Mon. May 5, 2014: Conference Wrap-up and Hotel Choices

Monday, May 5, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and mild

Intense, busy, rather wonderful weekend. I had a late start getting out of here on Friday — I had to get some stuff done before I could leave. Thank goodness that I had packed and prepared earlier, or I would have been scrambling.

When I finally got on the road, I had to run some errands in Falmouth before even getting over the bridge. Traffic coming on-Cape was already backed up — looks like we’ll have a prosperous summer!

The drive to Burlington, MA was awful. Traffic was terrible, too many crazy drivers, too many texting while driving. What should have been a quick run up there took nearly three hours. Checked in to the Marriott (I’d prepaid). My rooms was on the second floor, in the back — quieter than some of the other locations, and for that, I was grateful.

I had really mixed feelings about the Marriott, and it’s unlikely that I would choose to stay at a Marriott again. This should actually matter to them, as my business travel is going to ramp up over the next couple of years. The staff was lovely — something very important in my book. Well-trained, polite, friendly. I had no problem with the room, although it looked like an 80’s bachelor pad, with all the dark wood and mirrors. The king-sized bed was fun (although a bit soft). The towels were about the size and consistency of dinner napkins, which was annoying. I expect small, thin, scratchy towels at a budget hotel, not a Marriott. There’s no fan in the bathroom, which means it steams up and stays damp all day. I liked that my particular room was oriented towards the East — I got beautiful sunrises and could do yoga in front of the enormous windows, screened by the trees and the sheer drapes. The in-room coffee was dreadful, and the coffee downstairs was overpriced and not any better, and there was no way I was going to pay $6 for room service coffee.

But, for me, the deal breaker was charging $12.95/day for internet access in the room. Um, no. The last dozen budget hotels I stayed at had free wi-fi in the room. When I’m paying scale at a supposedly “prestigious” hotel, I expect free damn wi-fi in the room. Supposedly, one could get it for free in the lobby or the bar, but I couldn’t get the laptop to connect, and why should I have to haul my laptop into the bar? There was a public computer in the business center, and I hopped on there for a hot minute on Saturday evening, but still . . .Further, it should be clearly stated on the site BEFORE one books that wi-fi in the room is both a separate charge and the detail of the charge. According to fellow conference go-ers, every Marriott charges differently. So? Put it on the individual sites anyway.

Marriott is off my list for go-to hotels. If I’m invited back to the conference next year, there’s another “name” hotel a couple of miles down the road that offers a better room rate, breakfast, AND free in-room wi-fi.

It’s pretty amazing that budget hotels not only charge less for the rooms themselves, but offer more amenities.

There were no phone books in the room, and I couldn’t use the wi-fi without paying the ridiculous rates, AND there was no information about nearby restaurants or anything else — again, something that most other hotels I stay in offer. Most hotels have a folder in the room with nearby sights, restaurants, etc. This one had a guide about what’s going on in Boston, but nothing about local businesses, not even sights in Concord and Lexington, which is only a few miles away.

Which meant I was trapped at the hotel for my meals. Fortunately, the food was good, although the prices were more New York than not-New York.

Friday night, I went down to the bar and had a burger and a glass of wine. They had a bunch of fancy burgers on the menu, but I just wanted something simple, typical pub burger, and they were kind enough to accommodate me. I started reading Neil Gaiman’s THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, which is a beautiful book. I also got an idea for a short story, which I hope to draft later this week, once I’ve got some deadlined work out of the way.

Went back up to the room, did some work on contest entries (I took a bunch of them with me for this second contest I’m working on), and re-watched THOR on TV. Liked it better this time around. Ran through my notes for the next day’s presentation. Toyed with the idea of putting together a Power Point for it, but was too darned tired.

Up early the next morning (love that Eastern-facing room). Bad coffee, yoga, meditation. The shower was decent, although the supposedly organic bath products provided by the hotel made me itch. No matter, I bring my own tried-and-true.

Dressed and in full make-up in time to go to the 7:30 buffet breakfast provided by the Conference. That was excellent, and I met some lovely people, including a writer who has experience similar to mine in marketing writer AND who is a costumer. We had a LOT to talk about.

I went back to the room, picked up my Bin O’Stuff, and headed back to Salon G, where my workshop would be held, and where the morning session I wanted to attend was held. It was great fun, about voice. Powerpoint, which made me wonder if I was doing a disservice by not have a Powerpoint presentation, but it was too late by then!

We had fun doing the turnover between the two workshops — the previous presenters were lovely and very aware of time and space. Last year, that was a problem. Last year’s presenter before me in the same space ran over by fifteen minutes and then stayed and chatted with people in the room while I was trying to set up because, “oh, I don’t pay attention to the clock.” Fortunately, this year’s predecessors were much more mutually supportive and respectful.

