The Hilton Chicago/Indian Lakes Resort will permanently close its golf course and conference center as part of a plan to save and improve the hotel on the Bloomingdale property.
First ILR, LLC, which owns the resort at 250 W. Schick Road, announced it will make the operational changes and invest about $4 million in the property over the next year.
The company said in a statement its objective is to make the hotel viable for decades to come "by focusing on the Bloomingdale and local market, rather than compete for out-of-town conventions and meetings."
The existing 223-acre operation isn't financially viable because of extensive operational costs and amenities needed to support a resort-style property, officials said. Having a suburban golf resort in a northern climate is a concept that has fallen out of favor in the industry, they said.
"There remains great opportunity and value in having a full-service hotel in Bloomingdale, but the owners cannot operate this property at significant losses in perpetuity," said Robert Habeeb, president of First Hospitality Group, Inc., the resort manager. "This plan will preserve the hotel property, its associated jobs and taxes we generate for the community."
Officials said the changes will reposition the hotel to operate as a full-service, upscale brand. The property will keep its spa, pools and restaurants.
But the 27-hole golf course and driving range will close at the end of this year's golf season. The roughly 30,000-square-foot conference center will close as of Dec. 15.
The golf course has lost about $5 million since 2011 and pushed the entire resort to a net operating loss during that same period, officials said.
"The shuttering of the golf course and closure of the conference center is intended to reduce operating expenses and allow for the hotel, spa and other restaurants to continue to operate on the property," Habeeb said in a statement. "There is no viable financial path forward in which either the golf course or conference center continue operations; they must close."
On Friday afternoon, several golfers said they were surprised by the announced closure.
Jodi Nuttall said the closure is "devastating" because the golf course plays hosts to functions for the community. The Libertyville resident was participating in a golf outing benefiting the Association for Frontotemporal Dementias.
Katie Muran, another golfer who participated in Friday's event, said she likes the course because it's wide and "forgiving" for players. She said the closure is disappointing.
Starting in January, a renovation of the hotel will begin. That work is expected to be completed by summer 2017. The hotel will continuously operate during the renovation.
While the property has been branded as a Hilton resort since 2007, that agreement expires in 2017. So once the improvements are completed, the hotel will operate under a new, yet-to-be announced brand.
The renovated hotel will include roughly 12,000 square feet of new meeting space designed to service small businesses, social events and community gatherings, officials said. Guest rooms and suites will be upgraded to better accommodate business travelers and families on extended stays. About 35 guest rooms will be eliminated as part of the renovation.
"The Indian Lakes Resort had a great run, but a suburban Chicago hotel and golf resort isn't relevant to the local business community or today's traveler," Habeeb said. "We are doing everything we can to preserve the hotel, jobs, tax revenue and overall value for the community."
Meanwhile, it hasn't been decided what will happen to the golf course property.
Habeeb said discussions are underway about the short-term and long-term plans for the land. Those plans will be shared with the community when specific details become available, he said.