Keeper here and I went to the JW Marriott on Saturday and WOW I am sorry but it makes the Hyatt Marriott, and Westin look like a Motel 6 on Southport Road. Now I don’t know the square footage but I would guess that the JW has about as much as the ICC did when it open in 1972. The JW has twice or three times the amount of function space as the Marriott itself. According to the newspaper the 3rd floor ballroom is the largest in the state. So this is what I saw.
The video information displays that grace the walls are interactive. Need the weather report or flight info just tap on it and away you go. I wonder how long it will take an attendee to hack them. I worked through them and they seemed pretty handy but it was hard to find a building layout. Something you would thing would be 1st on your list of important info.
The first floor has not only a lobby bar and check in but the High Velocity Sports bar and Osteria Pronto Italian restaurant. Now this was 11am but the smells coming from the Osteria Pronto were …wonderful. I think many attendees will walk around the corner to ‘Friday’s’ for some more affordable food.
Another thing that attendees are surely going to enjoy is the Pre-function spaces. They are everywhere. Not especially in the lobby but the 1st floor events area, and the 2nd and 3rd floors. There are chairs, couches and tables scattered about, many with scenic views of Victory Field. I mean you can watch the game in comfort from the 3rt floor.
But as nice as those areas are the function space are MONSTERLY HUGE! The Griffon Ballroom is a little under the size of Hall A at the ICC, while the Whiteriver Ballroom is a little under half Hall A’s size. I peeked into the Whiteriver and even with it partition into small portions it looked pretty big. You could put three ‘True Dungeons’ in there with room to spare. It makes the Sagamore look dinky. Besides the larger event spaces, there about 30 smaller s function rooms scattered on all three floors.
Now getting lost may just be a problem, like I said it’s the largest hotel convention space in the state, what may solve that is the individual info screens at every door. You know at most convention hotels there are signs at the rooms telling you what event is in the room and the schedule for the day; well at the JW they are LCD screens. Now I don’t know if Gen Con will be able to list the events going on in a room for the day, but they will certainly have that option. Plus as time goes by all the hotels will be going to this system, it only stands to reason.
Now for the….peculiarities? The 1st may just be something that will be needs to be addressed is the lack of ADA capable doors leading from the ICC from the JW. So someone in a wheelchair would have a difficult time getting them open. Now the Tubes and the hallway from the ICC to the JW was the City’s responsibly I can only guess that task that will be taken care of later on, but it needed to be mentioned.
Next is access to the 1st floor function space. It’s kind of odd. If you’re in the 1st floor lobby you have to go 1st floor function space you will have to take the escalator to the 2nd floor walk about a hundred feet and then take a escalator back down to the 1st floor function space. Not to be confused with the now gone Whiteriver Ballroom that was at the ICC. It not going to be much of a problem since most attendees will be using the Gerbil Tubes to get to the JW anyway. Like I said it’s a little weird.
The JW Marriott is simply beautiful. From the lobby to the pre-function spaces to the ballrooms it is a delight to the eye and the last piece to the Indiana Convention Center puzzle. As someone lobbied his city leaders, state representatives, and friends and neighbors that the Arena was good idea because we needed to expand the convention center it is nice to see the payoff. It’s also been more than ten years since the late Steve Whitesides told me that the city was bidding for Gen Con and I would be tossed into the flame war that would entail. So Gen Con you have an expanded convention center and a brand new hotel waiting for you this year, plus as always Hoosier Hospitality to welcome you next August. This is how Gen Con is, we have a new space to grow and expand into. From Lake Geneva, to UWP to MECCA to MEC to the ICC were given a new space and we’ll come up with a new way to game in it.
I am and forever always will be
The Keeper of Ancient Gen Con Lore