By Becky Ferrero
Resorts in Illinois range from peaceful, rural properties perfect for corporate retreats to business-oriented conference centers and facilities with a full package of meeting space, entertainment and team-building activities.
For example, DuPage County, just west of downtown Chicago, is known for its many meeting and resort facilities, among them Eaglewood Resort and Spa in Itasca, Hilton Chicago/Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomington and Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles.
Eaglewood Resort and Spa
Honored in 2011 as a AAA Four Diamond property for the sixth consecutive year, Eaglewood Resort and Spa has also achieved the Green Seal silver-level certification for sustainability. It is one of 40 hotels in the country to earn this green distinction from the independent, nonprofit organization.
The 106-acre, 295-room resort — 35 minutes west of downtown Chicago and 12 miles from O’Hare International Airport — is also certified by the International Association of Conference Centers and has more than 37,000 square feet of function space.
“We are a purpose-built learning center perfect for small corporate groups of up to 50 people,” said Julie Berry, director of sales and marketing. “We help with meeting planners’ budgets by offering Benchmark Conference Packages, a one-price-per-person plan that can be tailored to specific needs and objectives.”
Eaglewood’s amenities include a 10,000-square-foot European spa and an 18-hole, par-72 golf course.
Hilton Chicago/Indian Lakes Resort
“We are the only Hilton Resort and Spa in the Midwest, and are known for our stunning Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired decor as well as numerous resort amenities,” said Lisa Casolari, marketing manager for the Hilton Chicago/Indian Lakes Resort.
On 260 acres, 30 minutes west of downtown Chicago and O’Hare International Airport, the 308-room resort is home to the 4,000-square-foot Spa Vargas, recently named best local spa by the Chicago Tribune.
Groups are also drawn to the recently renovated Blackhawk Trace Golf Club and its three nine-hole courses — the Highland Course, the Woodland Course and the new Island Course — for corporate retreats or team-building activities.
“We are popular with government, association, SMERF [social, military, education, reunion and fraternal] and corporate groups of up to 1,200 people,” Casolari said. “We have 36,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and 14,000 square feet of outdoor function space.”
Pheasant Run Resort
One of the best-known resorts in Chicago’s western suburbs is Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, a 250-acre property with 473 guest rooms and extensive meeting and conference facilities.
Groups of up to 4,000 can easily gather in 120,000 square feet of meeting space; its facilities include two expo centers, a new 320-seat amphitheater and the 22,000-square-foot IACC-certified Advanced Center for Training, which will accommodate up to 1,000 for training sessions, seminars and classes.
The Midwest’s largest entertainment resort, Pheasant Run keeps meeting guests entertained with six restaurants and lounges, a comedy club and two theaters, including the new $4.5 million Mainstage Theater with stadium seating for over 320.
The resort’s entertainment director will help plan private events, team building and golf outings on Pheasant Run’s two golf courses.
Illinois Beach Resort and Conference Center
Lake Michigan’s coastline is the backdrop for the Illinois Beach Resort and Conference Center. Located in the 4,100-acre Illinois Beach State Park, near Zion, the 92-room resort is 40 minutes from Chicago and Milwaukee.
Given its beachfront position, the resort is popular for retreats. But, with 15,000 square feet of meeting space, it is also a site for more traditional meetings. Many of its nine meeting rooms have lake views; there’s also a 3,000-square-foot terrace for seasonal use.
The resort’s location in a state park is a bonus for guests, who can swim, boat, hike and fish there.
Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa, Galena
Creativity during corporate retreats is a given at Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa, set in the 6,800-acre Galena Territory, a recreational and residential community near the historic town of Galena on the northwest Illinois border.
“Our peaceful, rural setting gets people thinking and builds camaraderie,” said Barbara Sue Shubert, advertising and promotions manager. “Many SMERF, corporate and association groups find it is an easy two-and-one-half-hour drive from the Chicago suburbs, and they often bring their families, too.”
After they arrive, groups enjoy everything from canoeing or paddle boating on 220-acre Lake Galena to hot-air-balloon rides and horseback riding. Eagle Ridge’s 63 holes of championship golf are also popular customer incentive trips.
Accommodations range from the recently renovated 80-room main inn to 230 villas and homes that can be used for group getaways, executive retreats and meeting venues.
“We can handle groups of up to 300 in our 15,000 square feet of function space, including the 5,300-square-foot Eagle Ballroom,” she said. “We also have two tented outdoor patios overlooking Lake Galena or our wooded lands.”