Meet Radisson Blu

Radisson Blu Aqua
Radisson Blu Aqua

In the heart of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, amid the shops, museums, restaurants, jazz bars, theater and art galleries, the 334-room Radisson Blu Aqua is set to open in October. For those unfamiliar with the Radisson Blu brand, it’s not affiliated with the Radisson brand in the United States. The hotel group, widely known in Europe for melding avant-garde design and business infrastructure, presently operates over 150 properties in Europe, Africa and Asia.

That design lifestyle attitude is in full force at the new $125 million Chicago hotel, with 18 floors inside the undulating, wave-like Aqua building—a new 86-story mixed-use skyscraper filled with gardens, gazebos, terraces and indoor/outdoor pools. Meeting space is 28,000 sf, and events can be catered by Radisson Blu’s fine-dining Italian restaurant, Filini.

Considered a major selling point, the 12,000-sf ballroom is bathed in natural light.

“It’s completely lit with two sides of the walls overlooking Millennium Park,” says Thorsten Kirschke, President for the Americas, Radisson Blu. “There is such variety here, and it reflects what the brand really stands for—uniqueness to the market.”

The opening of the Chicago hotel signals the Belgian hotel company’s long-term intentions. Kirschke says Radisson Blu is planning to open another dozen hotels in North America by 2015, starting with the 501-room Radisson Blu at the Mall of America in 2013.

“We are bringing Blu into the U.S. and thereby aligning the brand around the world,” says Kirschke. “The challenge we have exists only with the portfolio here in North America. Take the 12 biggest cities in the U.S. and we’ll be setting up hotels there…. I’m personally challenging any meeting planner out there to test us out. We have a history of executing meetings to perfection.”

We love the groovy look, but there’s also a business case for the high-concept design.

“You want a venue to be an extension of what you portray to be,” says Kirschke. “It’s iconic architecture with a unique ballroom. How can you not want to be here?”