Planning a winter conference in Chicago and still in need of a team-building activity or after-hours reception venue? (I’m looking at you, Alpha Kappa Psi, National Society of Minorities in Hospitality and National Association of School Psychologists.) Three spots around town are sliding into the new year with a venerable sporting activity available in various forms for groups: curling.
According to Olympic.org, curling is a team sport played by two teams of four players on a rectangular sheet of ice. The goal is to use a tool called a broom to move a 44-pound granite stone across the ice.
While these three curling “rinks” in Chicago aren’t regulation, giving your conference participants the chance to try their hand at the game—and then watch the pros do it during the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, Feb. 8-25—is sure to score you major props.
LEARN: Park at Wrigley
Later this year, you’ll be able to book a meeting at the forthcoming Hotel Zachary across the street from Wrigley Field. Until then, you can at least help your attendees learn a new skill with curling lessons at Park at Wrigley, which opened in 2017. Coaches from various Chicago-area curling groups will teach skills like etiquette, rules, scoring delivery and sweeping. You can also catch those coaches demonstrating their own mad skills during nightly competitions, Feb. 5-7 and Feb. 12-14.
COMPETE: Kaiser Tiger
This buzzy West Loop restaurant, bar and event space opened three ice curling rinks and two fire pits in its outdoor beer garden in December. The entire area can be rented out for groups (up to 300 people for cocktails) and is open until midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Don’t skimp on stay-warm snacks: Kaiser Tiger is famous for its soft-baked pretzels, gourmet sausage and bacon boards.
IMBIBE: The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel
At the outdoor iceless curling rink on the patio of this River North hotel, groups can warm up by the outdoor fireplaces in between rounds while sipping winter cocktails. A standout is the shareable, large-format drink Sugar and Spice, made with mulled wine, apple cider and honey and served hot. As you might guess, the atmosphere here is a bit lighter; as are the stones, which are smaller than standard to make for easier play.