The family-focused, Wisconsin-based Great Wolf Lodge opened its first resort in Wisconsin Dells in 1997. Over the next two decades, it slowly expanded with more properties around the Midwest, moving into the Northeast, South, West and Canada. And this summer, the greater Chicago area will get its first resort from the brand.

Great Wolf Lodge Illinois, slated to open July 1 in Gurnee, will include the hallmark giant waterpark, family-friendly dining options and woodsy décor. The property will also have 7,800 square feet of meeting space, 414 guest rooms (including 14 suite styles) and a separate entrance for meeting guests to avoid the waterpark. It’s the result of a $40 million makeover to the former Key Lime Cove property.

Though the waterpark plays second fiddle to meeting groups looking to get business done at the resort, it has a nice perk: Guests have access to the waterpark at 1 p.m. on the day of check-in, so they can arrive early or with families in tow to take advantage of the fun facilities.

Meeting planners can also get creative with events at Great Wolf Lodge. They can use the 38,000-square-foot adventure park for teambuilding, or rent it out for “waterpark after dark” cocktail hour.

“How often can you have a cocktail party with these elements available to you?” says General Manager Emilio Fabico, noting the Illinois property will also have a lazy river, the funnel-like Whitewater Whirl waterslides and the Wolf Rider, for daring guests only.

Another attraction of Great Wolf Lodge Illinois is the brand’s newly revamped F&B program, which includes the farm-to-fork restaurant Barnwood. Guests will find fresh dishes made with locally sourced ingredients alongside a craft cocktail menu, also available to meeting groups.

The property is holding a job fair for nearly 600 positions at College of Lake County in Grayslake this week through May 18 (details), and is accepting reservations starting July 1, 2018.

There is not denying that something big has happened with Colorado’s culinary scene over the past decade. Throughout the state, from the Front Range and mountains to the Western Slope, creative chef/owners, research and development chefs for catering companies and resort executive chefs are using loads of local ingredients and shaking up menus and atmospheres in unexpected and delightful ways.

 

Luxury guest ranch C Lazy U Ranch recently won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for the third year in a row and simultaneously announced the appointment of Certified Level II Sommelier Elise Blann. Blann will work closely with Executive Chef Dennis Kaniger at C Lazy U to select the perfect wine for each meal. The dining program specializes in regional ranch cuisine, such as Rocky mountain trout, rosemary rack of lamb and aged western beef.

 

Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center recently announced the addition of Director of Food & Beverage Saddiq Mir and Executive Chef Fabian Ludwig to its culinary team. The resort destination is set to open in late 2018 and will feature a wide variety of F&B options, including a steakhouse, a sports grill, a sushi bar, a cocktail lounge and multiple coffee and quick bite spots.