Hotel Chicago West Loop has announced the appointment of a new, dynamic leader. At only 31-years-old, Virginia-native Jean-Luc Laramie is (quite possibly) the youngest hotel general manager in Chicago. In his role at the independent, 3-year-old dual-purpose property known for its eccentric art initiative, Laramie oversees operations while looking to expand the hotel’s relationship with Millennial travelers.
“This is not your typical hotel,” said Laramie, who’s moved his way up from bellman to GM in less than a decade. “While we may not have all the bells and whistles, we have a colorful culture that cannot be replicated. It’s exactly the sort of thing today’s contemporary traveler appreciates!”
Branded The Annex, the art concept at the 116-room Hotel Chicago West Loop features a vast permanent collection of 2-D media spread throughout the property in addition to unique exhibitions like guestroom street murals painted by prolific urban artists and a rotating gallery currently features therapeutic artworks by patients with catastrophic impairments from Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. “We are Hotel Chicago West Loop,” asserted Laramie. “The diversity of art represented here is a tribute to the distinct neighborhoods that all together make up this great city.” The Annex is open to the public for daily tours, and in support of the arts, 10% of the regular room rate is donated to a local arts non-profit when a guestroom is booked with the special rate code “ANNEX”.
In addition to the hotel’s art emphasis, Laramie also beams about the diverse staff and the cultural impact they impart on the guest experience. “I encourage all of our employees to be themselves,” said Laramie. “It’s about allowing our team to express themselves as individuals, like selecting their own musical choices in the lobby, so they feel comfortable while assisting guests in their own personal way. People remember genuine interaction.” Laramie credits Hotel Chicago West Loop’s management company, Portfolio Hotels & Resorts, for valuing artistic and individual expression.
“We are excited that Jean-Luc is now leading the team at Hotel Chicago West Loop,” said Michael Payne, EVP of Operations for Portfolio Hotels & Resorts. “His passion for hospitality and understanding of the Millennial guest is a perfect match for this colorful boutique hotel that celebrates Chicago’s artistic essence.”
Although he’s a first-time hotel General Manager, Laramie’s passion for hospitality runs deep. He admits he always knew he wanted to work in the industry, starting his career in restaurants before entering the hotel world in 2009. Laramie began his hotel career with a manager-in-training program in Amman, Jordan. When he returned to the States, Laramie enrolled at Kendall College in Chicago and studied Hotel Management while working as a bellman at night. After graduation, he rose through the ranks, beginning at the front desk, then moving on to concierge, night audit, manager on duty, supervisor, front desk manager, and operations manager. Laramie’s strength is interacting with guests, making them feel welcome, and finding solutions that work for both them and the property.
Hotel Chicago West Loop employs a unique training regime for new hires which focuses not only on their duties but also shows how each job integrates throughout the business. “By involving our employees in our vision, it becomes their vision too,” concluded Laramie. “Our staff brings together different cultures and different experiences. Like the unique artwork found around the hotel, we celebrate individuality and continually try to learn from each other.”