They make an impression without saying a word. They work hard for your business and aim to impress, and when all is said and done, they relish in your shared success. They are simply the best. These are the venues, services and entertainment options that you picked in the 10th annual Best of Illinois readers’ choice awards. All 25 winners represent the best and brightest of the meetings and events industry in Illinois.
Best Audio-Visual/Visual Presentation Provider
Founded in 1998 in the heart of The Windy City, Sound Investment has a long track record for making events amazing through the use of attention-grabbing sound, video and lighting options. Their no-holds- barred creativity has been on display in countless events around the city for clients such as Brookfield Zoo and the Museum of Science and Industry.
Sound Investment, Chicago 800.720.8545
» The AV Department
Best Catering Company (On- or Off-Site)
For 20 years Amazing Edibles has been a favorite for meeting planners looking to put a special twist on the average catered meal. They offer event-specific as well as daily and weekly services with everything from bar- becue platters to Spanish- style and vegetarian menus. Amazing Edibles is custom- izable and always reinvent- ing their business—they are one of the only companies in Chicago to offer cooking classes and recently released a revitalized hot buffet menu.
Amazing Edibles, Chicago 312.563.1600
» Blue Plate
» Tasty Catering
Best College or University Venue
The University of Chicago
Meeting planners with a dis- criminating taste for design and history have increasingly turned to The University of Chicago for their private event space. Boasting mul- tiple spaces within the uni- versity’s Ida Noyes Hall to the more expansive 500-seat Assembly Hall, the unique venue spills over with pictur- esque views, breathtaking architecture and the very best in event spaces within a collegiate setting.
The University of Chicago 773.702.1234
» Northwestern University
» Loyola University
Best Convention + Visitors Bureau – In Chicagoland
Records were shattered in 2014 as the city of Chicago established itself as one of the top tourist and meet- ings destinations in the country. More than 50 million people flocked to Chicago, keeping the city on track to meet its 2020 goal of attracting 55 mil- lion visitors. The city also experienced record room demand in 2014 with more than 10 million guest rooms booked. This growth looks to continue with a brand new “Chicago Epic” adver- tising campaign.
Choose Chicago 312.567.8500
» Meet Chicago Northwest
» Lake County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Best Convention + Visitors Bureau – Outside Chicagoland
DuPage County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Encompassing more than 39 thriving communities burst- ing with hotels, restaurants and attractions, DuPage County is growing at a rapid pace—and so is its event calendar. The new year will bring summer events such as the annual Taste of Wheaton, the Cantigny Fine Art Festival and the much-antic- ipated Eyes to the Skies hot air balloon festival in Lisle.
DuPage County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Oak Brook 630.575.8070
» Lisle Convention & Visitors Bureau
» Champaign County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Best Destination Management Company
Chicago Travel Consultants, Inc.
For the fifth year in a row, Chicago Travel Consultants, Inc., a DMC Network com- pany, takes home the read- er’s choice honor for Best Destination Management Company. Of course, win- ning accolades is nothing new for this company, which, for 25 years, has provided one-of-a-kind Chicago-centric experi- ences for an ever-growing list of Fortune 500 and up- and-coming clients.
Chicago Travel Consultants 773.880.5878
» 360 Destination Management
» On the Scene
Best Entertainment (Performer or Talent Agency)
Chicago Corporate DJ
Ever daydream about being a rock star? Chicago-based Chicago Corporate DJ (previously Just For Fun Entertainment) will make that dream come true with its signature Party Like a Rock Star package—guests dress up, shoot an album cover and perform via karaoke or lip sync. The company also features a wide variety of entertainment options including corporate DJs, game shows and advanced innovation facilitation.
Chicago Corporate DJ, Chicago 312.600.7669
» Artists, Events & Entertainment, Inc.
» Magnificent Events
Best Event Décor/Florist
The transformation of a sterile space into an extraordinary space is something Kehoe Designs does each and every day. From florals to furniture and lighting, Kehoe Designs has created some of the most sensory-heavy interactive displays for events such as Lookingglass Theatre’s glassquerade to the Joffrey Ballet Spring Gala.
