by Mary Ellen Jernigan
From the Editor: For decades now Mary Ellen Jernigan has taken an active part in planning and coordinating convention arrangements. Since Dr. Jernigan’s death she has chaired this effort. Among other things this means that she knows the resources and layout of our convention hotels better than anyone else in the NFB. She has also been providing verbal descriptions of buildings since she joined the organization. Here is her description of the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. If you read through it carefully several times, you should be well-equipped to make sense of hotel geography when you arrive in July. This is what she says:
In recent years I have written descriptions of the convention hotels for publication in the Monitor. By relating those descriptions to our various convention activities, I hope that this article will give you a head start on navigating the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort when you arrive. The hotel is situated at the headwaters of the Everglades on a 230-acre site along the Shingle Creek. Travel time to the Orlando International Airport is about ten minutes.
Although I have tried, I haven’t been able to come up with an image as memorable as “a high top tennis shoe lying on its side” to picture the footprint of the hotel. Nor can I speak easily about north, south, east, and west, because, if you were to walk in the front door of the hotel with compass in hand (which I did), you would find that you were heading not south, not east, nor even southeast, but a little east of southeast—120 degrees to be exact.
Even so, I think you’ll find navigating the hotel to be quite easy—probably easier to do than to describe. It seems to me that the best approach to mastering the Shingle Creek geography is to think of the hotel as being made up of several distinct areas and to learn how to move about within each area and how to travel from one area to the next.
The first thing to understand about the hotel is that the meeting rooms are located in an area that is totally separate from the sleeping rooms. The sleeping room elevators do not go to the meeting room levels. This means that the starting place to find any meeting room is always the main lobby of the hotel. I will give directions to the meeting room areas after I have described the main lobby and the elevators serving the sleeping rooms and the lower lobby.
Vehicles arriving at the hotel stop immediately outside the main door of the lobby. When you have come in the front door, the bell stand is on your right, and the hotel registration desk is located to your left along the same wall as the front door. Directly across from the front door toward the far side of the lobby, you will find the Birdcage, a tall, free-standing structure about three feet across filled with colorful, chirping tropical birds that is used by hotel staff and guests alike as a major landmark and meeting place. Just beyond the Birdcage is a balcony railing overlooking the level below. Since the odd compass orientation of the hotel makes speaking of facing, turning, or walking north, south, east, or west not particularly meaningful, I will use the following terms in describing the lobby: front door side of the lobby, balcony side of the lobby, facing the balcony, facing the front door, and standing at the Birdcage.
Two sets of elevators are in the main lobby. One set serves the lobby, the lower lobby, and floors 1 through 10. These elevators are located inside a short, free-standing elevator corridor perpendicular to and directly across from the hotel check-in desk. The corridor has an opening at both ends—one end opening toward the hotel check-in desk, and the other end opening toward the balcony side of the lobby. If you turn right as you exit the elevator corridor at the balcony end, you will be heading directly toward the Birdcage.
The second set of elevators serves the lobby, the lower lobby, and floors 10 through 14. To find this set of elevators from the front door of the hotel, cross the lobby to the Birdcage (at this point you will be facing the balcony rail overlooking the lower level) and turn right, walking until you dead-end at a display case outside of the entrance to the Cala Bella restaurant. The elevators are now immediately on your right.
The numbering system for the sleeping rooms is based on the floor and the wing in which the room is located, with the floor number given first followed by the wing designation and then the room number. On each sleeping room floor, as you leave the elevator area, a tactile placard on the wall gives a diagram of the wing layout. The letters and numbers on these placards are cut quite deeply into the placard and can be read tactilely.
If you are standing at the Birdcage facing the balcony rail, the staircase leading down to the lower level will be to your right along the balcony rail. Farther to your right is the fine-dining Italian bistro, Cala Bella. If you are facing the balcony rail and turn left at the Birdcage, you will be walking along the balcony side of the lobby. You would pass the opening into the 1-to-10 elevator corridor on your left, and, continuing, you would find the concierge on your right. Immediately beyond the concierge’s desk is a small single elevator which serves only the lobby level, the lower lobby level, and sleeping rooms located on the third floor. Just beyond this elevator is the entrance into the spa. In this corner of the lobby you will also find men’s and women’s restrooms and a staircase leading to the third floor sleeping rooms.
Located on the lower level of the lobby is the large Café Osceola, which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, offering both buffets and ala carte menu options. Also on this level is the 18 Monroe Street Market, which is open twenty-four hours a day and is a combination convenience store and quick-service restaurant. The restaurant part of the operation opens at 6:30 a.m. and continues well into the evening, offering hot and cold deli-style sandwiches, salads, pizza, hot entrées, and desserts for either dine-in or take-out to your room or the outside eating area near the pools. This is a large area containing tables and chairs. The tables are shaded with awnings. The hotel fitness room is also located on the lower lobby level.
The hotel swimming pools and hot tubs, outdoor function space and recreation areas, and the Cat-Tails Pool Bar and Grille are all accessed from the lower lobby level. All of this outdoor space is located on the rear side of the hotel.
The dog relief area closest to the sleeping room section of the hotel is accessed from this lower lobby level. An additional dog relief area is near the meeting rooms.
Outside the hotel on the front entrance side at the lobby level is a stand-alone facility housing a steakhouse restaurant, called A Land Remembered, and the Shingle Creek Clubhouse Grille. As you leave the hotel, a long covered walkway to the right of the front entrance leads to these restaurants. The Clubhouse Grille is open for lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. A Land Remembered is open for dinner only.
