Top Travel News From Chicago

Chicago Skyline aerial view with road by the beach
Chicago // Photo by marchello74/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

There's a lot to love about Chicago, with a lot more on the way, too. Here's a look at what's happening in the Windy City as of late.

With 2013’s highly anticipated opening of the Langham, housed in the historic Mies van der Rohe building in River North, it keeps getter better and better. In fact, a recent article in Crain’s Business Chicago highlights the city’s new hotel building boom, with “seven hotels comprising 2,340 rooms under construction downtown, including a 400-room Loews hotel in Streeterville” which will result in a “6.2 percent increase in supply." The number of business and leisure travelers to Chicago continues to increase, and so developers are launching building projects downtown, where few are worried about a glut because of the strength of the market. Other notable hotels in the pipeline include the world’s first-ever Virgin Hotel, which will occupy a former office building in the East Loop when it opens in Fall 2013.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. has announced the signing of Le Méridien Chicago - Oakbrook Center. Located in Greater Chicago directly adjacent to Oakbrook Center. The 10-story building is set to undergo a $20 million transformation prior to its 2014 debut. Owned by RockBridge and managed by Wischermann Partners Inc., Le Méridien Chicago - Oakbrook Center is expected to “combine timeless, chic design with sophisticated offerings”. Located 18 miles west of the Chicago loop, along the Interstate 88 corridor, Le Méridien Chicago - Oakbrook Center will serve as a hub for both business and leisure. The hotel is steps away from large corporate offices, luxury boutiques and highly sought after restaurants, making it a destination of choice for visitors to Oak Brook and other western Chicago suburbs. Le Méridien Chicago - Oakbrook Center will boast a new outer façade, a new arrival experience and completely reimagined public spaces. The ninth floor will feature a proprietary new bar and restaurant concept with a variety of meeting spaces. In addition, Le Méridien Chicago - Oakbrook Center will offer a fitness center outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment and a roof-top terrace. The hotel's 172 rooms and suites, including a presidential suite and two spa suites, will be refurbished and feature the signature Le Méridien Bed.

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The Art Institute of Chicago has announced its new admissions policy, as well as new fee structure for out-of-state visitors, Illinois residents, and Chicago residents. These will all come into effect starting February 14, when the museum returns its free Thursday evenings for Illinois residents. The Art Institute will implement a new fee structure. For adults, Chicago residents will be charged $18.00 (with $5.00 discount from base $23.00 fee); Illinois residents will be charged $20.00 ($3.00 discount from base $23.00 fee); while out-of-state visitors will be charged $23.00. For students and seniors, Chicago residents will be charged $12.00 ($6.00 discount from base $18.00 fee); Illinois residents will be charged $14.00 ($6.00 discount from base $20.00 fee); while out-of-state visitors will be charged $17.00 ($6.00 discount from base $23.00 fee). Children under 14 are free. Special exhibitions will be available for free with general admission. Surcharge for select exhibitions may apply during free hours for Illinois residents. Certain community members always get free admission. These include: children under 14, K-12 Illinois teachers and Illinois school groups, Chicago police and firefighters, active members of the US military, and former PoWs and disabled US veterans.

If you immediately head to Broadway in New York or the West End in London, take a look at Chicago for another theater option. Chicago Shakespeare Theater has announced two upcoming productions: the American premiere of Othello: The Remix, created by the Q Brothers, March 12–April 28, 2013 in the theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, and the upcoming CST Family production Shrek The Musical from July 13–September 1, 2013 in CST’s Courtyard Theater. As part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad’s ‘Globe to Globe’ festival at Shakespeare’s Globe, Othello: The Remix received its world premiere as one of 37 companies from around the world presenting Shakespeare’s entire canon, each performed in a different language. The European tour continued to Germany’s Shakespeare Festival im Globe Neuss and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe where the Musical Theatre Matters Awards honored the production with Best Musical and Best Lyrics Awards, and the Stage Awards for Acting Excellence nominated the company for Best Ensemble Award. Based on the Academy Award-winning DreamWorks film and the book by William Steig, CST’s 75-minute production of Shrek The Musical tells the story of a swamp-dwelling ogre who goes on an adventure accompanied by a wise-cracking donkey to rescues the princess Fiona. The Tony Award-nominated production has music by Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Caroline or Change), with book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole, Wonder of the World, Good People). Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s limited engagement of Othello: The Remix is scheduled to run March 12–April 28, 2013, in the Theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare. Shrek The Musical runs July 13–September 1, 2013 in CST’s Courtyard Theater. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312-595-5600 or visit the Theater’s website at

Austrian Airlines has announced that it will be extending its North American product in the 2013 summer schedule. From May 17, 2013 onwards, Austrian Airlines will be flying five times a week to Chicago , the largest city in the mid-western USA. The service will be operated using a Boeing 767, equipped with a completely new cabin featuring new full-flat seats in Business Class; new, modern Economy seats; and a new in-flight entertainment system. As of next summer, Austrian Airlines will offer a total of 26 non-stop flights a week to North America. The carrier operates daily flights to New York with a Boeing 777 (the largest long-haul aircraft in the Austrian fleet) and daily flights to Washington and Toronto with the Boeing 767. The Austrian Airlines also networks into and out of Central and Eastern Europe, in destinations such as Prague, Bucharest , Sofia , Belgrade and Skopje. From Chicago, Austrian Airlines will offer transfer connections to other destinations across the US together with partner United Airlines – to and from cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Las Vegas, Denver and Seattle. Austrian Airlines has served Chicago as a destination in the past, most recently in the years 2007 and 2008. Austrian Airlines is part of the Lufthansa Group, Europe’s largest airline group, and a member of the Star Alliance, the first global alliance of international airlines.

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