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I would like to offer some positive suggestions for future Worldcons to avoid some of the problems I experienced in Reno. If anyone would really like to read my ranting and complaining, there's a 2-part con report giving both positive and negative experiences at my own LJ. This, though, is not the place for that.

1. Calling a convention area "non-smoking" when it is in fact very smoky, not accessible without walking through a smoking area, and just an escalator ride above a smoke-filled casino was very inaccurate and misleading. It would be far more helpful for those of us with respiratory disabilities to delineate areas as either 100% smoke free or not 100% smoke free. Anything in a building that allows smoking where the smoking and nonsmoking areas are not separately ventilated, or share the same elevators, is not 100% smoke free. It would help if someone who is sensitive to smoke (not hard to locate in fandom) were to be assigned to work on the description for the website and con publicity.

2. If there is an area that is not 100% smoke-free, it is a very bad place to put open filking in the evening, or any other time. The filk community has a huge number of people who are sensitive to smoke, and for some of us with respiratory disabilities such areas offer an accessibility problem.

3. It is always preferable to have all evening activities - especially room parties and open filking - in the same building, or at least adjacent. Otherwise, it can end up being an either/or choice for some of us.

4. At many past Worldcons, in my recollection ('04. '05. '06, '08) an area has been set aside for secure storage of musical instruments, with evening access. It would be nice to bring this back.

Information from concoms or bidders for future Worldcons giving information as to the smoke-free status of facilities, the distance planned between evening filking and parties, and whether instrument storage will be available would be much appreciated.

Comments

( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
dsmoen
Aug. 25th, 2011 08:30 am (UTC)
Yeah, next time I'm staying in a Marriott. I'm not normally super-sensitive to smoke, but the altitude made me so.
lemmozine
Aug. 25th, 2011 10:03 am (UTC)
After checking out the negative reviews of the Peppermill and the Atlantis on tripadvisor.com I did stay at the Marriott. No shuttle. Lots of cab fares. At least I could breathe. There are tons of bad reviews of the Chicago Hyatt Regency, but they say nothing about it being smoky. Mostly people complain about minibars with sensors that charge you if your kids take stuff out and you put it back. Those should be outlawed.
gorgeousgary
Aug. 25th, 2011 10:30 pm (UTC)
I don't recall any particular issues with the Chicago Hyatt from either Chicon V or VI. At least, no issues other than occasionally getting confused in the Illinois Center maze. Which resulted in Yet Another Charlie Filk...
lemmozine
Aug. 26th, 2011 04:24 pm (UTC)
I remember being there in 1982 for Chicon IV. I remember connecting Chicon to my arm with a tube. Or maybe that was a dream. IV. Never mind.
drplokta
Aug. 25th, 2011 03:32 pm (UTC)
I'm co-chair of the London in 2014 bid. Public buildings in England are all non-smoking except for hotel bedrooms designated as smoking rooms. We've not yet decided the location of the evening filking, but it probably can't be near the parties if it's going to keep going all night. I've noted your request for instrument storage.
lemmozine
Aug. 25th, 2011 05:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm fully supporting the London bid and hoping to save up money for an extended trip. I'll be looking at smoking laws city by city and country by country when I decide where to go. The question, for me, is Britrailpass, Eurailpass, or both. Eurail, inexplicably, includes Ireland but not the rest of the UK. I'll also be looking for music festivals within 3 weeks before or after Worldcon. The US postal service will only hold mail for 30 days, making any longer trip somewhat difficult.
twilight2000
Aug. 25th, 2011 06:31 pm (UTC)
consider forwarding your mail to a friend who will stow it for you - that should last longer than 30 days if you wish :>
lemmozine
Aug. 25th, 2011 07:10 pm (UTC)
After my 30 day trip to Worldcon last year, via Hawaii, NZ and French Polynesia, I was tired of travel and glad to be back home, so I think I'll just plan for a max of 30 days. My previous long trip to Europe in '78 was a little over 3 months, and that was too much Europe for me. Of course, when you're young and have a rail pass it is possible to sleep overnight on trains and wake up every morning in a new city, saving a fortune on hotels. I'm afraid youth has now passed me by.
hatgirl
Sep. 3rd, 2011 03:41 pm (UTC)
Public places in Ireland have been smoke-free since 2004. And unlike some laws in Ireland (like the phoning+driving ban) this one has been enthusiastically embraced by the country.