The meeting space part of the hotel is connected to the main lobby and the sleeping rooms by a wide passageway accessed only from the lobby level. Starting at the Birdcage, facing the front door side of the hotel, walk across the lobby to the front door, and turn left just before the door. This places you at the entrance to the passageway connecting the lobby and the meeting space. If you are coming into the hotel through the front door, make a right turn immediately after passing the bell stand. This also places you at the entrance to this passageway. Along both sides are restaurants and shops. As you walk toward the meeting space, the first thing on your left will be Smooth Java, a full-service coffee bar featuring Starbucks coffees, followed by the Headwaters Lounge, which serves appetizers, salads, and sandwiches, as well as beverages, and finally the Banrai Sushi Restaurant. The right side of the passageway as you walk toward the meeting space has a guest services counter, where you can obtain tickets and transportation to various local attractions or arrange for an Enterprise rental car, followed by a number of retail shops, and the Tobias Flats and Watering Hole, serving soups, salads, grilled flatbread sandwiches, and desserts.
After passing by the retail shops and eateries, you come to a large rotunda, which serves as the entryway to the hotel’s meeting space, sometimes referred to as the Convention Center. Continuing straight, crossing to the far side of the rotunda, you will find a wide, short flight of steps leading to Level 2 of the meeting space. At the base of the steps to the right and the left are escalators and staircases leading down to Level 1 of the meeting space. The escalator and staircase on your right take you to the Panzacola-Sebastian wing of the meeting space on Level 1. All of our meetings and activities on Level 1 are in the Panzacola-Sebastian wing. The escalator and staircase on your left lead to the Gatlin wing of the Level 1 meeting space. A small escalator located to the right of the steps also leads up to Level 2 of the meeting space.
None of our meetings and activities takes place in the Gatlin wing. If you go down that escalator or staircase on the left, you cannot get to our meeting space in the Panzacola-Sebastian wing except by coming back up to the rotunda and taking the other escalator or staircase leading to the Panzacola-Sebastian wing.
The staircase is located between the up and down escalators. A small elevator also serves the meeting space in the Panzacola-Sebastian wing on Level 1, the rotunda, and the meeting space on Level 2. Please note that a small elevator also goes from Level 2 to the rotunda and to the Gatlin wing on Level 1. This means that, if you happen to take the Gatlin wing elevator from Level 2, you need to get off at the rotunda. Remember, if you end up in the Gatlin wing (by taking either the wrong elevator, the wrong staircase, or the wrong escalator), you need to return to the rotunda to get to the Panzacola-Sebastian wing. Level 2 of the meeting space is also served by two short escalators going only between the rotunda and Level 2—the down escalator being near the small elevator serving the Panzacola-Sebastian wing, and the up escalator being near the small elevator serving the Gatlin wing.
If you continue straight ahead after you reach the top of the short flight of steps leading to Level 2, you enter a corridor containing the ten Wekiwa meeting rooms. These rooms are along both sides of the corridor with 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 on the right and 10, 9, 8, 7, and 6 on the left.
If at the top of the steps you were to turn left and continue walking as far as possible and then turn right, you would enter a corridor containing the eleven Suwanee meeting rooms. These rooms are along both sides of the corridor with 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 on the right side and 21, 20, 19, 18, 17, and 16 on the left. Restrooms are just ahead of you before you make the right turn into the Suwannee meeting room corridor. Also located on Level 2 are the St. John’s meeting rooms, which we do not use for any of our meetings.
The general sessions, the board meeting, the banquet, the exhibit hall (which this year includes the Independence Market), registration and preregistration, resolutions committee meeting, and a number of our other activities and meetings are located on Level 1 in the Panzacola-Sebastian wing, which contains the Panzacola ballroom and the Sebastian ballroom—both of which divide up into many smaller meeting room sections. The names of the sections of the Panzacola ballroom begin with F, G, or H. The names of the sections of the Sebastian ballroom begin with I, J, K, or L.
As you enter the Panzacola-Sebastian wing from the escalator, staircase, or small elevator, you are entering an L-shaped passageway. As you continue walking straight ahead, you are walking along the short arm of the L. The Panzacola meeting rooms F-4, F-3, F-2, and F-1 (in that order) will be on your left. No rooms will be on your right. This short arm of the L is about two-hundred feet long and ends at the Panzacola registration counter. (We are not using the Panzacola registration counter, but it is a good landmark to use to find the intersection of the long and short arms of the L.) Turning left at the Panzacola registration counter, you enter the very long (about five hundred feet) arm of the L. Along the left side of the long arm of the L passageway (also known as the Panzacola-Sebastian Pre-function area) will be entryways (in this order) to the Panzacola G and H rooms, and the Sebastian I, J, K, and L rooms. Along the right side of the passageway are glass doors and windows to the outside of the hotel, restrooms, and the Sebastian registration counter. Preregistration on Monday, July 4, will be at the Sebastian registration counter. Registration on Monday, July 4, for those who have not preregistered will be farther down the L beyond the Sebastian registration counter. Later in the week all registration will be at the Sebastian registration counter. During much of the convention the hotel plans to offer buffet-type fast food service (quick breakfasts, beverages, soups, sandwiches, salads, chips, and perhaps some hot entrées) in the Panzacola-Sebastian Pre-function area.
General sessions will be held in Sebastian I and J. The exhibit hall will be in Sebastian K and L, which is the last section of the Sebastian ballroom at the very far end of the five-hundred-foot passageway. Doors across the far end of the passageway lead outside to the event parking lot, where the CARS Division Auto Show and the Blind Driver Challenge™ demonstrations will take place. Exiting these doors and turning left will lead to another dog relief area.
As I bring this article to a close, I offer one final navigation tip. If after studying this material you remember only one thing, it should be this: To go to any meeting of any kind from inside the hotel, you must get yourself to the rotunda.
See you at the rotunda!