WBC @ Seven Springs: July 23rd - 31st 2016
There’s big doings ahead for WBC in 2016. After a decade in Lancaster, we are pulling up stakes and moving our tent to spiffy new digs in the picturesque mountains of western Pennsylvania. Here is the advance scoop on what you can expect to find there.
DATE: In response to many requests to widen the gap to the school year, we've moved our date up to the last nine days of July. Two whole weekends and the week betwixt them will become Valhalla for boardgamers.
- ACCOMMODATIONS: 414 guestrooms backed by overflow accommodations in nearby chalets and condos plus a neighboring Hidden Valley property offering a somewhat lower room rate will provide a surplus of high quality lodging. This is a huge improvement over our past roomblocks that we've consistently quickly sold out. The much larger inventory of available rooms in the facility, as well as the greater variety of nearby lodging choices, is a big step forward. The annual rush for reservations on site should be a thing of the past. Explore for yourself the many lodging options at http://www.7springs.com
To confirm or correct, as the case may be, some of the speculation that has arisen we offer the following clarifications, but all such information should be considered secondary to what you will eventually get on the resort's website once it is prepared for our group. BPA does not book guestrooms and will not act as a reservationist; do not expect further information from us but refer to the following.
- Due to BPA subsidies, the base rate for a standard hotel room will be $129 per day. To obtain this rate, maid service will be limited to every second day, although fresh towels and such will be available. We figured you'd appreciate the lower rate over having your bed made every day. However, there is a class of 66 rooms called Junior Suites that - among other differences - come with a refrigerator. The rate for these will be $139 per day. Other rooms do not contain refrigerators. A limited number of mini-fridges can be rented for $40 per stay. If you're staying for six days in a standard hotel room, we're going to rebate $10 per day and since the taxes are 2% less at Seven Springs, your final hotel cost will actually be less than a corresponding stay at the Lancaster Host!
- There is no cooking allowed of any kind in guest rooms so microwaves and hotplates are forbidden. Blown fuses can ensue and guests causing such issues can be evicted without refund. Those wishing such amenities should inquire about the chalets or condos that come equipped with full kitchens.
- The availability of condos, cabins and chalets for larger groups is an exciting aspect of Seven Springs that we expect will aid our intended evolution of WBC into a full summer vacation destination. Clubs and families will do well to seek out these special accommodations. Details pertaining to cost, size, and amenities should be worked out with a Seven Springs reservationist. However, be aware that all of these options will put you further away from the gaming meeting space, and except for the chalets, are NOT within convenient walking distance. While the resort provides shuttle service anywhere on property, it is not instantaneous and those selecting condos or cabins would be well advised to have a car available.
- Reservations for WBC 2016 at Seven Springs will open in mid-August, 2015. However, reservations will only be taken for stays of five or more days. Commencing February 1st, 2016 reservations will be taken for four or more days. On May 15th, 2016 reservations will open for shorter durations.
This restriction is intended to prevent early sellouts denying rooms to those wishing longer stays. There will be a one-day deposit required for each reservation. Reservations can be cancelled or transferred to another person up to 60 days prior to the event but there will be a $75 fee for any such cancellation or transfer thereafter. There is no fee for lengthening any reservation, but canceling any portion of a reservation will result in forfeiture of the deposit.
- There is a laundromat on site. Some condos also have laundry facilities.
- There are numerous budget lodging options within a 15-mile drive.
- SHUTTLES: Anybody who has taken a shuttle from an airport into the adjoining city knows how expensive it can be for a relatively short trip. So, how much would it be for the 70 miles to Seven Springs from the Pittsburgh airport? Try $20 (round trip). There will be three trips per day. If and when these fill up, we will add more to the schedule. If you prefer the train, your options are limited. The closest stop is Connellsville some 30 minutes away with limited service, but Seven Springs will provide shuttle service for $10 roundtrip. In both instances, you must call 814-352-7777 Ext 5000 at least 24 hours ahead, have a reservation at Seven Springs, be pre-registered and make a non-refundable payment in advance.
- RENOVATIONS: This property has been recently renovated, and like Disneyland, is in an almost constant state of rebirth. The AC unit in two of the main gaming areas we'll use is brand new and different parts of the resort are renovated every year.
- ACCESS: Despite the greater number of rooms, you will find yourself closer to the meeting space. This is a 10-floor hotel serviced by five elevators in the tower section alone. No more jokes about being farther away on property than those staying elsewhere. Disabled access is also greatly improved.
- PARKING: Parking is plentiful and free - and while it may not be close to your room, it will be closer to the meeting space for those who use their car trunks as a game cache.
- MEETING SPACE: Overall, the space is somewhat larger than we have been using, although it tends to be more spread out with a second building similar to the Expo Center in distance from the hotel. Navigating the site will be similar to seeing the Lancaster Host for the first time or akin to finding your classes during your freshman year. In short, lots of individual rooms as opposed to one large concrete hall. Much of it sports a panoramic view of the countryside.
There will be more space for vendors, open gaming and dedicated tournament and seminar rooms. Best of all, the table inventory is a big improvement in terms of number, type and quality. We'll even be able to have our own "monster gaming" room with prolonged setup of multi-table games.
- Smoke Free Facility: The resort, specifically the hotel rooms, cabins, chalets, hallways, lobbies, meeting rooms, lounges and dining areas are "smoke free". Smokers may request ashtrays at checkin by contacting the front desk staff for use on the hotel lodging room balconies only.
