The Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center is an oddly appealing duck indeed, linking a 500-room, uniquely styled Renaissance hotel to a convention center with 100,000 square feet of exhibition space. Despite its size and business orientation, the new Renaissance, planned as a commercial and social attraction for this suburb northwest of Chicago, is idiosyncratic and original. It's a brand product, for sure, and built sturdily, as is the Marriott custom. But it's also rich in personality, featuring local art, signature cocktails, even customized — and downright psychedelic — carpeting. According to Marriott officials who graced the property's official opening, it's a clue to the new Renaissance direction.

John Portman, the storied hotel architect who created the Hyatt atrium, designed this distinctive Renaissance to put a “there there” in Schaumburg. Village Mayor Al Larson, who shepherded the $234-million bond issue that financed the project, calls it a “transforming agent” and a “statement about what Schaumburg will be.” Tom Robertson, the general manager, says its “design-forward” appeal and focus on nurturing “business enjoyment” and “living well” epitomize the new approach of Marriott's Renaissance flag.

The village of Schaumburg owns the property. Marriott International manages both hotel and convention center.

A legacy brand built on the old Stouffer's name, Renaissance needs fresh identity, Robertson says, and the Renaissance Schaumburg points the way, trumpeting its uniqueness with the tagline, “where the heartland meets the 21st century.”

The technology is what you'd anticipate and more: Each of the 474 guestrooms and 26 suites features a flat-panel, high-definition TV, high-speed Internet access and two data ports; the convention center, of course, boasts T1 lines, multiply configurable spaces and videoconferencing capabilities.

The hotel furniture is sleek and modern, the guestroom bed of the expected quality. Sam & Harry's steakhouse, a contemporary American eatery, features a glass-enclosed, private dining room at its center, the chandelier in the fireplace lobby evokes Sputnik, and there's an ever-changing “light wall” at the front desk. There's also a 28,000-square-foot ballroom.

Envisioned as a new economic engine for the region, the project has generated 400 jobs representing $15 million in wages. More than 40 events and 27,000-plus roomnights have been booked since the sales effort began in December 2004.

“This property represents the best of the Renaissance brand,” William Shaw, president and chief operating officer of Marriott International, told some 400 invited guests at the property's highly theatrical grand opening in mid-August.

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