Rumor has it that spring is coming. I certainly hope so. Don’t know about you, but I’m sick to death of this cold. Not much news this time, but I DID want to talk about a couple of things, notably the hospitality suite and the banquet.
As usual, many of you were not satisfied with the banquet last year. To be blunt, I haven’t been entirely satisfied with our banquets since we crossed the border. For whatever reason, the hotels we have used have lacked imagination in terms of offerings and sometimes lacked expertise in terms of preparation. I am hoping the Millennium will be different.
That said, I think it also needs to be said that we are a tough crowd to please. We have confirmed carnivores, we have people who don’t eat red meat, we have vegetarians, we have vegans, we have people with gluten allergies. We have foodies. We also have just plain fussy folks. Some people don’t eat mushrooms, some people don’t eat vegetables other than peas and green beans, some don’t eat garlic. And just to let you know that I’m no different, I have a medical condition that doesn’t allow me to eat salad or raw vegetables.
Given that most years we have a crowd of 75 – 95 to please, it’s not surprising that we don’t please everybody, though we will persist in trying. We have looked at ways to please more of you. For example, we took a poll last year to see if you would prefer plated dinners or a buffet style meal. The vast majority of you wanted buffet, so that’s the way we kept it. But a lot of you have complained about lack of variety. And I am inclined to agree with you. The last couple of buffets have been on the skimpy side.
Unfortunately, hotel food is expensive, and we DO have a budget. The actual cost to us of each banquet is only $2.00 less than what we have been charging for it. And that remaining $2.00 per person goes towards the entertainment and helps us offset the cost of the speakers’ banquets. We have tried to keep that cost down, but it’s become clear that we are not going to get what we want unless we increase our budget.
So we have done just that and that increase is reflected in the increased cost of the Deluxe conference package. The cost of food has risen greatly since SOTA first began, but our banquet budget has not. I am hoping that with our new and bigger budget and our new hotel we will come up with a winning combination that will please all of us.
While the menu has not as yet been decided, you can be assured that we are aiming for variety and if at all possible local produce. I am looking forward to seeing menus and possibly doing a tasting, so stay tuned… And if there’s something you’d like to see in that buffet, NOW is the time to let me know. But be forewarned — lobster is beyond our budget. So is filet mignon. And even though YOU don’t like tomatoes, some other the other people in attendance might. That’s why we have a buffet — so you can pick and choose.
The other issue that came up last year — again — was the hospitality suite. And yes, Sheraton handled this badly. They knew the drill and they know what the suite would be used for. They COULD have blocked off that floor for our guests, but they didn’t. And that’s one of the reasons we’re not back there.
That said, hospitality suites are a thorny issue for hotels — and having taken some of the meeting planners’ courses, I know that. We are not the first conference to have had problems with our hospitality suite. There were problems at the last ISAR. There were problems at 2 of the last 3 UACs if not all three. And in all cases, security asked the suite to close. Why? Well, sound DOES carry — and since the hotels are unwilling to block off the floor — even for a big conference like UAC — there is a good chance that somebody will complain. And to be blunt, the hotels really don’t care about the success of our hospitality. If we were to order our food from the hotel and bring in a bartender for the evening I am fairly sure it would be different. But we can’t afford that. So as far as they’re concerned, it’s so sorry for our luck. And I know this. But despite knowing this, I went in search of a hotel that might accommodate us. Some hotels have basement-level rooms that are rarely used. Some may be willing to block off the floor. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
In the case of The Millennium, they were honest from the outset. Because of the layout of the hotel, sound carries, and they have a firm policy of no noise after 10 pm in the suites. Which means that you’re probably ok if you want to invite a couple of people to your room, but if you invite a couple of dozen, you can probably expect a knock on your door.
However, when I explained to them how important hospitality was to SOTA, they were quick to try to find a solution to the problem. And we HAVE come up with what I hope will be a good compromise. They are offering their own hospitality room (which is only open to their own frequent travellers) for our use on Thursday night after the Opening and on Saturday night after the banquet.
As usual, we can bring in our own food and drink. And we can stay open at least until the bar across the way closes — maybe even later as it seems to be a sleepy little bar. So you will be able to move directly from the banquet or the opening to the hospitality and continue the conversations you started earlier. I have seen the room and it easily holds 50. So we think this will be a good solution.
Of course that DOES leave Wednesday and Friday. Rest assured that there WILL be hospitality for those of you coming in on Wednesday afternoon or evening. Demetrius and I will be putting our heads together and coming up with something. If all else fails, I DO have a suite — though given that I am the convener I will be adhering to the hotel rules and kicking people out at 10 pm. If you want to stay up later, perhaps you can invite a couple of people to YOUR room after that. Remember, a couple of people sharing hospitality is not a problem.
As for Friday, given that it’s the one night that our schedule is kind of flexible, we thought we would leave things open. Many of you will want to go to Mediums and Messages, and perhaps we will move from there to the bar or the restaurant to finish our conversations. Or again, you’re free to invite people back to your room for a chat. I know it’s less inclusive, but sometimes it’s nice to connect with just a few people.
In short, we have a reputation for being a friendly conference, and we are going to do our best to live up to that reputation. I don’t think there’ll be any lack of social opportunities.
OK, time for some reminders:
First of all, early bird registration CLOSES at 10 pm on March 20th. You can register via PayPal on the Registration page, or you can register by cheque. Make the cheque payable to Full Circle Seminars and mail it to me. My address is on the flyer. Or if you’re on this side of the border, you can pay by email transfer. But remember, it takes 5-7 days for a cheque to get here and if yours comes after March 20th it will not qualify for the early bird rate.
Secondly, you can reserve your hotel room by calling 1-800-323-3331 and telling them you’re with SOTA.
Third, if you attended SOTA last year and got the $20 discount coupon for GLAC, that also expires on March 10. And yes, I will be going to GLAC. As for offering a SOTA discount to GLAC attendees this year, nothing has been decided yet — and it may not be decided until the end of March. So if you want to register before the rates go up, now is the best time. Any discount will be on the next highest rate.
And since we’re talking about GLAC, I was asked if I will be doing the same lectures there and at SOTA. The answer is no. I try very hard not to do that; it doesn’t help GLAC and it doesn’t help SOTA. Nobody likes reruns, astrological or otherwise.
That said, here are my SOTA lectures:
Friday, October 23, 10:15 am to 12: 15 pm
Looking for Love at All the Right Times
“When will I find the right person?” is one of those perennial questions that most astrologers are asked to answer on a weekly, if not daily, basis. While no astrologer in their right mind would guarantee that you will meet your one and only true love at a specific time. we can and will discuss progressions and transits that increase the likelihood of an important meeting, ranging from those “getting lucky at the bar moments” to less transient, more serious, and possibly more slowly-evolving meetings. Brief discussion of the natal chart and synastry is included as well as some discussion of the most likely places/activities to lead you to the right person based on your chart.
Sunday, October 24, 2:00 to 3:00 pm
Uranus — ‘Cause You Deserve a Break Today
As we all know, whatever we expect Uranus to bring is generally not what it brings. This makes it very hard to know what to expect from a Uranus transit. However, there’s one thing I’ve noticed consistently — Uranus has a propensity from breaking things. It can break your computer, break up your relationship, break down your self-created barriers, and force you to take a break from the ordinary and the familiar. Breakthrough can happen — and you may never be the same. And sometimes, that can be a very good thing.
I’d be happy to see you at one of these, but more importantly, I’d be delighted to see you at SOTA. We have some excellent lectures for you to choose from this year, from familiar faces to rising stars. Please join us. And please share this newsletter with your friends. There’s plenty of room for everybody.