Tuesday Morning: Behind the Scenes

My office this morning is looking back to normal, which is rather eerie, given that for the past three weeks it had slowly become more and more crowded with tubs, boxes and signage. With nearly all of it now loaded into a horse trailer with a suspiciously low rear tire, I have started to get the feeling that the time has come for me to leave.

Alex, my assistant, whom many of you have come to know at previous conferences or over the phone, has actually been in Japan these past six days, attending her brother’s wedding. She arrived back in Asheville about midnight last night and should be here shortly to begin sorting through the pile of name badge and registration forms stacked on her desk.

We did muddle through the past few days, but if you have been awaiting a return phone call or email, now you know why you didn’t get it.

This morning we will finish packing up the file boxes, computers and printer, then will head off to the Grove Park Inn, which will be our home and office for the next six days. My first scheduled appearance will be at our annual Pre-Conference Meeting, where I sit down around an enormous conference table with various department heads and go over any possible problems that we might be able to avoid during the conference.

As you know from my previous commentaries, the Grove Park Inn’s new owners have undertaken a $25 million renovation of the guest rooms in the 1988 Vanderbilt Wing and of the 1913 Great Hall. Since there really is no off-season for the Grove Park Inn any longer, they had to bite the bullet and start tearing out the non-historic additions, which had steadily been encroaching upon the historic Great Hall. Gone is the bellman’s storage room, along with the oak paneling wrapped around the concrete columns. The concierge desks have been consolidated and moved, and the massive front desk will soon be replaced by one of a more modest size.

We will be arriving amidst the construction, but the workmen have been told to clean up on Thursday and to take a three-day weekend while we are here. Of the six columns in the Great Hall, three will look like they have since 1984, two will have been stripped back to their 1913 core, and one should be nearly finished, thanks to the efforts of woodworker Rob Kleber, who is also one of our exhibitors.

While in a perfect world all of the renovations would have been completed by now, we have all been through a renovation project and have learned that long after we have forgotten how much it cost and how long it took, what we remember is how great it looks. Last year we saw the “Before.” This year we will see the “During.” And next February we will return to see the “After.”

It’s all exciting, and it’s anything but boring.

And to their credit, the hotel staff, who will be at the mercy of the workmen for several more weeks, have worked hard to provide us with the amenities we expect. Their upscale restaurant Horizons will be serving breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, and the Magnolia Lounge, with a fantastic view over downtown Asheville, will be ready to provide us with a quiet place to sit and talk and drink.

But first comes the transition from my familiar office to the Arts and Crafts Registration Desk and from my Arts & Crafts home to an Arts & Crafts hotel.

All in all, I couldn’t think of a better place to join my friends for a long, relaxing and exciting weekend.

Until tomorrow morning,

Make it a great day!


Top: The Great Hall in 1913; bottom: a guest room that same year.

PS – Be sure to check out the Show Preview (more added each day!) of items for sale at http://www.Arts-CraftsConference.com.