The first thing to keep in mind about the site is that nearly everything you need is fairly close together. It's like being on a college campus, but you're not running from building A to building Z. Nearly everything you need will be in buildings A-C.
Out the front entrance to the Woodlands Hotel and to the left, it's just a few dozen yards to the visitors' center. That is an experience in itself. If you've purchased the historic district pass, that's where you catch the shuttle to the historic district and other resort stops. For those with vehicles, you can also drive to many of the entry points. You can also choose to walk along the path from the side door of the visitors' center into the historic district. And your pass to the district also lets you see the historic film at the visitors' center.
You can also reach the visitors' center out the back door of the hotel, down the scenic walk (which will be LESS scenic in March, when it's not fully spring yet, but still something to see). Hang on for more information about the scenic walk and the visitors' center later.
That same back exit from the hotel, puts you just a stone's throw from the convention center building. If you look at the map, you can see that it's less than a city block down the back path.
The convention center is stunning. Nearly every window overlooks the trees and gardens. This is a cross section (about a quarter) of one of the two banquet rooms. You may not be able to see the vaulted ceilings in the picture, since it's a little dark.
I absolutely fell in love with this annex room to the banquet room. The circular light fixture is a work of art that rivals the actual paintings and murals on the walls.
This is the serving nook of the banquet room. Remember that I mentioned murals on the wall? You can see part of one on the right, and the left are huge mirrors.
The lobby is no less impressive than the rest. That's a Baby Grande at the top of the staircase to the lower level classrooms and banquet room.
And, of course, no proper lobby on this resort would be complete without a fireplace. I'm not sure if it will be lit when we're there, but it's a glorious sitting room, complete with benches around the perimeter. Back at the hotel, there are three separate conversation nooks with chairs that match these benches that I'm sure we'll be making use of. That's also where you'll find the gorgeous restaurant where the continental breakfast is served.
I told you about the scenic paths between the buildings. Here are just a few shots of them.
Between the hotel and the visitor center, along the scenic path, is Huzzah! Restaurant. Huzzah! is only open for dinner and serves sandwiches, stew and soup, pizza, and a few other little things...including wine and beer. If you want a drink or someone in your party is not joining us for meals, that's one possible destination for dinner. Of course, if you've purchased the historic district pass, you can head into the district and purchase dinner there. Or you can grab a sandwich, soda or water, and baked goods at the little cafe in the visitor center. WONDERFUL sourdough bread! I'll have more updates about dining and shopping coming soon.
The standard rooms aren't cramped at all. The one Lisa and I visited had two double beds. It also had an easy chair, a table with two plush chairs, a TV hutch, a coffee maker...
Of course, the suites are even more impressive. The one we visited had a king-sized bed in the bedroom, TV hutch, and a single plush chair in there, which can be moved to the sitting area for more company out there. In addition, the central area contains a kitchenette, shelves, and bathroom.
The sitting area has a coffee table, two plus chairs, lamps and end tables, and a sofa that folds out into another bed...oh...and another TV hutch.
One of my favorite places is the open area behind the visitor center. This picture shows the stairs coming down from the scenic walk, complete with gardens and waterfall between. In the bottom right of this picture is the edge of a fabulous map table.
Inside the visitor center, you can also find a book store that sells reference materials about the time period and the area (we got to meet an author signing his historical novels while we were there!), a huge shop, information about the historic district, shows, tours, and so forth...and costume rental for any children you might have with you.
I really want to mention that costume rental again. Why? It has some perks. In addition to the kids getting to play dress up ($20 rental for the day for the clothing. You have to purchase hats, but you can do so at a discount. There is a $75 security deposit, but if you return it on time, they take that off the card.)... In addition, they give the kids a list of things they can do with the staff in the historic district...like churning butter or learning about weaving. If you're bringing along younger kids, that's a fun, interactive thing for them to do.
Remember, you still have time to register for EPICon at http://www.epicon-conference.com/