front pockets, keep your money there. If possible, bring little cash and a credit card and photo id. If you must bring cash, keep it in several different places if possible. Keep most of it in your front pocket, but some could be in your wallet or purse, your backpack, and even your sock. If you were to lose your wallet, you would not lose all of your money this way!
  • Have a record of important phone numbers. At your hotel, keep a list of important phone numbers in your safe. This list should include the US Embassy in the country you are visiting (I’ll have this information later in this post for Copenhagen, Denmark), your credit card companies, and emergency contacts in your home country. If you were to lose your phone–where most of us store this information–you would not be at a complete loss this way.
  • Notify family of your travel arrangements. Make sure that at least two friends or family members know your flight information and your hotel information. This is helpful for many reasons including in the event of an emergency.
  • Notify the US Embassy–or the Embassy for your country–of your travel plans. You can do this online. For US citizens, use this link to register your visit with the Embassy: https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/
  • Know how to contact emergency officials. To reach police, ambulance, or fire personnel in Copenhagen, dial 112. To reach the Embassy for emergencies after hours, you may call +45 3341 7400. The Embassy is open from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. During business hours the Embassy can be reached at +45 3341 7100.
  • Be smart and know the area when traveling at night. For example, you should avoid downtown Vesterbro and Nørrebro at night.

The crime rate for Copenhagen is relatively low. There have been few threats of terrorism but the officials there realize that no area is free from threat of such attacks. The major issues that one should worry about in Denmark or pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Again, using common sense and being aware of your surroundings helps. Keep in mind that these people like to work in groups. One or more persons typically distracts the victim while the another takes your money! This is most common in busy marketplaces and on public transportation. Also, do not leave valuable items in your car if you happen to have a rental.

Again, threats will always exist but there are ways that you can lessen the chances of being a victim of crime in your own country or when traveling abroad. More information can also be found at a variety of websites including the U.S. Department of State. This post is for the purpose of giving you ideas for safe travel and a more enjoyable time when visiting Denmark next week! I look forward to meeting everyone and enjoying another fantastic round of Spousetivities!

Let the Fun Begin!

I have been working feverishly to finalize arrangements for VMworld Copenhagen Spousetivities. I finally have everything in place! There are a few critical things that everyone needs to know. First, if you have not already registered, you need to do so right away. I only have a certain number of spaces reserved and when they are gone, there will be a fee to participate. Below, you will find a detailed list of what we are doing each day and how many spots remain. I will also list how much the event will be if you register after the free spots are taken.

  • Tuesday – Breakfast at the Planetarium – This will include a wonderful breakfast including croissants, pastries, eggs, bacon, salmon, fruit, juice, coffee, and more! I currently have 5 tickets left for the breakfast. Register soon so that you can take advantage of the wonderful generosity of our sponsors. The cost will be $35 per person after the free tickets are gone so you don’t want to miss out!
  • Tuesday – iMax Movie – This is also at the Planetarium and will be immediately following the breakfast. There will be headphones available for translation. There is also a guided tour of the planetarium and a viewing of a model of the International Space Station! I currently have 8 tickets remaining for this activity so make sure you get registered if you plan to attend! After the free tickets are gone, the cost will be $25 per person for the movie and entrance fee. Of course we all know the movie will be better when the cost is free so don’t hesitate–get registered today!
  • Wednesday – Castle Tour of North Sealand – I have arranged a private tour coach for this event. There is a cost for this but it has been partially offset by our wonderful sponsors! Unlike the general purchase of this tour, we get our own private coach and tour guide. Don’t worry, we will still get back in plenty of time for the party Wednesday night! The tour is about 7 hours and will depart from the Marriott Copenhagen at 10:00 AM. The cost is $50 per person for this tour. You can register and pay here using PayPal. I currently have 17 tickets left for this event!
  • Thursday – Walking Tour – As a final rounding out of our activities, we will enjoy a wonderful walking tour of the city of Copenahgen! I only have 7 tickets left for this activity so register soon if you want to participate. After these 7 tickets are gone, I cannot book anymore unless I get a group of 13-20 more. If another group is added the cost will be $21 per person.

That about covers it! For activities on Wednesday and Thursday, we will meet at the Marriott Copenhagen. For Tuesday’s activities, we will meet at the Planetarium. I will be posting transportation links and weather information soon. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me using the contact information on the About page of this website. I look forward to seeing everyone soon in Denmark!

Copenhagen Update

This is a quick update to let you know where things currently stand for the Copenhagen events. Tuesday is pretty much a set schedule. We will spend about 3 hours at the Planetarium. You can register here for the Planetarium activities and welcome breakfast. I am also organizing a group for Tuesday afternoon that will spend some time walking around the city to see what there is to see. We will return to our hotels in time for the welcome reception for VMworld. If you are interested in participating in this adventure, please e-mail me so I will know about how many to expect. My contact information can be found on the About page of this site.

For Wednesday, I am still trying to get reduced pricing for the tour I am planning. You may look at the details here for this castle tour. If I cannot get discounted pricing by Wednesday of this week, I will send out another message so that you can each sign up for this tour independently. We will all meet that morning so we will be on the same tour. This tour will return in plenty of time for the VMworld Party. We should return by 5:30 PM and the party doesn’t begin until 8:00. You cannot buy companion tickets through me for the party. They must be purchased through the VMworld registration site.

Thursday will begin with a walking tour of Copenhagen. This is a guided tour and will depart at 10:00 AM from the Marriott. We will be divided into two groups as each group cannot exceed 20 people. When registering for this activity, you do not need to register for group one and two, only one or the other, please. The tours are departing at the same time so you can’t do both. You may register here for this event. Once group one is full, registration will close and only group two will be available. Again, you do not need to register for both groups.

Well, that will wrap up our activities for VMworld 2010 Copenhagen. I look forward to meeting all of you! Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions. See you in a couple weeks in Copenhagen!