Tag Archives: Chicago Hotels

The Rebirth of the Swanky Chicago Athletic Association Hotel on Michigan Avenue

There’s a swanky new hotel in town located at the Chicago Athletic Association Building and Annex at 12 S. Michigan and 71 E. Madison. The club’s Venetian-Gothic inspired building faces Michigan Avenue. and was designed by Henry Ives Cobb (completed in 1893). The Madison Avenue bulding was designed by  Schmidt, Garden & Martin and was completed in 1907 and doubled in size by 1926. The Chicago Athletic Association Building is within Chicago’s  “Historic Michigan Boulevard Landmark District.” I recently took an architecture tour and was amazed!

Chicago Athletic Association and Annex Chicago Athletic Club 033

There was a plan to demolition significant portions of the structure but keep the gorgeous facade when the elite private club closed in 2007. There has been a recent trend along the Michigan-Wabash corridor of constructing large-scale towers behind the façades of historic structures. Examples include: the Heritage Millennium, the Legacy at Millennium Park (within the Jewelers Row District), and the 80-story tower proposed as part of the YWCA building redevelopment at 830 S. Michigan Avenue.

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This magnificent Michigan Avenue historic landmark and annex was saved from the wrecking ball in 2012 by a partnertship between AJ Capital, Geolo Capital and Commune Hotels  + Resorts. Let’s thank the Pritzkers for this magnificent restoration of the Venetian Gothic tower designed by Henry Ives Cobb. The building has been lovingly restored to it’s 1893  grandeur. When you look at it from Michigan Avenue, it definitely resembles the Doge Palace in Venice.


Venetian Gothic 250 foot tower designed by Henry Ives Cobb

Venetian Gothic 250 foot tower designed by Henry Ives Cobb

In Chicago, Henri Ives Cobb and his partner Charles S. Frost designed many buildings:

1. Potter Palmer‘s mansion on Lake Shore Drive and the Chicago Federal Building that have been demolished

2. The Chicago Varnish Company Building—listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as a Chicago Landmark

3.  The Episcopal Church of the Atonement at 5749 North Kenmore Avenue—also on the National Register of Historic Places

4. The Newberry Library

The meticulous 2 year restoration saved the elaborate millwork, stained glass windows and magnificent mosaic tiles. Chicago Athletic Club 025Chicago Athletic Club 023Chicago Athletic Club 026Chicago Athletic Club 024

In 2008, the National Trust for Historic Preservation cited this 11 story buiding as “one of the nation’s 11 most endangered places.” Architectural and structural updates were completed by Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture and the interior design was completed by Roman and Williams from New York and the resulting 241 room hotel is jaw-dropping! There are five places to dine in the hotel incluging Shake Shack on the main floor.

The Grand Staircase

The Grand Staircase

Climb the grand staircase on the first floor and you can see “The Tank” which was originally 40 meters long. The pool became competitively obsolete when Olympic regulations changed to 50 meters.

The Tank is where the former swimming pool was located. It was covered during the 2012 restoration.

The Tank is where the former swimming pool was located. It was covered during the 2012 restoration.

I love 2nd floor lobby with magnificent millwork and carved fireplaces. The largest fireplace is crowned with bas-relief football players.

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The gorgeous Fireplace in the lobby is surmounted by bas-relief football players.

The gorgeous Fireplace in the lobby is surmounted by bas-relief football players.

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To restore the 1890’s German Millwork, it was removed and meticulously catalogued. New electrical wiring was installed and the antique fixtures shine brilliantly in the 2nd floor “Drawing Room.”

Book your room at www.ChicagoAthleticHotel.com

The 2 year restoration project involved building a rooftop restaurant and bar on this magnificent Chicago landmark. Make reservations for www.Cindysrooftop.com for the best Vino Con Vista in Chicago! Cindy’s includes a private dining room, where you can view the Andy Warhol portrait of her.  Cindy’s name is actually Marian; rumor has it that when she was young, her nickname was “Cinderella.”  When John Pritzker opened the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, he wanted to honor his mother by using her first name — Cindy.

