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This time out, I go into detail on the UniCon hotels, including the ah...Herriott ;) A little injoke to myself and a group of others that are probably not reading it. I'd like to give fake names to the other hotels, just to keep this all fictional, but have nothing appropriately clever as yet.
With UniCon rolling around again for 2007, I went through the usual process. I got my press pass, and had reserved a room for me and a friend well in advance, and it was business as usual, or so everything seemed at first.
I arrived as usual, late Thursday afternoon, and even managed to reach the hotel a little early, thanks to miraculously light traffic in Boston for that time of year. Several years previous, I had grown tired of paying the exorbitant prices for the hotel's private parking garage, and instead had found a nice place just a few minutes' walk away to leave my car until Monday. Once I was inside the hotels, I barely ever left, only exiting into the growing warmth of the impending summer months when I had to move between hotels for the various events, since they spread them out across the three buildings.
The three hotels that comprised the event were all clustered together, forming a triangle of towering buildings in the heart of Boston. The main hotel was the Hyatt, the first hotel that had begun hosting the yearly event, almost to the beginning. The bigger events were all held there, and it's where most people stayed, guests of the convention, and patrons alike.
However, there were problems, most notably with it being the most popular of the host hotels, and with a lack of elevators, and a majority of people, if you got near them, it could feel like moving through a stream of molasses and boulders. That was on a good day. On a bad day, the entire few lobbies felt like that. I made the mistake of staying there my first year, since it was considered the main hotel, and it took me forever to get into an elevator to get into my room. And the stairs were right out, even if I could use the excercise. I did enough wandering around the hotels, I didn't need to haul my ass up 15 flights of stairs.
The main lobby of the Hyatt was an open concept, and you could look straight up past the 20 or 30 floors, only blocked by the tower for the elevators in the center of the lobby. All the balconies looking down upon the lobby were occasionally hazardous when someone had a little too much to drink, and too much free time for mischief, but in the few years I'd been attending UniCon, there'd been no major mishaps, at least.
Near the elevators, were escalators, and a regular stairwell, leading down to another lobby, and another beneath even that, and if one knew where to look, they could even find another esclator down to yet another floor, where many conference rooms were set up for various events and gatherings. Getting stuck on that floor was a nightmare my first year there, and until I found the esclator the following year, I avoided it like the plague, if I didn't have to go down there. There was apparently a con suite someonwhere on the floors just above the lobby, but I had never in all my years gone looking for it. I always intended to and never found the time, not even with the incentive of free food and drink. 2007 might have been the year that finally happened, if not for the events that occurred.
While the check in area dominated one wall of the square lobby, nearest the elevators, the other two that weren't that or the main doors, were reserved for eating areas, and a bar, where many people met up and hung out inbetween events, and late, late into the early hours of the morning.
The Hyatt was situated at the northernmost tip of the triangle of hotels, and if one were to look down upon the configuration, the next hotel would be the Herriott to the left. That was the second hotel added to the annual chaos that is UniCon, after only a few years. Not only were they needed for more people, but for more events, as things grew and grew.
The Herriott was also my hotel of choice, since the design made it easy to access the convention areas of the other hotels very easy. Staying at the Hyatt, one had to go a little out of their way to get to the third hotel, due to an odd design quirk that put the door close to one hotel, and not the other.
Another reason I chose to stay there was because they had many more floors, and many more elevators than the Hyatt, and things moved much quicker there. They still had their fair share of crowds, and traffic problems, but rarely any lengthy wait to get back to your room, like in the Hyatt.
The lobby of the Herriott was much like any other upscale hotel in a big city. Large doors to accomodate people, luggage, and carts for the bellboys and such to push around and carry everything. The floors were impeccably clean, and tiled in the main entry area, as well as being well lit, including light streaming in from the ceiling far above, much like the Hyatt lobby. However, the Herriott was wider, and taller, and the elevators were mostly banked towards the rear of the building.
The structure was also less of a square, and was made with graceful curves and arcs, and fewer lines. Looking up into the sky high above, the design of the Herriott resembled a giant ribcage, and you were inside some massive living creature, filled with tiny organisms occupying it's innards.
Much like the Hyat, the Herriott also had multiple levels for gatherings such as ours, and the center of the lobby was actually a giant pit, with escalators going straight down to the next floor below, and stairways curving along the giant circular cutout that was blocked off by a glass wall along the edge, and topped with a brass railing that glinted in the light.
