WBEZ | hotels http://www.wbez.org/tags/hotels Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en New Service Lets Customers Share Hotel Rooms http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-19/new-service-lets-customers-share-hotel-rooms-114521 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Hotel Sharing-Flickr-s.yume_.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Sharing Economy has come a long way. Sharing a ride-pretty standard. Think Uber or Lyft. Same thing with renting someone&rsquo;s apartment while they&rsquo;re away, like through Air BnB. But how far would you take it? Would you share a hotel room for a night with a total stranger?</p><p>Aria Bendix wrote about the idea for The Atlantic&rsquo;s City Lab...and she joins us to talk about how it would work.</p></p> Tue, 19 Jan 2016 16:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-19/new-service-lets-customers-share-hotel-rooms-114521 Morning Shift: August 3, 2015 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-03/morning-shift-august-3-2015-112546 <p><p>We are nearing the end of the dog days of summer; kids will be heading back to school soon, the number of us on vacations will dwindle and the outdoor music festivals will be fewer. In the meantime, camp goes on...and it&rsquo;s not just for kids anymore. We talk to a counselor at a summer camp for adults. It&rsquo;s part of a larger trend of creating the kind of fun for adults that we used to have as kids. We also take a look at Chicago&rsquo;s booming hotel business and how long it will continue. Did Lollapalooza this weekend bring trigger an uptake in bookings? Plus, chances are your doctor is NOT an African American male. According to a report released Monday, the number of black men entering the medical profession is now lower than it was in 1978, which was a high point. We talk about why that is and what needs to be done to bring up that number.</p></p> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 11:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-03/morning-shift-august-3-2015-112546 Chicago’s hotels doing big business http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-03/chicago%E2%80%99s-hotels-doing-big-business-112544 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Flickrsubbu arumugam.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Lollapalooza saw almost 300,000 come in and out of Grant Park over the weekend. It&rsquo;s a safe bet that plenty of ticket holders came from out of town, and many of them stayed in hotels in or around downtown. It would be an additional boost to a business sector that has seen great numbers so far in 2015. Crain&rsquo;s Chicago Business Reporter Danny Ecker joins us with more on what the numbers mean for hotel owners, for travelers and for the city.</p></p> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 11:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-03/chicago%E2%80%99s-hotels-doing-big-business-112544 Neon no more: Lincoln Avenue's motel row http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/neon-no-more-lincoln-avenues-motel-row-109050 <p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/123057494&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe>There&#39;s only a handful of the motels left, tucked between the shopping plazas and condos on north Lincoln Avenue on the city&rsquo;s Northwest Side. Some, like the Guest House, are covered in vines and peeling paint. Others, like the River Park Motel, have changed names over the years or toned down their datedness. Most of the remaining motels on Lincoln Avenue have seen better days, but &mdash; somehow &mdash; they&#39;re all still in business.</p><p>Nicole Kirkwood lives on Lincoln Avenue and passes the Summit Motel on her way to Dominicks. But it wasn&#39;t until she started driving farther north &mdash; to reach restaurants and shops on Devon Avenue &mdash; that she noticed the motels seemed out of place.</p><p>&quot;I just realized how many of them there are in a concentrated area that is not at all a draw for tourists,&quot; she says.</p><p>So, she asked Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Why were so many motels built on one stretch of Lincoln Avenue? How do they survive?</em></p><p>After some talking to a motel owner, a historian and the local alderman, we learn the motels&rsquo; survival is due to a fair share of luck. But their story&rsquo;s remarkable because &mdash; more than sixty years after the golden age of roadside motels &mdash; Lincoln Avenue&rsquo;s motel row has weathered tectonic shifts in transportation, the ire of City Hall and its own seedy reputation.