Resort Getaways Close to Home
For those looking for a winter weekend respite, there are several west suburban “staycation” options
The western suburbs are home to several resorts offering a variety of amenities and things to do in both winter and summer. Among them are (pictured) Hilton Chicago Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale, Hilton Chicago Oak Brook Hills Resort, Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles and Eaglewood Resort & Spa in Itasca.
Photo courtesy of Hilton Chicago Indian Lakes Resort
Sometimes a winter getaway from Chicago means a change in latitude — and hopefully, attitude — by simply jumping on a plane to anywhere where there are palm trees. Or a beach. Or Mickey Mouse.
But when time or budget does not allow traveling long distance, there are still ways to get away without going far away. There might not be sand or tropical breezes, but local getaways based in Chicago’s ‘burbs do offer heated pools, spa treatments and, at some resorts, a variety of fun winter adventures — from strapping on snowshoes or hopping on sleds to toasting s’mores over an outdoor bonfire.
Winter, too, is the slower season for west suburban hotels and resorts, meaning you’ll likely grab a great deal on rooms or special weekend packages.
With that in mind, we took a detailed look at four resorts in the area, all of which retain a unique vibe and can transport you to a different environment, even if only for a couple of days.
EAGLEWOOD RESORT & SPA
Eaglewood Resort & Spa will cause you to look up. Once you step into the lobby, it’ll be as if you can’t help it — the two-story ceiling appears so high and vast. And then you’ll see the details — the rectangular lights, the stone fireplace, the wood and the angles that pay tribute to the style of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Tucked away in an Itasca neighborhood, Eaglewood offers an array of activities for families, conference attendees or friends looking for a relaxing escape.
The resort’s 295 guest rooms and its spa were renovated in 2015, and the conference room areas were redone in 2013. The updated guest rooms lean toward neutral tones and boast new furnishings. More importantly, the rooms retain their most popular feature — balconies.
“It’s not common in Chicago at all,” says Julie Berry, director of sales and marketing. “Even in the wintertime, sometimes it’s nice just to open the door and get some fresh air. We’re very fortunate. It’s certainly a feature we like to talk about. When you’ve been inside so long, it gets a little stuffy.”
On a recent afternoon, Berry stood on one of those guest room balconies surveying the golf course, which was still green and available to guests, its golf carts lined up in two rows like sentinels. When that golf course is covered with snow, guests can rent snowshoes, sleds and cross-country skis.
Gazing out, Berry points out a fire pit, which opens at 5 p.m. daily, where people can toast marshmallows for s’mores.
“We try to say there’s no reason to leave the state to reach a state of relaxation,” Berry says.
A major source of relaxation is The Spa at Eaglewood, which requires a quick but worthwhile sprint to another building. Each guest receives a robe and slippers on his or her arrival, and services are offered a la carte or in packages. The “Queen for a Day” package, for instance, includes a mud wrap, massage, facial, manicure, pedicure, makeup consultation and a choice of a hair blowout, eye area rescue or lip renewal treatment. It lasts seven and a half hours.
“It’s amazing how many folks will come and really enjoy their time and kind of decompress,” Berry says.
Debbie Wisla, spa manager, points out eight treatment rooms, including two designated for couples massages, as well as a tranquility room where people can relax between services.
On a recent day, five women sat in the tranquility room, chatting in bathrobes while enjoying drinks as a small water feature trickled nearby.
Across from the spa, Eaglewood boasts a pool that can hold up to 177 people. The resort has affixed a projector and screen above the pool area and will often play family movies that kids and parents can take in without ever having to leave the water.
Within several feet of the pool lies a bar area called Kegler’s featuring a bowling alley, jukebox and billiards. Open daily in the evenings, Kegler’s has ultraviolet light that bathes its six lanes in purple for games of cosmic bowling.
“That’s one of our significant hooks,” says Berry, adding it costs hotel guests $20 per hour per lane, which accommodates up to six people and includes shoe rental. “It’s really kind of high energy.”
For more information, call 630 773-1400 or visit www.eaglewoodresort.com.
HILTON CHICAGO/INDIAN LAKES RESORT
The Hilton Chicago/Indian Lakes Resort lives on as a Bloomingdale touchstone, one of those places where parents who were once taken there for a weekend as kids can replicate the experience with their own children.
