(Above) The new front desk at Hotel Chicago. One of Marina Citys ubiquitous columns is dressed up at left. (Click on images to view larger versions.)
5-Apr-15 Five months, ten million dollars, and one Crimson Lounge later, Hotel Chicago has unveiled its gut rehab. On March 26, a new, larger lobby was checking in hotel guests.
The 354-room hotel at Marina City is part of Marriott Internationals Autograph Collection brand, what the hospitality company describes as a remarkable group of upper upscale and luxury independent hotels. It is managed locally by HEI Hotels & Resorts, hired in December 2013 when the hotel was still named Hotel Sax.
On February 19, during a conference call with investors, the CEO of the real estate investment trust that owns Hotel Chicago and 45 other hotels gave a shout-out to the River North hotel as one of our best performing properties.
(Left) The old Hotel Sax lobby on February 17, 2009.
LaSalle Hotel Properties, said Michael Barnello, is expecting big growth from Hotel Chicago in 2015. Less than one year earlier, Barnello said a high supply of hotel rooms had made Chicago its weakest market and LaSalle was not expecting a big performance in Chicago in 2014. With Hotel Chicago now on the radar of corporate travel planners, as of late last year, the outlook is better.
(Above) Lobby lounge from the northwest. The hotel entrance is in the background at left.
Space for the expanded lobby, designed by Boston-based CBT Architects, was found by demolishing Crimson Lounge, a Victorian style nightclub that opened shortly after LaSalle acquired Hotel Sax in 2006. The renovations at Hotel Chicago include a new canopy above the main entrance, revolving door, elevator lobby, reception area, artwork, meeting rooms, and a Concierge Lounge in an area where the bar at Crimson Lounge was located. A single column in the middle of the room is all that remains of the old lounge.
(Above) Floor plan of the southeast corner of Hotel Chicagos ground floor. From 2006 to 2014, much of the space in the upper left was Crimson Lounge, leaving a relatively small area for the hotel lobby. The empty space at lower right is where a Chase branch was located until August 2014. A door on the west side of this space opens into the hotel.
The hotel is still utilizing a temporary reception area in space that was recently part of BIN 36, a restaurant that left Marina City last December. An upscale Japanese restaurant is negotiating for the 9,100 square foot space. Zuma, however, is not confirming that it is expanding to Chicago. The London-based company has two restaurants in the United States, one in New York and the other in Miami.
LaSalle is also renovating its other hotel in Chicago, Westin Michigan Avenue.
(Above) Another angle, showing a corridor at left that leads to meeting rooms. The wall between the corridor and the lobby was the first part of the new interior that was built. The front desk is in distance at right.