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by Kaylee Hultgren | March 01, 2010
Site Revamp
The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau recently redesigned its website to better accommodate meeting planners. The site is divided into sections -- one for planners considering booking a meeting in Chicago, and one for those who already have booked a group. The latter section, labeled Plan Your Chicago Meeting, offers a destination marketing kit and complete list of staff to assist planners with various locations and services. Additional new features include an improved business contact list and an interactive map. According to the bureau, a meeting toolbox is in the works; it will allow planners to save searched items such as destination information, special event venues and entertainment. Planners' preferences will be stored in a virtual filing cabinet for future use. (312) 567-8500; choosechicago.com/
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Local Update: The 230-room Hotel Felix opened in March 2009. Amenities include a spa; a lobby lounge; an upscale restaurant called Elate; and three meeting rooms, spanning 420, 378 and 306 square feet. The property was designed to meet LEED Silver certification.

The JW Marriott Chicago is set to open in June with 44,000 square feet of meeting space, including an 8,300-square-foot ballroom, a 5,900-square-foot junior ballroom and 30 breakout rooms. The hotel also will offer an upscale restaurant, a bar and a 20,000-square-foot spa.

A 165-room Aloft Chicago
City Center is set to open in June 2012, with the brand's signature WXYZ Bar, the re:fuel snack bar, the re:mix lobby and complimentary wireless Internet access throughout the hotel.

Two Hyatt Place hotels are coming to town. A 170-room West Loop property should open in October, and a 216-room hotel is expected to debut in June 2011.

Meeting Hotels:
 Major properties in the downtown area include the 2,019-room Hyatt Regency Chicago, 1,639-room Palmer House Hilton, 1,544-room Hilton Chicago, 1,209-room Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers and 1,198-room Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile.

To search for additional meeting hotels, visit mcmag.com/meeting-facilities.    

 Convention Center: McCor­mick Place; total exhibit space, 2.7 million square feet; number of meeting rooms, 173. (312) 791-7000; mccormickplace.com

Navy Pier; exhibit space, approximately 170,100 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 36; (312) 595-7437; navypier.com

In Rosemont: Donald E. Stephens Convention Center; exhibit space, 840,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 50; (847) 692-2220; rosemont.com/donald_e_stephens_convention_center.php

Airport Transit: O'Hare International Airport, 13 miles from downtown. Transfer cost to downtown by taxi, approximately $40 with tip

Midway Airport, 10 miles from downtown. Transfer cost to downtown by taxi, $28-$32

Taxes: Sales tax, 10.25%; room tax, 15.39%; total tax on hotel rooms, 15.39%

Group Venues:
The Art Insti­tute of Chicago completed a $300 million, 264,000-square-foot addition last May. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, the new Modern Wing houses the Institute's 20th-century European painting and sculpture collections, as well as contemporary art, architecture, design and photography. Spaces in which to gather include an outdoor sculpture terrace, which can accommodate 50 for a dinner; the Griffin Court and Pritzker Garden, for up to 1,200 people for a reception or 400 for dinner; and the Nichols Trustees Suite, for a reception or dinner for 120. In a buyout, the entire space can host a reception of approximately 5,000 or a seated dinner for 950. (312) 857-7104; artic.edu

A new 298-room boutique property, theWit, A Doubletree Hotel, opened last May in the Theater District. The Roof, a 7,000-square-foot rooftop event space with fire pits and telescopes, can host up to 150 guests. Screen, as its name intimates, is a private screening room with high-tech A/V equipment, ideal for a group of 40. The property also offers two restaurants, Cibo Matto and Slate & Lake, plus a spa and health club. (312) 467-0200; thewithotel.com

CVB Services: Chicago Con­vention & Tourism Bureau, (312) 567-8500; choosechicago.com