by Agatha Gilmore | August 01, 2013
Why Here?
In addition to its central location, diverse hotel inventory, world-revered cuisine, premiere shopping, vibrant arts community and extensive cultural attractions, Chicago also is home to the most exhibit and meeting space in the Western Hemisphere, making it a true meetings mecca.

Bricks and Mortar
The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers more than 85 tours of the city's many landmarks, from the Adler Planetarium to Wrigley Field, home of baseball's Cubs.

Chicago's Best
For local tips (like go to Wiener Circle for world-class hotdogs):

Submerged in History
Thrill attendees with a jaunt in a U-505 German submarine at the Museum of Science & Industry, the largest such facility in the Western Hemisphere. (773) 684-1414;
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Local Update
In June, The Hyatt Regency McCormick Place announced that it has completed its multimillion-dollar expansion and renovation. The hotel invested $110 million in a complete overhaul, which saw the installation of a new guest-room tower and the renovation of its restaurants, meeting space and public areas. The project began in December 2011 with the construction of a new 460-room tower; the existing 800-room tower was later updated. The hotel's lobby has also been expanded and fully renovated. The property offers 50,000 square feet of function space in the form of the newly renovated, 25,000-square-foot Hyatt Conference Center; the redesigned, 4,000-square-foot Prairie room; three new boardrooms; and a new business center. The restaurants were also renovated and the hotel's M/X lounge added a second private dining room.

June saw the opening of the River North hotel complex. Grouped on one city block in the downtown River North neighborhood are three properties, the 136-room Aloft Chicago City Center (with two meeting rooms, the larger of which spans 1,946 square feet), the 180-room Fairfield Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown/River North (one small meeting room) and the 212-room Hyatt Place Chicago/River North (with 3,190 square feet for meetings). All three offer complimentary Wi-Fi.

The 2,019-room Hyatt Regency Chicago wrapped up a $168 million redevelopment project in April, which resulted in enhanced guest rooms and meeting space. The property offers 228,000 square feet for meetings among four ballrooms, 63 meeting rooms and the 70,000-square-foot Riverside Exhibition Center.

The historic Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-designed IBM Building has been converted into The Langham, Chicago. The hotel opened in July with 316 guest rooms and great views of the city and the Chicago River. The hotel has 15,000 square feet of event space, plus the 9,000-square-foot Chuan Spa.

Sir Richard Branson's first-ever Virgin Hotel is set to open in Chicago in 2014. The hip, four-star property will take over an art deco tower on North Wabash Street and feature 250 guest rooms, a rooftop bar and lounge, free Wi-Fi and an as yet unspecified amount of meeting space.

The boutique 40-room Soho House is under construction in Chicago's West Loop, also known as the historic meatpacking and warehouse district. The hotel will open in 2014 with a rooftop pool and bar, a spa and three restaurants.

MMG Marketing has opened the MMG Center for Performance & Leadership Development in Rolling Meadows, Ill., minutes from Chicago's O'Hare Airport. The meeting space can host up to 200 attendees and features cutting-edge tech, including Internet-based projectors, HD video and digital audio.

Meeting Hotels
Among the city's many properties are 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, 435-room Ritz-Carlton Chicago, 334-room Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel and 285-room Public Hotel Chicago.

Find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, at

Convention Center
McCormick Place; exhibit space, approximately 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 Chicago. Transfer cost by taxi, $40-45

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

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

Group Venues
The Art Institute of Chicago offers groups of up to 5,000 people the opportunity to gather against the spectacular backdrop of magnificent art, along with stunning views of Millennium Park. An event in any of the museum's many available spaces -- including galleries, gardens and auditoriums -- can be paired with a private art viewing. (312) 443-3530;

Enjoying the German-American cuisine at The Berghoff has been a rite of passage for Chicagoans since 1898. The historic building is in the heart of the Loop district and features four dining and event spaces for groups of up to 300, including the Chef's Table Room, which offers an intimate setting for smaller gatherings such as board meetings. (312) 408-0200,

Choose Chicago, (312) 567-8481;