May 2-4, 2012
By Cheryl Justak, President and Publisher
Golf Club Masters, Inc., Publishers of Golf Now! Chicago
Golf Club Masters, Inc. not only publishes Golf Now! Chicago, a high-quality Chicagoland Golf Destination Guide that is used by local golfers, visitors, concierges and meeting planners, we also provide an array of resources to help those charged with planning the company golf outing, coordinating the corporate retreat, or just personally looking to get away for a weekend of golf, great food and lots of things to do! Our Golf Now! Event Planning Services are unique in that we carefully source our recommendations and personally experience what we recommend to our subscribers, clients and customers. We can also plan your getaway from beginning to end!
Returning from an impressive and non-stop whirlwind of activities, I decided to write about my journey on this two-day familiarization tour that was graciously hosted and every detail planned by the DuPage County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s team of executives. I was extended an invite to attend the “One Remarkable Day in DuPage” as we bring group business to the DuPage communities on a regular basis. I was also encouraged to stay the night before and the night ending the event so I could enjoy a relaxing evening. Primarily focusing on golf, dining and accommodations for our groups, I thought it would be a great experience to learn more about the role of the DuPage County CVB and to experience first-hand the various venues we would be visiting on the evening of May 2 and the entire day of May 3. Joined by a diverse group of 35+ meeting and event planners, along with the dynamic executive team of DuPage County CVB for the entire event, including the sales team from the Hyatt Lisle Hotel, we were wined, dined and treated as VIPs as we visited and toured many fabulous venues in the DuPage County.
I want to preface my experience with the fact that DuPage County is close to both Midway and O’Hare airports, roughly 20 minutes from downtown Chicago, and offers more than 16,000 guest rooms in 100+ hotels and resorts scattered throughout 38 communities. As a visitor, you have access to countless area attractions, premier championship golf courses, restaurants, entertainment and nearby world-class shopping centers.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
My trip began with checking into the Embassy Suites Hotel in Lombard, IL on the afternoon of May 2. I was graciously greeted by Irene Chavez, one of the hotel’s sales managers and was invited to join her and other meeting planners staying at the property for the manager’s cocktail reception. We then boarded the hotel’s shuttle that took us to our dinner destination in the Yorktown Shopping Center. We arrived at the D.O.C. Wine Bar & Restaurant and were escorted into their private living room area off to the side of the main dining room. It was the perfect venue for our group of 35 which afforded us the opportunity to sit on comfy couches, relax and mingle with a glass of wine at the cozy bar, or sit and enjoy the wonderful dinner items at the casual tables and seating areas. We were offered an array of wonderful fresh vegetable appetizers, delectable flatbreads, grilled chicken, filet mignon, along with super-crunchy homemade potato pancakes that were unbelievable for our dinner. Our dessert of homemade “carrot cake” muffins topped with cream cheese icing served with freshly brewed coffee was definitely the “icing on the cake” so to speak … for a wonderful end to a great evening of fun. I was impressed how the team from the DuPage County CVB engaged in conversation with all, taking time to make everyone feel welcome and at home.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Our “One Remarkable Day in DuPage” started with a visit to Hyatt Lodge, located in the heart of McDonald’s Hamburger University in Oak Brook, IL. Nestled within a peaceful, rustic forest setting, yet minutes away from Oak Brook’s prestigious shopping destination, our day began with a wonderful hearty breakfast and a tour of the newly renovated 218 room hotel with 47,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. The dining areas offer breakfast, lunch and dinner with options of dining by the indoor fireplace with beautiful outdoor views, or dining on the stone patio overlooking the water. This location would be a perfect venue for golf groups of all types as I made notes on this stop as such.
Boarding a spacious and elegant Windy City Limo “Coach Bus”, our transportation for the day, we were whisked away in comfort and air conditioning, driven by Joe, our coach driver. Our next stops took us to the Doubletree Oak Brook and then to the Hilton Suites Oak Brook Terrace — both in the heart of Oak Brook. We were greeted in the lobby by the sales teams who were energized, excited and proud to tell us about the amenities their hotels offered. I particularly was impressed with Anton Demetrius (first and second name) who had been with Doubletree for 7 years — one of the “newer” staff members. He toured us through brightly colored, spacious rooms and meeting space as he entertained us with his wit and jokes. What I remembered most about what he told us was that the employees at the hotel averaged 22 years employment. I thought that was remarkable in itself as the hotel industry is not an easy one to work in by no means. As a seasoned hotelier with 15 years experience at Sheraton hotels in the earlier part of my career, this is a direct reflection on the atmosphere of the hotel and the management staff to have a team of such long-time staff members. The Hilton Suites was equally impressive and offers visitors the famous Drury Lane Theatre to enjoy top name entertainment and shows.
Our next stop was the 150-acre estate of Oak Brook Hills Marriott Resort
, home to Willow Crest Golf Club
. This Dick Nugent designed course was recognized in 2008 as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary — the 17th Marriott Golf Managed Property awarded with this prestigious certification. Willow Crest Golf Club features gently rolling bent grass contoured fairways, quick rolling and well-bunkered greens, along with an abundance of water challenges. The par 70 golf course layout is very challenging, yet enjoyable for golfers of every skill level. During our tour of the busy resort with Liz Pudelwitts, Destination Sales Executive, Liz gave us a phenomenal perspective and insight into all that the resort
offers. Celebrating 25 years this year, the resort offers a fabulous golf getaway as well as the perfect destination wedding or reunion. The new “permanent tent” was being set up inside for an event and we had a chance to see the convention service team in action. The resort was quite busy at the time with various groups in house, but we managed to see a guest room as well as the meeting space. What makes this resort so unique and special
is the proximity to world-class shopping at Oak Brook and York Town Shopping Centers
and the many grand eateries just a wedge shot away from the resort. My favorite part of this tour was learning about the “chef’s organic garden” that is planted and harvested on the resort property. The culinary delights prepared at the resort feature many of the fresh in-season vegetables grown locally and harvested from the garden. It doesn’t get any fresher than that!
