Friday, October 12, 2007

It's a Dog's Life at the Radisson

My name is Verne and I am a dog-a-holic.

Yes, I am the proud owner of three dogs-- Toby (Cockapoo), Ty (Pomapoo) and Taz (Yorkiepoo).

Chicago just passed a city ordinance that will allow our four-footed friends to join us at participating outdoor café restaurants. The ordinance officially begins in January, so we will have to wait until then, but in the meantime, there is lots of other stuff to do with Fido (or Tabby) in Chicago (including stay at the Radisson.)

On October 14th at Navy Pier, there will be a pooch parade and a dog Halloween costume contest. Meet dog lovers from all over and enjoy an afternoon of fun and prizes!

Where to buy that special costume? I have a few favorite places.

Tails in the City at 1 E. Delaware is the place in the Magnificent Mile area to spoil your pet. If I may quote from their website:

"Tails in the City offers a compelling assortment of unique and luxurious items for dogs, cats, and their owners. The Tails in the City collection features chic pet apparel, fashionable pet carriers, distinctive collars and leads, stylish jewelry for pets and for people, luxurious beds, gourmet baked treats, terrific toys, and great gifts."

Speaking of dog-a-holics, it's also he name of one the newest pet stores in the city. Set on Armitage Avenue (917 W. Armitage) in the trendy Lincoln Park neighborhood, Dog-a-holics offers you and your pet many different services. And their great website says:

"Pampered pets come in all shapes and sizes and so do the items at Dog-a-holics. From glitzy collars to tasty treats from the deli case, Dog-a-holics is sure to satisfy your dog addiction. We offer dog couture, custom dog beds, carriers, bike wagons, gourmet bakery treats, self wash tubs, all natural food, collars and leashes, gift items and much more to help dogs and their owners celebrate their special bond."

Just down the street from Dog-a-holics is Barker and Meowsky, a Paw Firm located at 1003 W. Armitage .They have been in business for many years, and always offer top notch pet items. A quote from their website:

"At Barker & Meowsky we celebrate and promote the bond between people and their pets through fashion, humor, and art. Our toys are not only cool; they serve a particular purpose for the pet in question. We specialize in service. Tell us what you're looking for, and if somebody on earth makes it, we'll find it."

I would be remiss if I did not mention Wigglyville located at 3337 N. Broadway. Although only open a couple of years, Wigglyville has been welcomed in the neighborhood as an old friend. The owners truly acre about the health and well being of your pet, and they have the fun stuff as well. The shop is not to far from Wriggly Field, so you can pick up some Cubs memorabilia for you four-legged friend as the Cubs are on the way to the World Series.

The Radisson welcomes pets, so bring the dog or cat to the hotel and stop by and see me. I’m the one with the dog pictures at my desk.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Get Your Green On

It's time for riverdancing by the lakefront--Chicago is gearing up for its annual Celtic Festival at Grant Park. The last lakefront festival of the season is a two-day festival whereby the dance and culture of these seven celtic nations will be celebrated; Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, Cornwall, Galicia, Spain and Brittany, France. Below are highlights of this event being held September 15th and 16th.

They Can't Take Our Free (Admission!)

There's no entrace fee for the Celtic Festival. Start the weekedn early by taking in the The Laurence Nugent Band on September 13 at Daly Plaza or the French group Matapat at Chicago Cultural Center.

Gentle as a Lamb, Strong as an Ox

From sheperding to a heavy athletics competion, there's a variety of sporting activities to watch in Butler Field. See sheep, strongmen throwing weights, hurling and gaelic football.

Check out the Legs (And Pipes) on Him

All lads are invited to dress up and enter the Men and Kilts Leg contest. Additionally, men in traditional garb will be marching during the bagpipe parades that will be held at 11:15 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Mix-Up of Music

Performers at the festival will include Lunasa, and Damien Dempsey
Searson of Salsa Celtica, a group that combines Latin American and Celtic music. A special 'O'Canada' gathering tent will be devoted to the sounds of Novia Scotia and Here Be Dragons will play music from Wales.

Top it off at the Radisson

After a full day of fun at the festival, return to the Radisson Chicago Hotel and Suites and have a pint and some bangers at Elephant and Castle Restaurant and Pub.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Rub Elbows with Stars and Staff

In addition to counseling Radisson guests, I also let staff members know what's happening in Chicago. Below is this month's newsletter.

It’s me again, Verne, the concierge.

This weekend is the Chicago Air and Water Show, presented by Shell (Oil, not Anthony our Director of Front Office Operations). The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the U.S. Army parachute team, the Red Baron Squadron and the Shell (Oil, not Anthony) Extreme Water show are just a few of the highlights up in the sky and along North Avenue Beach.

