My Dad retired last year after nearly forty years in the hospitality industry as a hotel manager. I spent lots of time in hotels as a kid. We lived in some of them temporarily, and when we weren’t living in them we were using the pools or eating in the restaurants.
Dad managed Holiday Inns the most through my growing-up years, and I have tons of awesome memories from his time working for that chain. In fact, when it was time to make a cake for his retirement party I used the vintage Holiday Inn sign as inspiration. (It was pretty cool: you can see that cake HERE.)
His first Holiday Inn was one of my favorites. He was hired to be the Assistant Manager of the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza in Chicago, situated at Wolf Point (which is where the north, south, and main branches of the Chicago River meet).
We used to hang out in the pool there all the time–I even had a swimming birthday party there. It was when my sister and I were in a phase of riding those elevators as much as we possibly could that our mom bought us what became a favorite book, “Eloise” by Kay Thompson, and instilled in me a need to visit the Plaza Hotel almost every time I’m in New York City so I can reminisce about that precocious six-year-old girl who ran wild at the Plaza with her dog (Weenie) and her turtle (Skipperdee) in front of her portrait which hangs there. I wrote more about his/our time at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza HERE.
Recently I was invited to an event (and a complimentary overnight stay) at that very same Holiday Inn (now called the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza River North), to celebrate the chain’s new advertising campaign (“Change Your View”), along with the $1 billion global brand relaunch–the biggest in hospitality history–intended to show the public that the chain that changed the way people travel is still offering a lively, fun atmosphere with modern touches.
To say that visiting my old stomping grounds was slightly surreal would be a huge understatement. The second I stepped off of the elevator and into the lobby, I overcome by a feeling of warm and fuzzy nostalgia, and not because everything looked the same. On the contrary, the hotel was completely modern and redesigned…yet the “bones” of the place were unchanged and I felt right at home.
The first place I went after checking in was the pool. I felt like I was ten years old again; other than the updated pool furniture, it was exactly how I remembered it.
What I learned is that Holiday Inn has really changed everything except for the brand’s commitment to meet changing needs and provide an outstanding experience for both business and family travelers. Some of the fine touches in the new Holiday Inn are the upgraded lobby areas, improved showers, more comfortable beds with signature bedding (including both soft AND firm pillows so travelers can choose!), and the “Stay Real” training program for employees, to ensure guests receive the level of service they expect.
By the way, I was highly impressed with the rooms. They weren’t what I remembered; that’s for sure!
An added bonus: our room was on the corner so we had an outstanding view in two directions. Just thought I’d mention that.
I was thrilled to learn about Holiday Inn‘s relaunch. As a company that runs deep in the hearts of my entire family, it’s great to know that they are looking out for their customers by investing the money and effort required to stay current and keep people checking in. Thanks to the brand for preserving my childhood memories while remaining a contender in an always-changing hospitality industry!
Disclosure: I was invited to an event and given a complimentary night’s stay at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza River North so I could see how Holiday Inn has changed. I was not required to write this post but I know the brand appreciates it. Also, all words and opinions are, as usual, mine!