• Renovations for new generations
• Tips for meeting during renovations
Resorts have remained staples of American culture and today many Midwest resorts are renovating and revitalizing their efforts to remain icons for new generations of business and family travel.
One such resort is Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center, in Oak Brook, IL. The Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center is completing a full-property renovation which “goes above and beyond Hilton standards,” expressed Steven Ellingsen, General Manager. Located 30 minutes from downtown Chicago, Ellingsen and his team are focused on renewing the traditional history of the Oak Brook Hills Resort. The resort offers many activities for guests, including the 18-hole Willow Crest Golf Club, fitness center, spa, pools, tennis courts, bicycle rentals, and more.
During the entire renovation, the property has remained open for business. The first phase saw a new executive lounge and golf simulator room, refreshed meeting space and ballroom, and a refurbished indoor swimming pool and fitness center, while phase two involved the complete reconstruction of all main floor public spaces, including the lobby, café, and signature restaurant. Now the resort is seeing to the renovations of all 386 guestrooms. When asked how they have managed working around construction Ellingsen gave a few tips for others:
1. Be upfront with your attendees/groups.
2. Know your noise level and utilize appropriate spaces accordingly.
3. Have extra team members available to help guests during events.
4. Create more signage for guests to get around easily.
5. Actively embrace the renovation and show your excitement.
These points crossover specifically for planners too. Be upfront about the situation in correspondence prior to the event. Create your meeting placement and agenda around noise zones or heavy traffic times if possible. Have extra team members on hand to help with guiding attendees to the appropriate areas of your event. Embrace the renovation and support the venue you chose, but also show excitement for your own program, actively showing your participants that the renovations did not hinder your message or their experience.
As room renovations are currently underway, Ellingsen and his team have created a unique program to help guests buy-in and see the bright future of the resort. Furniture color boards are displayed in the lobby and a blue carpet will lead the way to a showroom, so guests can see what all the rooms will look like once renovations are complete.
Another resort advancing through renovations is The Abbey Resort, on the shores of Geneva Lake in Wisconsin. Over the past few years this property has seen renovations to the lobby and guestrooms, as well as Café Latte and the new, full-service restaurant, Waterfront.
2017 saw an entertainment advancement of virtually, monumental proportions. The Immersion Virtual Entertainment experience center opened in October, bringing kids from eight to 98 into the future of gaming.
In October of 2017, Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Wisconsin Dells, WI broke ground on a 112,000-sq.-ft. expansion that includes a 52,000-sq.-ft. ballroom and ten additional meeting rooms. How are they handling the expansion, you might ask? “The great news is that the expansion of Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Wisconsin Dells will not impact groups in any way,” said Kevin Shanley, Corporate Sales and Revenue Management, Kalahari Resorts and Conventions. “The expansion is an addition to the current spaces and won’t disrupt our accommodations or service as we grow.” We know this isn’t always the case for every renovation, Shanley shared, “Planners should be aware of the renovation timelines and any possibility of impact to their reserved spaces or disruption of service. We carefully planned the expansion so it won’t have any impact to the groups we’ll host in 2018 and in 2019….”