LAS VEGAS, the pros and cons     or      I HATE VEGAS TOO  

By Andrea Symons

I have been to Las Vegas a few times; mostly for work and saw elements I that did not enamour me to the place. So, four years ago, when I heard the Gathering would be held in Las Vegas, I groaned in disbelief.  But, being I love the event so much, I decided to give it a chance, and I am so very glad I did. 

I was not blind to the fact there were a few benefits to going to Las Vegas though; the most obvious being that all planes fly to Las Vegas, (it’s not hard to get a flight there and because of their frequencies, it is easy to find a cheap flight or special deal),  Hotel accommodations are also very reasonable (and because the Southpoint hotel is off the strip one can have four adults in a double room, if desired, making accommodation even cheaper), transportation to and from the airport to Southpoint is a free hotel shuttle. This all conspires to make for a less expensive Gathering experience, in fact, cheaper than other Gatherings I have attended. 

I must stop here to comment about other Gathering locations to which I have been.  Although many were beautiful locations, some were not easily accessible without having to take multiple flights to get there.  Sometimes the weather was too hot to go outside, and in one occasion, there was nothing to do in the city in the evenings or on the weekend – as it was solely a business centre city.

There are many other great reasons why Las Vegas works so well for The Gathering.  The first is it has been paired with Glass Craft & Bead Expo. That means you get TWO EVENTS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE.  Having the Gathering on its own is not feasible any more due to the rising costs of event facilities, their rental costs and the local fire regulations & licensing.  By merging The Gathering with GCBE, the event is affordable to both the ISGB & GCBE coffers, keeping the two events alive. 


Continued from Bead Release March 2020:
For those who have never been, The GCBE have classes which complement our lampworking.  GCBE have classes in: metal clay, silversmithing, cold working and fusing classes, to name but a few.  There is a tradeshow to die for with which the ISGB is also partnered.  All the kiln and equipment manufacturers and distributors are there, as are tool distributors, glass suppliers, findings and accessory vendors, display sellers, and let’s not forget the glass & jewellery artists themselves - many of whose works we cherish.  To top it off, all aspects of glass work mediums are covered in the trade show – lampworking, boro, fusing, stained glass…. Plus, metal clay and other fabrication techniques and suppliers; most suppliers of which would not attend just an ISGB Gathering, were it on its own. 

As you know, the ISGB have amazing presenters from around the world sharing their knowledge and experience in glass.  The who’s who of the Lampwork world have and continue to be with us in Las Vegas and do so because it is affordable.  The ISGB also has a large Bead Bazaar on Saturday, which is open to the public and the participants of the GCBE – that’s quite an audience.

So why are you not attending?  Is it because of the smoke in the Casino?  I agree, it’s not optimal.  Smoking is prohibited in most areas of the hotel, except sadly in the Casino and some of its lounges.  But we have a cunning plan; because I have lung issues, as do some others, we are encouraging the current trend of wearing a mask. Vogmasks (https://www.vogmask.com) are very fashionable, colourfiul and hard to ignore, making our statement loud and clear. Vogmasks have beautiful designs, and it becomes an unignorable protest on its own + bonus of which is we can recognize fellow members. 😊  Sharon Peters, who is allergic to smoke, has found a solution, by wearing a Vogmask in smoky public places, after a squirt of Flonase (or the Costco brand) in each nostril every morning along with a shot of DayQuil Severe (each morning and night).  By doing this Sharon can participate in the fun and frivolity that is The Gathering. 

And for those who like a great show and night life, there’re tons of it on the Strip.  Cirque du Solei is a must see – all nine of their various shows.  I cannot imagine what it takes to be one of their performers. Yikes. They are all truly amazing and the tickets are reasonable.

Aside from the shows, there are some excellent restaurants in Vegas.  Any type of food you could dream of is available.  And the Fountains and lights are simply mesmerising.

Things to see include the Neon Graveyard – being a nighttime tour - a collection of all the original and vintage neon lights from the strip going back to its inception.  If you have a group of friends and a car, don’t forget to visit the Hoover Dam, and The Grand Canyon. While you are there. 

There are also museums and galleries – I went to the Shelby Car Museum, as I am a Cobra nut – OMG!  I wanted to take one home with me that very day, but I was about $165,000 short. 

SouthPoint is a full-service resort complex all unto itself, with full conference facilities (which we take over) and is a few minutes away from the heart of the strip, while still on Las Vegas Boulevard.  In the hotel, besides the usual gambling paraphernalia in the casino section, there are Movie Theatres, a world class bowling alley – with regular competitions ongoing – you can tell because there are many men walking around with big ball bags.  You’ll also find two riding rings and a ‘pamper yourself silly Spa’ for your saddle sores.

