One of Chicago’s historic landmark buildings, the Old Dearborn Bank, is about to be turned into a four star luxury hotel in Chicago’s downtown area. Virgin Hotels, which was launched in the USA a year ago, plans to make the Art Deco building one of their chain of gateway city hotels across the U.S.
The 27-story landmark building was designed as a bank in 1928 by C.W. and George L. Rapp Architects and until recently was used as office space. Virgin stated that the property “has significant historic and architectural features that will be restored and recreated,” to enhance the proposed Virgin Hotel Chicago.
The Virgin brand offers luxury hotel accommodation to compete with other upscale brands such as W Hotels and InterContinental’s Hotel Indigo. Spokesperson for Virgin Hotels saw the project as “a first step towards our goal of building a portfolio of hotels that anticipate and respond to the needs of today’s travelers and set a new standard for the industry“. The hotel will have 250 rooms, meeting spaces, lounges and restaurants aimed at business and leisure travelers whose loyalty has been captured by Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America over the last 25 years.
European travelers will already appreciate the benefits offered by the stylish Radisson Blu boutique hotel chain and are no doubt eagerly looking forward to the opening of the first US offering later this year. Chicago is hardly short of high-end hotels, but the Radisson Blu boutique hotel will give the neighboring Fairmont and the Park Hyatt on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile a run for their money.
The differences at Radisson Blu are impressive, starting with the price. As the brand begins to establish itself in the U.S., room prices will be around $250 per night compared with similar ranking hotel rates of $425.
Radisson Blu hotels typically include resort-like amenities such as a jogging trail, billiards table, extra-large fitness room and half basketball court. Many basic rooms have a balcony with great views at no surcharge, and WiFi is included in the room rate. Even the public restrooms are out-of-the ordinary with mirrorball tiling and vessel sinks.
Guests can choose a room style to suit their mood and taste. Both designs are very hip and trendy, but “Mansion House” style is rather more “W” with sparkly black granite counters and black lacquer minibars to tone down the electric blue carpet. For a more understated elegance, opt for a “Naturally Cool” room style and enjoy Scandinavian light wood flooring, muted wall colors and white leather seating beside a minimalist block wood table.
If your curiosity is piqued, keep an eye open for the unveiling of the second Radisson Blu boutique hotel, currently under construction at the Mall of America in Minneapolis.
A leading luxury hotel chain has started a scheme that allows guests to borrow running shoes and clothing.
Westin Hotels and Resorts have gone into partnership with the New Balance company in the new ‘healthy and fit’ programme.
The New Balance running shoes are equipped with disposable insoles that can be thrown out after each use, and the clothes will be laundered after every run. Hotel guests can borrow a variety of running gear including shorts, shirts and socks for men, and shorts, Capri pants, socks, shirts and sports bras for women.
“Guests simply need to show up ready for a great workout. We provide the rest,” said Nancy London, Vice President of Westin Hotels & Resorts.
The complimentary programme has been piloted at ten Westin properties, including The Westin Boston Waterfront, The Westin Michigan Avenue in Chicago, and The Westin San Francisco Airport. It should begin rolling out to all the chain’s luxury hotels around the world in 2011.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the hotels are stocking women’s size shoes from 6 to 10½ and clothing from small to extra large; and men’s size shoes 8½ to 13 and clothing from medium to XXL.
Some travellers are already embracing the idea. Jenn Blazejewski, a 31-year-old management consultant and daily runner, told the Journal she had no problem with the idea of loaner gear. “Running socks aren’t very intimate compared with bed sheets and towels,” she said.
by Andy Moreton
There are now more than 170 Westin properties worldwide – find some of them among Luxique’s comprehensive list of luxury hotels.
Warning: those of a nervous disposition might want to look away now …
The Sears Tower in Chicago has recently opened ‘The Ledge’ - glass viewing balconies that jut out four feet from the 103rd floor, 1,353 feet up.
For those brave enough to enter one of the boxes with their transparent walls, floors and ceilings, there are unobstructed views of the Windy City. “It’s like walking on ice,” said Margaret Kemp, from California, her heart still pounding even after stepping away from the balcony. “That first step you take – [you think]‘am I going down?’”
David Roeder of the Chicago Sun-Times said:
“The Ledge delivers. The effect is spectacular even on a cloudy and drizzly day. All enclosures have visible pins and connections, so the eye has a reassuring reference point that you’re in a real structure. But it takes a certain trust in unseen architects, engineers and construction workers to take that first step overlooking perdition.”
by Andy Moreton, with Nina Douglas
For more details about the Sears Tower Skydeck and to buy tickets online, go to www.theskydeck.com. And Luxique has a range of luxury hotels in Chicago, including the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, the Ritz-Carlton Chicago and the Park Hyatt Chicago.