Sunday, November 9, 2008

Chicago Cashes in on Obama Connection

The hometown of President-Elect Obama and his family is suddenly the most popular city in the country. Or, at least its website is.

So many people want to know more about the Windy City, and perhaps travel there to visit favorite places of the future First Family that the city's tourism agency Choose Chicago has just added a new section called Presidential Chicago.

The website includes obvious must-see attractions, including the Art Institute of Chicago -- where I was lucky enough to see a special exhibit of Monet's Water Lillies paintings a few years ago -- and shopping along the Miracle Mile, the Chicago version of Fifth Avenue in my own hometown, New York City.

And, you'll learn that one of Mr. Obama's haunts is one of the city's the outdoor basketball courts, at Hayes Drive and South Lake Shore Drive, where he likes to shoot hoops — often with his brother-in-law Craig Robinson, who is head basketball coach at Oregon State University.

My favorite hotel in Chicago is the InterContinental Chicago , one of just a handful of hotels in North America that are certified environmentally-friendly. And, it is in the final stages of receiving LEED and Green Seal certification, two other hard-to-get ratings. What makes this especially important is that this isn't a brand new hotel, designed and built from the ground up to be eco-friendly, like the ones Marriott is building near the Obama's new address in Washington, D.C.

The InterContinental is one of the most historic hotels of America, retro-fitted to be a modern energy star. Originally built in 1929 as the Medinah Athletic Club, an exclusive luxury men's club, the InterContinental Chicago is one of Chicago's most elegant landmarks. It includes a historic, junior Olympic size pool, is recognized as one of the best indoor pools in the U.S. and is included in Chicago's major architectural tours.

All the attention surrounding the Obama family's connection to Chicago also is helping raise the city's profile for its bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

As the song says -- Chicago, my kind of town, Chicago is.