by Michael C. Lowe | March 01, 2014
Local Update

• In May 2013, Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel pledged to invest about $1.1 billion in the city's tourism and trade-show infrastructure. The plan includes a $278 million redevelopment of Navy Pier, a 10,000-seat arena across from McCormick Place and, nearby, a 1,200-room headquarters hotel and a 500-room boutique property.

• Last June, the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place completed a $110 million expansion and renovation, which included a new 460-room tower. The hotel's lobby also was expanded and upgraded, while the existing 800-room tower received a full refurbishment as well. The property has 50,000 square feet of function space, including the newly redesigned 4,000-square-foot Prairie Room and the 25,000-square-foot Hyatt Conference Center. Three new boardrooms and a business center also were added.

• The 2,019-room Hyatt Regency Chicago last April completed a three-year, $168 million renovation that included its West and East towers and meeting space, of which the property has more than 228,000 square feet.

• The Langham, Chicago, opened on the riverfront last fall with 316 guest rooms and 15,000 square feet of meeting space, all set in a landmark building designed by Mies van der Rohe.

• The Thompson Chicago opened in October 2013 with unobstructed views of Lake Michigan from its Gold Coast perch. The 247-room lifestyle property features 12,225 square feet for events.

• The 687-room Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park, completed a $2.5 million upgrade of all 63,000 square feet of meeting space last August.

• Later this month, the 525-room Westin O'Hare will celebrate its 25th anniversary with the completion of a $22 million renovation of its lobby and 50,000 square feet of meeting space.

• The 170-room Hampton Inn Chicago Midway Airport completed a renovation of its guest rooms and public space this past December. The property, one mile from Chicago's Midway Airport, has 1,500 square feet of meeting space and complimentary Wi-Fi.

• Three new hotels have opened on one block in Chicago's River North neighborhood: the 272-room Aloft Chicago City Center (two meeting rooms, the larger spanning 1,946 square feet), 212-room Hyatt Place Chicago/River North (3,190 square feet of event space) and 180-room Fairfield Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown/River North (2,558 square feet of meeting space).

Meeting Hotels: Properties include the 2,019-room Hyatt Regency Chicago, 1,641-room Palmer House Hilton, 1,544-room Hilton Chicago, 1,260-room Hyatt Re­gency McCormick Place, 1,214-room Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, 1,173-room Chicago Mar­riott Downtown Magnificent Mile, 871-room Congress Plaza Hotel, 775-room Westin Michi­gan Avenue, 687-room Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park, 661-room Swissotel Chicago, 334-room Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel and 285-room Public Hotel Chicago.

To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, go to

Convention Center: McCormick Place; exhibit space, 2.6 million square feet; meeting space, 600,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 173; (312) 791-7000;

Airport Transit: O'Hare International Airport, 18 miles from downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $40-45

Midway International Airport, 13 miles south of downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $35-40

Taxes: Room tax, 16.4%; sales tax, 9.5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 16.4%

Group Venue: In the Meatpacking District, The Aviary offers inventive cocktails such as "In the Rocks," which comes trapped in a ball of ice and must be cracked open using a slingshot contraption before consumption. The place is owned by Grant Achatz, a past designated James Beard Best Chef, and is available for private events of up to 150. (312) 226-0868;

Contact: Choose Chicago, (312) 567-8481;