In the mood for some star-gazing? If you happen to miss Brad Pitt and Angelina Joline around the corner, stop by Macy’s on Friday at noon and see Gwyneth Paltrow introduce a new fragrance by Estee Lauder. Do you watch “Entourage”? Also on Friday, at 9pm, stop by Crobar to help Kevin Dillon celebrate his 42nd b-day. Not satisfied with cable television actors? Beyonce will be at United Center on August 18th, with an after party at Alhambra. (Have you been there yet? It’s like Sadaam’s Palace all over again…only more over the top.

How about getting away from the lakefront crowds and all the paparazzi and stop by Ravinia to see the Gypsy Kings. Stop by Fox and Obel, get some food, pack a basket and head out on the train for a relaxing evening under the stars.

Ok, whoever else has dogs, head over to The Chopping Block up on Lincoln Avenue for dog biscuit baking class on Sunday, the 19th at noon. Learn how to make treats for your pooch. The $20.00 proceeds benefit ARFhouse Chicago.

Or head over to Oz Park for “Fun and Games Day for Young Professionals”. Compete for prizes in Frisbee, golf, basketball, 16-inch softball or a bean bag toss. Includes a post game visit to Gamekeepers.

Anyone remember 'The Four Tops'? They will be in concert at the Pritzker Pavilion at 7pm on the 19th.

Speaking of the 19th, I will be leaving on a jet plane for New York City to attend a Les Clefs d’Or conference. The purpose of these conferences is very beneficial to both myself as a concierge and the hotel. We have three days of business meetings (and they are business, as we are required to wear business suits), part of which is an educational symposia. It also promotes travel and tourism in general. The networking aspect is immeasurable, as we are also a sales and marketing tool for our respective hotels. We also meet other partners in the hospitality industry such as Hertz, Federal Express, GoConcierge and many others.

Until next time…


Get Me Some Education!

Northwestern University. Loyola University. DePaul University. University of Chicago. University of Illinois, Chicago Campus. Lake Forest College.

The east and west coasts have nothing on Chicago when it concerns education. Chicago and the surrounding area have some of the best colleges and universities in the country and all are within a short distance of the Chicago Radisson Hotel and Suites!

Many of the schools (Northwestern, Loyola, and DePaul) even have satellite campuses that you can walk to from the hotel , while the others are a short train ride away.

Northwestern University's main campus, just north of the city, boasts a beautiful view of Lake Michigan. Some of the more famous alumni out of Northwestern include Noah Wyle, Patricia Neal, Cloris Leachman and Warren Beatty.

DePaul University’s main campus, located in the very popular Lincoln Park neighborhood, is home of the Blue Demons basketball team, once coached by the legendary Ray Meyer. DePaul also has an excellent law school.

The University of Chicago is in the Hyde Park area of Chicago. Hyde Park is not only home to the University, but also home to many fine museums such as The Museum of Science and Industry, The Smart Museum of Art and the DuSable Museum. Hyde Park also has the Frederick C. Robie House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The University, founded by John D. Rockefeller in 1890, is affiliated with 79 Nobel Prize laureates.

University of Illinois, Chicago Campus is close to Greek Town and Little Italy. It is the largest university in the Chicago area with over 25,000 students and 15 colleges. It also has the nation’s largest medical school.

Lake Forest College, located in the lush setting of this north shore suburb, truly has a beautiful campus. Its 107-acre campus is just a few short blocks to Lake Michigan. Billed as Chicago’s National Liberal Arts College, Lake Forest College celebrates 150 years in October. Designer Nate Berkus is one of their alumni.

So stay at The Radisson when you are here looking for higher education, or visiting someone at one of the schools for parent’s weekend, Little Sis or Bro weekend, or any occasion.

Until next time, remember, stay in school!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Summer’s Not Over Yet!

Before planning for "Back to School," come to Chicago at the end of summer because the city has saved the best warm-weather activities for last.

Chicago's lakefront will be glowing on July 28 for the 50th (!) Annual Venetian Night. About 30 decorated and well-lit boats will float along the lake during the “Chicago’s Finest Moments” procession, which will be followed by fireworks. Grab a patch of grass at Monroe Harbor and ooo and ah at all the pretty sights!

August 3, 4, 5 is the 50th (!) Annual Gold Coast/River North Art Fair. Take a look at a variety of juried artwork that includes paintings, sculpture, jewelry, glass sculptures and photography. Live music, food, and kids’ crafts are also part of this event.

