The Gray: Kimpton’s Fresh Face in Chicago

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Designers took care to respect the architectural details of the 1890 building.
Designers took care to respect the architectural details of the 1890s building.

Prevue had the honor of being the first group hosted by Chicago’s newest Kimpton property, The Gray, for a VIP luncheon and one-on-one appointments held right before the Visionary Summit in August. The smell of fresh paint was in the air, the elevators were heavily padded as furniture was being moved into place, and there was sense of anticipation and excitement that only comes pre-opening.

The historic building, formerly the New York Life Insurance Building, has been returned to its original grandeur. The limestone, granite and terracotta facade has been restored and there are original touches everywhere throughout the interior, tastefully blending with modern furniture, industrial-style lighting and bold splashes of color. A surprise for our group—and certainly for the people who found them—were the hundreds of vintage encyclopedias that were discovered in the basement. They were repurposed and used to create the theme of the lobby bar, Vol. 39, which will feature tableside champagne and caviar carts.

Food and beverage are central to the vision of The Gray, and a highlight will be the rooftop restaurant, Boleo, which will have a retractable glass roof for open-air dining (as well as private function space). The menu was inspired by authentic Peruvian and Argentinian street fare and Alexis Hernandez, the Chef de Cuisine, was born and raised in Lima, Peru and served as the personal chef to the Ambassador of Peru.

The color palette for the 293 rooms and suites was inspired by a businessman’s suit, with shades of navy and black as well as touches of tweed. Sumptuous linens and other luxurious touches such as pedestal sinks and standalone tubs set in their own private rooms elevate the guest room experience, along with signature Kimpton touches such as animal print terrycloth robes.

A total of 12,850 square feet of meeting space on the 14th and 15th floors features natural light and city views. The 2,800-sf ballroom can accommodate up to 260 attendees.


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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.