Cindy Pritzker by Andy Warhol

Cindy Pritzker by Andy Warhol

The www.ChicagoAthleticHotel.com has an incredible rooftop restaurant and bar. It’s hard to find a better view from any other outdoor public rooftop in Chicago. It is my absolute favorite Vino con Vista Destination in Chicago! There are amazing panoramic views of Millenium Park, Maggie Daley Park and Lake Michigan from the top of the newly renovated 250 foot Venetian Gothic Tower on Michigan Avenue. Make reservations in advance for Cindy’s rooftop. It is difficult to get into the crown jewel of the hotel that John Pritzker named after his 92 year old mother.

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At Cindy’s, “Executive Chef Christian Ragano, creator of Glencoe’s much loved Guildhall, and former Chef de Cuisine at NoMi, joins forces with renowned Spirit Guide and alumni of The Violet Hour, Nandini Khaund” to enhance the avant-garde culinary adventure.

Cindy's Rooftop

Cindy’s Rooftop

After our architectural tour, we had a delightful lunch. We ordered the Tuna Crudo served over pickled cabbage as an appetizer, the spicy lobster roll with lemon-tobasco remoulade with some lemon meringue pie with white chocolate sorbet for dessert. Follow this link to make reservations at www.CindysRooftop.com. Try to book a table outside by the firepit if you can.

Outdoor seating on Cindy's Rooftop

Outdoor seating on Cindy’s Rooftop


Firepit on Cindy's Rooftop

Firepit on Cindy’s Rooftop

For more Vino con Vista Adventures check out www.vinoconvistablog.me






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Happy Birthday Chicago!

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Happy Birthday Chicago! Uncork your favorite bottle of wine or champagne and toast to Chicago’s 178th birthday was held on March 4, 2015. Crank up your iPhone as you listen to Frank Sinatra sing “My Kind of Town“; originally part of the musical score for Robin and the 7 Hoods, a 1964 musical film starring several members of the Rat Pack.

Cover of "Robin and the Seven Hoods"

Cover of Robin and the Seven Hoods

Chicago is famous for many things including gangsters like Al Capone and the city definitely has some offers that you can’t refuse:

Chicago is also famous for sports teams: Bears, Bulls, Hawks, Cubs and Sox. We have had pretty good record for start-ups: Kraft, Motorola, Baxter, Sara Lee and don’t forget Groupon just to name a few.

English: Chicago Cubs logo

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Chicago Bulls logo

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We have plenty of famous politicians including: 2 Mayor Daleys and President Barack Obama.

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Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley

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Richard J. Daley, mayor of Chicago, c. 1971

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Chicago is home to a plethora of superlatives: our higher learning institutons are world-class with some of the best business schools in the world like University of Chicago and Northwestern. The city is brimming with world-class chefs and we have some of the best restaurants in the world like Charlie Trotters and Alinea.

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods with distinctive architecture and ethnic roots.

Map of Chicago's community areas, grouped by c...

Map of Chicago’s community areas, grouped by color by “side” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But one or our most endearing and enduring blessings is our world-class architecture! Generally, to celebrate Chicago’s birthday, some of her architectural shining stars will turn blue including:

the Willis Tower, the Trump Tower, the Merchandise Mart and the Prudential Building.

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Chicago‘s Columbian Exposition in the 1890’s spawned a flourishing legacy of global architectural pre-eminence and outstanding architecture in Chicago. Daniel Burnham’s passion for Beaux Arts priniciples of design generated a flurry of world-class structures. Chicago architects and structural engineers are still staking claims to global architectural marvels.

Much of new classical research was conducted a...

Much of new classical research was conducted at the University of Chicago. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, 1893

Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, 1893 (Photo credit: Smithsonian Institution)

Bill Baker is a structural engineer who works at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill‘s (SMO) Chicago office in the landmark, 17 story Sante Fe Building. He can be credited with more supertall buildings of over 1000 feet than any other structural engineer in the world including the Trump Tower. The “Burl Khalifa” in Dubai is world’s tallest building at 160 stories. It is almost twice as tall as the building formerly known as the Sears Tower in Chicago. Bill was instrumental in designing The Burl with architect Adrian Smith at SMO.

Two of my favorite vintage buildings include the majestic Wrigley Building and the Gothic Revival Tribune building located at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River.

