29 May Chicago in Spring!
Last week I visited one of my favorite cities in the world: Chicago! Having my sister living there means I have an easy excuse to try and escape to the Windy City at least 2 – 3 times a year (just usually not from November through February, cause let’s be honest – it can get really cold up there in the winter!)
From about the end of March until the end of September, Chicago weather can be wonderful and the city really comes alive starting in April.
Normally, I stay in my sister’s home when I visit, but this time, due to her having some other out of town guests, I treated myself to a stay downtown. And befitting a visitor seeking a luxury experience, I stayed at the Park Hyatt Chicago. Located in the heart of downtown Chicago on famed Michigan Avenue, the Park Hyatt is the pinnacle of the Hyatt chain with about a dozen or so locations in the top cities of the world. www.parkhyattchicago.com
Everything in this hotel is built on luxury and service. The views of the lake are fantastic! The rooms are beautifully appointed, with every luxury right at your fingertips (each room has its own i-Pad for information and to view hotel service!).
Even though my time was short and I never got to experience all of the amenities the hotel had to offer (award winning spa and fabulous restaurant) I felt so pampered and relaxed each evening when I returned to my room.
While my trip was both business and pleasure, this was the first time in 12 years of visiting Chicago that I truly got to have a tourist experience with the city with both a trip to Navy Pier as well as an architectural boat tour of downtown. While Navy Pier is more amusement and certainly great for kids, with its rides, IMAX theater and arboretum, the river boat tour is a must do for anyone interested in design and architecture. Did you know that Chicago claims to have had two skyscrapers before New York built the first one? And, did you know, that while the Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower) is the tallest building in Chicago (2nd in the country) the Merchandise Mart has twice the amount of square footage (4.2 million square feet vs. 2.1 million square feet). The tour is 90 minutes and, trust me; it is well worth your time. You can gain some knowledge while having fun! The Chicago Architecture Foundation runs the best tour and all guides must pass certification in order conduct the tours. These guys are really passionate about architecture and history. www.architecture.org
Besides my time on the river and at Navy Pier, I spent another day touring some of my favorite shops in Andersonville (about 20 minutes from downtown). Andersonville is a great place for just walking and enjoying shopping as well as people watching. Some of my favorite stores to visit are White Attic www.whiteattic.com, Scout www.scoutchicago.com, and Brimfield www.brimfieldus.com. Each store has a strong design theme and each is a unique one-of-a-kind experience. This is great retail therapy.
On my last day, I had to actually get some business conducted and do a bit of retail research. For this I go to the Merchandise mart. The main floor is open to the public and you owe it to yourself to visit. First, for the exquisite architecture. Designed in 1930, the main floor still houses incredible Art Deco elements as original lighting, tile work and metal work. The main floor is now known as Luxe Home and house the finest in kitchen and bath products. It’s always an inspiration for me each time I visit. Only the finest luxury brands show there and it is like letting a kid loose in a candy store: I never want to leave.
But after my meetings and walking away with some great thoughts and ideas for our own showroom, it was time to pack it all up and head back to Tennessee. But not until I made one final stop at my favorite Sushi bar Coast www.coastsushi.net. Great atmosphere, great service, and offering hundreds of Sushi choices (make mine vegetarian, please). It was a final great evening to a quick, but relaxing long weekend with family and friends in my home away from home.