</p><p><strong>Your local highway</strong></p><p>To answer Nicole&rsquo;s question, let&rsquo;s zoom out. Geographically.</p><p>Between Foster Avenue and Skokie Boulevard, Lincoln Avenue overlaps with a cross-country highway. Designated in 1926, U.S. Route 41 stretches 2,000 miles between the Upper Peninsula in Michigan to Miami, Florida.</p><p>Mid-century, it was considered a major route, but today it&rsquo;s easy to forget that U.S. 41 moves well beyond the city limits and that only a five-mile stretch includes a portion of Lincoln Avenue.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/800px-US_41_map.png" style="height: 161px; width: 275px; margin: 5px; float: right;" title="U.S. Route 41 expands from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Miami, Florida. In Chicago, the highway overlaps with Lincoln Avenue for five miles. (Wikimedia Commons/Nick Nolte)" />Instead, Nicole and most Chicagoans see Lincoln Avenue as a diagonal street that moves through several North Side neighborhoods. Or, it&rsquo;s the route to Lake Shore Drive or a way return home from the grocery store.</p><p>&quot;If you live on the North Side and know Lincoln Avenue, you think of it as your highway,&quot; says Patrick Steffes, editor of the history blog Forgotten Chicago. &quot;You&#39;re not thinking that this [U.S. 41] is an interstate highway that goes from near Canada to near Cuba.&quot;</p><p>So it&rsquo;s little wonder the motels can seem out of place to Nicole or anyone else. There was a time, though, when worn out travelers along U.S. 41 entered the edge of Chicago and were glad to have motels at the ready. To understand the context for the hotels&rsquo; rise and eventual decline, it&rsquo;s best to encounter them from the vantage of travelers back in the day. For that, I call up Steffes and tell him I&rsquo;ve got an idea.</p><p><strong>Are we there yet?</strong></p><p>On a Monday morning, Patrick Steffes and I exit off the Edens Expressway and make a right turn onto U.S. 41. We&#39;re getting into character. We pretend we&#39;re a couple with two imaginary kids in the back seat. We pretend our Honda Civic is a actually a &lsquo;55 Ford station wagon and that we&#39;re driving from Wisconsin to Chicago. The year is 1957.</p><p>Steffes points out what we would&#39;ve seen along the way. That Bank of America across from the Old Orchard Mall in Skokie? That was once an upscale department store. The Wendy&rsquo;s? Those were probably Big Boy drive-ups or diners. We&#39;re still a few miles outside of Chicago and, so far, we&#39;ve been heading southeast the entire time.</p><p>It&#39;s not quite a road trip, but I still feel kind of excited as we approach the city limits. Remember, I&#39;m pretending to be a Midwest mom with a beehive hairdo who hasn&#39;t gotten out of Sheboygan in a while. If my kids in the back were perpetually chanting &quot;Are we there yet?&quot; now would be the time I&#39;d answer &quot;Yes.&quot;</p><p>Crossing over Devon and into Chicago, the motel signs start rippling by. They&#39;re still hard to ignore, even if they&#39;re not flashing in neon or promising color television.</p><p>&ldquo;You would&rsquo;ve been a weary traveler coming in from wherever you&rsquo;re coming from, and the signs really made you want to stop for the night,&rdquo; Steffes says.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/acres motel postcard.jpg" style="float: left; height: 209px; width: 320px;" title="A postcard from the Acres Motel, demolished in 2005. (Photo courtesy Patrick Steffes)" />The motels are the first places travelers (like ourselves) can get some rest within city limits. They&rsquo;re kind of like flags at the end of a race. The neon signs are more than flashy advertising; they&rsquo;re signals that you made it.</p><p>A little ways down Lincoln, we pass the O-Mi, the Rio, and the empty lot still staked with a sign for the Stars Motel. As the road takes a sharp right, we pass Foster Avenue. The wide lanes narrow, the buildings close in on the street, people are walking. Suddenly, it feels like we&#39;re in a city. It becomes clear that everything between Devon and Foster is Lincoln Square&#39;s edge of town.</p><p>&ldquo;That stretch north of Foster is kind of like no-man&rsquo;s land,&rdquo; Steffes says, sticking to his 1950s persona. &ldquo;Things had not yet been built and there was space available. Now, we&rsquo;ve only gone a few blocks and it&rsquo;s a dense, Chicago, urban-looking environment.