The other floor was above the main lobby, and that's where the main restaurants were, including the place I usually opted to eat at when I didn't feel like venturing out of the hotel for food, which was pretty frequent. It was mostly prepackaged stuff, but it was good for the price, and you couldn't deny the convenience. If it was that food versus something at a food court, I'd take the hotel lobby food any day.
The third, and newest of the hotels, only having been into the event for a few years now, being part of the convention as often as I had been, actually, was the Hilton, in the southeast corner of the triangle.
The Hilton was the smallest of the three hotels, but still had their fair share of rooms, and a few conference areas, although again, they were the smallest out of any of the hotels. The Hyatt had the largest, until the Herriott's rennovations were completed in 2007, just before the newest UniCon began. I'd been in some of them for panels on skepticism and science, and they almost always ended up being standing room only, even pouring out into the hallways for many of the ones I was there for. They had been clamoring for years to get some bigger rooms to use, but with the rennovations at the Herriott keeping things in a state of flux, and not near full capacity, they remained in the small rooms, keeping the larger ones for those that needed the space more than the science and space panels, whcih were only slightly older than my involvement with the convention, and had yet to really form a large fanbase, despite overflowing rooms. I'd had hopes that 2007 would be different on that count as well.
The third hotel had the stranges layout of all of them. While it didn't have the exotic beauty of the Herriott's ribcage, it certainly stood out. It was smaller than the Hyatt, and it's central core building rose into the air only about 15 to 20 stories, but the rest of it was laid out in a trianglular fashion as well, almost like the convention layout in miniature.
Around the central building were three rays branching out to each point of its own small triangle, were smaller buildings still, all connected to the main core tower. The southermost rays were where the panels were held, on the lower floors in their conference rooms.
The lobby was tiled in red, resembling cobblestones in a way, and the first floor was pretty open, but much of the hotel was closed off, unlike the other two, and you could not see all the way up, which only made the hotel seem all the smaller to the people visiting.
Most of the main floor stretching back from the core with the main lobby and elevator bank was a long open lobby the length of the rear, small tower. It was carpeted once getting past the elevators, and was filled with chairs and tables for people to sit and talk, wait, or read. Restaurants lined one side, while the other was strictly seating and decorations like plants and a few paintings. While it was well lit, the lighting was also dimmer than the others, and made it feel more quiet, and cozy. Far in the back were escalators going up to the other floors, and more conference areas, and a stairway that went downstairs, and most of the years I'd gone was used to house the gaming areas, but this year the retailers and comic book people had been moved there, freeing up space in the Herriott as they were doing just a few rennovations on the very bottom floor where those usually were.
The elevators were not as numerous as the Herriott, and they were only less crowded because the Hilton was yet to be a big hotel with the convention, and while it was gaining in popularity, it was mostly uncrowded. The Herriott still won out for central location, even if it wasn't that geographically, but for convenience sake. Each year, however, the Hilton grew and filled with more people, and I was sure those elevators would soon be as much a nightmare as the Hyatt itself.
If it had as equally easy access to the other hotels, and better means of travel between floors, I may well have started going to that hotel over the others, due to it feeling much more welcoming, but by this time, I'd grown quite accustomed to my familiar surroundings and the people at the Herriott, and would likely continue going there for any future UniCons, or even if I needed a hotel in Boston to stay at, although that was unlikely, since I rarely ever came to my old home state, and had plenty of family in the area, they just weren't as convenient as living within the convention for the weekend.
However, since I'd cast my allegiance with the Herriott, that's where I rolled my lone bag into that Thursday night, with my backpack weighted down and tugging upon my shoulder, and my laptop sitting atop the rolling bag, and resting against the extended handle. I entered through the sliding glass doors, and the blast of air from the climate control systems inside the entry way shot out at like a sudden gust of wind, pulling at my black trenchcoat, whipping it briefly through the air.
I brushed my hair with my hand as best I could with my bags, and pulled my coat closed as I rolled my way up to an available check in person. Being quite early on Thursday, and the sun still in the air, not many people had arrived yet, and the bustle was at a minimum. From previous years, I knew it wouldn't last, but I did like beating the rush and being able to take things at a nice pace.