16 Dec 2014 | by Gemma Chadwick

As part of our whistle-stop tour series, we ventured across the pond to discover all that  "The Windy City" of Chicago has to offer for the organisation of events and incentives. 

From the UK to Chicago

The average flight time from the UK to Chicago is around 8 hours and 20 minutes. With regular direct flights from London Heathrow, Manchester and Edinburgh, Chicago is an ideal location for international conferences and events. Our journey began in the United Airlines first class lounge, a brilliant opportunity for event attendees to relax with a coffee, enjoy a glass of bubbles and experience an enhanced sense of luxury before boarding the flight.

Our base for the duration of our stay was The Sheraton Grand, located in the heart of the city. With 1,162 bedrooms, 57 suites, each with a view of the Chicago River, Lake Michigan or the City Skyline and 11 spaces for meetings and events of up to 4,600 attendees, this is a spectacular venue for any conference. On our arrival we were treated to drinks and canapés in one of their luxury suites that overlooked the city, a site to behold. With 8 of America's tallest buildings and the fifth largest skyscraper in the world, Chicago's skyline is a perfect backdrop for any event providing drama and a great talking point to assist in networking.

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The Skydeck

Our first morning was spent taking a private tour of The Skydeck, which is located on the 99th floor of The Willis Tower (also known as the Sears Tower). At 1,353ft the views of the city and Lake Michigan are incredible and on a good day allow you a view of around 50miles across four states. The space can be hired for a private breakfast or an evening dinner, with space for 175 seated or 300 standing.

The Art Institute of Chicago 

Our next stop was at the city’s Art Institute which offers a real mix of meeting facilities from their modern space which houses a collection of 20th – 21st Century art, through to a reconstruction of the city’s old stock exchange trading room. Located in the modern wing of the building you will find Terzo Piano a restaurant which features the signature cuisine of Chef Tony Mantuano - We can confirm the food here is sensational.

Chicago Cuisine 

With so many venues to visit in this bustling metropolis it would be impossible to fit them all in here. The variety of eateries is also something to behold and a visit to "The Windy City" should not go by without experiencing what the food scene here has to offer. We enjoyed everything from the local deep pan pizza to an array of meat carved at your table at the wonderful ZED 451. 

Blues Bar

No trip to Chicago is complete without experiencing a traditional Chicago Blues Bar. From our own experience we could not recommend enough, spending an evening at 'Buddy Guys Legends' this is one of the greatest blues bars we have had the fortune of visiting. The atmosphere here is electric, whilst the Louisiana / Cajun style food is packed with flavour, this is a must visit.

Whether you are planning an incentive trip or conference the city has everything to make your event a great one! 

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Gemma Chadwick

By Gemma Chadwick

Gemma began her career in events back in 2002 when she joined Penguins as an events manager. Since then Gemma has risen through the ranks and taken on greater involvement in the general running of the business. She officially moved away from event operations in 2016 where she assumed the role of Business and HR Manager.More articles by Gemma Chadwick