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Intro to Dearborn Ford Land and #FordNAIAS

The Dearborn Inn claims to be the world’s first airport hotel. And it was Henry Ford’s idea…

Dearborn Inn entrance

The Dearborn Inn, a Marriott Hotel.

What blew my mind on my six day adventure in Dearborn and Detroit was finding myself surrounded by Ford Motor Company, Ford Motor hotels, a Ford Motor Land shopping center and Henry Ford museum history with Ford Motor airplanes and cars.

Sure, I went to Detroit as a blogger guest of Ford Motor Company for the attendance of the 2014 North America International Auto Show.

Didn’t I expect to be surrounded by Ford Motor Company?

I did. But, not so soon.

I went three days early, before the auto show opened, and mostly by coincidence and some circumstance I was exposed to much more Ford than if I had just attended three days of Ford-sponsored auto show events.

Largely attributable to Marriott Hotels, I received a Ford Motor experience upgrade, even before the official events related to attending the auto show started.

Dearborn, Michigan is Ford Land, kind of like a reality-based Disneyland in a highly industrial sense, with an unanticipated entertainment and educational component. Like Disneyland, once I stepped out of the gates of Ford Land, I saw the real world abut the dream world bubble.

This is ultimately a piece on The Dearborn Inn, but mostly in the next post. Firstly, I should tell the background for why I was at the world’s first airport hotel this week in Dearborn, Michigan and why I was immersed in the heart of Ford Land.

Ford Experimental Vehicles

#FordNAIAS and Ford Motor Company blog world

This week I attended the North America International Auto Show (Twitter #NAIAS) in Detroit at the invitation of Ford Motor Company who sponsored the attendance of 150 bloggers. Ford paid for my airline ticket to fly from Monterey, Caliifornia to Detroit, Michigan and covered two nights lodging at the Westin Detroit Airport, a fine hotel.

Sunday night there was a dinner at the Westin with an incredibly sobering entertainment component featuring storytelling by The Moth. I’d like to think part of the show was a metaphorical story on borrowing, lending, gambling and stealing leading up to the Detroit city bankruptcy. The unfortunate truth of the matter is I think one story was truly about real life in Detroit, gambling and stealing for entertainment and dreams, and driving into a skid.

Monday, January 13, busses took us 20 miles from the airport into Detroit at 6:45am for the all day auto show at Cobo Center and Joe Louis Arena. I saw a couple hundred new cars and trucks and a few old ones.  It was back on the bus at night to the airport Westin hotel.

On Tuesday, we were bussed to The Dearborn Inn in Ford Land, midway between the airport and downtown Detroit. The hotel conference rooms held workshops and based on blogger interests, different bloggers attended different sessions. I learned about electric cars and visited the Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment (FIVE) room in one of Ford Motor’s extensive research and development buildings in Dearborn. This Ford facility was located about one half-mile down the road from the Dearborn Inn and across the street from The Henry Ford Museum.

FIVE is used to study car designs through virtual reality. The technology seems like it could be used in ten to twenty years to create an immersive travel experience where you will feel you are in another place through virtual reality sensory information. Basically at FIVE, you put on a camera headset and you are immersed in a digital world with a car and Pacific Coast Highway California daytime landscape setting or Berlin Potsdamerplatz nighttime city settting.


Ford’s social media blogger invitation is why I was at the Dearborn Inn this week. Search #FordNAIAS to see twitter media comments by bloggers on the event.

There will be a Loyalty Traveler post about electric cars which was my main takeaway from the auto show portion of the trip. It seemed like every auto brand from Porsche to SMART cars and Honda to Ford had electric cars at the show. There appeared to me a massive progressive movement in the transportation industry for electric vehicles. One workshop showed a chart and the number of electric cars sold from 2011 to 2013 doubled across the industry. Still, electric cars are less than 1 in 25 vehicles sold. Use the term EV if you want to be an insider on the ‘electric vehicle’ conversation.

Henry Ford

Henry Ford is someone I never gave much attention. I tried to recall reading a book about him or seeing a movie on the man and his life. I did not recall anything other than he built the Model T and paid workers $5 a day, a huge premium compared to the average wages for workers of the day. I watched an A&E biographical movie on Henry Ford on the web Tuesday night after arriving back home to Monterey from Detroit.

Henry Ford became one of the world’s top ten historically wealthiest industrialists before his death in 1947. Like Chris Rock says, we are not just talking about rich. The man was wealthy.

After six days in Dearborn and Detroit, I now realize Henry Ford and Ford Motor Company is an American institution.


Blogger Disclosure

Ford Motor Company paid for my travel and accommodations at the three- day NAIAS Digital Summit. I was not compensated in any other manner for my time. My opinions posted here are my own.


Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

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  • Rick January 16, 2014

    Thanks for the in depth and refreshing take on Detroit, Dearborn, and Ford. You didn’t take the easy, lazy cheap shots at Detroit that so many in the media do. Detroit has its problems, but there is a lot more to the story than bankruptcy and abandoned houses.

  • Thank you for sharing
    I support you
    I Love Ford

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