January 22, 2015

A Day at the Ritz

I have many memories at the Ritz — in Naples, Sarasota, Amelia Island, Key Biscayne, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, South Beach, Las Vegas, Kapalua, San Juan. A stay at one of these hotels was always something to look forward to. A younger me would spend the weeks leading up to each trip on the Ritz-Carlton website, clicking through photos of the grounds, the pools, the restaurants and guest rooms. Back then, I was very much soothed by thoughts of the Ritz.

It’s been a few years since my last Stone family vacation, and to fill that void, I asked¬†Karen Strohl, my colleague at Coldwell Banker, if I could come with her to the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Chicago. We set a date, and I was thrilled.

When I arrived last Friday, I was greeted by a doorman with kind eyes — Ritz doormen always have kind eyes. He led me to the elevator, instructing me to ride up to the 10th floor, otherwise known as the Landmark Club.

The doors opened, and I stood in awe: sky-high ceilings, elegant drapes, a crackling fireplace and an impressive chandelier in the center. This was the Grand Salon, marvelous and decadent.

Karen sells these luxury residences. I heard the click-click-click of her heels in the hallway. I stood up.

What do you think? she asked.

Wow. It was the only word I could get out.

From there, we met another realtor and her clients. Karen gave us all the full tour — billiard lounge, screening room, private dining room, fitness center — and then she showed the condos. We saw a myriad of floor plans and views. As expected, each unit was crafted to perfection.

My favorite moment occurred inside one of the staged homes. This particular unit had been designed by Samantha Todhunter, a California interior designer with a penchant for bright colors. The decor was different, but against the white walls and dark floors, it simply made sense. As I stood admiring the living room, the sound of my favorite jazz singer, Diana Krall, suddenly filled the room. Of course. It was too good.

Two hours later, after a grand finale at the penthouse, I left the Ritz and walked around the corner to my office — back to reality, but grateful for the glimpse into a more glamorous life.