- Alcohol Policy: The resort, like all establishments with a liquor license, does not allow alcohol in meeting spaces unless purchased from the resort.
- FOOD SERVICE: 7 Springs has 12 different restaurants on site, ranging from fast food to fine dining - some of it within steps of the gaming areas.
- Somerset is really the closest place to get groceries (12 miles). There is a small market at the Trent House Inn, about 3 miles away, but is limited to basic items like milk and bread. The Signatures Retail Shop on property carries a few basic items.
- AMENITIES: This is a resort with lots to entertain the non-gamer in your family. Among the attractions are an outstanding golf course, Zip-line canopy tours, alpine slides, mountain biking, rock climbing, Segway tours, paintball, disc golf, bowling, horse riding, spas, and sporting clays as well as indoor and outdoor pools. Suffice to say that those of us who have visited the place suddenly found ourselves with more attentive family members. Whether that's a good thing or not for your personal family situation, I leave to your discretion.
- ACTIVITY PASS: 1 day, rate to be determined in spring, 2016. A three-day midweek pass (do not have to be consecutive days) is $99. An activity pass allows unlimited use of Alpine Slide, Alpine Tower, Bowling, Disc Golf, Euro Bungy, Hydrobikes, Miniature Golf, Paddleboats, Rock Wall, Scenic Chairlift Rides and Summer Tubing.
- KID'S CAMP: For children aged 5 to 10. Camp may include fishing, paddle boating, scavenger hunts, team games, swimming and crafts. Lunch and snacks are included.
- DAYCARE: Children walking age through 5 years-old can enjoy fun with toys, crafts, songs, games and movies in a supervised playroom while mom and dad enjoy their boadgames. Open daily from 9 am to 4 pm. Lunch and snacks provided.
Cost for both of the above children's programs is $30 for Half day; $45 for full day. Reservations are required. NOTE: Use of the Kid’s Camp and Daycare facilities will depend on an indication of interest by the membership. If you anticipate using these facilities please notify us ASAP - firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can gauge interest in time to book these services.
- WEATHER: Even the climate is attractive with mountain breezes dispensing with all but the worst summer heat and humidity. Weather varies from year to year and cannot be guaranteed, but over time this location has proven to be 8 degrees cooler than Lancaster per day in July with nightly temperatures in the 60s. My stays there have featured pleasant nights with open balcony doors.
- CAMPSITES: For the budget conscious, there are nearby RV parks and campsites.
So, what's the downside?
One word as in real estate, it is all about LOCATION. Obviously, if you were commuting to Lancaster Host, this is not as convenient for you. But more than that, it is OFF the beaten path. If you're used to getting off property for a meal, you'll find there is little nearby to choose from and there are no free breakfasts such as the Host provided. Even a sortie to the local Wal Mart to stock up on munchies will be a trip. On the other hand, those who fly should not feel the need to rent a car. We will be subsidizing shuttles to/from the Pittsburgh airport, so as long as you plan ahead, pre-register, and make the necessary shuttle reservations with the resort you should be able to dispense with the expense of a rental car. However, you WILL need to be flexible with arrivals and departures as the shuttles will only be operating at peak times.
Your Membership Fee
It should be no surprise that admission fees will increase to pay for all of this, although the amount will vary and in some General Admission cases will actually decrease. Please consider the following:
1. Our per diem base fee of $10 per day for our lowest pre-reg rate has remained unchanged for 17 years. Think back to what a dollar purchased in 1998 and compare that to what it buys today. Most will agree an increase is long overdue.
2. Out of that $100 membership fee we will be paying rebates and subsidies that can exceed membership fees in some instances. Despite the increase in fees, even less funds will make it into the BPA's coffers after we've paid the bills.
To minimize the disruption of the move and encourage everyone to give our new home a try we are budgeting our very first year in the red. I'd like to lay out for you now a simple, and admittedly worst case scenario, of how your increased WBC admission fee is going to be spent in 2016.
I'll start with the assumption that you enjoy our biggest discount by joining during the Annual December Membership Drive. $100 will buy you nine days admission for $11.11 a day - still the best bargain in gaming. No more Pre-Con separate fees. No event fees, No ribbons. No parking costs.
To get that $129 room rate, we've subsidized you with a five-figure purchase that, depending on attendance, will probably amount to between $7 - $15 per head ... let's call it $10 for the sake of simplicity - and in the process we've saved you $10 plus taxes PER DAY.
Moreover, to offer you a room rate equal to what you would have had at the Lancaster Host, if you book a regular room at Seven Springs for six days or more (not a condo, cabin, chalet or suite) AND are a pre-registered Sustaining or Tribune member of the BPA, you will receive a $10 daily credit on your hotel bill. That leaves us very little, if anything, to pay salaries, insurance, prizes, advertising, printing and the myriad other expenses of running such an enterprise right down to the Paypal fees that save most of you the cost of a postage stamp but cost us many times that. You want the convenience, but you don't want to pay for it. Well, sooner or later the bills come due.
But we're still not done! If you fly to Seven Springs via Pittsburgh and avail yourself of the shuttle service, we're on the hook for subsidizing part of that as well.
When we started this process, I was not optimistic about finding a better location while remaining in the mid-Atlantic region with both the necessary space and improved amenities at a price that would not be considered prohibitive to many. However, I now find myself in the rare atmosphere of optimism regarding our future venue. In fact, I haven't been this downright giddy since the year we sent Reiff home without any wood. I hope you'll join us in 2016 to experience the next evolution of WBC - where boardgamers come first.