Tuesday, January 5, 2010

American Journal: Luxury Reaches New Heights-Chicago's Trump Tower

In the American city most famed for its architecture, it’s no easy feat to create a new landmark. However, Chicago’s 92-story Trump Tower has already created a stir in the city that invented the skyscraper, attracting movie stars, jet setters and fans of architecture.

American tycoon Donald Trump wanted to create a new sort of hotel, eschewing the decadence and über-opulence of the sort he was known for previously. With his children, Donald Junior, Ivanka and Eric, the patriarch launched a new brand of hotel, combining a more modern approach to luxury with an urbane, contemporary sensibility.

Set just steps from the city’s famed Michigan Avenue, with its foundation nestled in a riverbed and its midsection reflecting some of the city’s most beloved architecture, the new tower looks like an exclamation point on the city’s dramatic skyline.

Trump, who favors hyperbole, might have it right when he claims that the hotel is the best situated of any in the city, and perhaps the world. Most of the hotel’s 339 rooms (which start at $475/night) boast impressive vistas, but those facing east enjoy exhilarating, vertigo-inducing views of the river and Aegean-blue Lake Michigan, as well as the intricate tops of some of the city’s handsomest early skyscrapers.

Rooms are larger on average than at any other hotel, boasting 10-foot ceilings which lend them a loft-like, decidedly urban feel. Kitchenettes can be found in even standard rooms, offering deluxe appliances, including stoves, refrigerators, espresso makers, and dishwashers. Fine crystal and china are housed in custom cabinetry, making breakfast in bed or a glass of wine at sunset a refined occasion.

Spa rooms, the first of their sort anywhere, offer easy access to the hotel’s sublime spa and have been decorated with a lighter palate and stocked with health-centric amenities. An adjacent workout room offers views that will take your breath away if your workout doesn’t.

While it might be tempting to never leave your room, plenty of other attractions beckon elsewhere in the hotel and beyond.

If your room doesn’t have one of the coveted east views, then head to the 16th floor bar or acclaimed restaurant, Sixteen. Within the past ten years or so, Chicagoans have rediscovered the rooftop terrace, figuring that a lofty perch allows them a closer peek at their revered architecture. In the summer of 2009, the hotel’s lounge and dining terraces openend, offering jaw-dropping, close-up views of the 3-story tall clock of the Wrigley Building and the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower.

If you’re interested in sampling the desserts enjoyed by the American president and his guests, head to the restaurant where pastries are created by a former White House chef. If pastries alone do not a meal make, no worries: Chef Frank Brunacci serves innovative cuisine which has already garnered praise and multiple stars. Focusing on local and artisanal ingredients, Brunacci whips up a stellar tasting menu which can be paired with a fetching array of wines.

The restaurant boasts an impressive selection of harder to find bottles of premium American wines. Without boarding a plane and heading four hours west to the country’s renowned Napa Valley or Oregon, it would be impossible to find such an expansive collection of American wines.

The tower provides easy access to the lakefront, Michigan Avenue’s famed shopping district and Millennium Park. For an early morning jog or stroll, nothing compares with Chicago’s lakefront path which wends its way for dozens of miles through woods, prairies, beaches, marinas and the museum campus.

The hotel’s Robert Prohaska claims there’s no other property like the Trump. Originally slated to be built in Dubai, the ultra-luxe, thoughtfully designed hotel and condominium tower offers its signature attaché service, which can arrange for anything from obtaining souvenirs to having a chef come to your room to cook dinner. Housed in a sleek, glass-clad, sinuous tower that reflects views of the river and sublime skyline surrounding it, the hotel is as dazzling as the twice-weekly, summertime fireworks set off just a few blocks away.

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I write about food, travel & dining, as well as related topics. My first novel, The Gods of Venice, can be found on BarnesAndNoble.com & nearly everywhere else. My second novel, The Last American Buffalo, is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter or become a fan of The Gods of Venice on Facebook.
Alan J. Shannon Copyright © 2010