An interview with Jacqueline E. Allen, senior sales manager at the Drake Oak Brook Hotel.
Q: Tell us a little bit about the property.
A: The hotel was opened in 1961. The hotel is currently converting into Autograph Collection hotel by Marriott coming soon Spring 2019.
Q: What does the venue have to offer when it comes to corporate meetings? Size of events? Custom catering? Special menus?
A: We have unique and flexible meeting/event space over 12,000 square feet which consists of 12 meeting rooms ranging from 500 to 4,200 square feet. The Drake also has an elegant outdoor veranda overlooking our garden, beautiful fountain and gazebo. We can accommodate custom catering from gluten free to vegetarian and everything in between.
Q: Describe the atmosphere.
A: From the minute you drive in to the porter cochere, you already envision the elegant ambience that the hotel has maintained since it first opened, back in 1961. The hotel is surrounded by hand crafted and custom-made wood fixtures, furniture and crystal. The atmosphere is felt once you walk into the Drake you sense a timeless European style with a touch of a modern elegance. With a fireplace as its central focus in our lobby, it's an inviting place to cozy up with a drink from our Polo Lounge to end a long day of meetings. The history of The Drake goes back to when it was commissioned to be an extension of the well-known Drake Hotel on Michigan Avenue. With its name connection of The Drake downtown, The Drake Oak Brook started to draw in prominent guests from around the world, like Prince Charles, Frank Sinatra and Rock Hudson just to name a few. Everywhere you go in the hotel you can see the details of the fine workmanship, which is part of the foundation of the hotel. Our latest renovation and transformation is in our Grand Ballroom. The exterior wall facing North will be replaced with a full length window from the floor to the ceiling to let in a lot of natural light. Other updates like new carpeting and others things will give this room a modern feel while still keeping that historic feel that guests have come to love.
Q: What attracts clients when booking here?
A: There are many different factors of why clients are attracted to hosting an event with us. I would like to say we are a "hidden gem" with such a unique venue and atmosphere that companies are looking for something different for their attendees. You need to experience that feeling of really being transformed back in time of pure elegance. The location is also another important factor when choosing The Drake.
We are centrally located from Midway Airport and O'Hare International Airport and surrounded by a vast establishment from fine dining to an outdoor Mega shopping center that make Oak Brook the place to meet, stay and play.
Q: What does the future look like for the Drake Oak Brook?
A: As we convert into an Autograph Collection hotel we are rediscovering ourselves as the "Turn of the Century Glamour" with an even more beautiful, and elegant Hotel in 2019.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself. What is your past experience in the industry?
A: I have been in the industry over 15 years, I fell in love with the hotel industry from my first position as a front desk agent with Hilton, I enjoyed checking guests in from all over the globe, and being part the guest-first experience of Chicago.
Q: Tell us some interesting facts about the property that most people may not know.
A: There are a lot of interesting facts of history at The Drake. Our owner, Tely Nagle is a big part of our design and décor of the hotel. She worked hand in hand with our designers to hand crafted the furniture, crystals, and wood fixtures throughout The Drake. The Colonial restaurant where an expansive mural graces the walls is the same wallpaper that was installed in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House by Jackie Kennedy. The wallpaper is from Zuber and Cie and is entitled Scenes of North America.
When the hotel was being renovated they were able to restore the mural for future generations to enjoy.
Q: Two people we should follow on Twitter and why?
A: James Corden, because who doesn't love James Corden car pool karaoke, love it! Laugh so hard every time. And Oprah Winfrey, because kindness goes a long way. Look at her.