Experience Upscale Green Stays at The Peninsula Chicago

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I arrived at The Peninsula Chicago in the heart of downtown, at the hotel’s invitation, on a chilly March evening, after dining with friends. Luxury defined this hotel from the moment I entered the building. It continued to the spacious, gorgeous check in lobby and serene hallways where richly paneled white woodwork complemented soothing gray toned carpeting with deep blue accents.

Peninsula Chicago

Beautiful surroundings enhance dining at the hotel. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

My Suite at The Peninsula Chicago

My Executive Suite was simultaneously impeccably decorated and comfortable. The living room provided panoramic views of downtown Chicago. Décor that honors the company’s Asian roots included a stunning, hand-painted cabinet in the entryway, which camouflaged a coffee maker plus a fully stocked mini-refrigerator and bar.

Peninsula Chicago

This stunning cabinet houses in-room coffee maker, a small refrigerator and more. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

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Another enormous, handcrafted Asian-inspired art piece filled much of one living room wall, and a gorgeous sculpture flanked the flat screen TV.

A hallway led to the spacious bathroom, where I relaxed in the deep soaker tub while enjoying a breathtaking night view of downtown Chicago. Dual vanities and large mirrors occupied opposite walls, and floor-to-ceiling tile decorated the spacious, glass-walled shower.

Peninsula Chicago

The beautifully appointed bathroom offered gorgeous evening views of downtown Chicago. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

Wrapped in my cozy robe, I headed towards the bedroom, where a vanity, reading lights and a large, comfortable bed awaited me.

Peninsula Chicago

The bedroom was serene and comfortable. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

Technology ruled in this sumptuous suite, from light switches to television controls and I initially had difficulty figuring out how to use all of it. But there was good reason for that technology.

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Sophisticated, green technology controlled electronics throughout the suite. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

Going Green at The Peninsula Chicago

Beyond its beautiful craftsmanship and décor, The Peninsula Chicago exemplifies ‘green luxury.’ For instance, state-of-the-art in-room technology reduces use of paper in guest rooms, with service directories and room service menus available on interactive tablets rather than in print.

Since 2012, The Peninsula Hotels have conducted annual indoor air quality assessments in accordance with the company’s Group Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Policy. The goal is for each property to excel local regulatory requirements, by 2020. In 2013, The Peninsula brand globally launched its Sustainable Luxury Vision 2020, with a focus on addressing sustainability concerns throughout all of its operations.

Recent refurbishing efforts at The Peninsula Chicago and The Peninsula Beijing incorporated BREEAM principles in room design, which included use of low emission paints, glues and wood stains, plus FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) wood used for some furniture. The Peninsula Chicago and The Peninsula Tokyo were also the first to receive EarthCheck certification.

At multiple properties, the majority of paper products come from certified sustainable sources and bathroom amenities do not include substances that are potentially harmful to humans.  Soon after the 2020 vision plan launched, The Peninsula Beverly Hills and The Peninsula Chicago retrofitted many lights with LEDs in public areas and guestrooms, creating annual energy savings that approximated annual energy use by 17 U.S. households.

As ‘chillers,’ in air-conditioning systems for various properties have aged, upgraded equipment has been installed with environmental impact in mind. For instance, such changes resulted in a 57% reduction in ozone-depleting substance emissions, across the brand, between 2009 and 2014. The company has phased out ozone-depleting refrigerants too.

U.S. properties donate partially used soap bars and bottled guestroom amenities to Clean the World, which distributes these to impoverished communities. The company plans for any of its operations that operate in water-stressed regions to eventually become “water neutral” through efficient water use and replenishing nearby water sources.

Guests who prefer ultra-fresh restaurant meals, made with sustainable ingredients, will appreciate corporate efforts to review the seafood offerings, with assistance from the World Wildlife Federation. There are also increased efforts to embrace farm-to-table dining. The amount of coffee the company purchases from certified ethical sources has increased as well.


Melt Away Stress at The Peninsula Chicago

The Peninsula Chicago is known for its broad menu of spa services and exceptional exercise facilities. I took a quick look at the bright and airy exercise room, where at least six treadmills mingled with state-of-the-art Cybex and Free Motion training equipment and numerous TVs. In addition, the hotel offers more than 30 complimentary classes each week, including yoga, Pilates and strength training sessions.

Tranquil and climate controlled, the indoor, half-Olympic-length pool area features comfortable seating and live plants, with gorgeous views of Lake Michigan and the urban neighborhood.

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There’s a big and beautiful indoor pool with more stunning downtown views. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

Great views continue, seasonally, on the adjacent Sun Terrace. It’s available to all hotel guests, and day spa visitors who book at least two hours of treatments.

From hot stone, Ayurvedic or four hands massage, to soothing facials and body wraps, a spa visit at The Peninsula Chicago is all about pampering and rejuvenating.

I barely scratched the surface, at this luxury hotel with a heart of ‘green,’ and look forward to returning. The Peninsula Chicago is located at 108 E. Superior St., Chicago, IL. Call 312.337.2888 or visit online at http://chicago.peninsula.com/en/default.

Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations (meals and other compensation) for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.


Written by Lisa Waterman Gray

A Kansas City-area resident, Lisa Waterman Gray has savored Quebec’s finest cuisine, ridden in a pickup before a Kansas buffalo herd, and toured natural Arizona landmarks with Native American guides. In June 2011, 18 months of driving, research, and writing ended with national publication of Lisa’s book, An Explorer’s Guide: Kansas. During October 2014, she was a U.S. delegate for Terre Madre and Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy – a conference for Slow Food International. Lisa has written for Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestyle (a Canadian magazine), USA Today.com, Midwest Living, four AAA magazines, and other clients. Visit her online at http://www.lisawatermangray.com/.

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