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Back to reality</strong></p><p>The fact that Lincoln Avenue was once along a major highway explains why there&rsquo;s a motel row there, but Steffes (out of character now) says there&#39;s another reason why the motels have that distinctive &lsquo;50s flair. Chicago&rsquo;s zoning regulations, he says, didn&rsquo;t allow motels within the city limits until 1953. It took only a few years for many of them to pop up.</p><p>&ldquo;Chicago would&rsquo;ve welcomed the motels after that because the city also built in revenue with a new motel tax,&rdquo; Steffes says. &ldquo;And [U.S.] 41 offered lots of open space, plus being a major U.S. highway. It&rsquo;s the perfect place for them to be located.&rdquo;</p><p>There were once 14 motels on North Lincoln Avenue; nine remain today.</p><p>But what went wrong? How did places like the old Patio Motel with signs that read &ldquo;An adventure in living!&rdquo; come to feel so dead?</p><p>Put simply: It was the interstate system.</p><p><a href="http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/ref/collection/skokiepo02/id/602" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/edens%20superhighway.PNG" style="float: right; height: 247px; width: 350px;" title="The Edens Expressway opened in 1951. It took much of the car traffic from U.S. 41, leaving the motels hanging. Click on the image to flip through a scrapbook of the Interstate's opening. (Source: Illinois Digital Archives)" /></a><a href="http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/ref/collection/skokiepo02/id/602" target="_blank">The Edens Expressway opened in 1951</a>, creating a quick way in and out of downtown Chicago. Post-war economic prosperity was in full swing, and the interstate system promised a faster pace, an expansion of new frontiers and the freedom to travel the country at will. But it took decades for those first interstates to fulfill that promise.</p><p>&ldquo;They weren&rsquo;t how you&rsquo;d think of interstate highways today, with multiple exits every mile that are accessible with all points, Steffes says. &ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t meant for people driving from, say, Highland Park to Skokie. It was meant for people driving to Ohio.&rdquo;</p><p>But the interstate system did eventually sideline important highway routes, including U.S. 41. As the system around Chicago expanded and modernized the motels were left hanging.</p><p><strong>What the motels were up against</strong></p><p>Which brings us to the second part of Nicole&#39;s question: How do those motels on Lincoln Avenue survive?</p><p>In the interstate age, the motels didn&#39;t have a good reason to be on Lincoln Avenue anymore;<a href="http://www.anyclip.com/movies/psycho/norman-bates-welcomes-marion-in/#!quotes/" target="_blank"> </a><a href="http://www.anyclip.com/movies/psycho/norman-bates-welcomes-marion-in/#!quotes/" target="_blank">anyone who went there probably didn&#39;t have a good reason to be there, either</a>. The operations now attracted a more local clientele and became havens for shenanigans on the edge of town.</p><p>The operations gained reputations as places for illegal activity, including crime and prostitution. But some, like the Spa Motel, were popular among traveling bands, too. Some motels even attracted permanent residents, who&rsquo;d live in their rooms for years.<iframe align="left" frameborder="0" height="100%" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/118007536" width="300"></iframe></p><p>The <em>Chicago Tribune</em> ran headlines like &ldquo;Checkout time motels live down to reputation&rdquo; (1993) and &ldquo;Lights out at seedy motels&rdquo; (1998). &nbsp;Perhaps the most high-profile crime was in 1981, when a series of rapes and robberies along motel row ended at the Patio Motel. The rapist broke into a first-floor room, locked a man and several children in the bathroom, then raped the man&#39;s wife and daughter.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;They became places that you wouldn&rsquo;t have a relative that was in town stay overnight,&rdquo; says Ald. Patrick O&rsquo;Connor (40th). &ldquo;It became apparent that [the motels] needed to leave.&rdquo;</p><p>Though the motels&rsquo; new clientele wasn&rsquo;t the clientele they had originally hoped to attract, they still kept the motels in business. At least for a while.