Chicago, IL USA
April 17, 2012
Yes, those are my feet as I stand on the overlook on the 103 floor of the Willis Tower, formerly Sears Tower, in Chicago! When I saw the preview film my stomach was in knots and I wasn’t so sure I would be able to stand out there, but not only did I stand on the furthest point of the lookout, I made sure I got the full effect by glancing down the building’s 102 floors below me. Not so bad; REALLY.
I was in Chicago as an invited guest to participate in Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s 2012 Thought Leaders Global MICE advisory board at their new Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. The hotel is in a mixed development building which includes apartments and condos resulting in more amenities (larger gym facilities, game room, outside track and gardens, etc.) It is located within walking distance to the Miracle Mile shopping district and Lake Shore Drive; I could see the lake from my room.
As one familiar with the Radisson Blu concept in other areas of the world, I was looking forward to experiencing the product here in the States and I was delighted with the look and ambiance of the hotel. It captures the feel of Chicago; the importance of resource conservation beyond the typical towel and linen programs (no printed materials, meeting components, etc. and is pending Leed certification) and it has a fresh, crisp, efficient quality to it, in addition, the building is architecturally “unique” – well done! I would definitely recommend it to both the business traveler and the MICE market.
Some destination/meeting take away points:
1. Refreshing to have new business product in the market with the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel.
2. Consider taking the train from/to the airport into the city. For $2.50 it’s a real bargain and you avoid the traffic.
3. Chicago has a lot to offer in terms of history, architecture, beautiful parks and much can be done cost- effectively.
4. Check out http://www.explorechicago.org/city/en/travel_tools/visitor_centers.html ; there is a program offering free tours of the city given by volunteers.
5. Rent a bike at Millennium Park; great way to see the city.
6. As demand continues to increase we’ve seen availability decrease and prices increase; although not as much as you may have expected in our experience. I can’t stress enough the importance of planning further out to secure space at the right value. Expect to see tightening on contract terms as well.
I don’t know if I’ll be scaling any 100 plus story buildings in the near future, but it was a good opportunity to discuss industry trends and be reminded of what a great city Chicago is. I look forward to hearing from you.