Inspired in its interior by Prairie-style and Frank Lloyd Wright-esque design, a look up from the atrium gives guests a view of zig-zagging angles marking the hallways, which Jason Connor, the resort’s general manager, says can make finding one’s room extra-intriguing.
The hotel also uses a hexagonal theme, repeated throughout, including the shape of the pool and its skylight. The pool also features a circular, tunnel-like slide for extra fun.
The nostalgic architecture and the resort’s decades-old history, along with a dose of the lodge look and expanding amenities, serves to give guests a feeling they’ve been whisked away.
“That’s part of, I think, the balance,” Connor says. “Maintaining that homage to the original without letting it grow old and run-down. It provides more of an escape than it would otherwise.”
For a different kind of escape, guests 21 and older can descend into an interior space inside the atrium that is home to The Cave, a subterranean bar covered by rocks and a waterfall. Water gushes
beside guests as they sip cocktails, with natural light dousing the atrium through hexagonal skylights. The Cave also features online video gaming.
Down the hall, the recently renovated Resolution Spa & Wellness Center offers facials, massages and scrubs. A party spending the day there can also order in food and drinks.
The spa also serves as a post-workout balm for those staying and participating in the Biggest Loser Resort program. The hotel prides itself on being the only Chicago-area resort for the program, which includes staff trainers and nutritionists.
Some of the resort’s international guests have stayed for months, though the resort is happy to accommodate single-night guests, who Connor says could save $50 to $100 per night by booking a stay in winter rather than summer season.
“It’s warm and friendly,” Connor says of the resort. “It’s more comfortable than it is pretentious.”
For information, call 630 529-0200 or visit www.indianlakesresort.com.
HILTON CHICAGO/OAK BROOK HILLS RESORT
When snow covers the 150 acres of Audubon land at Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center, the resort is well prepared to embrace it.
“Once it finally snows, it’s a true winter wonderland out there,” says Jody Grimaldi, who handles public relations for the resort.
As part of its “Winter Getaway Package” for January and February, the resort will loan out sleds and snowshoes for winter adventures, as well as facilitate homemade hot chocolate and s’mores at its fire pits.
Guests also receive complimentary breakfast for two adults and two kids and free wi-fi. And extra snuggling is encouraged, as they’ll also get early check-in and late check-out. Rates start at $109 for those packages.
A “Winter Wonders for Fido” package also encourages guests to bring their pooches for pampering. Dogs receive treats, as well as dog beds or crates in spacious guest rooms. Complimentary dog toys, like Frisbees and balls are also available.
If it does snow, even avid golfers won’t need to gaze longingly at the white blanketing the 18 holes of the Willow Crest golf course, as the resort has two golf simulators at its SMART Golf and Fitness Learning and Performance Center. Guests pay by the hour to play one of more than 80 simulated golf courses from around the world. Participants also have the option of having their swing analyzed.
Elsewhere, in the hallways, guest rooms and conference areas, guests may notice a dissonance in carpet colors and style. If you remember red awnings and roofing instead of the current blue,
it’s because the hotel changed from a Marriott to a Hilton about a year and a half ago and is undergoing a renovation.
“It looks like a Marriott inside right now, but pretty soon, it’ll be all Hilton,” says Leah Matz, social media marketing coordinator for the resort. Gradually, guest rooms and conference spaces throughout the resort are being stylistically and technologically modernized, with cleaner lines and a bluer aesthetic, to parallel Hilton’s signature color.
Still, certain aspects of the overall operation — like a garden where the chef grows herbs and vegetables for giardiniera, and beehives, where the chef cultivates honey — remain distinct pieces of this resort.
For information, call 630 850-5555 or visit www.oakbrookhillsresortchicago.com.
PHEASANT RUN RESORT
It’s still there, right on North Avenue, its red cursive lettering declaring you’ve arrived at the iconic Pheasant Run Resort.
The St. Charles resort evolved in sections, starting in 1963, becoming a premier lodging and entertainment destination for the better part of 50 years. Gradually, however, the resort began to show its age and became somewhat dated. In 2011, Pheasant Run fell into foreclosure and many feared that it may close for good. What the casual passerby couldn’t see were the extensive behind-the-scenes renovation activities taking place within the resort. More recently, thanks to some of the more visible changes — like those in the hotel lobby and guest rooms — visitors are beginning to see the fruits of the revitalization effort, Pheasant Run Marketing Manager Gabrielle Fink.
