Bigger Than Ever, SALT Conference Draws 1,800 Attendees and Free-Speaking Former President

By Alesandra Dubin May 17, 2011, 2:45 PM EDT

Photo: Sjodin Photography by Camilla Sjodin

The past few years have not exactly been the most shining or proud ones for American finance. But even through the tough time, at least one industry conference has has been on a very noticeable upswing: the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference, also known as the SALT Conference, the latest incarnation of which took place at the Bellagio from Wednesday through Friday. Victor Oviedo oversaw the event.

SkyBridge has been hosting the conference for three years, and the Vision Matrix has produced all three. In that time, the program has grown to include top-tier speakers and a serious surge in attendance. Increasing from just 400 or so attendees in 2009, to 1,500 or so last year, to between 1,750 and 1,800 this year, the latest event also drew a roster of speakers including George W. Bush, who offered his first public reaction to the killing of Osama Bin Laden, drawing further national attention to the booming event.

“The event has seen amazing growth over the past two years, [with] the biggest growth between 2009 and 2010. This is attributed to the incredible speaker lineup, the content, and, of course, the quality of the production itself. This event offers something for everyone: the right kind of networking, the right kind of people, and the right kind of environment,” said Vision Matrix vice president Tami Lesser, who explained that the event marks a return to showy spending. “And it is about time. To pull our country out of the recession, companies and people need to spend some money to make money.”

The conference gift bag contained a saltshaker and a Swiss Army toiletries bag, both marked with the SALT logo, and in what was perhaps a tongue-in-cheek touch, a copy of the movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

The conference's related events included an opening-night barbecue pool party, considered the favorite evening event among attendees, which took over the Bellagio pool with catering stations, bar areas, lounge furniture, a DJ, a silent auction, Cirque Du Soleil, and sponsors providing specialty drinks, Scotch, and cigars. The conference's final-night party was at Haze nightclub.

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