Last updated: 01:00 PM ET, Thu December 03 2015

Dispatch: The Swissotel Chicago

Tour Operator | U.S. Tour Operators Association | David Cogswell | December 03, 2015

Dispatch: The Swissotel Chicago

PHOTO: The view from room 1911 at the Swissotel Chicago. (Photo by David Cogswell)


Look Up!

Terry Dale

IsramWorld Resigns USTOA

Tour Operator

 Look Up!

Tour Operator

It’s cold in Chicago!

I went out to take a stroll over to the Hyatt Regency where the U.S. Tour Operators Association will be headquartering its 2015 Annual Conference and Marketplace, and when that cold wind crashed into me off the Chicago River, it just about buckled me.

It’s that real Chicago winter that I know well. Maybe I’ve gone soft, but on this Dec. 2 it does not feel that Chicago winters have lost much ground, climate change notwithstanding.

I had stepped out without a hat or a scarf – I don’t know what I was thinking; nothing I guess. The Hyatt is about a block or so from the Swissotel, at 323 East Upper Wacker Drive, where I am staying tonight.

The conference headquarters hotel the Hyatt Regency did not have enough rooms to accommodate all the attendees of the conference on Wednesday night, so USTOA offered some recommendations for spillover hotels, and the Swissotel was one of them. So I’m staying at the Swissotel tonight and will move over to the headquarters hotel, the Hyatt Regency tomorrow.

Can you believe an address like 323 East Upper Wacker Drive? I have traveled a good bit and seen a lot and I think I am an open minded person, but it is still hard for me to believe that any city in any country in the world would name a street East Upper Wacker Drive. I’m sure there’s a historical explanation.

I have heard people say that the epithet “The Windy City” for Chicago did not refer to the actual wind but to the hot air, as it were, generated by Chicagoans boasting about their city to New Yorkers. But believe me, it is about the wind. The wind is the real deal in Chicago. It cuts you like an ice knife.

I was going to take a walk down to the Hyatt just to scope out the path to be sure to be in time for tomorrow’s opening session. But when that Chicago wind smacked into me I thought better of it and decided to come back and enjoy the Swissotel instead.

It is my one night here, after all.

I’m glad I accidentally became acquainted with the Swissotel Chicago. I like it. It’s modest, but stylish and smart. My room, 1911, is all the way at the end of a hallway that leads straight out of the elevator.

There are other hallways coming off the elevator going off in other, irregular directions and converging again, giving it all a labyrinthine feeling. It has a strange floor plan based on the triangular footprint of the building itself. The triangular shape of the building is said to have been necessitated by some odd properties of the building site. But the result is an architectural novelty and a unique hotel.

I have a corner room. It’s a straight shot from the elevator at the extreme opposite end of the building. Walking toward the corner room it feels like all lines converge there, the walls, the halls, the geometric designs on the carpets. Walking down the long hallway to my room on the end, the one door facing you as you walk down the hall felt like a scene from “The Shining.”

The corner room has a very strange layout. It’s built on the end point of an acute angle of the triangular building. This room is right on the corner, at the intersection of various lines and planes. The room itself is shaped like an elbow wrapped around the corner of the building. It has windows facing two sides, lots of glass, wall-to-wall views of the gigantic highrises of the mighty Chicago skyline on all sides.

The front door is separated from the bedroom area by a triangular wall configuration jutting into the room like the corner of the building itself. It looks like the room was just stuck on the corner of the building. But the effect is good.

The views are amazing. This room is all about the views.

With five-foot tall picture windows stretching across most of the two outside-facing walls you are enclosed between two glass planes meeting at an acute angle, maybe 65 degrees. The wall that faces the south lines up with the street and the buildings across the street. But on the west side of the building, the wall of Swissotel runs at a sharp angle away from the street and the office building across the street.

It’s a lot of glass, a lot of view.

Right below my window and right across the street from the Swissotel, looking like a nicely sculptured canal, is the Chicago River. That’s where some of that cold wind comes from. And just another block or two to the east is Lake Michigan itself, and the busy Lake Shore Drive, nearly always teeming with traffic. The lake is where a lot more of that cold wind comes from.

I look forward to seeing the view in the morning.

Time to try the bed. Big day tomorrow.

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