Built in 1962, the historic Drake Hotel in Oak Brook served as a game changer for the western suburbs of Chicago. It was the suburban counterpart to the iconic and lavish Drake Hotel on Michigan Avenue in Chicago and proved that the suburbs could be ultra-cool too. ¶ That is, until the doors closed in 2009.
Known in later years as the Wyndham Drake, the hotel sat empty for years as the sounds of every party, every meeting and every celebration once held inside its doors echoed within the now shuttered halls.
Good news came in June 2015 when the Drake Hotel Oak Brook reopened after a multimillion dollar renovation that reignited the pomp and circumstance of yesteryear. “I always say that if you built a hotel next door with the exact same details, you would still not get the regal, classic and elegant impression as this building here,” says Taylor Anians, catering sales manager. “The idea that the property was lost for many years and is now back more lively than ever is very emotional.”
One thing planners enjoy about the property, she says, is the perfect ratio of outdoor space, natural light and elegant interiors.Each meeting room, too, has something different to offer: perhaps a bright outdoor view of the grounds, or a cozy fireplace in the Board Room or the opulence of the Grand Ballroom with tall ceilings and multiple meeting spaces.
The grand reopening of the Drake Hotel Oak Brook hints at what many planners have known all along: There is magic happening on 22nd Street, the main artery of the Oak Brook/ Lombard corridor with a number of “clusters of convenience” just a short half-hour drive from downtown Chicago.
Here, we take a look at more of the idyllic places where meeting planners can find dining, lodging and entertainment options, many within walking distance of one another.
Hotel: Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center
Located just 30 minutes west from downtown Chicago, Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center is a favorite among event planners across the state. With more than 42,500 square feet of IACC-certified meeting and event space, the hotel also offers 348 guest rooms, 38 suites and a luscious outdoor setting that includes a tented outdoor pavilion, swimming pools and the Auduboncertified 18-hole championship Willow Crest Golf Club. This year, the hotel will embark on Phase Two of its ongoing multimillion dollar renovation that will include a complete redesign of all main floor public spaces. Additionally, a new, yet-to-be-named restaurant spearheaded by Executive Chef Sean Patrick Curry will take the place of Windows.
Also check out: Le Méridien Chicago - Oakbrook Center, Westin Lombard Yorktown Center, Hyatt Lodge at McDonald’s Campus
Entertainment: Drury Lane Theatre & Conference Center
The ultimate dinner theater can be found at Drury Lane, in Oakbrook Terrace, where the 950-seat, award-winning entertainment venue (that this year will offer productions such as Hazel, Deathtrap and Smokey Joe’s Café) is matched by the revamped Lucille restaurant that now features a minimalist, Art Deco-design era reminiscent of 1930s Paris. Throwback dining options offer classic escargot, Oysters Rockefeller and Lucille’s signature roasted shallot mashed potatoes. Private dining spaces such as the French Room and the English Room can hold anywhere from 30-50 people. “Drury Lane is an institution,” explains Adrian Papaproko, general manager of the venue, which also includes 12 different spaces for meetings and conferences. “The space that we have and the flexibility we have to meet the needs of our corporate event planners is definitely what sets us apart from the rest.”
Also check out: Graue Mill & Museum, Lucky Strike Entertainment, Mayslake Peabody Estate
Shopping: Oakbrook Center
With over 160 shops such as Henri Bendel and restaurants such as Maggiano’s Little Italy and Old Town Pour House, Oakbrook Center has been named as one of Illinois’ top outdoor upscale shopping malls and recently underwent an extensive renovation of its grounds that focuses on a lifestyle-center concept. That includes the addition of various soft seating options, the creation of gathering spaces for concerts and other special events and the planting of various trees and flowers. A new luxury 12-screen movie theater with indoor parking is also expected to open in November 2016. A tried-and-true spot is the Clubhouse Restaurant, which recently began offering full buyout options to meeting and event planners. “We have private space for as few as five people and as many as 500 guests on each floor,” says Director of Sales Cathy Boyke.
Also check out: Yorktown Center
Dining: Perry’s Steakhouse
Also located within Oakbrook Center is Perry’s Steakhouse, which offers high-class service with an impeccable dining experience. Private event space can accommodate parties of 12 in Room 79, while the dual Cellar Room and Vintage Room seats up to 80 people. “There are other steakhouses in the area, but I would say we are more of a modern take on that,” explains Sales Manager Cindy Fernandez. “We take pride in the way we present our food, whether it’s our lobster bisque poured right at the table or our Perry’s Famous Pork Chop, carved tableside.”
Also check out: Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse, D.O.C Wine Bar, Holy Mackerel Seafood, Reel Club
OAK BROOK/LOMBARD BY THE NUMBERS
54,107 People make up the population of this bustiling area.
310-Plus stores encompass oakbrook and yorktown shopping centers and other nearby retailers
160-Plus restaurants offer delectable menus giving a taste of the rich cusine in the area.
24 Hotels provide a home away from home for locals and visitors.
8.5 Acres of horticulture showcase Lilacia Park which featuers 800 lilacs and 25,000 tulips.