by Doug Boone
From the Editor: If you attended the 1994 convention, which was held at the Renaissance Hotel in Detroit, then under other management, you may find, like me, that your only enduring memory is of walking around in circles, hoping to find the room for which you were searching. This experience was shared by blind and sighted conventioneers alike. The facility has undergone substantial renovation since that last convention, so much has changed. One thing, however, that has not changed is that the facility is still circular, so figuring out where you are in relation to where you want to be will undoubtedly save you steps and minutes of exercise at this summer’s convention. Even if articles like this one send you to the aspirin bottle, I urge you to read on. Absorbing even part of this information will hold you in good stead when you arrive at the Detroit Marriott in July.
Imagine that the Renaissance Center is the number five on a die. The dot in the center of the five is our convention hotel, the Detroit Marriott and the four dots at the corners are the four General Motors office towers. The 100 Tower is at the northwest corner of the complex, the 200 Tower is at the northeast corner, the 300 Tower is at the southeast, and the 400 Tower is at the southwest. The Detroit River flows along the south side with the RiverWalk following its north bank between it and the hotel. Our Motor City March will take place in this general area, and we will exit and reenter the hotel on this south side of the facility. The main entrance of the Renaissance Center is on the north side, and the main entrance of our hotel is on the west side. The first-floor area of the complex, called the Motor Lobby, has high security. These guards have been trained to be helpful and give directions. If they are not already very busy, they may be a little more enthusiastic in offering help than you would prefer, but they do know their way around and can help you get where you wish to go.
The hotel lobby is actually on the third floor. Our meeting rooms are mostly on the fourth and fifth floors. All elevators in the central area will travel to these floors and to the fortieth floor, which is the crossover level. This is important to know if you find that you have stepped onto the wrong set of elevators. You will also find escalators near the elevator lobby, which is at the very center of the hotel. These escalators connect the third, fourth, and fifth floors.
When you want to go to Level A to find the food court, you will need to walk around the circle on the third floor (lobby level) to the south side, where you will find an escalator that will take you down in three stages to the food court on Level A. You will enter the food court at the Coney Island hot dog stand. If you prefer using an elevator to get to the food court, take the main elevators to the first floor and go to the 100 Tower, where you will find a single elevator that goes to Level A. You will enter the food court just to the right of the popcorn shop. This means that, when you wish to return to the hotel, you should find the popcorn shop, and the hallway leading to the elevator will be just to your left as you face the shop.
Here are a couple of facts that may help as you are mastering this hotel. The Ontario Exhibit Hall, where the Independence Market and exhibits will be located; the Renaissance Ballroom, where the board meeting and convention sessions will take place; and the Mackinac Ballroom are stacked one atop the other on the third, fourth, and fifth floors. Taxis, limos, and private cars pull up to the Motor Lobby on the west side of the hotel, off River Road. Parking for the hotel is across River Road in what Michiganders call a parking ramp. The main entrance of the complex, and the one you are most likely to use when coming and going from the hotel, is the GM Lobby on the north side of the Renaissance Center, with Jefferson, a very busy street, running east and west just to the north.
Now that you have this overview of the Renaissance Center and the Marriott’s place in it, you should be ready to read Doug Boone’s description of the hotel. Doug is an expert in orientation and mobility. Here is the information he has gathered for us:
We begin our tour in the hotel lobby, which is on the third floor at the west end of the hotel. Leaving the lobby, traveling east over the bridge, you will find an up escalator on the right and an escalator coming down from the fourth floor on the left. An identical set of escalators is located just past the two banks of elevators on the east end of this hallway.
Continuing east past the first escalators, the area opens up. Here you have several options. Option 1: Continue walking straight ahead (east). As the hall closes in again, you are entering the elevator area. The first six elevators (three on each side) will take you to floors one, three, four, and five and the sleeping rooms on floors forty to seventy. There is only one call button for these elevators; it is located between the first and second elevators on the left (north) side. Continuing east, past the first six elevators, you may hear an echo in the center of the elevator area. You will then find six more elevators, which give access to floors one, three, four, and five and the sleeping rooms on floors nine through forty. The only call button for these elevators is on the south side, between the last and next-to-last elevators on the right side. Please note that the fortieth floor is a crossover floor, which allows access to the other set of elevators. Option 2: Continuing straight past the elevators and the east escalators will take you to the Ambassador Ballroom at the far east end of the hotel. Option 3: Immediately after passing the west escalators, when you reach the area that opens up, turn to the right and begin a counterclockwise route. It is possible to follow this hallway in a complete circle, bringing you back to this point. If you progress only a quarter of the way around the circle counterclockwise, you will find on your right (south), a glass door or opening. At this point you have two more options. A. This is the entrance to the Coach Insignia reception desk and elevator to the premier restaurant, located on the seventy-second floor. B. Walk past the desk for the restaurant (stay to the right) to the back of the area, and you will find the first of three escalators needed to reach the food court (Level A). Finding the food court will be addressed later. Option 4: Turn left (clockwise) at the west end of the elevator area and go a quarter of the way around and then turn left (north) to find the walkway to the Ontario Exhibit Hall. It is also possible to reach this point once you have progressed three quarters of the way around the counterclockwise circle discussed in option 3 above. From that direction the walkway to the Ontario Exhibit Hall will be on your right (still north). Note: All of these choices give you access to destinations on the outer circle. It is also possible to walk in a smaller, concentric circle around the elevators.
