Conrad debuts new luxury Chicago hotel

by James Wilkinson

Conrad Chicago, the 20-story luxury hotel located steps from Magnificent Mile, has welcomed guests to a stylish and contemporary escape in the Windy City.

The redesign of former Draft FCB corporate office building into a smart, luxury hotel represents the dynamic vision of hotelier Laurence Geller, international design firm Pierre-Yves Rochon, and hospitality design firm Puccini Group.

The property features 287 guest rooms, including 24 suites with two expansive hospitality suites. The hotel’s atmosphere exudes a modern and purposeful aesthetic, 10,000 square feet of conference and event facilities equipped with state-of-the-art technology, and three unique restaurants conceptualized by world-renowned chef Richard Sandoval: Baptiste & Bottle, Noyane, and Il Tavolino.

“The team at Conrad Chicago has worked tirelessly to create what will be a hotel that will truly inspire guests,” said Kelly Vohs, general manager, Conrad Chicago.

“In partnership with Geller Capital Partners and Wanxiang America Real Estate Group, we were presented with an opportunity to build a luxury hotel that appeals to today’s worldly traveler in a way that other hotels in the city don’t, or perhaps, can’t.

“The magic is our unique ability at Conrad Chicago to combine technology and design with team members who are committed to doing whatever it takes to make our guests’ stay memorable. We do that one interaction at a time, every time,” Vohs said.

“We are excited to expand the Conrad Hotels & Resorts portfolio to include this property in Chicago, which will re-energize the city with its stunning design, innovative restaurants and smart guestrooms,” said John Vanderslice, global head, Conrad Hotels & Resorts. “It is a testament to rapid growth of the Conrad brand, which now encompasses 31 properties worldwide and counting.”

Design Inspiration
Laurence Geller tapped talented designer Pierre-Yves Rochon for the hotel project to repurpose the existing space to provide maximum comfort and functionality for guests, resulting in sophisticated areas that seamlessly blend elements of local culture with contemporary design. With an ambiance exuding both residential and contemporary luxury, Conrad Chicago is poised to add vitality to the surrounding area and complement the glamour and energy of nearby Michigan Avenue.

When designing Conrad Chicago, Pierre-Yves Rochon kept both global and local inspirations in mind. Contemporary simplicity was drawn from architectural visionaries such as Warren Platner and Mies van der Rohe to subtly reflect 1960s and 1970s modernism, incorporating the dynamic architectural heritage and art scene of the Windy City. This style is echoed in the overall color palette, materials and artwork. Deep red leather accents, bronze finishes, and warm beech wood envelope guests upon arrival. The hotel is also decorated with mid-century modern works of art inspired by famed artists such as Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, and Donald Judd. The subtleties of the colors and patterns work in harmony with eye-catching details like lighting fixtures, millwork details, and the lobby screen wall, which projects imagery from Conrad Hotels and Resorts locations around the world.

Sky Lobby
Upon entrance, guests are greeted by Inoca, a sculpture by British studio Haberdashery, that references leaves caught in a Lake Michigan breeze, offering a gentle reference to the “Windy City.” The sculpture can first be viewed upon entrance into the hotel’s grand atrium space before it ascends to the hotel sky lobby on the 20th floor. Displaying 1,300 fine bone China leaves, the form appears to be floating in front of the two-story, floor-to-ceiling windows with the Chicago Skyline as a backdrop.

360-Degree of Inspiring Meetings and Events Space
The central spiral staircase, a dramatic focal point of the hotel, opens to the double height atrium lounge and leads guests directly to a series of graceful pre-function and event spaces. The hotel’s ten multi-functional meeting rooms, designed specifically for high-end meetings and intimate social events, boast breathtaking 360-degree views, illuminating natural light, and state-of-the-art technology. In partnership with Social Tables, Conrad Chicago will be delivering custom 3D imaging of the meeting spaces for guests to view before booking the space.

