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Chicago's Famed Palmer House Reopens With Millions Of Dollars In Renovations

CHICAGO (CBS) -- From top to bottom, Chicago's iconic Palmer House is back.

The landmark hotel reopened Thursday morning, after closing in April 2020 during the pandemic, and just in time to celebrate a big event.

CBS 2's Mugo Odigwe took a look around and even learned a few secrets.

"The city is truly opening up as well as the hotel," said General Manager Dean Lane

"We had 900 team members that we had to temporarily furlough and now we're bringing back about 200," Lane said. "But as the occupancy increases, we'll be bringing back more and more team members."

Inside the famed hotel, the Lockwood Bar reopened.

"We have amazing cocktails that our guests can choose from. You can have a glass of wine and then we have a menu also," Lane said.

It's a hotel that's been part Chicago's history since 1871.

Lane said the staff did a lot of maintenance during the months the hotel was closed.

For example, a $22 million renovation of the pool is now complete.

And that's not all.

"This is what we affectionately call Bertha's China," Lane said.

It's a vault two floors below street level at the hotel.

It holds a lot of the china that once belonged to Bertha Palmer, the woman the hotel was built for.

"It's about $1.8 million worth of china. Each plate setting is $30,000 and it's in a peacock safe down there," Lane said.

Some spaces are not easily accessible but the hotel does provide private tours.

"You never get used to seeing this Palmer House lobby empty and today we end that," Lane said.

Sept. 26 will mark the hotel's 150th anniversary.


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