Our next stop was the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center Hotel — which spanned the horizon of the building landscape and stood majestically against the sky. Opened in 2007, this 5-year old hotel which houses some 500 guest rooms was the location of our wonderful “chef’s choice” luncheon. Adjacent to Harry Caray’s and Holy Mackerel Restaurants, guests can enjoy room service menu options prepared by Harry Caray’s Restaurant. We dined on a delectable luncheon prepared by the Executive Chef, who so graciously came out to greet all of us during our luncheon.
Leaving the Westin, we again boarded the Windy City Limo and headed to the Embassy Suites in Lombard. Each of the meeting planners was housed at the various hotels on our tour. This hotel had been my home during the trip and I thoroughly enjoyed all of the amenities it offered. You can’t beat the wonderful breakfast in the morning that is included in your rate which features made to order eggs, omelets, pancakes, waffles, etc. along with an array of fresh fruit, juices, cereals and so much more. Also, cocktails are included nightly at the “happy hour” that is also part of the hotel’s rate and amenities that are offered.
One of my favorite resorts in the Midwest is Eaglewood Resort & Spa
, located minutes from O’Hare Airport within an urban setting in the Itasca area. Eaglewood was the host hotel for the 2006 PGA Championship
and this year will be a popular destination for the exciting 2012 Ryder Cup
being played at Medinah Country Club —
just steps away from Eaglewood Resort & Spa. A favorite location of mine for golf groups and outings, we were pleasantly greeted by Eaglewood’s top notch sales team who did a terrific job of showcasing all that the resort has to offer. They were an engaging and very professional group! In all the venues we toured, and all the meeting space we saw,
Eaglewood’s state-of-the-art meeting space offers a setting with natural
light and breakouts that are conducive to gathering and mingling. The highlight of this stop was our excursion to the nearby Eaglewood Spa
, which houses their world-class spa, swimming pool, bowling facility and golf simulator. During our competitive bowling activity we had a choice of sitting with a cold brew in the outdoor dining area or at the cozy lounge area while we dined on homemade “sliders” … what fun!
Now I’ve driven by the Lynfred Winery
located in Roselle, IL so many times and had always wanted to stop in to visit. Fred E. Koehler, founder of Lynfred Winery, who just passed away in 2011, was a successful businessman who opened the Lynfred Winery some 32 years ago. On
this stop, we were greeted warmly by Christina Anderson-Heller, Director of Marketing for Lynfred Winery and Bed & Breakfast as we entered the tasting area/gift shop and were handed glasses of wine to sample. The outside of the building gives you a glimpse of what you will experience as you enter. Covered in ivy and quietly tucked away this building is also home to Lynfred’s Bed & Breakfast
. This is no ordinary bed & breakfast by any means. Each of the 4 custom-designed suites feature items decorated from their respective countries to include: America, Italy, Germany & France. Each suite’s decor costs upward of $250,000 which is more than many homes cost to build. Each suite rents for $350 a night plus taxes. We had the opportunity to tour each of the 4 suites and I was in complete awe at the beautiful, custom items in each suite. What a perfect and unique getaway for a bride and groom, an anniversary couple or anyone celebrating a special occasion. With over 80 wines offered at Lynfred Winery, the wine-making is done on property, but grapes for the wines are brought in from all over the country including California, Washington, Southern Illinois and Michigan … to name a few. I could have spent an entire afternoon enjoying all that Lynfred Winery and their Bed & Breakfast have to offer. Who would guess you could enjoy award winning wines in the heart of Illinois and the Chicagoland area.
Our final stop on this activity-packed day was the new Chicago Marriott Naperville that literally had been open one month and was already sold out when we arrived. Wow! The decor was so unique with contemporary pieces of aircraft, boats and luggage scattered beautifully throughout the spacious and airy lobby area. We were given a tour and then taken to one of the meeting rooms for a closing reception featuring some wonderful appetizers, cocktails and scrumptious desserts.
Now I know I gained at least 5 lbs. on this trip (even with all the walking and touring) but it was worth it. I was completely blown away by the passion of the staffs, the quality of the facilities and the graciousness of the hosts. There are so many world-class venues, golf courses and dining options in the DuPage communities … and we only scratched the surface of the “east side” of DuPage.
Here’s the main theme I walked away with from the DuPage County Convention and Visitors Bureau
. They are there solely to help anyone who is bringing a group to the area or thinking about bringing a group to the area. They can source out a list of RFP’s for you if you just tell them what you are looking for. They also offer your group help if you need it — say with registration or whatever need you may have. I would highly recommend using their services if you are a meeting or event planner looking at the area. Also, if you have any group from 5 to 500, they can assist you! Visit them at www.discoverdupage.com
or call 800-232-0502
Friday, May 4, 2012
I enjoyed my final night at the Embassy Suites in Lombard
and spent all day Friday continuing visits on my own and stopping in at some of the area golf courses throughout DuPage County and other neighboring communities.
All in all, it was a great adventure and a wonderful opportunity to experience all that DuPage County has to offer!