Smart Guest Rooms
The clean, purposeful design of the hotel’s public spaces continues in each of the artfully-appointed 287 guest rooms and suites. Each room masterfully blends rich leather wall accents and regal tones of red and gold with bold, black granite entryways, and spacious bathrooms. Sharp lines and contemporary furniture in each room guide the eye directly to the floor to ceiling windows, revealing a spectacular city backdrop. Minimalistic bathrooms with freestanding marble tubs also feature views of the skyline and are decorated with gold fixtures and modern artwork. The residential style accommodations and intuitive guest room layout, including personal refrigerators and 96-inch oversized beds, immediately exude the feeling of home for those visiting Chicago.
From keyless guest room entry and smart lighting, to 65-inch flat screen TVs, every room and suite is designed to make guests stay memorable, easy and personal. Along those lines, Conrad Chicago is making every effort to ensure a seamless stay by offering texting services to increase the speed of communication between guests and hotel staff, as well as the Conrad Concierge App, an integrated app allowing access to all of the luxury services available at the hotel, from the palm of a hand. The hotel will showcase a private Fisker luxury house car offering complimentary drop-off service within a two-mile radius.

Three Distinct Restaurants
The Puccini Group, a restaurant group known for its innovation, helped bring each of the three restaurant concepts envisioned by Chef Sandoval to life. On the ground floor, guests will find Il Tavolino, inspired by an authentic Italian café and bringing a blend of modern and rustic design to life in an intimate street-side setting centered around a distinct specialty coffee program in partnership with local roaster Metropolis. Open for breakfast and lunch, the menu features breakfast sandwiches, artisan pastries, pizza, salad, pasta, shareable snacks, and fresh pressed juices.
On the 20th floor, Baptiste & Bottle will serve as the pillar of the property’s food & beverage program, featuring approachable American cuisine with a bourbon centric beverage program. The restaurant draws influences from Chicago’s former “Whiskey Row” with masculine tones and textures. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, diners can expect simple, classic and fresh flavors with an emphasis on the finest local ingredients the Midwest region has to offer. Some featured menu items include: Fluke and Plumb Crudo; Asparagus and Pimento Cheese; and Slow Cooked Short Rib.
Slated to open Summer 2017, Noyane, the hotel’s sleek Japanese restaurant located on the rooftop, takes its cues from modern Japanese design and draws attention to the venue’s awe-inspiring views of the city. Guests will enjoy artfully prepared sushi and sashimi and quench their thirst with Japanese sakes and beer.

Conrad 1/3/5
Conrad Chicago will strive to meet the needs of its guests while providing unparalleled service and distinctive experiences. Understanding that traveling isn’t just about the destination, Conrad Hotels developed the Conrad 1/3/5, a program showcasing the most unique and locally inspired experiences the city has to offer guests who may only have 1, 3, or 5 hours to discover the destination. With a unique mix of edgy neighborhood tours, reinvented icons and landmarks, museums, late-night cocktails, and more, each 1/3/5 experience reflects a local take on culture, art, food, and adventure, so guests can make the most of their trip, even when time is at a premium.
Curated by Peter Jon Lindberg, Conrad’s Director of Inspiration, he is responsible for driving the vision behind the hotel’s Stay Inspired initiative, which delivers guests the insider advice and local insight they need to get the best of their destination. Peter joins the Conrad team after having served as Executive Editor at Conde Nast Traveler and Editor-at-Large at Saveur Magazine and Travel + Leisure.

Virtual Reality Concierge
Conrad Chicago will be the first hotel to offer a complimentary high-tech Conrad 1/3/5 experience with its Virtual Reality Enhanced Concierge. The Conrad Chicago concierge allows the smart luxury traveler to sample Conrad Chicago’s specially curated 1/3/5 experiences. The VR Concierge features 360 video and Oculus headsets allowing guests to virtually try unique Chicago experiences such as looking at the city from 1,000 feet above ground from The John Hancock building. Capturing the sights and sounds of the selected activities as if guests were there themselves is just one of the many tech-forward innovations built into the Conrad Chicago experience.