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The Virgin Chicago gets photobombed by Trump Chicago
We'd be lying if we said we're not excited about any news that comes out of the Virgin Hotel camp and since our last stroll by the Chicago property, we're even more excited about seeing some hard-core construction going on.
There's already a lot of action going on in this particular Chicago 'hood with a few handfuls of hotels, a city college, and plenty of office space surrounding the Loop building. But with concrete barricades and construction workers cleaning up the Virgin building's vintage detail, this is the action we're most excited about.
We also spied Virgin-red tape securing every window as wells as a red fence and a giant red tarp at the top of the building. Alas, the scaffolding is a boring beige color.
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As the grand finale to cocktail week here's a round-up of some of the nifty things we see going on in the world of hotel bars and bevvies. What do you see goin’ on out there? Let us know!
A salad in every sip: Complementing the trend we told you about in our What’s Out, What’s In column where the drink IS the meal, we’re finding that crafty mixologists are making our drinks a wee bit healthier and sneaking veggies into them to make sure that we’re getting all of our daily recommended vitamins.
Splashes at Surf and Sand Resort in Laguna Beach has a VegGin’ on the Rocks made with Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin, agave nectar (which is said to have a low glycemic index, BTW, which means your blood sugar won’t spike), lime juice, and baby arugula–-all muddled together and topped with house made soda water. You can really taste the goodness.
The Fairmont Chicago’s Green Goose Cocktail features a trio of super foods: kale, celery and granny smith apples. The juiced greens are mixed with Grey Goose, fresh lime juice, chartreuse, and simple syrup for a nutrient-filled flavor explosion.
The appropriately-named Salad Cocktail from the Shangri-La Hotel Toronto is a heart-healthy concoction of juiced celery, spinach, beet, apple and pear combined with 1.5 oz of gin. To top it off, it’s garnished with sherry vinaigrette soaked raspberries and sous vide beets and crisp romaine leaves. We’re getting into the realm of “drink as dinner” with this one.
At Caesars Entertainment Resorts and Casinos in Atlantic City you can find the savoury Red Pepper Margarita–-a mix of red pepper juice, jalapeno rings, five-spice simple syrup and tequila with a smoked salt rimmed glass. Next trend below!
National Tequila Day / Hotel Cocktails / Hotel Bars / Tucson Resorts / Chicago Hotels / Kimpton Hotels / JW Marriott Hotels / LA Hotels / Miami Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / → All Tags
Oh, how we love made up holidays that give us an excuse to pig out (see National Burger Month), bliss out (check July's National Ice Cream Month details) or…and this is our favorite by far, get out-and-out liquified. Yes, it's National Tequila Day folks, and that means you have permission, nay, an obligation, to celebrate the fruits of the beloved agave plant. Oh, and if you get this confused with National Margarita Day, it's OK, no one will get mad.
Where to honor this day? Good question. The following hotel bars pay tribute to this sanctified holiday in their own special way, or they just happen to pour a damn good marg, in our humble opinion. And while we know tequila comes from Mexico, if you're not there already, you'll need an alternative locale to indulge (or..like everyday). So, pull up a barstool and place your order. It's 5pm EVERYWHERE today.
Can't make it to a bar midweek (aw, you poor thang), we've got some recipes here so you can get to sippin' at home.
Tanque Verde Ranch, Tucson, AZ
This working dude ranch is truly legit. You'll learn how to properly ride a horse, wield a lasso, hike trails, and even mountain bike in the desert. So after all that, you'll want a beverage, and you'll get it in the Doghouse Saloon. It sounds like you're in trouble, and you might be after a few of the Prickly Pear margaritas. Interestingly enough, the prickly pear used is harvested right on site, so it's the real thing. They even use it in syrup for pancakes! But guess what, we loved the Red-Neck Margarita even more, which subbed the tequila for Jack Daniels! Whoa. But that's a story for another holiday.
Hotel Palomar, Chicago
The "Enemy of the State" tequila cocktail was created by bartender, Alex Renshaw and includes Milagro Reposado, Lustau PX sherry, Dark Matter cold brewed coffee and Angostura bitters. Perfect for those who anticipate needing a dose of caffeine and some liquid courage to handle Chi-Town's sassy attitude.
The Bowery Hotel, NYC
An agave accented take on the traditional vodka Moscow version, the Mexican Mule combines tequila with ginger and bitters to create one knock-your-socks-off cocktail. The mixologist at the hotel makes it with Qui Platinum Extra-Añejo tequila, 3 oz of fresh ginger, 3 dashes of Angostura bitters, and tops of the glass with an orange twist.