Kehoe Designs, Chicago 312.421.0030
» Heffernan Morgan Ronsley
» Oliveaire Artisan Events
Best Golf Club
Eaglewood Resort & Spa
Some golf for the challenge, others golf for the exercise. Yet meeting planners golf for business, and nowhere else do they love to hit the links more than Eaglewood Resort and Spa. The Par 72 champi- onship USGA-certified course offers private and group les- sons, golf packages, annual passes and golf outings, and inside is 37,000 square feet of conference space for when it’s time to pack up and get down to business.
Eaglewood Resort & Spa, Itasca 630.773.1400
» Arrowhead Golf Club
» Harborside International Golf Center
Best Historic or Cultural Venue
Museum of Science and Industry
The sheer bliss of discovery seems to be around every cor- ner of the Museum of Science and Industry. A longstand- ing landmark in downtown Chicago, the educational museum takes visitors back to the past and gives intrigu- ing looks into the future via exhibits such as the 40-foot tornado, the German sub- marine and a 13-foot beating heart. But what might be most intriguing is the uniqueness of the event spaces within the museum for events of 20 to 12,000 (with the ability to rent out the entire museum).
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago 773.684.1414
» Adler Planetarium
» Chicago History Museum
Best Holiday Party Venue
The view of Chicago’s skyline from the Adler Planetarium is enough to make any holi- day gathering special. With accommodations for 50 to 1,200 guests, the planetari- um’s unique spaces include the panoramic quarters of the 3,700-square-foot Café Galileo and the grand 360-degree experience in the Grainger Sky Theatre. With pricing ranging from $5,500 to $9,000, planners get the real gift.
Adler Planetarium, Chicago 312.922.7827
» Ignite Glass Studios
» Catalyst Ranch
Best Hotel Ballroom
The Drake Hotel
It’s the room that takes our collective breaths away. Whether empty or filled, the Grand Ballroom of The Drake Hotel is an epic masterpiece. Originally built nearly 100 years ago, history is guarded close in the 5,214-square-foot space that can hold anywhere from 80-500 people.
The Drake Hotel, Chicago 312.787.2200
» Hotel Arista
» Hotel Allegro
Best Hotel with Meeting/ Event Space (Less than 350 Guest Rooms)
The Langham, Chicago
If urban elegance is what you are seeking, you’ll find it at The Langham, Chicago. Recently named the best hotel in the U.S. by travel website TripAdvisor, the 2-year-old property offers 316 meticulously decorated rooms and state-of-the- art technology within its 15,000 square feet of event space. On-site restaurant Travelle and the Chaun Spa seal the deal.
The Langham, Chicago 312.923.9988
» Hotel Arista
» Radisson Blu Best
Hotel with Meeting/ Event Space (More than 350 Guest Rooms)
Hyatt Regency Chicago
An oldie but certainly a goodie, the Hyatt Regency Chicago is your winner in this category for good reason. A recent $168 million renova- tion keeps the hotel’s 128,000 square feet of modern meet- ing venues looking as pristine as ever, and planners will especially love the high-tech advances to the hotel’s four ballrooms, 63 meeting rooms and 70,000-square-foot Riverside Exhibition Center.
Hyatt Regency Chicago 312.565.1234
» Palmer House Hilton
» Westin Lombard Yorktown Center
Best New or Renovated Venue
Once an old factory on a forgotten side of town, the brand-new Moonlight Studios provides a unique canvas in which any event can flourish. With rustic brick walls and warm tones throughout, the spaces within Moonlight Studios include a 6,000-square-foot studio and 4,000-square- foot gallery space. The pro- duction space also provides an intriguing option for the adventurous event planner.
Moonlight Studios, Chicago 312.618.5154
» Kaiser Tiger
» River Roast
Best Nightlife Event Space
It’s been the place to be seen since opening in 2006. Yet, it’s the venue’s resurgence in popularity in recent months that makes it so intriguing. Co-owner Billy Dec continues to do what he does best, virtually rein- venting the River North hot spot via high-tech updates including a 40-foot high- definition video screen, LED light panels and three CO2 Cyro Cannons.
