Four Seasons Hotel Chicago Celebrates 30 Years
Chicago's leading luxury hotel reflects on its storied past and looks forward to the future
On March 10, 1989, the guest list for the grand opening of Four Seasons Hotel Chicago had some unique guests - two hedgehogs, two guinea pigs, two rabbits, two iguanas, and two great-horned owls - 20 animals in all. As the soiree was a benefit for the Lincoln Park Zoological Society, the elephantine event impressed its 1,000 guests with seven buffets, eight grand pianos, nine bands and two orchestras.
In a Chicago Tribune article about the event, writer Barbara Mahany noted, "Most guests were dumbfounded by the beauty of Four Seasons, a 344-room, USD 190-a-night tower of elegance appointed with such details as the only woodburning fireplace in a city hotel, 59 crystal chandeliers and enough marble to retile the baths at Caracalla."
"With this spectacular entry into the Chicago market, Four Seasons Hotel Chicago has maintained this admirable presence for 30 years," states Michele Grosso, the Hotel's current General Manager. "While being awarded Five Stars by Forbes and Five Diamonds by AAA for decades, the Hotel is known as a leader in service, as well as a compassionate member of our community, donating thousands to local charities over the years."
When Chairman and Founder of Four Seasons Isadore Sharp hosted the ribbon cutting with then General Manager Hans Willimann, a new standard for service and luxury was established in Chicago. In the 1980s, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts began to transform itself from a hotel owner-operator structure to a management company and started to manage hotels in mixed-use developments.
Over the years, the Hotel has evolved with the ever-changing needs and desires of the leisure and business traveller, such as transforming the more formal Seasons Restaurant into the contemporary American concept, Allium Restaurant & Bar. While the Hotel was built with its 50-foot (15 metre) Roman-style indoor pool, The Spa was added in August 2001 with four treatment rooms, echoing the wellness whims of travellers. Recently renovated, the Hotel's 160 rooms and 185 suites are still the highest in the city - from floors 30 to 46. Since its opening, the events team at Four Seasons, led by Catering Director Jamie Breslin, has gained a reputation as one of the preeminent venues in the city, hosting dignitaries, the most grand charity galas and more than 1,000 elegant weddings.
"Our success over the past 30 years is largely due to our employees, and our committed ownership group that has been a constant since 1989," comments Michele Grosso, who is only the third general manager of the property. "Our Hotel has been a training ground - and a success story - for many of our company's esteemed leaders. Our ability to retain and attract top talent is evident when one sees how many of our team members have reached the 10-year, 20-year and even 30-year mark with us."
On March 15, 2019, Four Seasons Hotel Chicago will celebrate this milestone with its employees in an anniversary party full of memories - but also with a vision of a shining future in Chicago. The anniversary party is invitation-only.