One of the little traditions that the Denver region does for NaNoWriMo is an all-night write-in at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. The Stanley is well known because it's the location for the movie The Shining, and supposedly haunted (they do ghost tours and have an entire culture set up around the haunting theme).
The tradition was started a number of years ago by a previous ML, and the Stanley even had special rates and a writing room set up for NaNoWriMo. The ML's contact left, so they don't give us the special rate or a writing room anymore, but last year we just booked a couple of rooms and divvied the cost between the occupants.
This year we had so much interest that we had to get not just a few rooms, but three condos in order to accommodate everyone.
With such a crowd, and with access to real kitchens, we decided to have food here. We had a taco bar with everyone bringing something potluck-style. Now everyone (well, almost everyone) is settling down and writing.
I'm not sure yet whether I prefer the condo experience over the main hotel. Frankly, the main hotel is cooler, with the old rooms and the atmosphere. Last year we made a store run and camped out in the rooms with snacks and our computers, and then ended up exploring the hotel at 2am. And really, what could be better inspiration for writing than staying in a beautiful, creaky old hotel and writing after having gone on a ghost tour?
This year I feel like we are much more isolated in the condos, which are positioned on the hillside above the hotel. We don't get the atmosphere of the hotel, but there are a lot of things we do get, like more space and kitchens and all the amenities of home. We have comfortable seating where everyone can split up and write, and we have enough space that we can split up into different groups according to how focused or social people want to be, and how late they want to stay up, etc.
Case in point: Right now in my condo -- the "social" condo -- there's a game of Cards Against Humanity going on the main floor, while a bunch of us are in the basement living room, writing. Another of the cabins has been designated as the "quiet and focused" cabin, and a bunch of people are writing over there. And still a few more went over to the third cabin early to write -- that's probably the quietest of all, since there's only a couple people there.
It's a totally different experience from last year, but I'm not sure yet which way I prefer. With so much interest, though, I don't think there would have been any other way to do it this year. Part of me hopes it'll be as big a hit next year too, so that we can book the condos again, and we've also discussed the possibility of doing two nights next year instead. But I think I should also plan on doing my own "writing retreat" weekend up here sometime, so that I can stay in the main hotel and soak up the atmosphere to my heart's content!