Part of the reason the renovation took so long is that the resort is so large, says Fink, who grew up in the community and took her kids to the resort pools long before she began working there. “People now know that it’s not going away. Those were the rumors for a long time, and I think people kind of shied away from coming here, thinking they didn’t know what the future was. But now they can see there’s money being spent here. It’s definitely moving forward.”
The resort will retain its memorable hallmarks, like its Bourbon Street feature, a brick-paved street with faux storefronts. During winter weekends, kids will still scamper in and out of The Swamp, a game and billiard room, and pay a visit to The Bourbon Street Creamery, an ice cream shop with inviting parlor chairs. They’ll also make a stop at the popcorn machine parked on the “street,” and possibly encounter a strolling magician as well.
Near the reception lobby, the pool, which extends both indoors and outdoors — you can duck under a partition at anytime to use both sides — remains a centerpiece of the resort and a magnet for kids and families.
Recognizing that fact, Pheasant Run is offering a special “Polar Splash Bash” package, which will run through the end of February on Fridays and Saturdays. The package includes a pizza party delivered to the room, tokens for The Swamp arcade and coupons for the craft corner.
Couples enjoying a getaway can enjoy a Swedish massage together before dining at Harvest, a restaurant that’s partly housed in an old dairy barn. To top off the night, you can take in a show at Zanies Comedy Club, located a couple of hallways down from Bourbon Street.
While acknowledging her bias, Fink says with sincere conviction that the new and improved Pheasant Run is “a great place!”
For information, call 630 584-6300 or visit www.pheasantrun.com.
Area Hotels Offer Other Escape Options
If your idea of a local winter getaway involves less acreage but still espouses an escape from your everyday routines, check out these local hotels, which brim with enticing offerings and distinct personalities.
CROWNE PLAZA GLEN ELLYN-LOMBARD
Centrally located with easy access to Yorktown, this recently renovated hotel boasts 119 guest rooms and suites, a large indoor pool with vaulted ceilings and the upscale Glen Prairie restaurant.
THE HERRINGTON INN & SPA
Set onthe west bank of the Fox River, the Herrington Inn & Spa in Geneva represents an idyllic place for couples wanting a romantic retreat. The Spa at the Herrington can spoil you with massages involving oils and heated stones, or send baskets with milk baths and aromatherapy products to your room. And if you do decide to bring kids, they’ll be delighted at the delivery of milk and cookies that’s a hallmark of the inn’s turndown service. Should you need a little walk or a little chocolate, dozens of specialty shops on Third Street stand just three blocks away.
Boasting more than 300 rooms, the hotel features an indoor pool, fitness center and the popular Allgauer’s restaurant. It is also located within very close proximity to the Morton Arboretum, with easy access to I-88, and thus to Chicago Premium Outlets and other west suburban attractions. It is currently offering a special Shop and Stay package which includes a $25 gift card and VIP coupon book for the Outlets.
Carrying a four diamond rating from AAA, this modern, upscale boutique hotel offers a variety of amenities, including the Arista Spa and Salon, the Olympus Executive Fitness Center, and the Sugar Toad restaurant. Also on the Naperville hotel campus are the Tap In Pub & Carvery, a sports bar featuring golf simulators, and City Centre Grill, which boasts traditional American fare in a steakhouse atmosphere.
This historic hotel, with its familiar tower rising up on Main Street just steps from the Fox River, anchors downtown St. Charles. Built in 1928, it hosted such dignitaries as Presidents John F. Kennedy and Gerald Ford, entertainers like Louis Armstrong and Lawrence Welk, and more recently, the celebrity wedding of Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg. Exuding a kind of old world, retro luxury, the hotel offers a variety of weekend packages.
LE MERIDIEN CHICAGO - Oakbrook Center:
If you’re a culture aficionado who’s looking to blend an artistic, contemporary sensibility to your getaway, look to Le Meridien Oakbrook Center. Modern, vibrant paintings and murals give walls pops of color, and the hotel has partnered with the nearby Elmhurst Art Museum to offer free admission to its guests. Even the room key cards are designed by international artists. Should you want to take advantage of some high-end shopping, the stores at Oakbrook Center are just a short walk away.