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Done talking about the polar vortex? We are, too. Instead, let's discuss ways we can make it feel more like summer, even in Chicago, even in February. These five hotels have impressive indoor pools that are ready to host impromptu pool parties this very weekend. Dive right into our list, below.
THE INTERCONTINENTAL CHICAGO This Mag Mile property has a famously gorgeous Junior Olympic pool that's jazzed up with Spanish tiles and an ornate fountain. There are even poolside yoga classes held regularly. Rates start at $179 a night.
While we may have had a brief glimpse the other week at what the social spaces of the upcoming Virgin Hotel in Chicago might look like, (before the illustrations were swiftly pulled from the internet) we still have a while to wait before we can actually stay there.
After pushing back a Fall 2013 opening to a Spring opening before pushing it back again to this summer, it now looks like the Virgin will open in September, according to an interview Virgin CEO Raul Lea gave to Hotels Mag. So what's the hold-up? It looks like the historic building, the former Dearborn Bank, is giving Virgin some issues:
“It has been a slow process with so many historic building considerations, but we have uncovered some great things like 30-foot ceilings on the second floor,” Leal said, adding that he expects the hotel to be Chicago’s rate leader in the lifestyle segment.
The good news is that Virgin is still at work on a hotel for NYC which will break ground in um, 2016. Hopefully, the Virgin Chicago will keep us busy before then. Virgin will also make announcements soon on two new locations. We're guessing Miami and London but then again, the last time we made a guess, it didn't turn out so well for us.
Let's see... where did we leave off with The Godfrey Hotel? Last time we discussed what was going to be inside the River North property, it was October. And there have been some big updates since then like the hotel contest you can actually win. Also, the hotel opens tomorrow on February 1.
That's right: the 16-story, cubist-inspired property will fling open its doors to actual guests. Inside, there's free WiFi everywhere, an elliptical lobby decked in marble, a full-service restaurant, and a small spa. The 221 guest rooms come stocked with bathrobes (we had to check), L'Occitaine bath products, and high-tech features that sound, well, fun. Let's just say: Should you wish to use your smartphone as a TV controller, you're all set.
Billed as the only downtown Chicago hotel that overlooks Lake Michigan, W Chicago Lakeshore boasts views of the "sparkling lakefront and Chicago's glittering skyline" on its website. True, but the interior view may be a little less, shall we say, shiny. Don't fret, W diehards: That's all about to change.
On TripAdvisor, a user called Seattle97010 titled his June 2013 review of the property "Renovation Ready," and noted the "shabby condition" of its rooms. (Look, he did say the "restaurant was great, though.") In response, a W rep apologized and promised: "we will be going through a complete renovation and redesign soon." When will it be finished? The jury's still out. Drive-bys confirm that there is in fact some scaffolding and construction equipment outside the hotel—always a good sign—and another W spokesperson told us that renovations should be done by the end of the year.
When it comes to hotel rooms, is Chicago maybe, possibly, likely overbuilding? Whatever, who cares?! Clearly, hotels don't. On the heels of news about a few new Hyatts coming to town, we've not got word that Marriott's AC Hotels brand is set to open in the popular River North neighborhood.
It was only last June that Marriott announced that it was importing its AC Hotels brand from Europe into the U.S., starting with Miami. Now Chi-town will get a piece of the Spanish brand. According to Crain's Chicago, the AC will open in the existing Four Points by Sheraton hotel at 630 N. Rush Street. The hotel will have 217 rooms and all the design elements of an AC hotel, namely lots of cool, design-forward, public spaces for the millennial guests to socialize in. Oh and free WiFi, too.
No word on when the conversion will happen but we'll guess sometime after Miami opens, so probably. 2015.
[Photo: AC Hotels by Marriott/Google Street View]
**The illustration has been removed at the request of Rockwell Group**
We're getting pretty impatient with Virgin Hotels. The first-ever Virgin Hotel in Chicago on Wabash Street is just months away from opening (sometime this summer, they say) yet we know very little about what's going to be inside. Heck we hardly know what's on the outside since much of the Virgin has been wrapped in red
sheets tarps and tape.
But we did stumble across this design concept from a Rockwell Group illustrator which was posted last April (Update: It's since been taken down.) While we doubt it's the actual design concept for the hotel (Virgin has put any and all design concepts on lockdown) it has us thinking....Hmmmmm.
There are a few illustrations to peek at, all for the public spaces of the hotel. None of the 250 guest rooms. But if this concept is something to go on, it's clear the Virgin will be all about socializing. We love the headphones that hang from the ceiling of one lounge and the swinging chairs in another. The restaurant and bar will have lots of communal seating along with banquet seating. There are also what appears to be personal workstations and crazy cool lighting.
Again, we highly doubt this is what the Virgin Hotel will actually look like when it opens. But if it did, we wouldn't mind.
[Photo Via Behance.net]
TheWit is the first hotel in the Midwest to partner up with SPE Certified, a restaurant certification program that was founded in 2011. Quick crash course: SPE is an acronym for the Latin phrase Sanitas Per Escam, which means “health through food.” The program pairs chefs with nutritionists to create create meals that are low in salt, saturated fats, and processed ingredients. What’s left? Lots of tasty stuff— and much of it comes from local farms.
