For years, The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago was not, in fact, a Ritz-Carlton hotel. Despite its name, the luxury hotel inside North Michigan Avenue's Water Tower Place was actually operated by Four Seasons. In August 2015, The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago became part of The Ritz-Carlton portfolio and then embarked on a lavish makeover project which lasted 18 months and cost a reported $100 million.
A recent article in The Chicago Tribune describes the “biggest transformation in the history of this elder statesman of the city's luxury hotels.” The changes to the 434-room hotel are dramatic. To quote The Tribune about just one portion of the renovation: “The lobby bar, once tucked away in a corner as if it were an afterthought, has been elevated to a focal point. It's now a glowing beacon of copper, marble and geometric-shaped overhead lighting reminiscent of modern Italian design from the '30s and '40s.”
The award-winning San Francisco-based design firm BAMO was commissioned for the redesign, which sought to reflect Chicago’s heritage of innovative architecture and design. In the official press release, Billy Quimby, principal of BAMO, was quoted: “Throughout the entire property, we have connected design elements of the building's historic exterior and brought the inspiration and energy of Chicago inside. As a result, The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago sets the stage for a modern experience in the middle of the skyline.”
Highlights include the largest luxury ballroom in the city (measuring 25,000 square feet and distinguished by a chandelier studded with 400,000 crystals); a signature Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge on the 15th floor; a dazzling art collection with works by the likes of Ellsworth Kelly and Roy Lichtenstein; the new Ritz-Carlton Spa, with hydration experiences and muscle recovery massages; a refashioned fitness center with views of Navy Pier; and new restaurant concepts including Torali, Italian - Steak— billed as “a modern Italian steakhouse” on the 12th floor.