My Sweet Home Chicago
By Sharon Spence Lieb
During a 1939 lecture, architect Frank Lloyd Wright told his audience, “Eventually I think that Chicago will be the most beautiful city left in the modern world.”
I’ve always loved Chicago. From 1979 to 1992, I lived and worked happily there in advertising, public relations, television, and video production. I also met and married my soul mate, Warren Lieb.
Cherishing my Chicago memories, I wondered if I could vacation in my former home? Lucky for me, my sister, Diana, lives in Chicago’s suburbs and is moving downtown. She offered to show me her favorite corners of the Windy City.
The Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park
Arriving downtown on a winter day, Chicago’s famous skyline is shrouded in her gray winter blanket. But inside the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park, all is beautiful and bright. The elegant lobby welcomes with soft leather couches, gleaming marble, and bronze sculptures.
“Welcome to urban paradise,” Diana says, opening the door to our spectacular room. Serene and spacious, our guestroom has magnificent city views, plush robes, soft floral photographs, and a huge bathroom stocked with rose scented soaps and lotions.
“Let’s never leave,” I joke.
Ten minutes later, we’ve checked into the hotel’s spa.
“Ready for your Indonesian body ritual?” asks Fabienne. “Guests say it’s amazing.”
We take a eucalyptus steam and then nap on leather chaise lounges in the relaxation room. Time suspends. Our only agenda: transforming into sensual spa queens.
Therapists Elizabeth and Amy escort us to separate treatment rooms. Diana and I smile and wave goodbye.
“Cocktails at six,” I grin.
Elizabeth exfoliates my dry skin, applies a mud mask, and wraps me like a burrito. I forget my name, forget where I am, and just float away. After a shower, my skin feels baby soft. Elizabeth massages jasmine lotion onto my body and voila! Happiness.
Later that evening over cocktails and sushi at the Fairmont’s stylish Aria Restaurant & Bar, I ask Diana how her treatment went.
“Slice of heaven,” she sighs. “Nurturing, soothing. My skin is glowing, I’m calm, and all the stress is gone.”
“Eighty minutes of bliss,” I add.
Our Chicago vacation is already a ten. Should we head out to see the city lights? Not tonight. We’re asleep in our divine room by 9 p.m.
Exploring the City
The Fairmont is wonderfully situated in Chicago’s Lakeshore East neighborhood, where one can walk to Grant and Millennium Parks, enjoy designer shopping on Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile, and visit my favorite American art museum, the Art Institute of Chicago.
At the museum, we leisurely browse classic paintings, including Vincent van Gogh’s “The Bedroom,” Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,” and the charming “Two Sisters” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. We’re awed by Marc Chagall’s “America Windows,” Salvador Dali’s “Venus de Milo with Drawers,” and exquisite Buddhas from India and Thailand.
Standing before Ganesh, the Hindu elephant god who overcomes all obstacles, I offer my thanks.
“Thank you for reuniting me with my darling sister Diana,” I say. “And for bringing me back to sweet home Chicago.”
The JW Marriott Chicago
After two nights at the lovely Fairmont we decide to move on to Chicago’s busy financial district for a two-night stay at the JW Marriott.
Occupying legendary Chicago architect Daniel Burnham’s historic Continental & Commercial National Bank Building, the JW Marriott opened in November 2010. Exuding classical elegance, this friendly hotel offers 610 luxurious guestrooms, an Italian steakhouse, and Valeo, a 20,000-square-foot spa and wellness center with an authentic Turkish hamman and swanky indoor pool.
We loved dining in the hotel’s relaxing lobby lounge, nibbling on Maine lobster spring rolls, Kobe beef tenderloin sliders, and triple chocolate fudge brownies. The cheerful hotel concierge was eager to help with theater tickets, dinner reservations, and airline boarding passes.
“Did you know you’re a ten minute walk from Macy’s, DSW Shoes, Ann Taylor, and about 100 shops?” she asks.
It’s amazing how quickly spa queens can turn into shopping goddesses.
More Chicago Fun
Diana and I were energized by Chicago’s vitality and panache.
At the Shedd Aquarium, we applauded dolphins and beluga whales, oohed over leafy sea dragons, laughed at adorable penguins and otters, and photographed giant jellyfish. At SkyDeck Chicago, we rode the high-speed elevator up 103 floors to see the bird’s eye view of Chicago from 1,353 feet up.
“There’s Soldier Field, the Field Museum, and the Museum of Science and Industry,” I call out to Diana. “And Lake Michigan, where I sailed with Warren.”
Only Diana could lure me onto “The Ledge,” the clear glass box attached to the outside of the building. Look straight down if you dare for a fabulous adrenaline rush.
Boasting 77 different city neighborhoods, Chicago is a 24/7 feast with every ethnic cuisine on the planet. At Mercadito, a standout spot, we loved the spicy guacamole, spectacular mahi mahi tacos, and the “we’re happy forever now” strawberry margaritas.
One of Chicago’s coolest hotels is the swank Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, which boasts serene guestrooms, outdoor balconies with amazing city views, and every amenity known to man. The Radisson’s Filini Restaurant is electric with the city’s global dealmakers dining on grilled prawn salad and chocolate lava cake.
Who says you can’t go home again? Our Chicago vacation was magic, and I cannot wait to go back.
IF YOU GO
The Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park, (800) 441-1411
The JW Marriott, (312) 660-8200
Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago, (800) 333-3333.
Mercadito Restaurant, (312) 329-9555
Discounts on Chicago Attractions at CityPass