The silvery gray shuttle hurtles down the expressway, past the neon signs of airport hotel after airport hotel. Just 10 minutes from O’Hare, it turns into a nondescript park of corporate office buildings and pulls up in front of a non-dissimilar building. Once inside, however, the atmosphere changes — into one of a warm welcome, from a friendly front-desk clerk. And at that desk, an impressive plaque catches the eye: four diamonds awarded by AAA. Newly promoted in 2011, the Renaissance Chicago O’Hare Suites Hotel becomes one of only five hotels at O’Hare to win four coveted AAA diamonds.
The full name is important. “Because we have a Chicago address,” says Karen McGuigan, the general manager who guided the property to its four diamonds, “we attract families as well as business guests.” All of the hotel’s suites — 246 with king-sized beds, and 103 with two double beds in the bedroom (10 conference suites have boardroom meeting space)– are equipped with couches that open up into sleeper beds. With attractive weekend rates, and even movies shown then poolside for kids in the summer, the Renaissance is clearly working to maximize its potential.
The hotel’s bread-and-butter, of course, is the business traveler. “Eighty percent of our guests arrive by shuttle from the airport,” notes McGuigan. It helps that the complimentary shuttle runs 24 hours a day from the second busiest airport in the country.
There is no doubt that any business traveler sitting down to work in his or her suite will appreciate the ergonomic chair behind the desk. It is certainly one of the most comfortable computer chairs this writer has ever experienced in a hotel.
That same work desk comes with a wireless keyboard enabling Internet access on the flat screen monitor — actually one of two 32-inch television screens in each suite, loaded with 44 cable channels (plus pay-per-view options). The video entertainment menu includes games (which can be played using the remote keyboard), supplementing the four-outlet technology console facilitating easy plug-and-play.
Whatever is missing from the room’s work station is likely to be found in the business center, open 24/7, and boasting a boarding pass kiosk as well; there is an airport monitor in the lobby announcing flight departures. Fax service is available from the business center or the reception desk; outgoing faxes (domestic) cost $1 per page, but incoming faxes are free (up to 20 pages).
Another nice complimentary touch is free shoeshine service. Unfortunately, there is an extra charge ($9.95 per day) for Internet access (wired in the guest suites, wireless in the public areas), although that comes with a package of free phone calls. A computer with free access can be found in the Club lounge, which also serves breakfast, snacks during the day and drinks in the evening. For those not on the concierge floors, the hotel’s R-Bar is open nightly, serving its signature r-tinis.
Sharing the lobby with the R-Bar is Fresh, an American bistro-style restaurant that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lighter fare is also available at Fresh-to-Go, or from Starbucks; an outlet of the chain is right on the hotel’s premises. Room service may be ordered from breakfast until 11pm.
Not content to rest on its recently won laurels, the Renaissance O’Hare is currently renovating its lobby. In addition to the comfortable furniture already in front of an inviting modern fireplace, the hotel is installing a library-lounge for an even more relaxing look and feel.
Relaxing is also the operative word when it comes to the hotel’s sauna and whirlpool, adjacent to the indoor pool, which is conveniently open until 11pm. The fitness room boasts the latest cardio equipment, along with free weights, and can be accessed 24/7.
Text and photos by Buzzy Gordon, who was hosted by the Renaissance Chicago O’Hare Suites Hotel for purposes of review.