Chicago Guide

Wired Up
Soldier Field, home to the Chicago Bears, is now outfitted with wireless Internet, thanks to a deal with Boingo Wireless. Seating areas, premium suites, concessions and hospitality areas are equipped.

Local Update
Chicago's first JW Marriott Hotel opened last fall in a landmark Daniel Burnham-designed building. The 610-room property underwent a $396 million restoration and includes 44,000 square feet of meeting space, wireless Internet, AT&T and Cisco Telepresence facilities, and a 20,000-square-foot spa.

The 261-room Hotel Palomar opened last March and offers a heated indoor pool, a 24-hour fitness center and 5,800 square feet of meeting space. The property's Sable Kitchen & Bar features gastro-lounge fare, including house-made beef jerky and braised pork belly with chipotle barbecue sauce.

The 330-room Langham Chicago Hotel is expected to open in 2013 with views of the Chicago River, 20,000 square feet of meeting space and a 9,000-square-foot Chuan Spa.

Chicago's 2.7 million-square-foot McCormick Place convention center implemented its second phase of reforms last October. The moves are designed to cut costs and increase flexibility for conventions and trade shows. Initiatives include free wireless Internet, a reduced parking rate and the expansion of the Hyatt McCormick Place hotel.

The 346-room Hotel 71 is undergoing a $15 million renovation, to be completed this spring. The enhancements will include a revamped lobby and business center, newly designed guest rooms and approximately 2,500 square feet of additional meeting space, bringing the property's grand total to 6,500 square feet.

The 162-room Hotel Blake is now the Wyndham Blake Chicago. The property offers free wireless Internet, in-room spa services and a 24-hour business center. The hotel also features 4,000 square feet of flexible function space and two din­ing options.

Last October, the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza completed a $20 million redesign and renovation of two of its ballrooms. The 521-room hotel includes 25,000 square feet of meeting space and offers free wireless Internet.

Old News
The Glessner House
Celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, the Glessner House is a museum (focusing on urban life of the late 19th and early 20th centuries) and event venue able to accommodate up to 200 guests.

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, 1,198-room Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile and 610-room JW Marriott Chicago.

To search for additional meeting hotels, visit mcvenues.com.

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

Navy Pier; exhibit space, approximately 170,100 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 36; (312) 595-7434

In Rosemont: Donald E. Stephens Convention Center; exhibit space, 40,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 50; (847) 692-2220; rosemont.com/donald_e_stephens_convention_center.php

Airport Transfer
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 VenuesGroup space at Union Station
Since 1925, Chicago's Union Station has served as a major hub for world travelers, with 24 tracks transporting passengers around the country. With 20,000 square feet of Beaux Arts-style function space, the venue also can hold up to 1,400 for dinner or 2,500 for a reception under its five-story vaulted ceilings. An additional 3,500-square-foot room for meetings, VIP receptions or ceremonies also is available. (312) 655-2066

The new two-level, 15,000-square-foot Enclave provides planners with an alternative to Chicago's historic venues with three bar areas and a nightclub vibe. The club also features a modest amount of meeting space equipped with wireless Internet. (312) 654-0234

Dining Out
Owned by famed Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, Ditka's Restaurant offers four private dining rooms able to sit 16 to 150 guests. Complete buyouts of the restaurant can accommodate 200. Dishes include "da pork chop" served with cherry jus and mashed potatoes, and the 10-oz "fullback-size filet mignon." (312) 587-8989

The urban bbq restaurant Chicago q opened last September, featuring four private dining spaces for up to 50 guests and a menu that includes bacon cheddar hush puppies and Kobe beef ribs. For groups, three-course family-style menus are available at a per-person rate. (312) 642-1160

Contact
Chicago Convention & Visitors Bureau, (312) 567-8500