Figarou: consider Shadowsaber's offer; she's a regular prize-winner, and as one of her customers, I'll recommend her in a heartbeat. The costumes require a bit of skill and maintainance, but they're absolutely stunning. And, one can move around easily--you'll be able to throw duckies.
If you're not able to make A-Kon, we'll have to see what other conventions are out there that you can make. If neccessary, we could even start our own con. There's a new Hilton under construction just past my back window, with a small convention center nearby. Imagine Pack-Con I in 2009? There's a theater nearby, too--bribe them into a late-night screening of Red Victoria...
Z: Rat or hyena, hmm... What about your blue and black striped velociraptor?
Short Tail: Adam's Mark is already by many peoples' standards pricy. They gave us huge price breaks over their regular rates. I'm sure you noticed how upscale the Adam's Mark is--the beautiful lobby, the elegant uniforms of the concierge, valet, and bell services, and so forth. I'm really glad I wasn't charged the rates listed on our door for our suite; the normal daily rate for one person was a thousand bucks! Granted, that's a remodelled suite, and, granted, almost no one gets charged the official rate on the door. But, I suspect my room normally would have run $400 to $500 or so a night.
I'd hate to see A-Kon leave Adam's Mark; they've been so generous to the convention for the past four years. They've been very friendly towards A-Kon's weirdness, and they haven't at all been the least bit snobbish towards the thousands of teenagers and young adults showing up with backpacks and paper bags for luggage. They've instead been very friendly.
I do have to note that A-Kon's previous hotels were cheaper. The ones in the mid-1990s, when A-Kon had less than a thousand attendees, ran $70 to $80 a night; divided among four people, one could go pretty cheap. My first A-Kon cost me about $300 for everything--a $10 badge, about $100 for the room, and $20 or so for food. The rest was on stuff--VHS videos of Vampire Hunter D, Robot Carnival, and so forth. Granted, that was 1993 dollars. But, even factoring inflation, A-Kon today is a bit pricier a venue, because it's a different convention--it's huge. But, I think it's worth the extra money, especially where the hotel is concerned; choice of hotel makes or breaks a lot.
Still, if it continues to get larger, maybe the Westin might be willing to provide additional space for the con itself, rather than just rooms for overflow attendees? According to ShadowSaber, DragonCon takes over half of downtown Atlanta. I can see A-Kon doing the same for Dallas by 2012.
Taking a Gestalt approach, since it's the "in" thing...