Braille Monitor                                                                                                        May 2004

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A Visit to the Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel

by Barbara Pierce

From the Editor: In 2000 we carried an article describing the layout of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. Some names have changed, but by and large the layout is the same. So, with adjustments to the names, we reprint the May 2000 article for your use again this year to prepare for our national convention.

The spectacular fifty-story atrium of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel, headquarters for the 2004 convention of the National Federation of the Blind.
The spectacular fifty-story atrium of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel, headquarters for the 2004 convention of the National Federation of the Blind.

I don't know about you, but I always find it helpful to know something about a convention hotel before walking into it for the first time. Several people who have already visited this year's convention headquarters hotel have pooled their information to give you a preview of the beautiful Atlanta Marriott Marquis, and I have tried to present the material in a way you will find useful. I am grateful to them for their help, and I take full responsibility for any errors or confusion that may have crept in.

The main entrance of the Marriott faces Peachtree Center Avenue, which is west of the hotel. To reach the Marriott from the street, you walk east through a covered courtyard formed by the Marquis One Office Tower on the south and the Marquis Two Office Tower on the north. At the east end of the courtyard are the main entrance doors.

The hotel lobby is long and narrow along its east-west axis. The bell stand and hotel registration desk are on the north side of the lobby at the west end, and the concierge desk is between the main entrance doors on the west end. On the south side at that end is access to the Executive Center, a complex of meeting rooms named for wines and wine-growing regions--Bordeaux, Rhine, Chardonnay, etc. To the east of this area are the health center (free to hotel guests and open from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.) and a locker area. At the east end of the building on the south side of the lobby are more meeting rooms, this time named for rivers--Tigris, Danube, Thames, etc. Along the north wall of the lobby are hotel offices. Two elevators connecting the lobby level with the Convention and International Levels and the parking garage are located at the east end. Stairs and escalators leading down to the Convention Level and up to the Garden Level can be found at the west end of the lobby (south of the hotel registration desk).

The elaborate set of glass elevators in the spectacular fifty-story atrium pictured in the accompanying photograph occupies the center of the lobby and can be reached on every floor by crossing any of up to four balustraded bridges. A word should be said about the elevators. All fifteen are located in the center of the atrium and stop at the Convention, Lobby, Garden, and Skyline Levels, but it is important to board the one traveling to the guest-room floor you are hoping to reach. They divide like this: floors 1 to 17, 18 to 30, 31 to 41, and 42 to 47. If you should find yourself heading to the wrong part of the hotel, press the button for the Skyline Level, which is the tenth floor. Stairs connect the Skyline Level with both the ninth and eleventh floors.

The Garden Level is immediately above the lobby. Several restaurants are located on this floor. The west portion of the Garden Level is connected to the larger east side by walkways on both sides of the escalators and stairs that lead down to the main entrance. The courtyard in front of the hotel is beneath this west end. Access to the two office towers is from the south and north sides of this central space. Several retail shops, including a gift shop, are located in the center of this west end, and a group of four meeting rooms occupies the far west end and northwest corner of the space. These rooms are named for glamorous get-away spots--Shangri La, Riviera, South Hampton, and Monte Carlo.

The entrance to the Peachtree Center Mall is on the south side of the west section. Access to the food court, a number of shops, and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) system is from this point on the Garden Level.

If you walk east a bit you will come to the two curving staircases leading to the Grandstand Lounge, which is partially suspended over the west end of the atrium. You can enjoy a casual drink while viewing the fifty-story atrium from this comfortable lounge. Hours: 4:30 p.m. to 12:00 midnight.

On the south wall of the Garden Level at about this point is Champions, the American Sports Bar. Choose from a wide assortment of appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Champions is open for lunch, dinner, and late-night entertainment. It also offers wine, cocktails, and beers from sixteen countries. Entertainment includes twenty-six televisions with satellite technology, two big screens, basketball, football, and eighteen-hole putting games, pool tables, and more. Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

At the north side of the Garden Level at the west end of the atrium is the entrance to the Marquis Steakhouse: great steaks with a southern flair. Dinner is served nightly from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and features traditional steakhouse fare with southern culinary accents complemented by an outstanding wine list.

One of the most attractive features of the Marriott Marquis is the Atrium Express, located southeast of the Steakhouse. Quick fare includes specialty coffee drinks, breakfast pastries, juices, fresh fruit, sandwiches, and sweets. Hours vary. You can order quick-to-prepare items and carry them to nearby tables.

Almost in the northeast corner of the Garden Level is Allie's American Grille: traditional American cuisine, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It features a hearty breakfast buffet every morning. The hours are breakfast: 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.; lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; dinner 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight. In the southeast corner of the Garden Level is the indoor/outdoor swimming pool, but please note that access to it is from the health club on the Lobby Level.

The Convention Level is one floor below the lobby. The west end contains several meeting rooms named for world cities--Sydney, Bonn, London, and Zurich. The State and Cabinet Rooms are also in this area. The Marquis Ballroom occupies the north wall of the Convention Level across most of its west-to-east length. The smaller Imperial Ballroom, which divides into Ballrooms A and B, occupies the south wall across from Marquis Ballroom 2. Two smaller meeting rooms (the Consulate and Summit Rooms) extend a bit to the north at the east end of Imperial Ballroom B, forming a shallow alcove at this entrance.

The southeast area of the Convention Level contains a number of meeting rooms named mostly for Canadian and European cities. An escalator connecting the Convention Level with the lobby of the International Level is at this east end of the hotel along with the two elevators already mentioned.

The International Level (formerly known as the Exhibit Level) is immediately below the Convention Level, on the hotel's east and south sides. The Courtland Street entrance is also in the International Level lobby.

If you are among those who made your room reservations early, you will be glad to know that guest rooms at the Marriott are equipped with irons and ironing boards, coffee makers, and hair dryers. If all the information about this year's convention opportunities has convinced you to join us in Atlanta but you haven't yet made your reservation, the Marriott may still have space by the time you read this, but our overflow hotel, the Hilton Atlanta and Towers, certainly does have room just across Courtland Street. The rooms at the Hilton are beautifully appointed. They are also equipped with hair dryers, coffee makers, and irons. The Hilton, too, has wonderful restaurants (five of them, including Trader Vic's), and its elevators are likely to be less crowded.

To make your room reservation at either of our hotels, call their direct numbers: for the Marriott (404) 521-0000 and for the Hilton Atlanta and Towers (404) 659-2000. Like those at the Marriott, NFB convention room rates at the Hilton are singles, doubles, and twins, $59; and triples and quads, $65, plus tax of 14 percent. Both hotels will want a $60 deposit, for which you can use a credit card, and the charge will be made against your card immediately and then applied to your hotel bill. Please note that both hotels have designated guest rooms for smokers and a lounge in which smoking is permitted, but otherwise they are smoke-free facilities.

The 2004 convention will be like no other we have ever conducted. You won't want to miss the event, and it won't be the same without you. So make your travel arrangements and room reservation at the hotel of your choice, and join us June 29 to July 5 for the most exciting and informative gathering of the blind to take place in 2004. See you in Atlanta.

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