When searching for a convention hotel in Chicago, size matters. Other important factors include flexible meeting space, state-of-the-art technology, easy load-in/load-out, a large volume of guest rooms and sufficient parking facilities.

If you haven’t been to the Hyatt Regency Chicago (or if you haven’t been there in a while), you’ll find that this hotel delivers on these requirements and more. Having completed all renovations in 2013, there’s a new lobby, guest rooms, meeting spaces, technology and dining experiences. This matters to business travelers who stay here, and it elevates the Hyatt Regency Chicago as a contender for hosting future business events. Here’s what you can expect.

Experience Hyatt Regency Chicago:

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The remodeled lobby is a massive, open and chic common area with comfortable seating throughout the two floor lobby (completely exposed with natural lighting). A sleek water feature runs tastefully along the ground floor escalator, paying homage to the former massive fountain and landscaping that ran through the lobby — and greeted guests for than 30 years. And you’ll definitely want to hang out in the restaurants and bars with other business travelers and conference attendees.

As you arrive, American Craft Kitchen & Bar is directly in view, which offers casual dining under an architecturally stunning, steel trellis. Behind that is an 82-foot wide, 15-foot tall canvas print appropriately titled “The Lake” by local artist Ben Butler who derived inspiration from Chicago’s Lake Michigan. New artwork is something you’ll find throughout the hotel.

Registration is more efficient now than ever. By moving the concierge and car rental desks to a separate area on the first floor, Hyatt Regency Chicago has modernize the registration process with high-tech features such as iPad check-in services, check-in pods and kiosks (note, wifi is free throughout the entire lobby and skybridge). There’s a dedicated desk for Hyatt Gold Passport members as well as a traditional front desk that can process several people at once. If you’re planning or attending a major convention, you’ll find plenty of staff present and available to help and greet you upon arrival.

Meetings at Hyatt Regency Chicago

If you’re staying here, chances are good that it’s for a business meeting or convention. During my stay, the IAPD/IPRA conference was scheduled. Attended by roughly 4,500 attendees from throughout Illinois, this three day conference is usually  held each year in January, and they require a trade show floor, 180 breakout sessions, 1600 rooms and parking for roughly 200 local attendees who drive in.

Susan Triphahn, CMP, education and conference director at the Illinois Association of Park Districts, explained that Chicago is an ideal city to host the event because it draws greater attendance than locations outside of the downtown area. Why Hyatt Regency Chicago for Triphahn? The convention services team is excellent, the hotel can easily handle logistics for move-in/move-out, the team’s flexibility with customizing catering and dining menus and there’s a reasonable amount of space for parking needs — plus there’s access to other nearby hotels to handle potential overflow needs. Hyatt Regency Chicago is also perfectly located for anyone who wants to leave the hotel and choose to enjoy the restaurants and shopping that Chicago has to offer.

“We’re in the business of fun, and they expect to be taken care of when they come to this convention — and they need value for their money,” Triphahn adds.

IAPD/IPRA attendees typically return to this conference annually, so they offer an excellent insight into the favorable changes that have taken place at Hyatt Regency Chicago these past three years. “It’s bright, it’s lively, and it’s contemporary,” Triphahn says. “I’ve been hearing attendees talk about how nice it is. The enhancements made were well received, and it was definitely worth the wait.”

Business Event Spaces at Hyatt Regency Chicago

With two towers, this is the largest hotel in the city. Hyatt Regency Chicago has 228,000 square feet of meeting space, including four ballrooms, 63 meeting rooms and a 70,000 square foot exhibition center with excellent A/V options. The hotel also upgraded its wifi and high-speed DSL internet for use in meeting rooms, public areas and guest rooms. And there’s a full-service business center

While major conventions take over the entire space, meeting rooms and ballrooms are organized so that multiple events can be scheduled so that each maintains their own privacy — for any size group.

The renovations reflect new artwork throughout the hotel, and you’ll find the work of seasoned photographer and abstract artist Christopher Kennedy on display in the Grand Ballroom lobby. Kennedy creates abstract images using fixed sources of light as the paint and a single-exposure camera as both brush and canvas.The image is printed directly onto sheets of lightly brushed aluminum, producing an almost three dimensional luminosity to the pictures.

Guest Rooms at Hyatt Regency Chicago

Hyatt Regency Chicago has 2,019 guest rooms and suites, and those were renovated in 2010 and 2011. There are several room types, including standard, deluxe, suites, rooms with views and specialty rooms that are Americans with Disabilities Act compliant (accessible tub, closed-captioned TV, cordless phone,  standard fire alarm with additional emergency strobe light and strobe-light smoke detector, electrical features  positioned at a lower height, wide bathroom doors, grab bars and raised toilet seat).