Accessing the fourth floor by escalator: The fourth floor is composed of an inner circle, which wraps around the bank of elevators and connects to meeting rooms by bridges leading to the north, east, and west only. Once you across the bridges, there is an outer circle that allows you to get to all of the meeting rooms on this floor.
In the hotel lobby begin walking east across the bridge. Locate the up escalator on the right. The next floor will be the fourth. Turn left at the top and make a u-turn to the west and walk until you contact a convex wall in front of you. You can find the restrooms by moving forward and to your left. As you enter the restroom alcove, you will be heading south. Back at the curved wall, you now have options:
1. If you turn right while facing the convex wall, you will move clockwise around the circle. The meeting rooms will be on your left. Heading this way around the north side of the circle, you will find the Renaissance Ballroom consisting of the Cabot, Cartier, and Columbus rooms (named for explorers). The Renaissance Ballroom can be accessed more directly by turning left (north) at the top of the escalator and walking clockwise around the inner circle until you can turn left or north. On this bridge you will intersect the outer circle described above. Continue straight across an open carpeted area into the ballroom.
2. Back at the rounded wall, if you turn to your left, you will be making the counterclockwise revolution around the southern half of the circle. All of the meeting rooms will be to your right. These rooms are named for painters: DaVinci, Greco, Michelangelo, Monet, Renoir, and Raphael.
Accessing the fifth floor by escalator: The fifth floor has only an inner circle, though it is larger than the inner circle on the fourth floor. When moving clockwise, you will find the rooms in A-B order on the east half of the circle, and on the west half they are in B-A order.
From either the hotel lobby or fourth floor, take the escalator to the fifth floor. At the top of the escalator you are facing east. If you turn left to locate rooms, you will be looking for small bridges on your left. The rooms are in the following clockwise order, beginning at the west end of the elevator hall: Duluth B & A, Mackinac Ballroom, Joliet A & B, Marquette A & B, (east end of elevator hall) LaSalle A & B, Cadillac A & B, Banquet Services, Richard B & A, and Brule B & A. Braille and print markers are located at the intersections of the circular hall and the bridges, about four feet from the floor. All rooms have these markers except the Mackinac Ballroom, which has a bridge about twice as wide as the other bridges on this floor. Restrooms on the fifth floor are located at the north end of the bridge, just before entering the Mackinac Ballroom.
Locating the food court, Level A: In the hotel lobby go east over the bridge, and, when it widens, turn right, circle around (counterclockwise along the right side of the circle) to glass doors. This is the entrance to the Coach Insignia Restaurant. Turn right and then bear right (you are circling around to the back of this small area). Stay to the right and locate the down escalator. At the bottom you will be on the second floor. Go right about forty feet and find another down escalator. At the bottom you will be on the first floor. The next escalator will take you down to Level A, where the food court is located. These escalators are close together. Head toward the center of the building, and you will enter a circle, which, when followed either clockwise or counterclockwise, will take you to the food court. As of March, these were the purveyors located in the food court: Arby's, Burger King, Coney Town, Fish City, Gyroland, HotPOP!, McDonald's, Salsarita’s, Fresh Cantina, Subway, That Sandwich Place, Venice Italian Market, and Zoup!
Elevator access to the food court, Level A: Go to the hotel lobby, take the elevator down to the Motor Lobby level. Upon exiting the elevator, turn right and continue until you locate wood-clad glass doors. Go through the doors and up a carpeted ramp until it levels off, then turn left. Continue clockwise around this circular area, about 150 feet, until you hear escalators on the left. Continue past the escalators. Stay left until you can turn left and go down a ramp. Continue staying left (about thirty feet) and locate a glass wall. Keep the glass wall on your left, and it will circle counter clockwise to an opening. The elevator is located in this area, which is about fifteen feet in diameter. It will open very near the McDonald’s in the food court.
Access to the People Mover: Greektown is ten to fifteen minutes away; the train runs clockwise to this destination. Go to the hotel lobby. Take the elevator down to the Motor Lobby level. Upon exiting the elevator, turn right and continue walking until you locate the wood-clad glass doors. Go through the doors and up a carpeted ramp until it levels, then turn left. Continue clockwise around this circular area, about 150 feet, until you hear escalators on the left. Find and go down the short flight of steps to the left. You will pass the escalators you heard before starting down the stairs (these go down to the lower level). At the bottom of the steps, continue forward until you hear escalators, which will take you up to the next level. You will be near the CVS drugstore. Find CVS and make sure it is on your right. Stay to the right and go down the hallway, a bit more than fifty feet. Go through the glass doors. Tokens can be purchased at a machine about ten feet inside the entrance to the area (slightly to the right). One dollar will get you two tokens, good for your outbound and return trips. I was told you can also use exact change or pay with a dollar on the train and get a token for the return, but this has not been confirmed.There you are. By July 9 you will have it down cold. But if you read this article over several times between now and the convention, you will be surprised how much it will help you to grasp the floor plans of the various levels. Good luck; see you in orbit.