• Venue Spotlight: A Touch of Paris in Chicago

     
    FROM THE Fall 2018 ISSUE
     

    The newly renovated, French-inspired Sofitel Chicago offers innovative F&B and modern meeting spaces in the Gold Coast.

When you enter the casually elegant, living-room style lobby of Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile—with comfy couches, dim lighting and a translucent grand staircase—it seems to mirror the vibe of many millennial-focused hotels that have turned their lobbies into social hubs over the last few years. When you learn that Sofitel’s lobby has been this way since the property opened in the Gold Coast in 2002, however, you realize the newly renovated, 415- room hotel is ahead of its time, in more ways than one.

With only five hotels in the United States, Sofitel (under the AccorHotels umbrella) often flies under the radar for U.S.-based meeting planners. Paying homage to the brand’s headquarters in Paris, each of the Sofitel properties embraces the French l’art de vivre (the art of living), focused on chic design, arts and culture, wellness and authentic cuisine. 

Take its innovative F&B for example. For meetings, Sofitel Chicago has had healthy items on breakout menus for years. Not only is the food itself utterly delicious, the presentation is wow-worthy—making healthful eating enjoyable for attendees. Picture Greek yogurt parfaits topped with in-season fruit presented in unique cone-shaped vessels on a custom metal tree, or dehydrated pineapple and apple slices nestled into living grass. For a high-energy coffee breakout, opt for Japanese cold brew stations, where guests can watch the brewing process, grab a cup of joe and snack on mini desserts like churros with dipping cups of espresso ganache.

You won’t find tired tablecloths in the hotel’s 10,000 square feet of meeting space; linenless tables and chairs complement the hotel’s contemporary look and feel, and also align with AccorHotels’ sustainability goals. That sleekness continues throughout its modern meeting spaces, including the 4,600-square-foot Grand Ballroom, its 2,800-square-foot foyer and a variety of other smaller spaces.

In the newly renovated SoFit fitness center, high-tech equipment from TechnoGym, an ARKE core training station and a very unique Batak Lite reaction training system (to measure reflexes) further illustrate the hotel’s focus on wellness. 

From excellent food to thoughtful design, every element of the Sofitel Chicago not only provides a refined setting for a meeting, but also serves to spark conversation among guests. Even the elevators provide a talking point, adorned with photos of Paris and a faux “balcony” designed to give riders the feeling of looking out over the City of Lights. 

Located in the heart of the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District, Hotel Drover, an award-winning Autograph Collection Hotel by Marriott, focuses on simple pleasures and genuine hospitality. Kick-off your boots and stay awhile with 200 rustic-luxe rooms and suites. When ready, grab a hand-crafted cocktail or cold beer and wander outside to The Backyard at Hotel Drover, an outdoor oasis, with creekside seating, outdoor games, and seasonal live music.

 

In 1927, Hilton Hotels founder Conrad Hilton said, "Abilene, Texas will be well prepared to handle large conventions and please the most fastidious visitor." Nearly 95 years later, Abilene has fulfilled this vision and is excited to welcome back the Hilton family of hotels in the heart of Downtown Abilene with a recently announced DoubleTree by Hilton.

 

Temperatures are starting to dip in Seattle, but if you want to get in one last outdoor gathering before winter, consider The Rooftop at WeWork Cap Hill. Located on the penthouse level on 11th Avenue near Seattle’s storied Pine and Pike Streets, the space offers inviting landscapes and spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Capacity: 74.  Bring sweaters and scarves!