Let's face it
For groups planning a national meeting, airport hassle deters attendance. The convention centers know this and McCormick Place and the Donald E. Stephens Center in Rosemont recently installed flight screens that provide attendees with up-to-the-minute information — not the FAA-regulated schedule information, but information on real-time delays caused by air traffic control, aircraft maintenance, crew availability, and weather. It's no panacea, but having “glance and go” information available in the convention center does cut down on airport time and anxiety.
All that gilt, silk, and crystal, and the “name” designers, decorators, and chefs trooping into town means only one thing: Chicago is getting her “glam” on, opening opulent new hotels that are oases for upscale guests, champagne receptions, and top-drawer events. Grouped around the Magnificent Mile, these palaces range from the historic to the ultramodern.
One of the spring's biggest stories was the reopening in March of Chicago's 98-year-old Blackstone hotel on South Michigan Avenue after a three-year, $128 million restoration. The recreated landmark has kept most of its original architecture intact. The Blackstone is again a social center for the city, with 11,000 square feet of magnificently preserved event space. The hotel features 332 lavish guest rooms and suites (among them, the fabled Presidential Suite and the Smoke-filled Room), 19,670 square feet of meeting space, a health club, and a business center.
In contrast to the Blackstone, the Magnificent Mile welcomed an ultramodern hotel this spring. The Avenue offers modern luxury and the ultimate in technological amenities, as well as 350 guest accommodations and more than 18,000 square feet of function space.
The floods this past June have taken a toll, but the Midwest is coming back fast. Wisconsin Dells CVB wants planners to know that although the area was affected, all resorts are 100 percent now. It has more than 8,000 guest rooms and all its meeting venues up and running. Even Chula Vista Resort near Lake Delton has been all dried out since the lake burst through its banks into the Wisconsin River. The Chula Vista's new Wisconsin Dells Center offers space for sporting events and trade shows of all sizes, including 27 meeting rooms.
The former IBM Building on North Wabash will become a hotel. LaSalle Hotel Properties will create 335 rooms on floors two through 13 in the yet-unnamed “five-star, super-luxe hotel” with 17,000 square feet of space for meetings and events.
Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, which opened in January, offers 339 luxury rooms on Wabash Avenue. The hotel occupies floors 14 through 27 of a 92-story residential tower.
Chartres Lodging Group has reopened the old Chicago City Centre Hotel & Sports Club, newly transformed into the 500-room Doubletree Chicago Magnificent Mile. It has 17,000 square feet of meeting space.
Hard Rock Hotel Chicago completed a $106 million renovation. The hotel has 381 rooms, 20 suites, and conference facilities for up to 400 guests.
InterContinental Chicago O'Hare has just opened near the airport in Rosemont with 556 guest rooms and 70 suites, as well as 53,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
The 369-room Doubletree Hotel Chicago-O'Hare Rosemont, across from the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, has been purchased by the Dow Hotel Co. and will undergo a multimillion-dollar renovation.
A multimillion-dollar redevelopment has restored the Doubletree Hotel & Conference Center Chicago-North Shore in Skokie. The 369-room hotel has more than 22,000 square feet of redesigned, IACC-certified meeting space.
Starwood opened the Westin Lombard York-town Center just outside Chicago in Lombard. The hotel offers 500 guest rooms and 39,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
In Tinley Park, a 35-minute drive from Chicago, the 202-room Holiday Inn Select & Convention Center is considering an expansion of its 40,000-square-foot convention center. Plans would more than double that space.
The 497-room Hyatt Regency Indianapolis unveiled a $13 million renovation in November. Changes include new meeting space, bringing the total to 30,000 square feet.
Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre has had several enhancements and renovated 378 guest rooms, including 45 suites.
Construction began last year on a $30 million, 175-room Embassy Suites Hotel to be connected to the Earle Brown Conference Center in Heritage Center near Minneapolis. The hotel is expected to be complete in spring 2009.
In place of the Midland Bank Building comes the Hotel Minneapolis. The building has been transformed into a 224-room Doubletree hotel, with a restaurant and a conference center that will host meetings for up to 230 attendees.
In November 2007, the Hotel Pontchartrain became the Sheraton Detroit Riverside. Renovated in a two-year, $35 million makeover, it offers 367 guest rooms and eight meeting rooms.
The 235-room Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest completed a multimillion-dollar renovation of guest rooms, two ballrooms, and all 30,000 square feet of meeting space.
In downtown Cleveland, the mid-century landmark Breuer Tower is being converted into a Hotel Indigo, with an anticipated opening in spring 2010. The hotel will have 3,000 square feet of meeting space and be close to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Cleveland Convention Center.
Crowne Plaza Cleveland Airport opened recently with 16,000 square feet of meeting space and 238 guest accommodations.
The reflagged Wyndham Milwaukee Airport Hotel and Convention Center will undergo a two-year renovation of guest rooms and meeting space.
Kalahari Waterpark Resort and Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells now has 26 meeting rooms and a 17,000-square-foot ballroom, a total of 100,000 square feet of meeting and event space. Also new are six five-bedroom townhouse units.
The 483-room Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, connected via skyway to the Midwest Airlines Center and adjacent to the Bradley Center, U.S. Cellular Arena, and the Milwaukee Theater, will undergo an $18 million renovation.
The Abbey Resort on Lake Geneva has undergone refurbishment of its 334 guest rooms and suites and more than 40,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
Ask the CVB
Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau
Rosemont Convention Bureau
Tinley Park Chamber of Commerce
Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association
Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau
Grand Rapids/Kent County CVB
Saint Paul CVB
Greater Columbus CVB
CVB of Greater Cleveland
Greater Cincinnati CVB
Greater Milwaukee CVB
Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau