The Drake Hotel reopens in Oak Brook

 
 
Updated 6/26/2015 5:34 AM
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  • Renovations to the Drake Hotel in Oak Brook were unveiled in a ceremony Thursday night.

    Renovations to the Drake Hotel in Oak Brook were unveiled in a ceremony Thursday night. Courtesy of Veteran PR

  • Jessica Cilella/jcilella@dailyherald.comThe restored wallpaper in this room at the recently renovated Drake Hotel in Oak Brook is the same colonial print installed in the White House by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

    Jessica Cilella/jcilella@dailyherald.comThe restored wallpaper in this room at the recently renovated Drake Hotel in Oak Brook is the same colonial print installed in the White House by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

  • Jessica Cilella/jcilella@dailyherald.comThe owners of the recently renovated Drake Hotel in Oak Brook added a colorful glass sculpture to the ceiling of a seating area that opens up to a new outdoor veranda.

    Jessica Cilella/jcilella@dailyherald.comThe owners of the recently renovated Drake Hotel in Oak Brook added a colorful glass sculpture to the ceiling of a seating area that opens up to a new outdoor veranda.

The historic Drake Hotel in Oak Brook has reopened its doors after several years of sitting vacant.

Extensive renovations completed by the hotel's new owners, Jim Nagle and his wife, Tely, were unveiled Thursday during a grand opening celebration attended by hundreds of socialites and guests who had fond memories of the hotel's earlier days.

"People are thrilled," Nagle said. "There's just a lot of love for this place."

The hotel, located at 2301 York Road, was built in 1962 as the suburban counterpart to the iconic Drake Hotel on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

"Back then everyone lived in the city of Chicago and it was really nothing in the suburbs. It was the country," Nagle said. "To build the other Drake out here really helped the development of Oak Brook and then the western suburbs."

For many years, the suburban Drake hosted about 130 weddings a year, along with countless proms, anniversary parties and funeral luncheons.

The hotel was known as the Wyndham Drake when it closed in 2009. The Nagles purchased the hotel in December 2013 for $6.5 million from the Institute in Basic Life Principles, which planned to use it for seminars and as a dormitory.

"We've been renovating every day since," Nagle said. "It needed a lot of work. We did everything: electric, plumbing, all the things that you don't see. Then we renovated the entire hotel, both inside and outside."

The Nagles breathed life into the hotel and gave it a fresh look, but kept many original pieces to preserve the hotel's history. Refinished wood lining the hallways, polished chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, reupholstered chippendale chairs and restored artwork make visitors feel a bit like they're stepping back in a time.

All 84 guest rooms in the four-story hotel now have "club-like amenities" and new carpeting, wallpaper and bedding.

An additional 45 to 50 studio rooms in an adjacent building are still being redone.

Perhaps the most noticeable change is the addition of a large, outdoor terrace that overlooks the 10-acre property and nearby golf course.

A new restaurant will open soon downstairs too, where The Lodge restaurant once existed -- complete with outdoor seating near a yet-to-be installed fountain and gazebo.

Attendees at Thursday's grand opening said they were excited to see the hotel restored.

"I actually think it's better now," said Anni Riccio of Oak Brook. "It's very elegant. We're hoping every weekend they have the music, the entertainment because it's a nice, classy place to come to."

Anne Czachrski of Indian Head Park said it felt like "a jazzier place."

"The definitely lives up to the old Drake, and exceeds it," she said. "It's just enchanting."

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