Tom Stringer, who will reinvent the Talbott, also designed Grant Achatz's Alinea, shown here
Two more Chicago hotels—The Talbott Hotel and ACME Hotel Company—are taking steps to bolster the swank of their interiors. The news follows our recent announcement that the historic Chicago Athletic Association (CAA) is enlisting the services of the hotter-than-now Roman and Williams design firm and our peek at the new and fine rooms expected this October at Thompson Chicago. It has us wondering; is the Windy City turning a corner when it comes to hotel design?
More on that deep thought in a moment, but first, The Talbott and Acme.
An insider has shared that The Talbott has hired award-winning designer Tom Stringer to tackle a significant refresh of the historic hotel, including the lobby and all 149 guest rooms. Known in Chicago for his work on Grant Achatz’s Alinea, Next and Aviary restaurants, Stringer plans to honor the hotel’s old-world European charm while also modernizing the dated design. That means bringing the interior design up to speed with rooms that already feature advanced in-room technology amenities, namely Apple Mac Minis. It's all very good news for the hotel, which also saw the opening of Ryan Poli’s amazing Little Market restaurant in its lobby this past year. So with high tech rooms, a top Chicago restaurant and soon the updated design, Talbott will be sitting prettier than it has in years.
A few months ago, we gave you the scoop on the $168-million renovations undergone by the Hyatt Regency Chicago, including a lobby modeled after an airport (in a good way), face-to-face as well as self-service check in, and touch-screen hotel and city directories. The makeover also included a remodeling of the guest rooms, restaurants and lobby bar.
As you'll see in the photos, the entire lobby consists of two-floors of expansive, open space. The front desk and Big Bar are located on this perch, and below one will find Stetson's Modern Steak + Sushi, American Craft Kitchen & Bar and Market Chicago.
To give you an idea of the scope of this overhaul, we've gathered some before and after photos of the hotel. The big thing to notice in the lobby area is that the huge fountain has been replaced by the American Craft restaurant, and the common space has been made much more user friendly. Big Bar has done away with the orange-colored decor in favor of a sleek, modern marble shine.
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What's the likelihood that you haven't heard the word "cronut" like every day it seems for the past two months? We have and finally had to figure out just what in fresh hell did it mean. Every reference seemed to accompany photos of people waiting in extraordinary lines forming at dawn (with some folks sleeping on the ground) waiting for…something. Well, that something is apparently the newest pastry sensation to hit this side of the Atlantic. The "cronut" is a cross between a donut and a croissant and was invented by New York pastry shop owner Dominique Ansel.
Sugar freaks went wild over the things and soon Ansel found himself with a cult following, so he quickly trademarked the name and began serving just 300 of the delicacies a day to the masses. Hence the crazy lines for a treat that changes flavor each month. Coming up in August? It's a toss up between coconut and passion fruit. Mr. Ansel hasn't made up his mind, yet.
Naturally copycats came out the woodwork, but found they couldn't exactly use the word "cronut". But that didn't stop them from capitalizing on the concept. Now there's "doughssants" at the West Town Bakery in Chicago's Acme Hotel. Chris Teixeira, owner of the bakery and former pastry chef de partie at Sixteen at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, began making his pastries just a few weeks ago with a few flavors, chocolate-raspberry, blueberry-lavender and coffee-cream cheese and he has plans to roll out more blends. They cost just $3.50 each, compared to the $5 New York cronut.
But like everything else, eventually a bit of a pastry war started, with other chefs challenging the cronut creator! So who's got the best baked good now?
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Back in December, the old Sutton Place Hotel in Chicago shut down in order to get Thompsonized by Thompson Hotels. We admit, we were a little worried about when that hotel would open back up. But today our fears have been laid to rest. The Thompson Chicago will show off its seriously foine rooms on October 1.
We found rooms then starting at $263 a night for a 21-day advance purchase rate. Or you spring for a more flexible rate of $329. There's also an AAA rate of $312.55 which should save you some dollars. That rate takes care of a 320-sq.ft. king superior room with a city view, REN spa amenities, 24-hour room service, a fully stocked minibar with Dean & Deluca snacks and what appears to be a velour banquette in your room. Different but totally cool. We're also loving that bed too. And that artwork has us intrigued.
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Being big sports fans ourselves, we' ve always wondered--what happens when a professional sports team takes over a hotel? Do they get to stay in the biggest suites? Can they order whatever they want through room service? Do they have to pay for WiFi? Are they
walking around naked, er, are they paying $4 for that Snickers bar? We finally got some some insider details on what goes down when players are up...in the guest rooms and in short, the answers to these questions are: no, no, no and no.
The JW Marriott Chicago recently hosted the Chicago Blackhawks during the Stanley Cup Champsionships. (Yes, even players who have homes in Chicago were required to stay at the hotel.) Steve Conklin, director of sales and marketing, told us the Blackhawks team, including players, coaches and trainers, took up about 35 of the hotel's 610 hotel rooms. Football teams usually take about 160-200 rooms, according to Conklin.