The Gothic Revival Tribune Tower in Chicago

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The distinctive clock tower of the Wrigley Building reminds me of Big Ben in London. There are 250,000 glistening glazed terra cotta tiles covering the classical structure that was completed in 1924 by Graham, Anderson, Probst and White. Quite appropriate for the great “White City.” The beautiful neo-gothic Tribune Tower is across the street from the Wrigley building. The 26 foot Sculpture of Marilyn Monroe is next to the Tribune Tower.

Wrigley Building

chicago wrigley building

I love the juxtaposition of the classic architecture with the modern architecture of buildings like the sleek Trump Tower. There’s a great view of the Wrigley Clock from Trump’s 16th floor restaurant aptly named “Sixteen.” They have an outstanding Sunday Brunch so why not celebrate Chicago’s Birthday party there!

Chicago Architecture

Chicago is a mecca for world-class museums, restaurants and hotels with plenty of “Vino con Vista” opportunities. The Michelin Guide for Chicago was released in November 2011.

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides and Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites

Happy Birthday Chicago from www.vino-con-vista.com

Chicago River Walk

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I Love the Sepia Restaurant in Chicago

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Pastry chef Français : Pâtissier

Pastry chef Français : Pâtissier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sepia is a delightful restaurant in Chicago. The dining room is located in a former 1890’s print studio and is filled with photography memorabilia.

Chicago Restaurants

Executive chef Andrew Zimmerman graduated first in his class at the prestigious French Culinary Institute and it is reflected in his Meditterranean influenced cuisine. The urban eatery has exposed brick walls and is located at 123 N. Jefferson Street in Chicago just east of the Kennedy Expressway between Washington and Randolf. For the first course, order the English pea soup garnished with ricotta and mint. The entree was bacon wrapped trout glazed with a rosemary vinaigrette surrounded by red bliss potatoes and watercress. Cindy Schumer, the pastry chef, created a citris meringue tart with a scoop of brut-rasberry sorbet for dessert that was incredible!

Visit Sepia on Sundays for half price wine specials from their extensive wine list and treat yourself to Andrew’s famous porchetta www.sepiachicago.com.

Buon Appetito from www.vino-con-vista.com and

Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites

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I Love NoMI on the 17th Floor of the Park Hyatt on Michigan Aveunue

View from the Park Hyatt in Chicago, Illinois, USA
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English: Chicago Water Tower at Night

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Enjoy a glorious Vino Con Vista of Chicago from the NoMI Restaurant on the seventh floor of the Park Hyatt Chicago at 800 N. Michigan Avenue. From the street, the glass and steel facade shows the floor to ceiling windows. I love the panoramic view of Lake Michigan and the historic Water Tower from this dining room.

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The Park Tower skyscraper , located at 800 North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, was completed in 2000. It structure has 70 floors. It was designed by the Chicago architectural firm of Lucien Lagrange Architects. The Park Tower is a mixed use tower; the lower floors of the building are the Park Hyatt Hotel and the upper levels contain luxury condominiums.

This was an excellent choice for Chicago Restaurant Week 2012.  The last time I had lunch at NoMI, I enjoyed the following meal: a seasonal field greens salad with roasted beets, manchego cheese with walnut vinaigrette dressing as a first course; roasted Amish chicken served over beluga lentils and for dessert, an assortment of colorful “Le Mac” cookies including passion banana, lime mint and milk chocolate Grand Marnier. I ordered a 2008 Meiomi Belle Glos Pinot Noir  from Sonoma that was divine.

Check out the Super Bowl Chili Recipe on Executive Chef Ryan La Roche’s Blog. Make your reservations for lunch or brunch at www.nomirestaurant.com.

The NoMI Kitchen at Park Hyatt Chicago will host a special culinary event as part of their “Chicago Masters of Food and Wine” program. The event will be held on Friday, March 23, 2012 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. At this event, participants will learn about goat cheese from artisanal cheese purveyor Judy Solomon. This interactive experience will be held in the wine cellar. Contact the restaurant for more information and reservations.

For a calendar of all Masters of Food an Wine Events follow this link: www.mastersfoodandwine.com

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