I’m particularly loyal, and largely averse to change. So while usually game for something new, I reliably stick with what I know and trust. And as I’ve been thinking more seriously about the details surrounding the Urbanathlon in Chicago it was a forgone conclusion that we’d stay at Best Western River North for a third consecutive year. Make it so!
It’s a more than adequate hotel in a great part of downtown, with an indoor pool, free wireless Internet access, walking distance to just about anything, and highly coveted free on-site self parking. We even saw the prime minister of South Korea out front. What’s not to love?
Living dangerously I looked into the Urbanathlon rate at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place. Ummmm, Best Western who? The last two years we cobbled together a much better rate at Best Western River North (than what the Urbanathlon partner properties offered), but this year the Urbanathlon partner rate is formidable. $179 per night with free self-parking for one vehicle. And it’s a magnificent property by most accounts. Okay, now make it so! Booked it.
Parking alone at just about any other hotel will leave you worse for wear than the stair climb at Soldier Field. Best Western always had this going for itself, and it was a core benefit they dangled that nobody else could claim. But the Urbanathlon rate leveled that playing field, for a short time at least.
Importantly, the Hyatt is less than a mile from the Soldier Field area where the event is centralized (roughly 0.7 miles on foot, 2 miles by car), meaning it is more doable to run my warm-up to the event from the hotel, and weather permitting, my crew will just walk on over rather than drive and park. There are no shuttles to and from the hotel to Soldier Field for the race, so plan to walk/run it, or catch a short cab ride.
Conversely, the Hyatt puts us on the complete opposite side of downtown, in a less ‘touristy’ (walking / shopping / dining) and less familiar area. In fact, most online reviews hit the same beats … ‘awesome hotel if attending a convention next door, but there’s really not much else around it and it’s too far from anything vacationing guests might want to do downtown’ (oh, and the pool looks like a 4-foot deep lap pool, which my kids may not love, but should at least like). While I may get stuck in my ways, and blinded by loyalty, I’m always up for an adventure (and even more so a killer deal), as is my family, so I still feel good about the change.
As I’ve come to expect with these sorts of things, reserving a room online using the “URBANATHLETES ” promo code was an easy process, but prior to that my wife called to get more specifics about the rate and make a reservation and nobody had the slightest clue what an ‘Urbanathlon’ was and was of no help. [Sigh.]
In the end I can’t tell you where to stay, but I can tell you that the Urbanathlon promotion with Hyatt Regency McCormick Place is about as good as it gets in ‘downtown’ Chicago (South Loop). You will find nicer hotels, and you will find less expensive hotels, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a really nice inexpensive hotel this close to the event (with free self parking for one vehicle) like you get with Hyatt (… though I’ll keep my eyes open if a Godfather offer comes up from another property closer to the heart of downtown …).