McCormick Square - Marriott Marquis Chicago

McCormick Square and Marriott Marquis building

Marriott Marquis Chicago opened in McCormick Square this fall and is quickly proving

why the campus has become a destination in the city.

By Janice Hoppe-Spiers

Home to the largest convention center in North America, Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, the world-class Wintrust Arena and the new Marriott Marquis Chicago, McCormick Square has become a destination for tourists, convention goers and Chicagoans alike. “I grew up in Chicago and was familiar with McCormick Place when it was just the Lakeside Center,” says Catherine Mrowiec, general manager of Marriott Marquis Chicago. “To see how the whole area has transformed with additional exhibit space and how McCormick Place has grown is amazing.”

McCormick Square and Marriott Marquis ChicagoBringing about $9.4 billion in economic impact from 2014 through 2018, McCormick Square is said to be a sound and critical investment in the economic vitality and sustainability of Illinois, according to reports. Chicago’s Prairie District neighborhood is located behind the Marriott Marquis and McCormick Square has made it a priority to be part of the family community.

“There was concern about a 40-story beautiful glass building right on the border of their neighborhood,” Mrowiec says. “The Prairie District has a lot of beautiful, historic townhomes and a lot of families. It’s interesting, when you take the Northern Hemisphere’s largest convention center with 2.6 million square feet of space, add our hotel and the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place with 1,200 rooms each bordering right on a neighborhood, it’s a gesture of trying to transform the area and be a part of the neighborhood.”

In addition to the buildings, McCormick Square features a park behind the Marriott Marquis and a dog run. Cobblestone was used to complete the walkways around the new hotel to show unity throughout the all-inclusive campus. The Marriott Marquis opened in mid-September and will have an additional new Food and Beverage outlet to compliment the current offerings to be completed by the end of January. “We want to offer a place where locals can come in and enjoy the atmosphere,” Mrowiec adds.

Combining the Past with the Present

The Marriott Marquis Chicago promises breathtaking views over the city’s lakefront and South Loop. The hotel features 1,205 guest rooms and more than 90,000 square feet of meeting space. “Architecturally, this is a beautiful building and really the design is interesting because the hotel is connected to a historic landmark building,” Mrowiec says. “The American Book Company, when it was initially opened, printed textbooks for kids and they used to print telephone books.”

The American Book Company houses some of the Marriott Marquis’ meeting space and mid-size boardrooms. Directly connected to McCormick Place, the Marriott Marquis provides a nearly infinite combination of flexible event spaces. “What we did to salute the past is all those meeting rooms are named after textbooks the company may have printed,” Mrowiec explains. “There is a calculus room, an architecture room and so on. That’s really a salute to the past.”

The American Book Company is attached to the 40-story blue glass building, which Mrowiec says represents a melding of the old and the new. The interiors of both buildings are contemporary. One side of the Marriott Marquis glass building has LED lighting that looks like a lightning bolt strike from the street level up to the 40th floor and it can change color. Mrowiec says the hotel has the opportunity to change the color and may change it to orange when the Chicago Bears play.

Marriott Marquis’ technology is supported through fiber optics. “When I checked last there are only three hotels domestically that have fiber optic technology,” Mrowiec notes. “No one walks around with just one device anymore so our fiber optics is really phenomenal and also supports the event center.”

Food for Thought

McCormick Square and Marriott Marquis restaurant

The Marriott Marquis’ all-day restaurant, Woven and Bound, features an exposed kitchen and is expected to be a community gathering place. The name of the restaurant is a tribute to the American Book Company building as well as a salute to the past, Mrowiec says. “Taking a look at what’s happening today and what the future holds in terms of innovation, both time periods are woven and bound together,” she adds. “That’s significant to us and what McCormick Square is trying to accomplish.”

The Marriott Marquis prides itself on being ahead of the curve when it comes to its food and beverage scene. “Something that hasn’t changed in hotels is room service and in-room dining,” Mrowiec explains. “For in-room service, you have to wait 45 to 55 minutes, someone would bring in a table, linen and china, and to some guests that was intrusive.

“We noticed standing by the front desk, food deliveries were coming in from Grubhub, Uber and all these opportunities for people ordering from an app,” she continues. “We saw that as opportunity being lost. We have this concept in Marriott called Fresh Bites, which is contemporary, fresh food that is priced reasonably. You can order and have it delivered. It’s much more efficient, it’s there quicker and much more reasonably priced, so we don’t have room service anymore.”

The hotel has the signature Marriott Great Room lobby, which features a Grab ‘n Go marketplace, as well as a food hall that is expected to open first quarter 2018. “If it couldn’t be any better, one of the things we have opening in November is Level 33,” Mrowiec says. “It’s a really unique space that is like a glass room floating in the sky. You can see the downtown Chicago Skyline all the way to the lake. Because its 33 stories up, it offers rare views of the city and that once-in-a-while moment when you get a magical view of downtown.”

Downtown Oasis

One of the things that makes McCormick Square and Marriott Marquis special is that it can be an oasis for people to relax and take in the day or offer a break to those working at the convention center. On cold winter days, an enclosed walkway allows guests to go from the Marriott Marquis to the west building of the convention center, over to the Hyatt to the east and through to the Lakeside Center.

“One of the things we are very conscious of is breaking the mold if someone is coming here for a meeting,” Mrowiec explains. “When you have a large hotel, people think it’s for a city-wide convention, restaurant show or something like that. We want to change that dynamic and say that this is the place to go if you have a meeting no matter the size. This is where you go because our technology is incredible and advanced. We want to create an incredible meeting experience.”

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