There are 12 restaurants in the hotel, including an ice cream parlour, a coffee bar, a deli, a huge garden buffet, a café, Italian, Steak House, Seafood Bar, Mexican, Prime Rib, Burger Diner, Asian Fusion, and a five-star restaurant I don’t dare put my foot in – I am sure it is incredible. 

There is a huge swimming pool and whirlpool Oasis under palms; with libations.  Very relaxing and a great place to catch up with your glass buddies over a smart cocktail; being the same place we have our Opening Reception and Bead Swap, where you can meet everyone, make new friends and find those you’ve not seen all year.   This year the challenge for opening night is The Bossiest Necklace Celebration.  Bring and show off your biggest necklace creation for all to see and admire (for details check out the ISGB Gathering web page).

Our theme for 2020 is ‘Igniting Passion’ which reflects what we all want to accomplish.  Reigniting the passion of glass in us all. We have use of an excellent and very large hot shop with so many torches and a Torch off evening where you can try them out for yourself.  

Oh, and did I mention Cowboys?  The Southpoint Hotel is an equestrian hotel, so if you want to see cowboys in action you can wander into the arenas and enjoy the swagger and ringing of spurs, the loping of horses and their competitions.  Oops, sorry – I’m getting distracted. 😊

Bottom line, as unappealing as Las Vegas sounds to some of the membership, I can honestly say, I find it to be a smart, affordable and very agreeable location for our band of merry lampers.  All the events, trade show, classes, restaurants, special amenities, are all under one roof meaning you don’t have to go anywhere else, if you chose not to.  I’ve stayed the whole event in the hotel, and had a blast with my pals, laughing at the idiots staring at us in the mirrored elevators, and weaving our way back to our rooms after a full evening out, without going out.

Please give The Gathering in Las Vegas a chance, you won’t be disappointed. It is not the Vegas you think it is.  So, grab your Vogmask and join us stormtrooper through the casino.  We have our own spaces to gather, schmooze and rendezvous. We have a lot of fun and we hope to see you there.   

So let’s recap the benefits of the Gathering in Vegas:

A: Travel

All planes fly to Vegas (or have partners who do)
Southpoint has a free airport shuttle to and from
April = The climate is very constant and moderate, not too hot as in July elsewhere.

B: Accommodations:

Double queen rooms that can be shared with 4 guests – makes it cheap to sleep.
Every guest gets a coupon book from the hotel, free wine, BOGO, discounts, freebies, and more.
9 restaurants in the hotel:  Pizza/Deli, coffee counter, 2 cafes, buffets, ice cream parlor, burger diner, Italian restaurant, seafood bar, Mexican Cantina, Asian dining, Steak House, The **** Prime Rib, and a five-star restaurant – the later I’ve not been in – looks amazing though.
Grocery store nearby if you’d prefer to make your own food in your room. (fridge in room, but no cooking)
Liquor store in gift shop – good selection.

C. Entertainment:

Lots to do under this roof;

bowling,
Gambling
swimming & whirlpool (outside),
equestrian show – rodeo – did I mention cowboys?
Live shows,
Casino,
Movie Theatres,
Gathering meeting lounge and much more.

out of the hotel:  

The Las Vegas Strip,
The Shelby Auto Museum
The Wax Museum
The Neon Bone Yard
Dale Chihuly ceilings in the Bellagio
The world’s best martini, in the VIP bar at the Venetian
Choice of many Cirque de Soliel performances
Celebrity performances
Pin Ball Museum
The Fountain at the Bellagio

D.  Budget:

Good hotel prices as arranged & blocked off for us at reduced rates for the ISGB
Public invited to our Bead Bazaar, along with the attendees of the Glass Craft & Bead Expo  - a boon to your finances.
By merging The Gathering with Glass Craft, you get access to an amazing trade show.  Everything you could possibly want, need and dream of – and more.

E: Classes & Presentations:

ISGB offer two-day workshops and classes throughout the week with amazing instructors, and facilities. Some classes are still available.  Check it out.
The ISGB have incredible presentations from glass artists of all types, specifically for our members.
Top lampwork celebrities attend this event because it’s inexpensive.
You can also take Glass Craft Classes in fusing, silversmithing, torch work, enameling, cold working - everything glass related.

F:  TWO EVENTS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE !!!!     

International Society of Glass Beadmakers


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