The year 2014 was very good to Chicago. A slew of elite hotel brands opened their doors to guests, tourism records were broken once again, and the city earned endless accolades and acclaim. We review some of the major developments of the past year.
The Godfrey Hotel Chicago (above)
Located adjacent to the Hotel Felix in Chicago's River North neighborhood, this six-story upscale boutique features stunning architecture and a stylish overall interior. The property offers 221 guest rooms, two high-tech meeting spaces and the 12,000-square-foot I|O Urban Roofscape, an indoor/outdoor rooftop and lounge available for events.
The Guesthouse Hotel's June launch marks the expansion and rebranding of The Andersonville Guesthouse, and truly allows guests to reap the benefits of both luxury amenities and a cozy home-like setting. The Guesthouse Hotel is the first luxury boutique hotel on Chicago's Northside that allows guests to truly "live like a local."
The Kinzie Hotel opened in the space that previously housed the Amalfi Hotel. The five story, 215-room, upscale boutique hotel's multi-million dollar renovation boasts a timeless contemporary look and new image that pays tribute to John Kinzie, an untamed man who made a historical stamp on Chicago throughout the 19th century.
Hotel Sax Chicago rebranded to become the first Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel in Chicago, called Hotel Chicago. This centrally located and meeting-centric hotel in River North transitioned to Marriott early this year.
Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, Silversmith Hotel completed its multimillion renovations and opening of a vibrant new lounge and restaurant, Adamus. A nod to the ancient Latin term for diamond, the new lounge and restaurant Adamus evokes a desire for handcrafted cocktails, tempting bites and social interaction around the communal table.
Encased in classical architecture and sparkling with a new choice of luxury, the refined Silversmith Hotel emerges as an alluring gem to be discovered with remodeled guest rooms and public spaces. Leo A Daly design firm led the remodel blending contemporary design with classic elements.
The West Loop's Fulton Market district welcomed this exclusive members-only club and 35-room hotel this spring, in addition to the property's three new restaurants: London-based Pizza East (the first in the U.S.), plus a burger joint and a chicken concept - both with a British twist.
The new Virgin Hotel Chicago, which has gotten a fair share of hype through its #virginrumors whisper campaign, is scheduled to open Jan. 15, 2015. Now accepting reservations, the 292-room Virgin Hotel Chicago will have a number of unique amenities, including free Wi-Fi, an app that will allow guests to check in and control in-room functions, sliding doors that divide rooms into two chambers, and much more. The Virgin Hotel Chicago will also have four dining concepts: a lobby-meets-social-club, hip American diner, Italian beverage bar, and a rooftop bar.
Debuting in June, Lakeshore's full scale, top-to-bottom $38 million renovation by Meyer Davis Design is a nod to the hotel's location and the manner in which it reflects the energy of the city onto the glittering waters of Lake Michigan. The entire hotel was redesigned including all 520 guest rooms and suites, corridors, and building exterior. All public spaces including The Living Room, meeting space, and Altitude (event space with 360 degree views of the city), were completely reimagined. CURRENT, a new beverage and food experience by Cornerstone Restaurant Group, is now open.
CHICAGO ON TRACK TOWARD RECORD PERFORMANCE
Chicago's hotel industry is on track to reach peak levels this year, led by seven consecutive months of record room demand.
In July, Chicago set a room demand record with more than one million occupied hotel room nights, the first time in the city's history that more than one million rooms were booked in a single month. Total room demand in July was up 4.1% to a record 1,004,978 room nights. August repeated the one million room demand mark at 1,013,564 occupied rooms.
July's performance was predictive of the success Chicago would experience for its summer tourism season. For the peak visitation season (May-August), occupancy rates rose for a fifth straight year, with records made across all key performance indicators - demand, occupancy, supply, average daily rate, revenue per available room and overall revenue.
In October, Chicago experienced a seventh consecutive month of record room demand. Overall demand in October reached a record 969,804 rooms sold, a gain of 2.9%, helped significantly by group demand. Through October, room demand is up 3.1% and is expected to surpass the 10 million room mark by the end of 2014.
Cvent, one of the largest industry suppliers in the world, named Chicago the number one meeting destination in the U.S. in 2014. Chicago surpassed last year's destination, Orlando, to secure the number one spot.
More than 5,000 cities were evaluated and rated based on meeting and event booking activity in the Cvent Supplier Network, as well as the number of meeting and event venues in the area.
McCormick Place, one of the world's premier meeting and convention facilities, and Chicago's hotel supply of more than 37,000 rooms in the Central Business District have proven heavily influential assets for incoming businesses and attendees.
The ranking was a significant achievement for our magnificent city, and we are thankful to all who've helped make Chicago so globally appealing.
As one of just three cities in the U.S. honored to have its own Michelin Guide, there is no doubt Chicago has a reputation as one of the world's finest culinary destinations. The Michelin Guide Chicago 2015's star rankings were yet another testament to the city's epicurean prowess, as 24 restaurants earned stars. Alinea and Grace both earned three stars, asserting their standing as two of the world's most prestigious restaurants.
An analysis by Site Selection magazine concluded the Chicago area is the country's leading metro market for "new and expanded corporate facilities." Chicago secured 373 corporate facility investment projects last year, a large distance away from second-place Houston with 255 projects. Chicago has ensured it is a premier place to conduct business and grow the number of corporate meeting opportunities.
TripAdvisor's user rankings for best destinations in the U.S. had Chicago coming in at No. 2. Chicago surpassed San Francisco (No. 3) from last year and sits right behind New York, which took the top spot.
Condé Nast Traveler named Chicago one of the Top 25 Cities in the World, and The Langham, Chicago earned a spot in its Readers' Choice Awards 2015 list of the 100 Best Hotels & Resorts in the World. Visit Condé Nast Traveler's website to see how Chicago ranked.