Naturally, when it comes to hotel rooms, our first question was this: Do they have to share a room? Conklin said that only a few of the guys, namely the rookies and whoever are "buddies" share a room. The rest get their own rooms with a king-sized bed. And no matter how big the superstar, the players all get standard rooms, not suites. Of course, it helps when the hotel, like the JW Marriott, is a luxury hotel and is tricked out with all the right amenities from technology to comfort to the all-important 24-hour room service. Not that the players can take advantage of it though.
Looks like Justin Bieber is causing chaos again, this time in Chi-Town. The Biebs is in Chicago, where he’ll play at the United Center tonight.
However, his arrival yesterday has already subjected the city to tween meltdowns, and it’s hot enough there already without his help. Apparently Justin Bieber's hotel of choice is the tony Peninsula Hotel in the River North region. Reports say as of 8:30 pm last night there were at least a dozen police officers outside the hotel to keep watch of the crowd pictured above.
An employee said to us, “tried to beat the traffic and ran into 100s of impatient looking tweens who don’t realize the hotel is full of back entrances.” Uh oh! We don’t think we want them to know this info. Then it’ll be full on bedlam.
Even Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey tweeted about The Biebs presence in the city, making jokes that “only for a second” did he believe the Peninsula Hotel crowd was for him, not Justin, as “he and I always get mistaken for each other.”
This once-secret bar with crazy mid-century modern design is bound to be a swank bar again
With stylin’ new Chicago hotels of all shapes and styles popping up and filing into the queue, you would think it not possible for the city’s hotel scene to get any better. And yet it does with the latest news that Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors will be designing the interiors of the Chicago Athletic Association, transforming the landmark building into a 250-room hotel by its target open date of fall 2014.
Design fanatics need no introduction to Roman and Williams, the white-hot New York design firm that has garnered much deserved attention for its remarkably thoughtful work, which has ranged from Hollywood movie sets and celebrity home design for Gyneth Paltrow and Kate Hudson to ground-up buildings like 211 Elizabeth Street. Hotel fanatics will recognize the name behind the game-changing, gritty-pop Ace Hotel in New York, The Standard NYC’s Boom Boom Room and the forthcoming Viceroy set to open across from Central Park this fall. Pop culture fiends will know the name from recent news in The New York Times, GQ, Bazaar, WSJ, etc.
Founded in 2002 by husband and wife team Stephen Alesch and Robin Standefer, the couple has an extraordinary gift for merging past with future and creating tension between unexpected objects and time periods. All that is to say, they are really really good at restoring and reinventing historic places.
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Aloft Chicago's lobby is easily the funkiest and most fun of the Triplex social spaces
We recently told you about some new hotels opening in Chicago (an ongoing trend in a city on FIRE with new hotels), including three hotels dubbed the "triplex.” That triplex—which consists of Starwood’s Aloft Chicago City Center, Marriott’s Fairfield Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown River North, and Hyatt Place Chicago/River North—opened last week in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. We were there and now have a photo tour to share.
But first, let’s talk about one very cool detail: all three differently branded hotels are situated right next door to each other on the same block. Though we’ve seen this happen a time or two, such as with the Tri-Pack in NYC, it’s definitely unusual for obvious reasons; most hotels prefer a little space between themselves and the competition. But an insider tells us that the partners behind the Triplex (Friedman Properties, White Lodging and Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises [which opened the restaurant Beatrix in the Aloft lobby]) saw this instead as an opportunity to collaborate and deliver a unique experience, a sort of hotel destination that appeals to different travelers.
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If Kim Kardashian wants to take her daughter, North West, (LOL) back to Kanye's home turf, the only hotel she should consider right now is the Hard Rock Chicago. That's because the hotel has just unveiled its brand-new Nursing Mothers Amenity Program in partnership with Medela, a well-known brand to new moms and moms-to-be alike.
Nursing moms staying at the hotel can have hospital grade Symphony breastpumps and Medela accessory starter kits available in the guest rooms which include the Quick Clean™ Micro Steam™ Bags, Quick Clean Wipes, Pump and Save™ Bags and Disposable Bra Pads. The guestrooms will also be specially prepped for mama and baby with microwaves, mini-refrigerators, ice packs for transportation and mini-cooler bags. (Just remember, never heat the breastmilk in the microwave!)
All these super helpful amenities are available for just an extra $30, with proceeds directly benefiting local families with children in Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago through The Jackson Chance Foundation.
Room rates at the Hard Rock start at around $229 a night.
[Photo: Hard Rock Chicago]