I do love being able to meet people in the pub without having my hair stink for the rest of the day *shudder*
lemmozine
Sep. 3rd, 2011 03:51 pm (UTC)
It would have been nice if they'd had a smilar law in Scotland in time for the Glasgow worldcon in 05. They do now, but I tink the law passed in '06. I didn't have too many problems in Scotland. The parties were in a different hotel from filking, and I somehow never got there. Also, I remember the airport being very smoky. Smoky airports are a problem, because there's really nowhere else to go until boarding time. And I always end up sitting next to someone who reeks on a 6 hour flight! There should be a law that says they have to shower and wash their clothes, or something!
hatgirl
Sep. 3rd, 2011 05:46 pm (UTC)
Did you know Ireland has a bid in for the 2014 Eurocon? Assuming London's 2014 Worldcon bid is successful, it'd be the week after Worldcon to help the transatlantic travelers get the most out of their trip. Romania also has a bid in for Eurocon 2014, but I have my finger's crossed!

Random aside: If I do end up trapped with smokers, I've found the best way to get the smell of cigarettes out of fabric is to add sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to my regular washing powder. Works better for me than trying to cover up the smell with a scented fabric softener, as I end up having an allergic reaction to the fragrance!
lemmozine
Sep. 3rd, 2011 06:00 pm (UTC)
Obviously, I work very hard at avoiding places that are smoky. I tried to do this in Reno, but failed due to misleading information. The best thing is to stay away from indoor areas where people smoke, opt for smoke-free hotels as opposed to those that have smoking rooms wherever possible, and avoid travel to states and countries that allow smoking in restaurants.
gorgeousgary
Aug. 25th, 2011 11:22 pm (UTC)
Just to clarify, the filking doesn't have to be immediately adjacent to - i.e. on the same floor as - the parties. We just want it to be in the same hotel. Usually this means the filking is somewhere in the hotel's function rooms on the ground or lower floors while the parties are up in suites in the tower. (Or regular rooms on the same floor as the suites.)

The issue in Reno is that the party hotel and the filk/Hugo/Masquerade/gaming hotel were nearly a mile apart.
lemmozine
Aug. 26th, 2011 02:49 am (UTC)
If the same hotel isn't a possibility due to filking being an all-night thing, there are a couple of reasonable solutions. One is to use a facility within easy walking distance. Two is to turn the storage room into a filk office/green room/con suite as was done quite successfully in 2006 in L.A.
_lady_narcissa_
Aug. 25th, 2011 04:08 pm (UTC)
You should be fine in Chicago next year. You basically can't smoke anywhere except outside or in a private home/hotel room. There is no smoking allowed in bars or restaurants or indoor public spaces. Your biggest problem might be walking past a location outside 20 feet from the entrance of a building where all the smokers are huddling...but this is generally avoided as you can swing out on the sidewalk and around them to avoid the smell.
lemmozine
Aug. 25th, 2011 05:13 pm (UTC)
I've been more diligent about making inquiries due to the bad experience in Reno. So far as I can tell, I'll have no smoke problems with Chicago, San Antonio, London or Spokane. Not sure who's bidding for 2016. KC? I believe I saw where NY and Japan are bidding for 2017. Japan, so far as I know, is about as smoke-free as the US was in 1960 - meaning not at all - so, YEA NEW YORK!
petrea_mitchell
Aug. 27th, 2011 08:14 pm (UTC)
It's not so bad as you think... see here. Sadly too much of the hotel info from Nippon 2007 has gone away at this point to recover exactly what the smoking/non-smoking situation was there.
lemmozine
Aug. 30th, 2011 01:38 pm (UTC)
I finally had a moment to check this out. In 2005, I did a Google search for smoke-free Yokohama, and came up empty. Did it today, and found the movement is catching on. So, I might find hotels and restaurants. The only other concern is airports. Having to spend hours waiting in a smoky airport just before a long plane trip can be very lung-damaging. I'd hate to have an asthma attack and die so far from home.

I wouldn't mind seeing Japan. Other concerns for me are a lot of us in NA and Europe will skip this one due to travel time and cost, not many Japanese filk fans, and an extremely strong personal aversion to anime.
petrea_mitchell
Aug. 31st, 2011 03:12 am (UTC)
"Other concerns for me are a lot of us in NA and Europe will skip this one due to travel time and cost,"

Sadly, the downside of a global fandom is that no matter where the convention gets held, some segment of fandom can't get there...

"and an extremely strong personal aversion to anime."