SPE dishes can be found through room service as well as at the hotel's first-floor restaurant State and Lake. Chef Evan Percoco’s menu now has 12 SPE-certified dishes (we’ve tasted some and they’re delish.) Options include a butter-and-cream free soup made with squash from a Michigan farm and deviled eggs with duck bacon from a Wisconsin poultry farm. There's seared salmon with chive yogurt, and Amish chicken with a mustard-maple glaze. For dessert, pastry chef Toni Roberts whips up inventive treats such as avocado brownies.
Or, you can skip dessert and head to the massage table instead.
Chicago’s newest Hyatt Place Hotel may have some cranky neighbors. And, lots of them. Let us explain: According to Chicago Real Estate Daily, OTO Development plunked down $3.7 million on a piece of land at 28 North Franklin Street, and has big plans for the space. How big? Eighteen stories and 206 rooms. But, there are some red flags surrounding these plans (cue the dramatic music.)
The projected Hyatt Place property would be the first Chicago venture from OTO Development. But it’s not the first project planned for the West-Loop spot. In 2007, an investor group had plans to build a 24-story hotel there, and gave up the ghost after the recession. And though the bleakest days are over (knock wood), there may be an entirely separate issue now: an over-flooded hotel market, and too many plans to build.
A Hyatt Place opened in River North just last year, as you may recall. Furthermore: another Hyatt is scheduled to open just three blocks away from the Franklin-Street spot soon. And Hyatt’s not the only brand that has designs on Chicago: The Kinzie and The Godfrey are both slated to open next month and Le Méridien, the Virgin Hotel, SoHo House, and Hotel Indigo area all coming soon. We love Chicago and we love new hotels so surely, we can find a way to make this work, yes?
[Photo: Hyatt Place/HotelChatter]
We made our New Years' resolution to stop peddling the self-indulgent promotional packages hotels have been trying to disguise as "deals," and that goes for all aspects of marketing in the industry. There are so many "contests" out there that we don't really know what to do with, ones that revolve around liking a page on Facebook -- which we get -- but the problem is that there is nothing more, nothing left up to the person participating. We're at the end of our editorial rope as it pertains to those empty "contests" with "randomly selected" winners. The end!
That said, when we see something creative that someone can win by putting forth a good effort, by earning it as opposed to random luck, we are happy to pass it along. You still have to go on Facebook to enter the Godfrey Hotel in Chicago's contest -- we don't have a problem with that so long as it is only part of the process -- but you control your own destiny in this one (by the way, are we making ourselves clear here?).
The hotel doesn't open until February, but they have rolled out an "element branding concept." Basically, there is a periodic table at the conceirge's desk, and each square refers to something within the hotel or city. Io 4, for example, represents the hotel's I|O Urban Roofscape that's located on the 4th floor. Other examples are Wd (wedding), Bd (bed), Am (amenities), etc.
What to do for New Year's Eve? That's the question that's on everyone's mind this week. After, "Omg, I was so drunk at the holiday office party. Do you think my coworkers noticed?" of course.
For those of you heading to Chicago, the rates are looking very DOABLE compared to New York and Miami. We see the Hotel Felix on Expedia for $169 on New Year's Eve while the luxe Langham Chicago is "only" $409 a night. Even The Ritz-Carlton is an affordable splurge at $295 on New Year's Eve. The priciest hotel we saw was the Trump at $495, still far less than the $1,000 room rates for hotels in NYC and Miami. Of course, Chicago will be freezing but these New Year's Eve parties below should warm you up!
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Since its beginning as a members-only club in London that you probably couldn't get into, Soho House has come a long way -- from New York to Miami, Toronto, Berlin and more -- becoming a touch more welcoming in the process.
It was just a couple of weeks ago that we heard rumors of Soho House opening up a new hotel in what used to be the BBC Center in London. Now we hear that there are confirmed plans for a different hotel in another part of the city: in, well, the City (that's London's financial district).
Time for a quick round-up of Soho House's heady expansion plans, we think.
Well, Loews Hotels has done a good job of keeping this one on the Down Loew but not anymore. Take a look here at what's in store for the Loews Chicago.
We first got wind of a Loews Hotel in the windy city back in 2008. We're not exactly sure why this was put on hold but we're gonna go with epic financial fail of that year. But now the project is back on and should be ready to open in early 2015. Here's the 411:
Loews Chicago Hotel will be part of a highly visible 52-story tower located just one block north of the Chicago River and two blocks east of North Michigan Avenue. The hotel will have spectacular city skyline and lake views from the 400 new guestrooms (including 23 suites) and meeting spaces both indoors and out.
The hotel also plans on having a signature restaurant, a 24-hour fitness center, a 75-foot indoor lap pool and a rooftop lounge. We can't wait to get Loew up high in 2015. (Ok, we'll stop. Puns are done.)
[Rendering: Loews Hotels]