The Underground, Chicago 312.943.7600
» Paris Club
Best Outdoor or Rooftop Venue
ROOF on theWit
While we may take The Windy City for granted, the fact is that most of the country would kill for the views we get any day of the week. One of the best comes from ROOF on theWit, a magnificent indoor/outdoor space 27 stories up in the air. From the Patio to the Living Room Penthouse, ROOF on theWit is a view to prosper in all weather (in Chicago, the best roof also has to be retractable).
ROOF on theWit, Chicago 312.239.9502
» I|O Urban Roofscape at The Godfrey Hotel
» Millennium Park
Best Photography/ Videography
Matthew Kaplan Photography
Matthew Kaplan’s love for the city and his clients is represented through the images he places between his lenses. This repeat winner’s corporate work speaks for itself as he trav- els the world to shoot client events and the executives that make them possible.
Matthew Kaplan Photography, Chicago 773.769.5903
» Fig Photography
» Carasco Photography
Best Private Dining Space in a Restaurant
With its bright interiors and Latin fusion food, Carnivale provides an energetic take on the average meal and matches it with an unsur- passed energy that’s often hard to find in more of the neutral offerings in the city. Since opening in 2005, the West Loop eatery has evolved nicely, now includ- ing a lively brunch.
Carnivale, Chicago 312.850.5005
» Private Dining by Sepia
Best Rental Service Provider (Tables, Linens, Tents, etc.)
A long-standing favorite with meeting planners across the country, BBJ Linen uses their 30 years of experience to their advan- tage, displaying profession- alism and an attention to detail that sometimes goes forgotten these days. From table fashions to event décor, BBJ Linen has been utilized in over 2 million events worldwide.
BBJ Linen, Skokie 847.329.8400
» Halls Rentals
» Tablescapes Party Rentals
Best Sports Venue
President Clinton said “hello” here, Oprah waved goodbye and hundreds of music acts have pulled up in their tour buses and rocked the crowd. Yet it’s the championships that have been won and lost that most captured the hearts of the 40 million guests that have walked through the turnstiles since officially opening in 1994. Unlike the average stadiums, United Center offers some of the best catered delicacies (try the lobster roll) and prices: All-inclusive suites start at $4,750 for 20 people.
United Center, Chicago 312.455.4500
» Wrigley Field
» Soldier Field
Best Theater Venue
The Chicago Theatre
A landmark of The Windy City since its creation in 1921, The Chicago Theatre features a number of exquisite meeting spaces, including the historic seven- story Theatre Auditorium, grand lobbies offering 4,500 square feet of space and a 250-seat theater that is perfect for both intimate receptions and seated dinners.
The Chicago Theatre 312.462.6300
» Lincolnshire Marriott Theatre
» Genesse Theatre
Best Transportation (Limo, Motorcoach, Taxi, Shuttle)
Windy City Limousine
This is the seventh straight year Windy City Limousine has conquered this category, and they aren’t resting on their laurels any time soon. With more than 200 new vehicles equipped to carry two to 22, the company has also recently upped in-car technology with DriveCam (mounted cameras to ensure safe driving) and Flight View (flight tracking software to monitor incoming flights).
Windy City Limousine, Mt. Prospect 866.949.4639
» Aries Charter Transportation
» A1 Limousine
Best Venue Outside Chicago
Chicago Botanic Garden
A place to transport one’s mind and soul away from the business and hectic nature of this world, Chicago Botanic Garden features indoor and outdoor spaces that offer stunning views and a solitude found nowhere else. From intimate rooms in the award- winning Plant Conservation Science Center to the dra- matic Nichols Hall, which holds 400 for strolling recep- tions, the nature-filled get- away is a treasure to cherish.
Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe 847.835.8370
» Morton Arboretum
» Grand Geneva Resort & Spa