Photography by Nile Young Jr.
Visitors to the Chicago area have hundreds of lodging options, from box-style chain motels on every suburban thoroughfare to trendy boutique hotels in the city’s vibrant neighborhoods and of course the high-rise luxury hotels on iconic Michigan Avenue.
And then there is Marriott’s Lincolnshire Resort on the city’s North Shore just minutes from downtown, which offers 390 guest rooms on 175 acres of property, multiple restaurants, Chicago’s largest theater-in-the-round, working gardens, a spa, meeting and event space, hiking trails and ample green.
Oh, yes. It also has an 18-hole golf course, the George Fazio-designed Crane’s Landing, which has hosted play from hotel guests and the public at large since 1975.
“It is much more than a box hotel,” as Michael Phares, the resort’s marketing director said.
In early summer, the resort was still getting back to full speed after a year of limited offerings due to state restrictions over the COVID-19 pandemic, but Phares said post-vaccination travel was already leading to an increase in leisure travel and social events such as weddings and family reunions. Crane’s Landing, as was the experience of so many courses, experienced a big increase in play in 2020 that has flowed over into this season.
“The golf course is doing phenomenal (business),” Phares said. “It has been for the last year.”
During the pandemic, much of the business at the resort, which underwent a $28-million renovation in 2018, came from Chicago-area residents who just wanted to get away from home isolation. A big attraction for the house-bound were the resort’s indoor and outdoor pools, Phares said, but now more visitors are coming from outside the area.
“Last year it was just a lot of locals,” he said. “Now this year the radius has kind of expanded to about 500 miles.”
Some resort offerings are temporarily unavailable, including The Spa at Lincolnshire, while the popular theater has resumed its live shows with its summer concert series. The theater normally accounts for about 25 percent of resort revenue, Phares said, which makes resumption of shows a priority. The fall schedule includes performances of “The World Goes ‘Round,” followed by “Kiss Me, Kate” in November.
In the meantime, the golf course is producing a larger than usual revenue share as the pandemic-prompted bump in play continues in its second year. The course is set on 110 acres with frequent views of the Des Plaines River, which accounts for some of the water challenges golfers will encounter on 14 of the 18 holes. Crane’s Landing’s Tom Grey said the front nine is fairly short but still challenging, while the back nine plays as much as five shots harder. The par-70 layout offers four sets of tees, bentgrass fairways, a practice facility and golf shop. The golf course is also a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
Just to the right of the first tee is a large organic garden where the resort’s chef raises vegetables for use in Lincolnshire’s restaurants, as well as hives for bees who produce honey for the same purpose and for use in a locally brewed beer, the signature Five Eyes Honey Ale served in Wright’s Brew & Bistro.
It’s not the only amenity to lean on beer. A popular stay-and-play offering at Lincolnshire is the Birdies and Brews Package, which includes lodging, unlimited golf at Crane’s Landing, a dining credit and an “expertly curated six-pack of craft beers delivered upon tee time.”
Given the resort’s location in busy Lake County, the property is removed enough from heavily trafficked roads and spacious enough to offer more seclusion than guests might expect, Phares said. The resort can handle large business groups but is also family-focused.
“It’s what I call the ultimate leisure des- tination,” he said. “It is definitely a leisure-oriented resort. Obviously we’ve got the golf course and the restaurants and the (pools) and we’ve got the land,” where guests can picnic, stroll, play volleyball and otherwise be entertained.
“You’re so far removed,” Phares said. “It’s pretty secluded here. You may be in the Chicago area but it’s really secluded here.”
Yet, at the same time, close to plenty of popular attractions in the area, includ- ing Ravinia Music Festival, Six Flags Great America, Long Grove Historic Village, Chicago Botanic Garden and outlet malls and shopping centers.
Please visit www.marriott.com/hotels/ travel/chiln-lincolnshire-marriott-resort or www.craneslandinggolf.com for more information.