Note that when I say "second floor," it's American usage, where "first floor" and "ground floor" are the same thing. When I say "steps," I mean "Standlees," which are my strides — somewhere between a yard and a meter, and in this case measured by my pedometer. I'm 6'3" (about 190 cm) tall, in case that helps you calibrate what your steps might be relative to mine.
This is the view when exiting the Atrium tower elevators on the second floor. At first this may look like a casino area, but it's actually the video game arcade located on the second floor of the hotel. (There are no pinball machines, darnit.) With the exception of a short distance between the hotel's front desk and the elevator lobbies, it's pretty much possible to spend your entire convention without traversing a gaming area, but only if you avoid the restaurants on the ground floor (more about the restaurants in a later post). However, you do have to go through this arcade to get to the Atlantis' function rooms and the skywalk to the Convention Center.
As I understand it, Renovation isn't making much use of the function space in the Atlantis, and most of its functions will either be in the Convention Center or the Peppermill. This is one of the directional signs between the Atlantis elevator lobby and the Convention Center skywalk.
About midway along what I think is the most-likely walking path on the second floor between the elevator lobbies and the skywalk is this lounge area (technically, it's called the "Grand Foyer") outside of Bistro Napa, one of the many restaurants in the Atlantis. I reckon this area may prove to be a good meeting/gathering place, being centrally located.
Speaking of gathering places, there an interesting area called the Atrium Lounge located behind the Atrium tower elevators (that's the middle of the three towers). Despite being on the ground floor and near the gaming areas, I found it surprisingly quiet. It's a small, intimate lounge area that might prove to be a nice place to gather for a drink or a chat before heading out to dinner.
Approximately 275 steps from the Atrium elevators, you come to the boundary between the Atlantis and the Convention Center.
Unfortunately, with no events in the Convention Center the week we were there, we could go no farther than these doors. From here, we went downstairs and outside and approximated the walking distance to the Convention Center parallel to the skywalk. There is an elevator near these doors, by the way.
This is what the skywalk looks like from underneath. Incidentally, don't get this Convention Center skywalk confused with the one that connects the Atlantis to its overflow parking lot on the west side of Virginia Street. They're completely separate, and they're on nearly opposite ends of the hotel. Consult the Atlantis Floor Plans for details. Unfortunately, there's no access to the Virginia Street skywalk from the hotel's second floor; you have to go back down to ground level, across the gaming floor (or via the hotel's front desk), then back up to the Virginia Street skywalk.
As I mentioned, the Convention Center was closed and locked, but I did see this sign just inside the doors. As is unfortunately pretty common with convention centers, they prohibit outside food and drink, so don't go get cheap take-out food and try to take it right past the convention center's security people. I expect to see boxes labeled "textbooks" and "motor oil" at times.
This is a different view of the Atlantis-Convention Center skywalk. I make the distance between the hotel and Convention Center to be approximately 260 steps, so it's just over 500 steps from the elevators to the Convention Center. Exact distances will vary considerably depending on the tower in which you're staying. There are three towers, each with a different set of elevators.
I posted this in my hotel room review, but it bears repeating: there is a shopping center with a full-sized grocery store (FoodSource, part of the Raley's corporate family of stores that is big in northern California and Nevada) diagonally across the street from the Atlantis.
The thing with the columns is the Virginia Street Skywalk to the overflow parking lot. There's a IMO not-very-good seafood restaurant/sushi bar in that skywalk.
This store's posted hours are open until 11 PM daily.
There's also a Wells Fargo Bank on the corner. The shopping center itself ("Reno Town Mall") is no great shakes in my opinion, but there is a dry cleaner and some other services here. The hours are rather limited for the indoor portion of the mall, but I wouldn't worry about that.
Located on diagonally-opposite corners in front of the Convention Center and the Atlantis Hotel are these green shelters for the local bus system, and in particular the RTC RAPID/CONNECT bus line that runs between here and downtown Reno. This limited-stop bus line is intended to have light rail-like headways and stop distances. Of particular interest to Worldcon members is that the Atlantis/Convention Center stop and the Peppermill stop are consecutive stops on the system, and with ten-minute headways during much of the day, this bus is a potential alternative to the convention-provided shuttle, although of course it isn't free ($2/single ride, $5/day, more pass options available). Also, if you're staying downtown where the room rates are likely to be substantially less expensive, be advised that while RAPID doesn't run all night, there is a local route (RTC CONNECT) on the same line that does, although the headways are only hourly between 11 PM and 4 AM.
The RAPID/CONNECT stops heading toward Downtown are about 220 steps from the front entrance to the Atlantis. The stop coming from Downtown requires either using the Virginia Street Skywalk or going down to the corner traffic light to get back into the Atlantis.
This is what the Peppermill looks like when you're coming down in the Atrium tower elevators at the Atlantis. Lisa and I went to the Peppermill on our way back from a bus trip downtown on the RAPID bus, then walked back to the Atlantis after checking out the access to the Tuscany Ballroom (where the Hugo Awards will be). I make it 1,640 steps between the entrance to the Peppermill (hotel entrance, not casino entrance) and the hotel entrance of the Atlantis. On the cool spring day we did this, I didn't mind the walk very much, but on a hot summer day, I'm not sure I'd be so happy with it, and I'd likely take the shuttle or bus, or even drive between the two properties.
I mentioned cheaper motels earlier. This one is located roughly halfway between the Peppermill and the Atlantis. I know some Renovation attendees are staying here. It's a pretty good option. You probably can score some really good Sunday-through-Thursday night deals downtown, although of course that's a couple of miles away by bus or commuting by car. I'm not directly encouraging people to book outside of the convention's room block — I have a room in the Atlantis myself, and I know as a former Worldcon chair how important it is for a Worldcon to make its room block — but if the high hotel rates are the only thing keeping you from coming to Worldcon this year, I would encourage you to book a cheap room downtown and commute instead; with the good bus connection, it's probably going to save you a lot of money at the expense of easy access to your hotel room throughout the day.
I don't have pictures of the inside of the Peppermill around the Tuscany Ballroom area. I do recommend entering through the hotel lobby, not through one of the casino entrances. On our first attempt, we came through the northeast entrance and got thoroughly scrambled up by the casino layout. Coming from the hotel lobby is a reasonably straightforward 185 steps including an escalator (fixed stairs and elevator also available). Although there was an event happening in the ballroom while we were there and all of the air-walls were up in the ballroom, I can see why Renovation's organizers are so jazzed about this ballroom. It has a huge pre-function area with a huge amount of mingling space, a gelato shop, and easy bar access. I think getting to the Hugos early in order to hang out in the lobby may be a winning strategy if you enjoy socializing.
I think I have a better feel for the layout of the property now that I've stayed there for two nights. Of course, it will be different with a Worldcon going on there and with thousands of other attendees present. While we were at the Atlantis, the big deal in town was the US Bowling Congress going on downtown, which isn't quite the same thing.
I hope these photos and write-up helps some of you get your own feel for what it's going to be like this summer. Personally, I wish we were going to have the cool, even cold weather we had when we stayed there May 8-9 rather than the likely very hot weather in mid-August.