</p><p>A turning point for the motels came in the late &lsquo;90s, when Mayor Richard M. Daley&rsquo;s public works campaign was well under way. Years before, the mayor began modernizing police stations and expanding branches of the Chicago Public Library system.</p><p>The motels had been placed into <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/untangling-tifs-108611" target="_blank">TIF (tax increment financing) districts</a> and Ald. O&rsquo;Connor had an idea of where to put a new police station and a new library &mdash; should anyone happen to ask.</p><p>Lo and behold, they did.</p><p>&ldquo;We had properties that we would be willing to go in, condemn and convert immediately without a great deal of controversy or without a lot of people in the neighborhood saying &lsquo;Oh no, don&rsquo;t take that, that&rsquo;s my favorite grocery store or that&rsquo;s my favorite dress shop,&rsquo; &rdquo; O&rsquo;Connor says. &ldquo;These were places that nobody in the neighborhood was lighting any candles to keep.&rdquo;</p><p>By 2000, Mayor Daley and Alderman O&rsquo;Connor helped demolish three motels: The Spa, The Riverside, and The Acres, with plans to build a police station, a park and a public library, respectively.</p><p>&ldquo;When those buildings came down, quite honestly the enjoyment was only matched by the days we cut the ribbons on the new uses,&rdquo; O&rsquo;Connor says.</p><p>The plan was to demolish each motel, O&rsquo;Connor says, but public money ran out before the city could raze them all. Again, nine of the 14 survived. Even a partial success, though, solidified public sentiment: The motels were officially unwelcome in their own community.</p><p><strong>Staying alive</strong></p><p>Manu Patel bought the Apache Motel at 5535 North Lincoln Avenue in 1987. Even at the time, he says, he knew he&rsquo;d have to fight motel row&rsquo;s seedy reputation in order to stay in business.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/apache%20owners%20portrait.jpg" style="float: right; height: 240px; width: 320px;" title="Manu Patel and his wife own the Apache Motel at 5535 N. Lincoln Ave. He says he runs the place family-style. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></p><p>&ldquo;With these motels going through so many different eras and so many different reputations, you know, the reputation stays,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So it takes time to clear up.&rdquo;</p><p>He started with simple renovations: getting rid of roaches, putting up new drywall, and painting the bathrooms. The place was almost falling down, he says, and had no option but to keep the place &ldquo;nice and clean and comfortable.&rdquo;</p><p>In the &lsquo;80s, Patel installed a security system that would notify the office if someone had unplugged one of the new color TVs. People used to steal them, he says.</p><p>More recently, he built a website and installed Wi-Fi.</p><p>&ldquo;I think the clientele is changing every day and their requirement is also changing,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So you have to stay up with these things. Any person walking in needs Internet, so you have to provide wireless.&rdquo;</p><p>Slowly, he attracted a different clientele than some of the motels around him.</p><p>&ldquo;The clientele was totally local then,&rdquo; Patel says of the early days. &ldquo;Nowadays everybody comes from out of state. I have a clientele that comes from Germany to England to Jamaica to Mexico. Everywhere. You&rsquo;d be surprised in this neighborhood. People know me by the name Patel because they have family that comes here.&rdquo;</p><p>And Patel&rsquo;s got an unexpected ally: the police station that was built over the former Spa Motel.</p><p>&ldquo;Now, the neighborhood is safe,&rdquo; Patel says. &ldquo;Plus, the police department is close by, so people feel safe. Slowly, Lincoln Avenue&rsquo;s reputation is changing. It&rsquo;s changed a lot.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/41 sign and apache.jpg" style="float: left; height: 240px; width: 320px;" title="The Apache Motel is on the part of Lincoln Avenue that overlaps with U.S. 41. Owner Manu Patel says he keeps the original sign because it has history. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" />But some things are still the same at the Apache Motel. The motel&rsquo;s vertical sign (topped with a fiberglass Apache head) has barely changed.</p><p>&ldquo;This is a sign all over and everybody knows the sign, so I didn&rsquo;t want to change it structurally because this is what the popularity came from,&rdquo; Patel says.