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O’Hare to offer ‘Minute Suites’ for tired travelers to nap

Stranded travelers sleep O'Hare June 2011. |  Sun-Times Library

Stranded travelers sleep at O'Hare in June 2011. | Sun-Times Library

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Updated: February 19, 2013 2:15PM

Air travelers will soon be able to take a nap between flights without leaving O’Hare Airport.

Minute Suites plans to offer “extended-stay suites”— featuring a daybed sofa, workstation, high-definition TV and personal computer with Internet access — for $30-an-hour or $120 overnight near the rotunda between O’Hare Terminals 2 and 3.

It’s just one of 10 new concession agreements at a dozen locations at O’Hare domestic terminals expected to collectively generate at least $5.6 million in annual revenues for the city.

That’s in addition to 12-to-19 percent of gross revenues, $47.75-per-sq.ft. in rent and annual increases of 3 percent.

Minute Suites already operates at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and at Philadelphia International Airport. A third location is about to open in Dallas. O’Hare would become the company’s fourth location.

The company’s website touts the Philadelphia and Atlanta suites as a “private oasis right in the terminal” that allows passengers to “relax, conduct business and even sleep in spacious private suites between flights or during long delays.” Passengers are advised to “sleep tight, but don’t miss your flight.”

In addition to the daybed, pillows and fresh blankets, each suite includes a “sound masking system” that helps “neutralize noise” from jets taking off and landing.

O’Hare will have 29 suites, each of them 62 square feet. They will be located past the security checkpoint and, therefore, limited to ticketed passengers and airline employees.

Ronnie Gross, location supervisor for the Philadelphia Minute, said the 13 suites there are frequently sold out.

“When you have a lay-over or miss your connection, that’s why we’re here. That’s what we feed off of,” Gross said.

“It meets people’s needs and meets a different need than the airline clubs. We offer a private room to lay down for three hours. You can watch TV. You can get work done or have a conference call. It’s separate, private and quiet. Airports got rid of lockers after 9/11. This is a place where you can lock up your stuff and not worry about it.”

But what about the hourly rental? Doesn’t that encourage romantic rendezvous that could turn Minute Suites into somewhat of a hot-pillow hotel — a ground version of the “mile-high” club?

“We get that question a lot. People come to us with that comment as a practical joke. But people don’t pay for that. They don’t even think about it. Honest to God, they don’t,” Gross said.

“When you have a five-hour lay-over between flights, the first thing you think of is sleep, getting some food or souvenirs and getting some work done.”

Mayoral spokesman Tom Alexander sloughed off concerns about airport trysts.

“We have a large law enforcement presence at the airport, which helps us maintain a safe environment for all travelers. We will work diligently in preventing illegal behavior, as we do throughout the airport,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The O’Hare Hilton has first right of refusal for additional overnight hotels at the airport. But Alexander maintained that Minutes Suites is a “different product than what the Hilton offers” and, therefore, does not violate that exclusive arrangement.

The other new concession agreements include: Terminal Getaway Spa, offering manicures, pedicures, skin waxing, chair and full-body massages; Brooks Brothers; Erwin Pearl Jewelry; Johnston & Murphy; Brookstone; InMotion Entertainment and Montblanc Boutique.

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