Braille Monitor May 2008
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by Mary Ellen Jernigan
From the Editor: Those who have never attended a national convention often express qualms at the prospect of walking into a completely unfamiliar hotel in which they will have to travel efficiently enough for a week to get to the meetings and seminars on time, locate and use restaurants, and find their own guest rooms and those of friends. As those who attended the 2006 convention can attest, the Hilton Anatole is a spectacularly beautiful and very large facility. Those of us who have attended national conventions before and lived to tell the tale have learned that one can do several things to help master the floor plan.
Taking a few minutes to absorb the sort of information
that appears in the following article can be very helpful. It was prepared two
years ago and is being reprinted again this year because reading it is perhaps
the most constructive step one can take. If you simply read through it once
quickly, however, you are likely to feel like taking two aspirin and going to
bed. Instead I suggest that, like me, those interested in shortening the learning
curve at the hotel this summer read slowly and attentively through the article,
memorizing the facts about where various meeting rooms and restaurants can be
found and building a rough mental map of the facility or refreshing the one
constructed two years ago, based on this information. Good luck with this exercise,
and have fun at the convention. By the end of the week we will all know where
we are going and even how to get there efficiently.
The Hilton Anatole consists of two main sections—the Atrium and the Tower. The Atrium section is further divided into Atrium I and Atrium II. At the lobby and mezzanine levels Atrium I, Atrium II, and the Tower are connected so that you can walk from Atrium I at the far east end of the hotel through Atrium II and into the Tower at the far west end of the hotel as if it were one building.
At levels above the mezzanine, Atrium I and Atrium II are contiguous with each other but not with the Tower—that is, to reach the sleeping rooms, you must use either the Atrium elevators or the Tower elevators, depending on which section your room is located in. The Tower sleeping room elevators do not stop at the mezzanine level. The Atrium sleeping room elevators stop at the mezzanine level, and you can reach the mezzanine level meeting rooms above the Atrium I lobby, the Atrium II lobby, and the Tower lobby. However, a flight of six or eight steps links the Atrium II mezzanine and the Tower mezzanine. If these steps are a problem, you can take a separate, single elevator that goes from the Tower lobby to the Tower mezzanine level. This elevator is located just west of the business center in the Tower lobby. At the west end of the Tower mezzanine is a stairway that leads to the Tower lobby. When you come down this stairway, you are facing east, and the Chantilly Ballroom is slightly ahead and on your right.
Atrium I is the farthest-east section of the hotel and sits slightly south of Atrium II. Think of the entire hotel as a high-top tennis shoe lying on its side with the sole running along the north side, the toe pointing west, and the open top to the south. The right angle formed where the back of the shoe meets the sole in the hotel’s architecture is actually cut on the diagonal so that, when entering the hotel on that diagonal, you are facing southwest. Atrium I is much shorter in its north-south dimension than are Atrium II and the Tower on the east-west axis. After you step into the main entrance, a left turn takes you towards the check-in desk and Atrium I. A right turn takes you towards Atrium II. Continuing west through Atrium II leads you to the Tower lobby.
If you stand with your back to the check-in desk, you are facing west. Atrium I is on your left, and Atrium II is slightly to your right and straight ahead. The Atrium elevators and stairway and escalators to the mezzanine-level meeting rooms are located across from the Atrium front desk and main entrance in the general area where the two Atria join.
The lobby level of Atrium I and Atrium II contains many meeting rooms, shops, restaurants, bars, and the Grand Ballroom, which is located on the south side of Atrium II. The Khmer Pavilion is located roughly above the Grand Ballroom.
The Atrium II lobby joins the Tower lobby just beyond the west
end of the Grand Ballroom foyer. At this juncture you find a small fountain
and a few steps going down, followed by a short walkway and then a few steps
going up again. If these steps are a problem, a wheelchair corridor bypass can
be accessed from the west end of the Grand Ballroom foyer. A number of areas
in the hotel have a few steps, which at first glance would seem to make parts
of the facility inaccessible, but they all appear to have work-arounds of some
The Terrace Restaurant (open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week) is located on the west wall of Atrium I. The Common Ground self-service café; La Esquina Cantina and Tequila Bar (described as Mexican cantina food with South-of-the-Border soul) are located in Atrium II. The Rathskeller Sports Bar and Restaurant and the Gossip Bar are located in the Tower lobby. The five-star Nana Restaurant is located on the twenty-seventh floor of the Tower.
The board meeting and convention general sessions will be held in the Chantilly Ballroom, located in the Tower lobby. Exhibits will be in the Khmer Pavilion. The NFB Independence Market and literature will be located in the Grand Ballroom. Breakout meeting rooms are located in all three lobbies and on the mezzanine level. An exit at the west end of the Tower lobby leads to the beautifully landscaped seven-acre Anatole sculpture park containing outdoor walking and jogging trails.
Now that you have reached the end of this article, go back to
the beginning and read it again. It really will make more sense the second time
through. When you get to the Hilton Anatole, you will be glad you did.