For an even livelier first weekend in August, rock out to Lollapalooza! In addition to performances by Pearl Jam, Muse, and Modest Mouse, there will be art, fashion, food at the music extravaganza! Based on the names of the stages, I would guess the sponsors are AT&T, Bud Light, Adidas, My Space, PlayStation, Citibank and BMI! It's going to be a whirlwind of seven stages of music all day long!

Northalsted Market Days is the Midwest’s largest two-day two-day festival. Now in its 26th year, this festival features arts and crafts vendors, food booths and over 40 musical acts on four stages. Start saving for some shopping because Market Days take place on August 11 and 12.

August 18 and 19 is the 49th Annual Air and Water Show (sorry- no exclamation point until you hit 50!). Over 2 million people will visit our beautiful lakefront for the largest free show of its kind in the country. The best viewing spots are from Oak Street through North Avenue Beach. (Hint-the planes practice on the 17th so come early for a less crowded preview.)

Before the kids are back in school, your last summer homework assignment is to take them to the Radisson for a memorable Chicago vacation!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Things I Love About Chicago

Chicago shoreline: Home to nine separate harbors, Lake Michigan is popular for both pleasure boating and fishing

Drawbridges: Life has its up and downs and so does Chicago as there are over 40 moveable bridges on the 156 mile long Chicago River.

Michigan Avenue Bridge: Designed by architects Edward Bennett and Hugh Young, this became a prototype for other Chicago style bascule bridges.

Grant Park : Chicago’s “front yard” was created in 1835 and has grown to include Millennium Park, a fashionable area that Forbes has declared as having the hottest zip code in the country.

Buckingham Fountain: The centerpiece of Grant Park is surrounded by a beautiful landscaped garden. Every hour there’s a water show at the fountain and at night the display includes lights and music. As a child ,my parents would drive us to see the magnificent light show while we were in our pajamas.

Navy Pier: One of Chicago’s most popular tourist attraction, with shops, restaurants, boats and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, the Navy Pier is located just a half block east of the hotel is Chicago’s famed Magnificent Mile and near the Radisson Chicago Hotel and Suites.

Chicago Water Tower: Completed in 1869, it is one of the few buildings to survive the 1871 Great Chicago Fire and it still provides fresh water to residents.

Chicago Skyline: A wonder to the eyes! Ever-changing, with its incredible variety of buildings that each with have a unique style and history. The diversity of industry and inhabitants in Chicago shine through in the buildings throughout the city.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Take a vacation to Chicago but give your taste buds a workout by coming and sampling foods from seventy area restaurants during the free, ten-day ‘Taste of Chicago’ festival in Grant Park from June 29-July 8. Go through colorful tents that house outdoor kitchens and try candy, ice cream, Polish and Italian food from shops and restaurants such as JR Dessert Bakery, Polka Sausage and Deli, Chicago Celebration Company and Bobtail Ice Cream Company. For respite from the festivity, visit the Gourmet Pavilion where each day an upscale restaurant will be serving cuisine. If all the scrumptious offerings inspire you to make your own creations, get some tips by visiting Dominick’s Cooking Corner where chefs will offer tips and lessons.

Delight Your Ears (and Eyes) Too…

If you need some time to digest all the food , listen to top-notch music at the Petrillo Music Station. This year, there will be performances by Kenny Rogers, John Mayer, Soul Asylum and Los Lonely Boys. Between acts, attend the Kenny Rogers Look-Alike contest, Macy’s Independence Eve Fireworks Spectacular and a screening of Walk the Line.

Suit Your Personal Taste

Unique venues will be set up throughout Grant Park such as the Family Village where there’ll be a teddy bear clinic, a cheesecake decorating table, chess lessons, family bingo and dinosaur activities. At Fun Time Stage, see the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Canine Unit, the Children’s Dance Theatre Chicago, African dancers and Chi-Town cheerleaders. The International Pavillion is the site of global arts such as Mexican Paper Cutting, Italian mask-making and a harper digeridoo workshop.

Burn it all off…

To get rid of those extra calories, join in the Bally Total Fitness Race to Taste 5k Run & 2-Mile Walk on July 1 at 8:30 a.m. Participants receive a Dri-Fit event t-shirt, a one-month free membership to Bally Total Fitness and one strip of Taste food tickets. If you’d rather laugh it off instead, attend the ComedySportz Theatre where two Improv teams will compete to provide the most humor.

Rest on a Full Stomach…

After a day of consumption, get a good night’s rest or let the party continue the party by heading back to the Radisson Chicago Hotel and Suites, which is less then two miles from Grant Park and in the heart of Magnificent Mile where all the after hours celebrating during 'Taste of Chicago' will be taking place.