We just spent the past weekend at the Quilters Unlimited Show in Chantilly, VA.
On the upside, these are the NICEST folks! The ladies who were in charge of vendors did a wonderful job! They had a check-in desk and we always knew where to find them if we had questions (which we really didn’t because they were so nice). But, they also had “Vendor Tenders”.
This is a terrific concept if you are involved in a local quilt show. The Vendor Tenders wore a blue apron with these words embroidered on them and went around several times a day to each booth asking if the vendors needed anything. A lot of vendors are by themselves so getting a bathroom break isn’t easy. These lovely vendor tenders would watch a booth for a few minutes while a vendor got that quick break. They also offered to go to the food court and pick up drinks or lunch for the vendors who can’t get away. That is such a lovely touch and was really appreciated. Even if yours is a small quilt show, this kindness for the vendors is a great touch!
Since Becky and I travel together, we don’t usually have a problem with getting lunch or other breaks but vendors all around us were there by themselves and I can tell you that they found this service so helpful. It’s nice to know that the management of a show cares that much for their vendors!
The show itself was lovely. There was an exhibit of quilts depicting National Parks and if that comes to a show near you, I highly recommend going to see it. The quilting techniques really set off some fabulous scenes from our National Parks!
Now, if you have been around with us in the past, you know that we always have a story to go with the good stuff! Well, this year was something new. At 1:45 AM Sunday morning, the fire alarms in the hotel went off. That’s an extraordinarily loud pulsing noise combined with very bright flashing lights in every room and in the hallways. We couldn’t smell any smoke and our hallway was clear so we took a couple of seconds to grab our purses (with the car keys) and a couple of really important items and headed down the hall to the fire exit.
Most people were a little groggy and a bit confused by being awakened like this but there was no panic or anything like that. We were on the 5th floor so we had to go down a ways but the hotel backs up to a hill so the stairwell we were using actually opened out at the 2nd floor into the back parking lot of the hotel. Unfortunately, it was raining and we were all in pajamas. It was so warm that I hadn’t taken a coat or jacket on the trip and we didn’t have umbrellas.
We ran into another vendor with whom we had become friends during the show and he had a tiny dog with him. Becky was waiting out back with him and I said I would walk around to the front of the hotel to get our car so we could get in out of the rain. Of course, if it’s our story, you know something else silly had to happen. The way the hotel was landscaped, we had to walk about the length of two city blocks to get around the hill behind the hotel and then about that same distance to get around to the front of the hotel, where I promptly realized that my car was on the far side of the parking lot (about another two city blocks lengths away). I was just a bit damp (drenched?) when I got to the car.
Then of course, I realized that if I had walked the other way around the hotel, I would have gotten to the car in about 100 steps! Duh! At least I could snap a photo from the comfort of my nice dry car!
We were outside for about an hour before the fire department gave an “all clear” and we were allowed to go back inside. It turns out that there was NO FIRE! Apparently a sensor in the monitoring equipment malfunctioned and set off the alarms. As annoying as all of this was, I’m really glad that was no damage and no one was hurt, or really even threatened.
I did think it was a bit odd that no one from the hotel came around to tell people what was going on to or to provide any kind of support. I felt bad for a family I saw with small children standing out in the rain (but they eventually went to get into their car too). There was no one at all providing any service to the hundreds of people standing out in the rain. I guess if this had been a real fire, someone might have called for police or the Red Cross or someone. But an hour, outside in the rain in your pajamas, seems like an awfully long time when it’s happening.
We got back to our room about 2:45. The noise of the fire alarm had been shut off but the blinking lights (which are extremely bright flashes) were still blinking in all the rooms. Apparently none of the hotel staff knew how to turn those off. They finally figured it out about a half an hour later. So at 3:30 AM, with our Adrenalin still pumping, we could now go back to sleep (NOT!). And this was the day we needed to be up early to check out of the hotel. Since it was the last day of the show, at the end of the day we have to take everything down from the booth, pack it up and load the car and then drive home. This is a little tough to do when you have only had a couple of hours of broken sleep. You can see that we have a lot of “stuff” to pack up! LOL
I do try to look for the good (or the funny) in any situation. In this case, as we were checking out, I was handed a copy of the bill for a full 3 days stay. I casually asked if there would be some accommodation for what had happened during the night and the manager came right over and said “absolutely” and had the clerk deduct the entire cost of the last day from the bill. That was a very nice surprise! He also apologized profusely for the inconvenience (which was very nice considering that he wasn’t even there during the incident!)
On a serious note, next time you go to a hotel, take a second to glance at the info (usually found on the back of the door to your room) and look to see where the evacuation route is from your room. I admit I don’t always to do that but this hotel wasn’t laid out in two long hall ways (it wrapped around a bit). So I did look at that map just out of curiosity this time. If there really had been a fire, we would not have had time to stumble around looking for the stairwell. And, Becky and I agreed that we are always going to take some kind of jacket or wrap with us to grab if this type of situation ever comes up again!
With all the craziness, we didn’t even start to unpack the car when we got home last night, so guess what I get to go do now! LOL That’s okay though. In spite of the “fun” at the hotel, we had a great time at the show. We met up with old friends and made some new ones and that is always great. We also got some great suggestions from folks who are looking for specific designs so we have plenty to work on.