As many of you know I joined Leslie in New York last week after the RWA Board meetings were concluded. We stayed in the conference hotel for the upcoming 2011 National conference. The Marriott Marquis on Times Square is beautiful. We weren't there for long but I spent some time checking the place out. I tried to look at it from the perspective of a conference attendee so I focused on a few things I knew would be important.

The Hotel is 45 stories. Our room was on the 44th floor. When you enter the hotel from the street you are greeted by an information desk, an escalator, and a bank of elevators. There is also a Starbucks but it's not very big and keep in mind it is also accessible to non-hotel guests passing on the street. Floors 2 through 8 are serviced a series of escalators in addition to the elevators. I'm told that a lot of the conference workshops and functions will be held on these floors and the hotel encourages liberal use of escalators on these levels. The actual lobby of the hotel is located on the 8th floor. Once there you are greeted by a 37 story open atrium with a central column which houses the high speed glass elevators. More about the elevators in a minute.

The 8th floor has a series of shops as well as the hotel's second Starbucks. I'm not sure about the weekday hours but this Starbucks closed about 30 seconds after I arrived in the lobby at around 1:00 PM on a Sunday. There are also several restaurants and bars on this level. One of these areas, the Atrium Lounge has a very large and comfortable seating area. When I arrived on Sunday the bar in the middle of the lounge was closed but many of the seats and tables were being used by people having impromptu meetings or just killing time waiting for someone. This particular area takes up a sizable portion of the atrium floor near the desk and I saw nothing to indicate it was a "restaurant". On Monday, while Leslie was on a business call I ventured down to the lobby, picked up a coffee and headed to this lounge to check my email and chill. I put my things down on a table and before I even reached for the chair a waitress approached and informed me the "no outside food or beverages are allowed in the restaurant." Sorry to say that unless you're having something in the restaurant during business hours, this very large, very useful meeting area is off limits.

We did have drinks in one of the lounges which overlooks Times Square. The service was a bit slow (I also heard this from others who had been there all weekend) and the prices were very New York. House Chardonnay $12 a glass, Sam Adams on Tap $8.

Internet is available in the hotel. In your room it can be accessed by connecting with a cable and purchasing the business package for $17 per day (which includes unlimited telephone long distance). Wireless Internet is available in the hotel common areas for $9.95 per 24 hour period or $2.95 for 15 minutes (and $0.25 each additional minute). Be careful if you choose to pay and use it for only one day. Leslie did this and although she only used it one day it automatically billed each day thereafter. The hotel was very happy to remove the additional charges.

While on the subject of the staff, in the short time I was there everyone I observed and/or interacted was very friendly, professional, and competent.

I promised more about the elevators. This hotel is equipped with a "state of the art" high-tech elevator control system which is supposed to move guests to their floors more quickly and avoid elevator congestion (which you regular conference goers know can be a huge problem in some hotels). The system is easy to use once you figure it out. That also is the biggest problem I noticed - the only time(s) the system seemed to get bogged down or not work efficiently was when people who didn't know how it worked tried to use it. With that in mind I though I'd provide a little instructional to make you all experts before you get there.

Step 1. When you approach the bank of elevators you'll see this control pad:

There are NO Up and Down buttons. You approach this pad and simply press the number of the floor you wish to go to.

Step 2: The system assigns an elevator (lettered A, B, C, etc.) and even points you in the right direction.

Step 3: You go to the assigned elevator and wait for the doors to open.

Step 4: Once inside there are no floor buttons, only the few you see here:

Step 5: You watch the two display panels. The one on the left (with the 37) indicates the current floor and direction, the one on the right will have a list of the floors the elevator is traveling to. It is a glass elevator so alternatively you could turn around and enjoy the view, unless you don't like heights.
Piece of cake. There, now you're a pro and you won't gum up the works when you get there.

