Great Wolf Lodge will soon be the latest resort to head to Illinois, after an overhaul of the now-defunct Key Lime Cove water park in Gurnee. It’s set to be complete in mid-2018, according to Rhonda Khabir, corporate director of sales at Great Wolf Resorts. The Gurnee location will be the 17th location for Great Wolf, and the company plans to nearly double the size of the property’s existing water park to 80,000 square feet. The resort will feature nearly 7,800 square feet of flexible meeting space, 414 guest suites and built in entertainment for guests and their families.
“Guests don’t have to worry about being away in a meeting while their family is under the same roof having the time of their lives,” Khabir says.
Great Wolf is just one of the many options in the area, however. Pheasant Run Resort, Eaglewood Resort & Spa and the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center have all recently completed sweeping renovations, updating guest rooms, meeting spaces and/or dining options. Here are the many attributes and amenities that make each of these properties an exciting escape conveniently located just outside Chicago.
PHEASANT RUN RESORT
Pheasant Run Resort recently completed a renovation of its lobby and guest rooms, in what Director of Group Sales Eric Yarolimek considers to be just “phase one” of a multipart renovation. “The other phases will be much larger in scope, and they’re now coming into focus,” he says.
As for the completed part, all Tower rooms and suites have received new floorings, wall coverings, draperies and linens, and the lobby now has a new design that blends together rustic and modern touches. The resort’s 35,000-square-foot expo center also has a new, nonskid epoxy floor and updated lighting.
Pheasant Run Resort also offers plenty to do on-site. It’s beautifully set on 250 acres of land with attractions such as Spa Vargas, Zanies Comedy Club, a 320-seat amphitheater for live theater, six dining options, an 18-hole golf course and an indoor pool. The resort recently opened the iPANiC Escape Room and has plans to develop another activity like this soon.
Conference groups can utilize Pheasant Run’s expo center along with 33 meeting rooms, accommodating groups of 10-3,000 people. However, Yarolimek says the resort is well suited for groups in the range of 650-700 guests.
EAGLEWOOD RESORT & SPA
The design of Eaglewood Resort & Spa was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairiestyle architecture, says Julie Berry, director of sales and marketing. Guests will see these influences in the resort’s straight lines, neutral color palettes and natural use of stone and existing light. Recent renovations also adhere to this style, including all of the guest rooms that were renovated in 2015 as well as the resort’s recreation center, which includes a wellness spa, that was upgraded in 2016. One of the restaurants, Prairie River Fire Pit and Patio, was also refreshed earlier this year.
“It’s really unique,” Berry says of the 100- acre property. “You don’t realize you’re in a resort until you walk into the lobby and see our two-story windows that overlook the golf course and 100-year-old oak trees."
Overall, Eaglewood Resort & Spa offers 295 guest rooms and conference space certified by the International Association of Conference Centers. Planners have access to 37 meeting rooms, including two ballrooms and an amphitheater with seating for 75. In total, Eaglewood can accommodate 10-300 people, and is best suited for groups of 50-100, Berry says.
Planners also love to take advantage of Eaglewood’s vast campus for outdoor meals and team-building activities. A popular option is night golf, with glow-in-the-dark golf balls. Groups have also arranged outdoor barbecues and chili cook-offs, as well as a 5K run around the property and outdoor wellness classes. Eaglewood also offers six lanes of cosmic bowling, as well as an indoor pool and three workout studios.
The Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center has undergone quite a bit of change over the last four years. The resort first converted from a Marriott to a Hilton property in August 2014, but most recently the resort finished a multimillion dollar renovation in late 2016 that touched all public and meeting spaces in the hotel, says Nathan Karsten, director of sales.
Not only were all meeting spaces completely gutted, but the resort also upgraded its Wi-Fi and A/V capabilities, Karsten says. As well, public spaces now have a more open flow, and the overall color palette has changed from browns and reds to blues and grays.
Another addition to the resort property is two new restaurant concepts: B. Restaurant and Tin Cup Bar & Grille. While the grille is a golf-themed causal eatery, B. Restaurant offers farm-to-table cuisine, sourcing its ingredients from more than 80 local vendors. The restaurant also uses the resort’s 1,000-square-foot garden and four honeybee hives to source ingredients for dishes and specialty cocktails.
In total, the resort offers 386 guest rooms and suites and 42,000 square feet of IACC-certified meeting space, including a 13,000-square-foot ballroom and an amphitheater that can seat up to 145. The resort can accommodate groups of 10-1,500 and best suits groups from 250-300 guests, Karsten says. Other attractions include the Monarch Spa and the adjacent 18-hole Willow Crest Golf Club. The resort also offers volleyball, basketball and tennis, and works with The Corporate Learning Institute to offer a variety of team-building activities.
Oak Brook Hill’s best feature by far though is its location, Karsten says. “We’re directly between Midway and O’Hare. The ease to get to us is our number-one selling feature.”