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The Wright stuff at Eaglewood Resort

Courtesy Eaglewood Resort and Spa

Were Frank Lloyd Wright to magically reappear, he would likely do a double take when he saw Eaglewood Resort and Spa in Itasca, Ill. “Did I design that?” the noted architect might ask, scratching his head in confusion.

Wright didn’t design the resort and conference facility, but his signature style is seen throughout the low-slung, sharp-angled building, where stained glass, flowing water and natural light, stone and wood prevail.

Eaglewood Resort and Spa opened 10 years ago, 20 miles from Oak Park, Ill., the Chicago suburb where Wright perfected his Prairie style and where the world’s largest collection of Wright houses and buildings remains.

The resort was built on the site of the original Nordic Hills Country Club (circa 1925), which became a resort in the late 1960s when two guest room towers were added to the 106-acre site. The original golf course, designed by Charles Maddox in 1932, is part of Eaglewood.

The two hotel towers also were retained and were completely reworked and melded into the new resort. They are linked to the main building and one another by two four-story buildings. All totaled, the resort has 295 guest rooms.

The wooded setting is often a surprise to those accustomed to meeting at hotels in Chicagoland.

“It is nice to be 12 miles from O’Hare and close to the city but still have a vacation view, if you will,” said Julie Berry, director of sales and marketing. “You drive through a neighborhood and suddenly, there is a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright-style building in front of you, and you think ‘Ah, what is that?’ From the front parking lot, the building seems to be one story, but after you come into the lobby, you see these three-and-a-half-story windows overlooking the golf course.”

Opened as Doral Eaglewood, the resort was originally a part of the Interstate Hotels group. Since 2004, Benchmark Hospitality has managed it.

An IACC conference center
Eaglewood is known as much for its conference facilities as for its resort amenities. Its 37,000 square feet of conference space is certified by the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC). “It was purpose-built as a conference center,” said Berry.

During the resort’s design phase, meeting planners were asked to share their ideas about meeting space design with architects. Planners’ advice was heeded.

“They told the architects, ‘You really don’t need a lot of big space; you need a lot of breakout rooms,’” said Berry. “So we have a nice general-session space, but we are really heavy on breakout rooms.”

All on two floors, the space is a series of pods. Each pod consists of a half-dozen or so small meeting rooms, all in the same color scheme and anchored by a large, permanent break station in the preconference area. The continuous break service is part of the Complete Meeting Package, the specialty of IACC meeting facilities.

“You can grab anything sweet to salty to healthy and not so healthy. We don’t count sodas; we don’t count gallons of coffee,” said Berry. “There is always some kind of energy there for you.”

In the morning, stations always feature a hot breakfast item, such as a breakfast burrito or an egg-and-cheese biscuit, to meet the needs of those who don’t have time to visit the restaurant’s buffet breakfast for hearty fare.

Because of the way the meeting space is arranged, four-to-six small meetings can be under way at once, although groups can buy out the entire conference center.