I even had a moderator to keep me on track with time, and some people were there who’d taken other workshops of mine. The handouts were a hit — there were a LOT of them. We got through all the relevant material, had time for questions, and even had time to discuss aspects of craft that weren’t strictly serials. So it was tons of fun.

We moved additional questions out into the hallway, so that my successor could set up for HER workshop, and then I took my bin back to the room and managed to catch the end of another workshop.

Lunch was fun — another buffet lunch provided by the Conference, which was really, really good. Along with fun conversation at the table, and a terrific speaker, a writer named Cara McKenna, who was a lot of fun.

I went to an afternoon session, which gave me devleopment ideas for the mystery series set at a marine life hospital. At lunch, an announcement was made asking for help to set up for the literacy signing, so that’s what I did — helped haul in books and set up tables, which is always fun. And then I bought some books at the literacy signing — four of my mom’s favorite authors put together a book, and I had all four of them sign a copy to her.

Dropped off the books in my room, went back down to help clean up, but the signing ran over. Had to head back to the room because the Kentucky Derby was on. Even though I’m not technically covering it this year (since, hey, I’m at a writers’ conference and not sitting in a press box at a race track), I didn’t want to miss it.

My pick, California Chrome, won! This is a horse whose sire cost $2500 and whose dam cost only $8000. He beat all the million dollar babies with both finesse and heart. For a three-year-old, he was remarkably together. Trusted his jockey completely, didn’t use himself up too early in the race, and, when the turn for home came, he poured it on and won by something like five lengths. He knew he won, too — he danced happily around after he crossed the finish line. Great personality, along with great skill. I was delighted. A truly great race. Usually, I don’t bet the favorite, but I loved this horse, and I’m glad he won. It wasn’t a money-making race for me, but it was a heart-warming race.

Had dinner in the room (overpriced Asian fusion — good, but small portion). There was supposedly a post-conference party for those of us still around, but a location hadn’t been set mid-afternoon and I was told, “oh, just come down, you’ll see us.”

I did some work on the edits for TRACKING MEDUSA, and went downstairs a little after 8:30 to look for the party, but didn’t find it. So I went back to the room and worked on edits until 11, when I was too tired to do anything more.

Up early on Sunday. Beautiful sunrise. Yoga, meditation, shower. Bad hotel room coffee. I was not about to pay $13 for a continental breakfast or $15.50 for Eggs Benedict (although I wanted the latter). I stayed in the room and finished the edits on TRACKING MEDUSA until an hour before checkout time, then loaded the car and checked out. Since I’d paid in advance and paid cash for room service and the meals, I had no extra charges on my card. Yet, this morning, I see they still put through a $50 charge. When I complained, I was told that it would be reversed “in a few days”. It should have been reversed up on check-out, when there were no charges on the room. Another strike against the Marriott.

Drive home was fine. It was raining in Burlington, but lovely on the Cape. Since I hadn’t eaten before I left, I was ready to chew the steering wheel by the time I got home, and I took my mother out to lunch at her favorite place, Cook’s.

Sent the completed edits to my editor and did some reading on the deck in the afternoon. I was too tired to do much else. Tessa got into trouble because she chased a chipmunk into a bush, instead of staying on the deck, so she’s losing her out-of-the-enclosure deck privileges and has to stay in the enclosure.

Watched some TV last night — as good as GAME OF THRONES is in so many ways, I find the unrelenting cruelty exhausting, and I’m kind of going off that show.

I’ve got two script episodes to write this week, work on the series bible for TRACKING MEDUSA, the short story I want to draft, and contest entries to work on. I also have to do things like laundry and library work and put in the understudy this evening for Wednesday’s final performance, and finish the reports for the Arts Councils. I also have some correspondence to deal with.

Onward!

tnLakeJustice

If you haven’t bought “Lake Justice” yet, I hope you do. It’s a fun read, and it’s only a dollar here.

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4 Comments

  1. Wow, that is totally NOT been my experience with Marriott. In fact, they are my preferred hotel because, in my travels, they have been the most consistent — clean, comfortable rooms, updated surroundings, free WiFi. I guess every chain has one weak link, and it sounds like you’ve found it!

    • Figures I would! I’m writing to Corporate headquarters to let them know. The staff was lovely, but the lack of amenities, in proportion to the price, was unacceptable.

  2. I d find it odd that a lower priced hotel offers free wi-Fi and yet a more expensive hotel charges so much. And that $50 fee sounds odd, too. Glad to hear your conference went well and that you made it home safely.

    • I really disliked all the nickel-and-diming that went on. It reminded me too much of dealing with airlines.


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