News reached me today from Crap Mariner of the closure of one of the most iconic builds on the mainland, the Hotel Chelsea, which we featured in a Designing Worlds show last season, is closing.
Mykal Skall, the creator of the Hotel district, contacted his group to explain:
It is with heavy heart that I contact you today, to let you know that the Virtual Hotel Chelsea is shutting its doors.
Three years ago this may we departed on this adventure with you our Bohemian friends and supporters. It was a different time in the RL and SL economy, and a different mindset in the customer service department of Linden Labs.
We quickly became friends with RL residents of the RL Hotel and became advocates on their behalf in the virtual world.
We relished our 15 minutes of fame as the New York Times picked up our story and welcomed thousands of new visitors as Linden Labs made us its #1 “Hot Spot”.
We became a family, a dysfunctional one at times, but one who cared about each other no matter what.
We expanded, downsized, then expanded again.
We hosted hundreds of the greatest artists, musicians, and poets in SL and RL, and even broadcast from the RL Hotel to the SL Hotel, a first in the history of either landmark.
We felt the pain of our family in the RL Hotel as it became clear that no manner of hoping, praying, or wishing, was going to “Bring Back the Bards” and we cried as the doors were shut and the rooms gutted.
We hoped to stay true to the spirit of the heyday of the real hotel, to preserve it even if only in a virtual world.
The crowd we attracted mirrored the creatives and quirky that the made the RL hotel the mecca of bohemia.
As time went on, tips went down, we had to lower rent to keep tenants, and unfortunately had to start paying our musicians less, but we insisted on paying them something even if it wasn’t much.
We also set ourselves apart from other SL venues in that we only allowed “live” music, no pre-recorded background music, this made us a haven for the best singer/songwriters in SL.
Unfortunately, for quite a while we have been losing money, but this was never about money, so we kept running. Then we lost some donors to our group land and I went to LL tech support to see what we needed to do, I was repeatedly told that this wasn’t an issue (I kept a transcript btw).
Then a few weeks ago we were contacted by Guy Linden who said that we needed to come into compliance with our group land. Even though I proved that I (was) proactive and was given “wrong” information by LL tech support, this didn’t make a difference.
As a temporary “bandaid” I bought more land in Lanestris to give us some time to figure out what to do. Of course this made my tier skyrocket and made an already losing venture lose more.
I’ve tried to move things around, scale it down, etc. But I can’t find a way that I can afford to continue to give the build what it needs. And quite frankly, I have enough stressers in RL, that something needs to give and unfortunately this is one of them.
I have been blessed along this journey by many amazing individuals, and I cannot even begin to thank each and every one of you, but I have to thank my partner in this venture, enola Vaher, without whom this would have shut down years ago. When my RL took me away from here for months at a time, she kept everything going, I may have built the skeleton of the Chelsea, but she was the soul that made it what it was. And for very little compensation. Thank you enola.
To may other staff members throughout the years, Donna, Perk, Cinn… thank you for being a part of this.
Thanks to Sky for helping me get it off the ground.
And to each and every one of you, who visited, played here, hung your art here, lived here, died here, or just stopped in to see the ghost of Sid and Nancy. Thank you, it’s been an amazing run.
To those of you still holding out in the RL Hotel, Ed, Deb, Artie, and the rest, our hearts are there with you.
This is very sad news. Clearly, the Hotel was struggling – and the problem of declining tips has hit many, many venues. But equally clearly, the situation this time has not been helped by confusing messages from the Lab.
At the very least, there should be a Linden charged with checking up when one of the iconic builds goes into default (or holds up a hand and announces problems by contacting support). This isn’t to say that such builds should be archived by the Lab – in fact, I would suggest to Mykal that – if he wants to preserve the build – he could archive all the parts that he has full permissions for to Kitely where it will cost him nothing – and the people who want to visit will pay. But I think the Lab need to do something to dispel the impression that they are doing nothing at all to help the drain of important builds out of Second Life … in fact, their information and sometimes downright idiocy is in fact exacerbating the situation – the billing problem that nearly drove the Elves away, for example.
Second Lie (as so often) nails it: We are proud of the “historical” builds in Second Life. In fact, we’re working hard to make them history!
Let’s try to stop that, fellers? Please?
We have had some immensely cheering news about the Chelsea: one of the residents of the real life hotel, still holding out against eviction in the real world, has donated a month’s tier to keep the build going, and is going to work with other real life residents to keep the Virtual Hotel going. I’ve pasted the rest of the message below in the comments.