My thoughts to this years GRL:
It was my third retreat and I was very much looking forward to it - only to now afterwards I have to say, it fell short. If not for meeting my good friend Lynley it would have been a big let down. Regarding the venue I had some doubts after reading the reviews on tripadvisor, but as I stayed at a hotel nearby, I thought it wouldn't matter that there were rather few good reviews.
When first arriving, the whole hotel felt outdated, the meeting rooms were not very good up-kept and besides ice water there was nothing offered from the hotel. After attending this years UK Meet - with coffee, tea and cookies all day long - I was a little bit disappointed.
Nevertheless, the panels, Q&A, readings and so on were very interesting, if only the electronic equipment would have worked better. On top of that the A/C was hit and miss - one day we were sweating like pigs, the next day it was freezing cold.
Anyway, it was very nice to meet with old friends, listen to interesting discussions and I don't want to miss it. The highlight for me was the Q&A with T.J. Klune and Eric Arvin:) On the other hand - the Dinner with an author was that loud, I couldn't understand a word of the person sitting next to me.
My biggest problem with GRL this year was: everything took place inside the hotel. I don't want to start recapping the first year in New Orleans, but there we were in the middle of the French quarter and several meetings/bar brawl, cruise on the Mississippi took place outside, within the community we wanted to support. But even last year in Albuquerque we were driven by bus to Old Town for a bit of sightseeing and afterwards a very fitting cocktail hour at an 'hazienda-like' setting.
This year - nada. We could have been in the middle of nowhere for all we had to experience the surroundings. The only one profiting from our retreat was the hotel.
Overall I have to say - my beloved readers retreat developed into an author/reader convention and the charm from the first year, already waning last year - this year it was rather gone.
I already decided not to attend next years 'retreat', because we have scheduled vacation at that time, but after this years experience I'm not sad about missing it.