CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) – Do love watching curling during the Olympics? Have you ever wanted to try and play? Well now is your chance at The Gwen.
Located on the fifth-floor at Upstairs at the Gwen, the hotel’s outdoor terrace is transformed into an Alpine-inspired winter getaway complete with an iceless curling rink and curling cabin.
“It started about three years ago,” said Robert Groves, Director of Food and Beverage Outlets. “We had such great success for our summer season out on our terrace and we wanted to continue that into the winter season. At the time, curling was a popular winter sport, so we wanted to try our hand at curling, so we put a curling rink out there and it has been extremely popular since.”
The custom-designed, iceless curling rink offers guests to try their hand at curling – the winter sport that originating from Scotland, in which players slide stones on a sheet of ice or a lane towards a target. The rink measure 8’ x 32’ and guests can enjoy the game with eight granite stones and/or eight “pro” stones, which are smaller and lighter.
But what exactly is the rink made of if it’s not ice?
“So it is not actual ice, so it is a synthetic plastic that we use and we use stones that are modeled after the ones from Scotland with casters underneath them – it makes it really easy for them to slide across the rink; and we chose to go this route rather than the ice route for a couple reasons – one being safety and two being to keep that frozen is a monumental task and just not something that fit what we were trying to achieve,” Groves said.
The Gwen is the only hotel in Chicago to offer curling and the response continues to be positive.
“We have been doing it for three years and Fridays and Saturdays it is always booked and over the holidays, we are booked for the whole holiday,” Groves said. “It has been extremely successful to the point of where we even added what we are currently in, our cabin. It is an alpine cabin that we added about a year ago and we have an alpine-themed menu. Most guests enjoy coming out curling, they will either come into the cabin for a little bit or go inside and hang out at our upstairs bar or go to our brand new restaurant, Kostali that just opened this month, so it is well-received for the area. And it being one of the only curling rinks on a terrace and in downtown Chicago, guests are really enjoying it.”
The curling cabin is a custom-made wooden, Alpine-inspired cabin that allows guests a place to warm up and enjoy a variety of food and drink items.
“There are three signature cocktails out here – we do a fire, an ice, and a smoke cocktail – the Burnside, the Gaslamp, and the Winter Solstice. They all have a little bit of a special element to them, I will leave that to a surprise, but those are our featured cocktails. And then the favorite snack that everyone likes out here is our truffle potato chips with cheese sauce.”
The Gwen accepts group reservations for the curling rink and cabin. The cabin holds up to 15 people, but it is not exclusive, “so you are going to get cozy with your neighbor, your friend. Guests really enjoy interacting with other guests who come to enjoy the same experience that you are here to enjoy,” Groves said.
Upstairs at The Gwen Terrace also features a communal table with fireplace, a fire pit, heat lamps, lounge seating, TVs, and music.
Reservations for the curling rink and cabin are available via OpenTable. Curling is $25 per person, per 30 minutes and includes a hot cocktail, like a Hot Toddy or Hot Butterbeer.