</p><p>He did, though, replace the neon with LEDs.</p><p>As for the motels&rsquo; future?</p><p>Well, you can look at it this way: The neighborhood&rsquo;s still dealing with its history as a traveler&rsquo;s stop ... only to have modern-day drivers stay away. Ald. O&rsquo;Connor says he&rsquo;d still like the motels to disappear, and he&rsquo;s heard that could happen. This time, though, it would likely happen from private development &mdash; not public works projects.</p><p>Manu Patel says he&rsquo;ll keep improving his motel business.</p><p>But Nicole, our question asker, suggests her own survival tactic.</p><p>&ldquo;I think there&#39;s a huge opportunity if there was a joint marketing effort among [the motels],&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s certainly a demand, I would think, for low-cost lodging options in the city.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Logan Jaffe is Curious City&#39;s multimedia producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Corrections: A typo in this story led to the misidentification of a road name. The correct name is Lincoln Avenue. Original language suggested that U.S. 41 was built in 1926. Much of the route&#39;s roads were already in place when the route was designated as U.S. 41 in 1926.</em></p></p> Thu, 31 Oct 2013 17:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/neon-no-more-lincoln-avenues-motel-row-109050 Morning Shift: Medical marijauna 101 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-05/morning-shift-medical-marijauna-101-108283 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Marijuana 2-Flickr- it was 3 a.m.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today we school you on the ins and outs of Illinois&#39; new medical marijuana law. Still confused on what it entails? Call us with your questions. And &quot;Deal Estate&quot; columnist Dennis Rodkin breaks down the boom in Chicago&#39;s hotel industry.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-35.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-35" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Medical marijauna 101" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Mon, 05 Aug 2013 08:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-05/morning-shift-medical-marijauna-101-108283 Union pacts with Hilton turn up heat on Starwood, Hyatt http://www.wbez.org/story/annemarie-strassel/union-pacts-hilton-turn-heat-starwood-hyatt <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//IMG_2278crop.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Union contracts with Chicago-area Hilton hotels could pressure other hospitality chains to follow suit.<br> <br> Members of the union UNITE HERE on Friday ratified four-year agreements covering 1,600 Chicago-area workers at the Drake, Palmer House Hilton, Chicago Hilton and Hilton O’Hare.<br> <br> The deals will maintain benefits and raise wages, said UNITE HERE Local 1 spokeswoman Annemarie Strassel. Workers will continue paying $30 per month for family medical coverage with no added out-of-pocket expenses, while room-attendant pay will increase more than 12 percent to $16.40 an hour over the four years, she said.<br> <br> A Hilton statement called the contracts “good for our company and good for our team members.”<br> <br> The agreements make Hilton the first hotel chain in the Chicago area to settle with UNITE HERE since the union’s local contracts expired in 2009.<br> <br> Hotel management consultant Ted Mandigo said the deals strengthen UNITE HERE’s hand. “Having an agreement with Hilton gives a set of negotiated terms that form a basis for what [the union] is going to look for from Starwood and the Hyatt organization,” he said, referring to the Chicago area’s other major unionized hotel chains.<br> <br> In 2006, three-year union deals with Hilton quickly led to similar pacts with the other hotels.<br> <br> Starwood negotiator Jim Franczek said he hadn’t seen the Hilton agreement and, therefore, couldn’t comment on it.<br> <br> Officials of Hyatt, a Chicago-based company, didn’t immediately answer our questions Monday.<br> <br> Henry Tamarin, president of Local 1, said the Hilton deals would “definitely increase pressure” on the other companies. “But we have some sharper issues with Hyatt,” Tamarin said, pointing to subcontracting and housekeeping workloads.</p></p> Mon, 07 Mar 2011 22:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/annemarie-strassel/union-pacts-hilton-turn-heat-starwood-hyatt