'We wanted to stand out': How an old Holiday Inn became Northwest suburbs' first boutique hotel
Six years after being proposed and $6 million in renovations later, an old Holiday Inn has been transformed into something completely different: what owner Sam Patel calls "sassy, savvy, trendy."
"This market did not have any boutique hotel," Patel said of the Northwest suburbs. "This will be the first one. We wanted to stand out."
Patel's nine-story, 119-room Aloft Chicago Schaumburg -- technically, in Rolling Meadows, at 3407 W. Algonquin Road -- adds to the urban loft-inspired hotel chain's four other locations locally: in Rosemont, Bolingbrook and two in Chicago. About 15 minutes from O'Hare International Airport, the new hotel is trying to cater to young professional business travelers during the week, and social and leisure travelers on weekends.
That means craft cocktails and live music in the lobby bar and lounge -- what was the old Holiday Inn's ballroom -- bag toss and fire pits on the adjoining patio, phone apps instead of key cards to access rooms, and bathrooms adorned with cityscape wallpaper art, among other trendy design features and amenities.
There are certainly upscale luxury hotels in the area, such as the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel just down the road, Patel acknowledged. (The hotels have different owners, but both operate under licenses with Marriott.)
"This is more niche," Patel said at an Aloft grand opening event earlier this month.
The hotel renovations, which started at the onset of the pandemic, faced construction delays and supply chain problems. And the nearly $3 million estimated cost -- when Patel presented the project to the Rolling Meadows City Council in the summer of 2017 -- doubled.
The project was a complete gut job of the building constructed in 1982 as a tower addition to the original 1966 Holiday Inn. The biggest savings was realized in maintaining the steel and concrete structure, Patel said, but almost everything else is new: electrical, mechanical, plumbing, flooring, windows and fixtures.
Even before cutting a deal in 2017 to convert part of the Holiday Inn into an Aloft, Patel and Jay Fishman of Griffin Hotel Management were envisioning a boutique hotel concept there.
Holiday Inn owner InterContinental Hotels Group declined to extend a temporary license for an attached two-story, 170-room portion centered around its 1970s-era "Holidome." They did, however, ink a new 10-year license for Patel's five-story, 135-room Holiday Inn Express in the rear of the site after light renovations.
Before the upgrades, occupancies at old hotels regularly hovered around 50%, lagging the rest of the Schaumburg and Northwest suburban market.
Now starting to ramp up this summer, Aloft is 90% full on some nights.
The price-per-night averages 30% to 50% more at Aloft than the Holiday Inn Express.
"We think we're worth it, and the guest experience is going to demonstrate that," Fishman said.