by Kate Nixon
It’s a familiar topic among conference goers…and a constant topic on the mind of this conference organizer.
Many a late night has been spent pouring over rooming lists and special requests to create a master list of our attendees, attempting to link these passionate collectors to the rooms that they want. Sometimes we get specific requests, some reservations don’t have any requests listed at all. In January, we have a waiting list for attendees who want a main inn room. When cancellations come in, we go in order fulfilling the wishes of people who are hoping to get a historic room. And then the last minute cancellations come in. The race is then on to fulfill room wishes last minute while tackling the laundry list of things still to do to coordinate the largest show and conference in the country dedicated to the Arts and Crafts movement.
It can be a daunting task, but as someone who handled the registration side of things for Bruce for years, I am fully up to it.
When F. Scott Fitzgerald strolled into the Grove Park Inn on May 16, 1935, he made a special request: he wanted two rooms on the fourth floor overlooking the front entrance. One room was to be his bedroom for much of the next two years. The staff transformed the other into a living room with a writing desk and a couch in place of the bed.
At that time the six-story Grove Park Inn had 142 rooms in what is now referred to as the Main Inn. Half look down over the lush valley formed by the French Broad River, while the other half look up at Sunset Mountain, the source of the granite boulders E.W. Grove had directed his workers to haul down to build the walls of the famed 1913 resort hotel.
By February of 1988, when the first National Arts and Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn was held, two wings had been added to the Main Inn, each with its own ballroom, meeting rooms, and guest rooms. By then the management had recognized the significance of the inn’s Arts and Crafts heritage, in particular the role the Roycrofters had played in furnishing it, so each wing and its rooms were decorated with Arts and Crafts antiques, artwork, and reproductions.
When we return to the Grove Park Inn in February, we will again be using the Sammons Wing for our daily seminars, small group discussions, workshops, evening socials, breakfasts, and the Stickley Museum’s pre-conference Kickoff Party on Thursday night. At the other end of the Main Inn is the Vanderbilt Wing, where more than 110 exhibitors will be setting up in the spacious ballroom and the meeting rooms, and where we also hold daily small group discussions and demonstrations.
Beneath the Main Inn rooms and nestled between the Sammons and Vanderbilt Wings is the Great Hall, flanked at either end by two massive fireplaces large enough to park a car. This is the heart of both the hotel and our conference, as this is where everyone congregates between events to sit in front of one of the fireplaces and catch up with both old and new friends. The Great Hall is never empty, as those who stay up late are replaced by the early-birds with their coffee and newspaper as the sun rises over the mountain.
Every year, we open up the group room reservations more a year in advance to accommodate for the folks who REALLY want their main inn rooms. We, of course, try to help folks who request the modern rooms of the Grove Park Inn. However, it is the historic main inn rooms that the great majority of our conference attendees strive to be placed in.
And the folks who call in the earliest get first dibs.
I mention all of this because on January 23rd at 10:00am Eastern, the Grove Park Inn will begin accepting reservations and room requests for the 38th Arts and Crafts Conference to be held February 21st-23rd, 2025.
Yes, thirteen months in advance.
Don’t miss out on what The New York Times has labeled “the most important weekend of the year for Arts and Crafts collectors.”
Until next week,
“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you; spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” -Amy Poehler