Tuesday, November 16, 2010

PMX 2010 - Tsunami Scoreboard Part Two

Tsunami Scoreboard Part Two - The Hotel

Let's start with the layout, first and foremost.

The lobby floor looked very nice. Swanky is the word I'd give it, what with the mod theme they had going on. They had some comfortable couches surrounding a cozy fireplace, a bunch of armchairs with small coffee tables, taller chairs and taller tables for the bar area that we wound up using for socializing anyway and very shiny tiled floors. There was also a set of glass sculptures arranged in the lobby right in front of the elevators, and I remembered saying to a friend that all it’d take was one ill-placed cosplay prop for the whole thing to come crashing down. (We all had a good chuckle and carefully skirted the display from there on.)

The lobby floor was where everything went on. Aside from the main area, where check-in and check-out took place, there was a small outdoor patio with wooden lawn chairs and tables and one of those heating lamps like you might find at Universal Studios Hollywood during the colder peak season months. There were also two hallways on either side of the elevators.

To the left was the ballroom area, where the live programming rooms were crammed into the biggest back rooms available (and still barely managed to fit anything). The Dealer’s Room and Artist Alley were also located back here in smaller conference rooms, along with two video rooms that doubled as panel rooms. Farther back was another conference room that was set aside to be used as the fashion boutique for the Lolita-related goods. A Starbuck’s cafĂ© area could also be found just around the corner back toward the patio area on the way back to the elevators, along with a grand piano which the photographers spent most of their time lurking nearby. I spent about 20 minutes here with Lucas, who was cosplaying as Austria while performing a short concert featuring selections by legendary composers such as Nobuo Uematsu, Yoko Kanno and Taku Iwasaki and others, as well as the trademark Hetalia theme song, “Marukaite Chikyuu” before we were asked to pack up and leave the piano alone.

On the right, was a series of winding hallways that reminded me of the puzzle rooms in The Legend of Zelda. These were dotted here and there with small conference rooms and offices for use by convention staff and panelists. Con-Ops, Registration and the room where I received my press badge were all located in the first part of the hallway, and then when you made another left turn you would find the CosFest lounge (for all your Masquerade check-in needs) more staff-related offices, some panel rooms and at the very, very end, the room in which Karaoke took place.

It seemed as though things would be going quite smoothly until around the latter half of the evening when I noticed a scary-looking security guard hanging around by the elevators. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that this fellow was positioned here to remind everyone of a strict “No parties” policy and to ask for proof of a room key before allowing anyone past him to the elevator doors themselves. For me this was reasonable, and I assume there are hotel policies for things like this, but having to run up and down from the room to the lobby over and over to bring my roomies the extra key or to say “They’re with me” or pretend they lost theirs or something else that was equally ridiculous became too much of a hassle for me. I’m probably not sharing my room next year if I can help it, especially when the people I chose to stay with me this year deliberately caused more and more friction with the hotel staff anyway.

Another security guard was placed on our floor, I noted later, and his job was apparently to intimidate us when we spoke above a whisper and threaten to have us evicted if we were causing disturbances of this sort after 8pm or before 10 am. I experienced two incidents when I was falsely accused of causing a disruption on my floor as well. Both times I was completely alone in the room changing my costume or adjusting my wig or putting in my contact lenses when there’d be a loud rapping at the door and Mr. Security Guard was standing there, glaring at me through his dark glasses and telling me to keep it down or else, and I would say, “Okay” and close the door.

After asking around, I heard from other PMX attendees that this seemed to be a similar case for most of the floors on which “convention block” applied. However, on Sunday when I asked at the front desk about what defined “convention block” and offered a friendly suggestion, I was handed a business card with a general toll-free number and told to ask for someone named Thomas Lee. I have yet to actually attempt this, but if I do, I’ll let you know how it turns out.

From all of this information, I can get a basic grasp of how this hotel handles conventions—they've never done it before PMX 2010. I kind of feel a little bit guilty, since anime conventions are similar to prom, but with maybe five times as many socially awkward teens. I had a buddy who worked at one of the hotels near Universal before and he used to tell some pretty grizzly tales of Prom Night at the Universal City Hilton, so I do know that most of these policies are in place to protect hotel employees. (Plus, it was an anime convention of all things to be the very first big event at this location.)

However, the mere inflexibility of the Pasadena Hilton’s staff was astonishing. Some of the conflicts I witnessed or heard about later on went well beyond the “this I the first time our hotel has dealt with this situation before” excuse. On Sunday during check-out, I’m pretty sure the bellhop and the young lady and man who were behind the front desk were smiling so cheerfully was because they were so glad to see this con go away.

Swell Points Earned: 2.5

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