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High atop a roof in Chicago!
Chicago FastTrak, August 4-6, 2009

August 13, 2009 By Editor

Hi everyone and welcome to my latest edition to our blog. We just finished our second FastTrak for 2009 in Chicago‚ A city that never lets us down.

Hotel/Meeting Planning:

This was our 2nd year at the James Hotel in Chicago, which was voted #29 of the Top 100 Hotels in the US by Travel + Leisure Magazine. The James in located right off of Rush Street and Michigan Ave and offers the amenities of today‚ from free wireless internet throughout the hotel to a free 24hr business center off of the lobby, to a hotel room that has a cozy home feel.

The meeting rooms are the perfect size and the hotel staff was extremely helpful and attentive at all times and as always the catering was excellent. We were also fortunate to have the same hotel staff as the year before, which is always nice to see in the hotel business.

Hosted Evening Event:

For our Tuesday-night hosted event, I worked with Christina Foster out of our Chicago office. We wanted to do something with a smaller budget, but also get a Chicago specific experience.

Christina was able to round up some local contacts for a rooftop experience.  Most of the places we found were willing to get us the space free of charge but the F&B minimums were really high and increased depending on the hours of your event.  We finally settled on the rooftop terrace at the Conrad Hotel. Partly because it was only a block walk from the James so we did not have to worry about transportation, but also because the rooftop experience at the Conrad looked really nice.

The event turned out great (Thank you Christina).  The weather was warm with clear skies which made a beautiful backdrop when the sun set behind the building. We had also hired a magician, Dennis DeBondt, a friend of Christina's to come and work the crowd. He was great and very entertaining. Now if we could just figure out how he turned our $1 dollar bills into $100's we would be all set!  Our wait staff at the event was great, however we were not as impressed with the restaurant management. There seemed to be a lack of communication among them but as any event planner knows, you make it work!

Lesson learned: Though we had a great experience at our event we did learn that rooftop doesn't actually mean highest rooftop on the building. It can also be deceiving when a location has more than one rooftop.

I hope you found all of this helpful. Below please find the contact information for The James hotel and Dennis DeBondt. They were all excellent to work with and we hope to work with them again soon!

Kari Skulstad

Senior Sales Manager

The James

55 East Ontario Street

Chicago, IL 60611

P: 312.660.7146

F: 312.660.7187



~ or ~

Jillian Ceithaml

Sr. Conference Service Manager, Conferences

The James

55 East Ontario Street

Chicago, IL 60611

P: 312.660.7145



Dennis DeBondt

Magic Presentations

5231 West Warner Avenue

Chicago, Illinois 60641

P: 773-545-0545

F: 773-545-5656
Thoughts, suggestions, comments? Drop me a line!


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