If Chicago had a younger brother, Peoria, Illinois, just might be it. A three-hour drive southwest of the famous Windy City, Peoria boasts the fun and function of the Midwest mecca, but on a smaller, more intimate scale. There may be no greater reflection of this small-town-meets-big-city feel than the Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette Hotel.
This 12-floor, 286-room brick behemoth sits in the heart of downtown Peoria and has for nearly 88 years. The ornate brick and stone exterior has strong, classic Greek Revivalist leanings, typical of small-town Midwest architecture; however, thanks to a hefty
$93 million renovation by Marriott that commenced in late 2011, the interior has all the swank and style of a five-star Chicago hotel, including meeting amenities that are sure to surpass your needs.
“There are virtually no groups or companies that the Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette cannot accommodate due to our wide variety of options in rooms, catering and guest services,” said MJ Schettler, the hotel’s director of sales. “We are very familiar with the conference industry, and we are very acquainted with how to get groups around and make the most of a stay in Peoria.”
Walk into the lobby, and you’ll be greeted by twin marble staircases perfectly framing a Gatsby-esque chandelier. Polished white floors usher you to the Art Deco-inspired reception counter, the geometry of which feels thoroughly modern.
The hotel lobby is also home to historic artwork. The hotel’s original architect, Horace Trumbauer, recruited America’s most renowned muralist at the time, George Matthews Harding, to paint two giant murals inside the hotel. One hangs above the elevators in the main lobby and is of “Father Marquette”; the second is in the Cotillion Room and depicts French explorer Robert de LaSalle.
This classic-meets-contemporary mix of architecture and furnishings may have you wondering if you’ve booked your meeting or conference in a historic hotel or the Art Institute of Chicago.
You will want to spend time dining in the hotel’s elegant Table 19 restaurant, posting up at the ultramodern bar or staying fit at the hotel’s gym, but plenty awaits you outside the wide, glass entryway doors in the town of Peoria as well. The home of major companies such as Caterpillar; Archer Daniels Midland, a major commercial crop processing company; and several major healthcare facilities, Peoria swings a sizable economic hammer, and the variety of industries has fostered attractions both corporate and cultural.
Room With a Resume
The guest list at the Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette Hotel is just as storied as the building. Want to impress an out-of-town client? The Presidential Suite, which was fully preserved during the renovation, has hosted such historical figures as Martin Luther King Jr., Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and former President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan. Even if you don’t splurge for VIP-level digs, every room at the hotel comes equipped with custom bedding, high-speed Internet and spacious work desks, making last-minute presentation preparation or catching up on emails a breeze.
Small Town, Big Fun
Keeping your meeting guests entertained in Peoria will be the least of your worries. Attractions and activities around the area will pique a variety of interests. Sports fans can watch the Peoria Chiefs minor-league baseball team play at Dozer Park or take the business conversation off the record and outdoors to the golf course at Madison Park — a smooth 69 par, great for making conversation and sipping cool beverages. Want to book a team-building activity or help new hires bond with your crew? Groups can also go horseback riding at a nearby farm or take a bicycle tour of the city.