The Amalfi, soon to be Kinzie Hotel, officially opens on Feb. 4 in Chicago. The property hopes to inspire the explorer in every group to look at Chicago through a more imaginative lens while encouraging guests to take some of the property’s off-the-beaten-path tours.
The hotel décor pays tribute to the city’s original settler, John Kinzie, by incorporating 19th century imagery such as old maps and compasses in a contemporary way. The lobby invites guests with its spherical central lighting fixtures that illuminate local artwork. There are three intimate check-in desks where guests are greeted with a beverage in a cozy chair made for the perpetual traveler. The guest rooms are also decorated with Chicago maps from the 1800s.
Apart from the décor, some of the meetings packages available cater to a more local Chicago feel. For instance, groups of about 30 to 40 can participate in the hotel’s Point of View (POV) Package that offers attendees bikes, helmets and a bike lock as well as a Go-Pro video camera. From there they can explore the city and get video footage from their day’s adventures that they can later take home or share with the group. Moji Akinde, the property’s client liaison manager, can work with meeting planners to turn the outing into a camera-related scavenger hunt.
“Any hotel can provide you with the same tourist traps,” says Jose Angulo, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. “We want to be able to give you suggestions to off-the-beaten places that a lot of other groups haven’t experienced because we want to be the hub for your urban exploration. We want to give [guests] the local vibe not only with design but our suggestions.”
Akinde says she always suggests her personal favorite restaurants to guests. For example, instead of suggesting a national chain steakhouse, she suggests the Kinzie Chophouse because it’s owned by a local Chicagoan and is ideal for private dining. Sometimes she sends groups to the Chopping Block, the city’s largest recreational cooking school offering hands-on cooking classes, wine classes and corporate cook-off challenges. The hotel also carries neighborhood maps to some lesser known neighborhoods such as the West Loop, an up-and-coming part of the city now known to locals as Restaurant Row.
Even the hotel’s meeting spaces have a John Kinzie-themed angle. The 424-sf Sauganash Room, was named after Kinzie’s close friend and colleague, Billy Caldwell a.k.a. Sauganash. A nod to Kinzie’s involvement at the city’s Fort Dearborn, the Dearborn Room offers groups another 424 sf at the hotel. The largest room is the 848-sf Wolf Point room, inspired by John Kinzie’s son, James Kinzie, who built a tavern by the same name on the west bank of the river at Wolf Point in 1828.
The hotel offers onsite teambuilding activities in the meeting spaces. Akinde says the hotel partnered with Windy City Fieldhouse (WCF), a company that can help organize scavenger hunts for groups. The hotel is currently working with WCF to create a Kinzie-inspired Amazing Race activity, which would require attendees to visit some of John Kinzie’s historic spots such as his original home on Michigan Avenue.