Would it be all right to ask what experience you have had with anime that it could turn you off visiting an entire country? I can certainly assure you that it's possible to visit Japan and not have to acknowledge the existence of one particular medium, and the Nippon 2007 committee was much more interested in promoting Japanese text sf anyway.
lemmozine
Aug. 31st, 2011 05:10 am (UTC)
I keep writing long replies and accidentally hitting the undo button on my iPad. So. If I did go to a Worldcon in Japan, it would be a secondary goal after other travel, because for me it wouldn't offer very much in the way of the primary things I go to Worldcon for (filk, collecting books). I'd have to weigh it against going to perhaps 4 or 5 cons in the US for the same cost or less. And that crack of mine about anime - I think it's had altogether too much influence here. I'm more of a Jay Ward fan, maybe some South Park, Futurama. I get tired of the little kids with the big eyes doing and saying things that bore me. That's my opinion. I find it more enjoyable to allow my travel decisions to be influenced by my opinions, as opposed to the opinions of others. Now, New Zealand in 2020 - THAT would be cool!
rono_60103
Aug. 25th, 2011 04:54 pm (UTC)
Adding to the Chicago comments about going outside:

If you choose your eating establishments carefully, you can avoid going outside from when you arrive at the hotel until you depart.

The Hyatt Regency Chicago is connected to the Illinois Center, and many other buildings by the Chicago Pedway - which is an inside, mostly underground, passage between buildings.

The only unknown is if there are any smoking rooms left in the Hyatt or not, and if there are, how completely do they contain the smoke.

Alas, the smoke problem will probably doom nearly any future attempts to bid Reno, Las Vegas, Atlantic City or any other place where many or most of the hotel space will be in casino hotels. (Even in California, the casinos run by and on Native American land are mostly made up of smoking sections). Until it pays the casinos to actually minimize the smoke in the casino, they will have no incentive to limit smoking to areas that where it can be easily contained and vented without creeping into the non-smoking areas.

I will note that based on my (limited) experience, the Atlantis was much worse than the Peppermill. Of course I was in the Peppermill only for the Hugo Awards - and wouldn't have even approached the casino area if I hadn't misread the buffet price.
lemmozine
Aug. 25th, 2011 05:32 pm (UTC)
There were parts of the Peppermill that were less smoky, from what I heard. Open filking area was very smoky and after spending some time there Tuesday evening and getting very, bery sick, I never returned. The Atlantis, including the skybridge, elevators, con suite and parties, was also bad, and I severely limited the time I spent there.

I like to go to tripadvisor and read the negative hotel reviews. The Hyatt doesn't sound too bad, but after reading the reviews, I'd try for a high floor to avoid full elevators, and advise those travelling with kids to bring chain locks or duct tape for the weight-sensitive minibar. I'm wondering if the recent earthquakes resulted in massive phony minibar charges. Hmmm.
twilight2000
Aug. 25th, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC)
As rono_60103 noted, it's an issue of casinos for the most part - it's been a decade or more since NA Worldcons have had to deal with smoke in any real way, as it's illegal indoors in so much of the US.

It's really unlikely for the smoke issue to exist in most NA cities (Europe/Asia YMMV).
firestrike
Aug. 26th, 2011 02:02 am (UTC)
If you asked to turn off incidentals to the room at the Peppermill, it physically locked the fridge portion of the minibar. It didn't help with the counter-top snack tray, though.
gorgeousgary
Aug. 25th, 2011 11:27 pm (UTC)
I've been in various casino hotels in both Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The Peppermill and Atlantis were orders of magnitude worse. I noticed the smoke and I have a fairly poor sense of smell.

For one thing, there seemed to be more smokers in Reno than I've encountered in recent trips to Vegas. Also, the ceilings in the Peppermill and Atlantis are lower than in some other hotels (particularly the newer Vegas properties), which keeps the smoke closer to the ground.

kremmen
Aug. 26th, 2011 09:10 am (UTC)
I would add gaming to point 3. It's nice to be able to drop into the games area in the evening, but impractical when it's a mile away. Basically, it's good to have all evening activities, including parties, nearby.
lemmozine
Aug. 26th, 2011 04:16 pm (UTC)
At Denvention 3, there was a gaming storage area near the filk storage area, and it was well-used. One of the things I've noticed about Worldcons is that even though there's a floating committee that provides some continuity, there is always a certain amount of reinventing the wheel involved. For my subfandom group (filk), there always seems to be a certain amount of negotiating to get the bare minimum of what's needed - a concert area, sound equipment, space for panels and workshops, space to have open filking until dawn, storage. I'm sure they keep a list of room sizes needed for things like masquerade, hugos, exhibit hall, etc. - couldn't they do the same for filk, gaming, and so on? And please, please, could we get party rooms that aren't so crowded it's hard to get in and out? The hotels could conceivably shut our parties down as fire hazards.
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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Renovation: The 69th WorldCon
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