Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Biz Travel in Tight Times

Times are tight in corporate America these days, which means a career girl can't simply work her way down the five-star list on her company's dime anymore.

We’ve been in that panicky position of picking a totally untested hotel while on the line with travel services—or trying to set up a business meeting only to stammer, “Uh, I don’t know, where do you wanna go?” So we’ve culled together our picks for more modestly priced (but still plenty posh) lodging and dining in four big business travel cities. We’ll even let you take the credit when those auditors pat you on the back for saving the bottom line.

Of course it used to be cool when you could grab those pricey hunks of meat this city is known for at critical darling Charlie Trotters or celeb fave Gibsons Steakhouse, but how to explain those $100- to $200-per-person price tags? Instead, meet up at Maggiano’s Little Italy — yes, it’s a chain, but that only means there are more of them around to choose from. And once you see the wine selection and taste the heaping portions of food (the four-cheese ravioli with pesto Alf redo is pure pasta heaven), you’ll forget there were ever other options on the table. Or impress your clients with your local know-how by grabbing pizza at Gino’s East — the Windy City’s known for the deep-dish, but the thin crust is what keeps real Chicagoans coming back. Accommodation-wise, check into The Seneca Hotel & Suites, a boutiquey place just a block off the Magnificent Mile but tucked away on a quiet, tree-lined street. Or try the Congress Plaza Hotel for that old-Chicago glam feel at reasonable prices.

Los Angeles
Okay, so maybe Aubergine and Spago are no longer options. Whatev — we’re so over Wolfgang what’s-his-name anyway. Try A.O.C., which has about a bazillion yummy tapas items and cheese plates—plus fantastic wine—that will keep everyone in your party happy. Or hit Luna Park, where you’ll be so taken with that trendy-yet-cozy atmosphere L.A. does so well and the mini s'mores setups that you’ll barely remember to order entrées (but do because they're good). And when it’s time to go to sleep at night, opt for the Sunset Marquis — which, though hardly cheap, doesn’t come with the sticker shock of a L’Ermitage or Four Seasons. And somehow its intimate pool area, mood-lit bar, and just-off Sunset location will make you feel even more like a star ... For two more fab cities, click here.


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