If you need a little more help here is a short video of me walking through the process:

I hope this helps. There is one more very important thing. Please make note of the dates for the conference. It runs from June 28th through July 1st. This is TUESDAY through FRIDAY. This is a change from previous years. The entire conference has been slipped back a day. This means the conference concludes with the RITA awards on FRIDAY night just before the 4th of July weekend - in New York City. Please make your travel plans accordingly (and bring your patience). You can get more information on RWA's conference website.


Paula R said...

Hey Bruce, read this on my phone last night, but it was too hard to type what I wanted to say on the little keyboard and one or two fingers. Thanks for posting the video. I certainly would have been one of those people who messed up the works. The elevator reminds me of one I took on a cruise ship many moons ago. I am getting so excited. I will have to reference this post when the time gets near. I think RWA should hire you to do some recon for all the hotels. I mean, how else would we find out these key pieces of info before descending on the hotels en masse. Thanks again, Bruce. I hope you, Les and the fam are having a wonderful day. Give Les a hug from me.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Bruce said...

Thanks Paula. It is a very nice hotel and I think it'll be a good venue for the conference. I just noticed a couple of things that I know will be important to attendees and thought you should keep them in mind when going. Like the ideal casual meeting/chatting space in the lobby being off limits. It is a week running up to a holiday weekend in NY - definitely expect crowds and (probably) travel woes.

Paula R said...

It's a good thing I am from there. I might have to get down there a couple of days earlier. I come from Brooklyn and the fam is still there or I could visit the fam in Queens, where I could park my car...hmmmm, sounds like a plan. The subway is one of my best friends too. Are you goingwith Les this summer? It would be great to finally meet you in person. I miss her too.

Thanks again, Bruce. I hope the weather is nice where you guys are. The sun is peeking out here.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Kate Douglas said...

Thank you--this is great information even though it infuriates me! I can't believe the cost of Internet access--that's horrible. Why is it you can stay at a cheap hotel and it's free, and then you spend a fortune at a convention hotel and they charge a ridiculous fee?

LOL...sorry. Paying bills this morning and read this. I'm venting!

Bruce said...

My attendance remains to be seen Paula, I need to be on my best behavior. Kidding. We haven't made any plans yet. One of these days we need to brave the NY Subway. I've never ridden it.

Kate I feel your pain. Believe me. I have often wondered the same thing about free Internet in cheaper hotels. It does seem like a bit of a racket. Thanks for following.

Tamara Hogan said...

Thanks for the recon mission! At these prices (highway robbery, dudes), I will seriously consider an internet-free week while at National - or at least do a better job configuring internet access on my phone.

The world won't end. It might actually be a nice break. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Thank you for this post. You think like me, except I use photos to show the way. Hmm... now that I know how to use the video feature on my camera that might change though. :)

I haven't decided if I'll go yet, but your info on the costs is stuff I need to help decide.

I really appreciate the time you took to put this together.

I'm wondering... and please don't laugh... well, okay laugh if you must... I have an iphone so would I be able to access the internet wherever I wanted?

Anita Mae.

Bruce said...

Happy to be of help! New York is one of my favorite cities but it certainly is expensive.

Anita with your iPhone you should be able to get on the internet anywhere you have a phone signal through the data plan from your phone provider. Shouldn't need the hotel internet.

Patrick Alan said...

That elevator is the craziest.

There are also a couple of cross over floors higher up to be aware of. Say you're on floor 44, but you friend is on 18 and they are on different banks.

Rather than ride all the way down to 8 and then back up, I believe it is the GYM floor that crosses all banks as well. Might be something like 25.

Paula R said...

Bruce, this came in very handy..thank you very much. I was even teaching others how to work the elevators. I was like a pro. If I hadn't seen this I would be all flustered on the first day.

You and Les, should totally visit NYC again. I could meet you guys and introduce you to the subway system. That would be a lot of fun.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Paula R said...

BTW...glad you were on your best!!! It was a lot of fun hanging out with you.

Peace and love,
Paula R.