I stayed in 2715 West Tower which has a floating king-sized Hyatt Grand Bed (down blanket) placed in the middle of the room — facing a 37″ flat screen TV and an oversized work desk behind the headboard and then the wall of windows. A lounge chair sat in the corner and the overall color scheme with tones of gray and orange matched the room’s contemporary design. Black and white Chicago artwork complete the room.

While the standard bathroom is efficient in space, the mirror features excellent lighting. And the bath amenities are KenetMD, a signature collection for Hyatt Regency that is gentle on skin and hair, and is generally mild and fragrance free. Overall, the rooms are comfortable and business-friendly.

Hyatt Regency Chicago has several suite options. Junior Suites are oversized guest rooms with a comfortable seating area and sufficient space to move around. And the Monarch Suite is a standout for VIP guests and meeting planners looking for an impressive hospitality suite. It has a bright foyer and includes 2,295 square feet and views of the city, river, lake and Navy Pier. There are three separate seating areas, an oversized fireplace, a freestanding bar, a large desk, a private bedroom with a designer master bathroom and more.

For guests who have access to the Regency Club, this is located on the top floor of the West Tower. It’s open throughout the day and offers snacks, refreshments and plenty of reading material.

Dining at Hyatt Regency Chicago

  • Stetsons Modern Steak + Sushi is a non-traditional steakhouse experience in a comfortable urban setting. Flexible portions of thoughtfully sourced natural beef, sustainable seafood, and organic produce are crafted into variety of internationally inspired shareable dishes that bring a fresh new perspective to the ubiquitous steakhouse. (Check out our Stetsons Chicago review).
  • American Craft Kitchen & Bar is the atrium restaurant, and it offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s worth noting that meeting planners can work with the conference team to modify the menu options to reflect their group’s needs (e.g., requesting cost effective buffet options for guests on a controlled budget).
  • Market Chicago is Hyatt Regency Chicago’s upscale shop with a Chicago-theme design. Grab a quick coffee to go (Starbucks), pre-packaged snacks, fruits, smoothies, hot breakfast items, sandwiches and pastries.
  • BIG Bar is a great place to hang out, and it’s a very social spot. If you were here in the past, you’ll remember its iconic wall of bottles along the windows. That has been replaced by a continuous series of flat screen TVs with a multi-tier shelving unit that features a range of spirits — paying homage to BIG Bar’s past. The other standout that caught my eye was the wall of guest tables that each have their own TV (choose whatever you want to watch).
  • DaddyO’s Pub & Game Room offers juicy burgers, local brews and wall-to-wall entertainment.

Hyatt Regency Chicago Fitness Center

Even the fitness center has been reinvented — which is important to business travelers. It has been moved o a new location. By converting a former meeting room and a test kitchen, they have created a new, 24 hour Fitness Center (3,052 square feet).

Now it’s a bright space with windows that offer a view of the river (and a slice of Lake Michigan). They have Life Fitness equipment, including elliptical machines and treadmills (which include the hotel’s TV stations), circuit training equipment, free weights and stability balls. They also offer headphones, chilled towels (scented!), hand towels, newspapers, magazines and filtered water.

The Verdict?

This is Hyatt Regency’s flagship hotel. It was certainly popular for meetings and conventions in the past, but the completed renovations now positions the hotel as a major contender for future meetings and events.

For travelers who have general concerns about hotel security, Hyatt Regency Chicago’s public areas are blanketed in HDMI over IP based high-megapixel cameras which means that the security team can monitor these public areas from any location on the property using their mobile devices, or from the security base. As part of the guest room renovation, they also replaced the regular doors with a heavier version to ensure that it properly closes on its own behind you.

Parking is another important feature for meetings and events held at city hotels, as Triphahn noted. And Hyatt Regency Chicago does its best to not miss a spot. In addition to their own garage, they have negotiated arrangements at other nearby parking garages. During my stay, I needed to use my car a couple of times and the valet attendants were quick and had my car waiting when I called ahead.

One evening I had a chance to speak with a road warrior one evening at Big Bar. He had a connection through Chicago on his way home, but due to weather conditions his flight was cancelled. Previously a native from Chicago, he knew the hotel well and was a strong advocate for Hyatt Regency Chicago. He was quick to share that he fully enjoyed the renovated hotel and the Hyatt Gold Passport points program. That says it all.

Have you stayed at Hyatt Regency Chicago? Share your review here!