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New Hotel Partnerships Bring Even More Culture to Chicago

By M+E Staff

Hello readers,

This is not your mother’s hotel anymore. Nowadays, properties are upping the ante with flashy new services, experiences and atmospheres that make them a true home away from home. Today, the name of the game seems to be partnerships, and while some hotels team up with chefs to offer award-winning restaurants or team up with award-winning musicians to create branded playlists and music exclusives, we’re getting wind of two Chicago venues that are going in another cultural direction.

This month, the Radisson Aqua Blu Hotel launched a new art exhibition program called “Inspired at Blu.” In this unique collaboration with Columbia College Chicago, “emerging artists and designers from the school have the opportunity to display their work within the hotel.”

The artist-in-residence program will mostly be a digital platform showcasing the work of 10 students each semester on large-scale monitors in the lobby and one facing the street level to engage both hotel guests and outside commuters. The collaboration comes after a recent Vivian Maier photography exhibit and the launch of the “Art of Blu” mobile app earlier this year. This semester’s featured artisans include students of photography, mixed media, illustration and more. In addition to having their work on display, each receives a night stay at the hotel and a $100 gift card.

Just a few days later came Chicago Athletic Association’s announcement about a new partnership with National Geographic for a “Nat Geo Live” speaker series. Already hosted in 32 cities by the nonprofit scientific and educational organization, this will be one of the first times the series heads to Chicago. “Speakers, adventurers, and special guests of the series will take up residence at the Chicago Athletic Association hotel during the duration of their time in Chicago. As a part of this unique partnership, each will participate in array of activations, ticket giveaways and more leading up to the presentations,” says a press release.

The schedule so far includes Emmy Award-Winning cinematographer Bob Poole (March 21-22) who is set to debut a new, six-part PBS/Nat Geo International series documenting the rebirth of Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park. As well, photographer and filmmaker Carsten Peter heads to the CAA April 4-5 to introduce work from corners of the planet’s most extreme environments like inside an F-5 tornado. Stay up to date on the latest additions by visiting the hotel’s social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Happy Planning!

(And don’t forget to vote for the ILM+E Readers’ Choice Best Of Awards before January 11!)

Selena Fragassi
Illinois Meetings + Events