Friday, February 15, 2013
During a 1939 lecture, architect Frank Lloyd Wright told his audience, “Eventually I think that Chicago will be the most beautiful city left in the modern world.”
I’ve always loved Chicago. From 1979-1992, I lived and worked happily there in advertising, public relations, TV and video production. I met and married my soul mate, Warren Lieb.
Cherishing my Chicago memories, I wondered if I could vacation in my former home? Lucky for me, my sister Diana Schuster lives in Chicago’s suburbs, and is moving downtown. So she offered to show me her favorite corners of The Windy City.
Arriving downtown on a winter day, Chicago’s famous skyline is shrouded in her grey winter blanket. But inside The Fairmont Millennium Park, all is beautiful and bright. The elegant lobby welcomes with soft leather couches, gleaming marble and bronze sculptures.
“Welcome to urban Paradise,” Diana says, opening the door to our spectacular room #1610. Serene and spacious, our guestroom has magnificent city views, plush robes, soft floral photographs and a huge bathroom stocked with rose scented soaps and lotions.
“Let’s never leave,” I joke.
Ten minutes later, we’ve checked into the hotel’s spa.
“Ready for your “Indonesian Body Ritual?” asks Fabienne Carson. “Guests say it’s amazing.”
We take a eucalyptus steam, and then nap on leather chaise lounges in the Relaxation room. Time suspends. Our only agenda: transforming into sensual Spa Queens.
Therapists Elizabeth Toole and Amy O’Brien escort us to separate treatment rooms. Diana and I smile and wave goodbye.
“Cocktails at six,” I grin.
Elizabeth exfoliates my dry skin, applies a mud mask, And wraps me like a burrito. I forget my name, forget where I am, just float away.
After a shower, my skin feels baby soft. Elizabeth massages jasmine lotion onto my body and voila. Happiness.
Later that evening over cocktails and sushi at The Fairmont’s stylish Aria bar, I ask Diana, “How was your treatment?”
“Slice of heaven,” she sighs. “Nurturing, soothing. My skin is glowing, I’m calm and all the stress is gone.”
“Eighty minutes of Bliss,” I add.
Our Chicago vacation is already a 10. Should we head out to see the city lights? Not tonight. We’re asleep in our divine room by 9 p.m.
The Fairmont is wonderfully situated in Chicago’s Lakeshore East neighborhood. Walk to Grant and Millennium Parks, designer shopping on Michigan Avenue’s “Magnificient Mile” and my favorite American art museum, The Art Institute of Chicago.
We leisurely browse classic paintings, like Vincent van Gogh’s “The Bedroom,” Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,” and the charming “Two Sisters,” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. We’re awed by Marc Chagall’s “America Windows,” Salvador Dali’s “Venus de Milo with Drawers” and exquisite Buddhas from India and Thailand.
Standing before Ganesh, the Hindu Elephant god who overcomes all obstacles, I offer my thanks.
“Thank you for reuniting me with my darling sister Diana,” I say. “And for bringing me back to Sweet Home Chicago.”
Two nights at the lovely Fairmont and we decide to move a few miles to Chicago’s busy Financial district, for two nights at the JW Marriott.
Occupying legendary Chicago architect Daniel Burnham’s historic Continental & Commercial National Bank Building, the JW Marriott opened in November 2010. Exuding classical elegance, this friendly hotel offers 610 luxurious guestrooms, an Italian Steakhouse and Valeo, a 20,000-square foot spa and wellness center with an authentic Turkish hamman and swank indoor pool.
We loved dining in the hotel’s relaxing lobby lounge, Nibbling on Maine lobster spring rolls, Kobe beef tenderloin sliders and triple chocolate fudge brownies. The cheerful hotel concierge was eager to help with theatre tickets, dinner reservations and printing airline boarding passes.
“Do you know you’re a 10 minute walk from Macy’s, DFW Shoes, Ann Taylor and about 100 shops?” she asked.
Amazing how quickly spa queens turn into shopping goddesses.
Diana and I were energized by Chicago’s vitality and panache.
At The Shedd Aquarium, we applauded dolphins and beluga whales, oohed over leafy sea dragons, laughed at adorable penguins and otters and photographed giant jellyfish.
At SkyDeck Chicago, we rode the high speed elevator up 103 floors to see the bird’s eye view of Chicago from 1, 353 feet.
“There’s Soldier Field, The Field Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry,” I called out to Diana. “And Lake Michigan, where I sailed with Warren.
Only Diana could lure me onto The Ledge, the clear glass box attached to the outside of the building. Look straight down if you dare, for a fabulous adrenaline rush.
Boasting 77 different city neighborhoods, Chicago is a 24/7 feast with every ethnic cuisine on the planet.
At Mercadito, we loved the spicy guacamole, spectacular mahi mahi tacos and the “we’re happy forever now” strawberry margaritas.
One of Chicago’s coolest hotels is the swank Radisson Blu Aqua hotel, boasting serene guestrooms, outdoor balconies with amazing city views, and every amenity known to man.
The Radisson’s Filini Restaurant is electric with the city’s global deal makers dining on grilled prawn salad and chocolate lava cake.
Who said you can’t go home again? Our Chicago vacation was magic. And I can’t wait to go back.
(c0pyright Sharon Spence Lieb 2013)
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