A Wright Getaway in Chicago

Story and photos by Ann Hattes

Enjoy a Frank Lloyd Wright Getaway combining visits to the architect’s home and studio in Oak Park, Illinois, and a stay in nearby Itasca at Chicago’s newest resort, a Wright-inspired Prairie style property on 106 acres only 40 minutes from downtown and just 20 minutes from O’Hare Airport.

Chicago’s Wright-inspired Doral Eaglewood Resort & Spa reflects unity and a respect for the surrounding landscape, giving guests an in-touch-with-nature feeling. The three-and-one-half story glass atrium lobby features dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the golf course. Just off the lobby, Burnham’s Restaurant also gives unimpeded golf course views through a wall of windows. Wright made the fireplace or hearth an integral part of his designs so the lobby and Burnham’s both feature a centerpiece fireplace.

The year old Doral Eaglewood, one of three other luxury Doral properties around the country, is constructed on the former Nordic Hills site adjacent to the prestigious Medina Country Club. Nearby Oak Park, a 30 minute drive away, contains the largest concentration of Wright designed structures.

Twenty-five Wright buildings surround his home and the studio he used for the first 20 years of his career. Here he designed the Robie House, the quintessential Prairie house with horizontal planes, cantilevers, and ribbons of glass windows, and Unity Temple that Wright called “my jewel.” Both are in the area, the Robie House in Hyde Park near the University of Chicago and Unity Temple at 875 Lake St. right in Oak Park.

Wright tried out design ideas in his own home, using it as an architectural laboratory of sorts. See this as you take a guided 45-minute tour of the interior of the Home and Studio, offered weekends every 20 minutes from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., weekdays at 11 a.m, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., first come first served. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for seniors (65+) and youth (7 – 18). A special package price combines the home and studio tour with a self-guided exterior audio tour of the surrounding Historic District from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, and on weekends, guided exterior walking tours by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Keep in mind that tours often sell out by mid-day March through November.

Use the resort’s shuttle to the train station and hop a train to downtown Chicago where you can take a 90-minute narrated boat tour highlighting the city’s architecture ($16 adults; $14 seniors, 62 and over; $8 children, 11 and under; children under 3, free).

Chicago, the birthplace of the world’s first skyscraper, became a prime destination for architects after the Great Fire of 1871, when the city rose like a phoenix from its ashes. In the process, Chicago’s architecture helped to change the look of every American city.

“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood,” counseled Daniel H. Burnham. Thanks to the genius of Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and others, Chicago is a living museum of architecture. For a detailed look, the Chicago Architecture Foundation (312-922-3432; www.architecture.org) offers more than 50 walking or bus tours.

Doral Eaglewood offers a variety of packages for fanatic golfers and harried shoppers. Golfers find that water comes into play on eight of the 18-holes on the championship course. Shoppers delight that Woodfield Mall (10 minutes away) and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile are so handily close. And for relaxation there’s the European spa with services from hot stone massages and signature aromatherapy facials to herbal kurs and spirulina wraps.

Women lured to follow villainous vixens Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly of the steamy hot movie Chicago might sign up for a sassy Vamp Camp package which includes “All that Jazz” dance lessons, shark shots pool sessions, roaring red ‘bed-top’ manicures, naughty gin drinks and drag-out-of-bed breakfasts.

Family weekend outings take advantage of the Doral Eaglewood’s Olympic-sized indoor pool, six-lane retro bowling alley, billiards and darts. The “play planner” concierge arranges cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, ice skating and sleigh rides in winter, and water park fun in the summer.

“Razzle Dazzle ‘Em” with a Wright weekend at Chicago’s Doral Eaglewood.

Before You Go

Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Oak Park: 708-848-1978; www.wrightplus.org
Oak Park: 1-888-OAK-PARK; www.visitoakpark.com
Doral Eaglewood Resort & Spa: 630-773-1400; www.doraleaglewood.com
Wendella Boats: 312-337-1446; www.wendellaboats.com
Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau 1-877-244-2246 www.chicago.il.org

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