CHICAGO—At the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile, guests can grab some freshly popped popcorn and their swim suits for a “Dive-In Movies” screening geared toward families at the property’s historic rooftop pool. So far, it’s a splash.
“The start of our ‘Dive-In Movies’ really originated very organically,” said Drew Mailloux, director of marketing communications for the hotel. “We knew we wanted to create an experience that was unique to our property, something that no other Chicago hotel could replicate. As soon as you step foot onto our pool deck, you’ll know why this program is just that.”
At the time it was built in 1929, the hotel’s junior Olympic-sized swimming pool was considered an architectural marvel.
“It’s decorated with blue Spanish majolica tiles, a terracotta water fountain, and supported by the same sturdy system used by railroad bridges,” said Mailloux. “At the time of its unveiling, it was one of the highest indoor pools in the world, and its 14th-floor location and three-story ceilings were heralded as a feat of engineering.”
Today, the pool remains virtually untouched.
“We wanted to take that sense of wonderment and showcase it with a one-of-a-kind program, specifically for families,” he said. “This was the genesis of ‘Dive-In Movies.’ While lots of pools and resorts may have a similar concept, there is only one that offers a truly unique setting like ours. Our goal for ‘Dive-In Movies’ is really quite simple: to create memories for our guests and exceed their expectations. We believe that is the key to guest loyalty.”
For some, drive-in movies can elicit feelings of nostalgia. This particular program offers a nod to a simpler time.
“Nowadays, hotels will dazzle their younger guests with cutting-edge technology like an in-room video game console, VR headsets, etc. We went the opposite direction with this program,” he said. “I think what our ‘Dive-In Movies’ program has in common with its land counterpart is the same feeling of togetherness. They both play into the idea of creating a shared experience, whether you’re reclined in a bucket seat or floating together on a giant swan inflatable.”
He added, “We wanted to create something special that families could enjoy together, at the same time. It’s a simple thing, unplugged bonding, that we believe can take a moment between family and friends and make it a memory.”
While this program is kid-friendly, Mailloux actually prefers to think of it as a program built for the “kid in all of us.”
“It’s a very fun experience to be around for a ‘Dive-In Movie’ show—you can see that the adults are having just as much fun as anyone else,” he said. “They are snacking on popcorn, floating alongside their kids in the pool and (occasionally) singing along to the familiar show tune. When we came up with this idea, we wanted it to be the hassle-free end to a day spent zooming around the city. That’s why our menu was built hyper-focused on a kid’s particular appetite, why our popcorn is complimentary, and why a lifeguard is always on duty during the movie. It’s a family-friendly end to any day.”
In addition to watching a movie on the hotel’s 80-ft. jumbo screen, guests can order bites and beverages from the poolside menu by Executive Chef Craig Cooper. The film series’ roster includes The Lego Batman Movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Captain Underpants, Minions, Boss Baby and more. The program runs now until Labor Day.
“I wanted to take each summer month and spend some time exploring a particular theme. For June, we dove under the sea and visited a few famous finned-friends. In July, we are taking to the sky with some of our favorite superheroes. For August, we are celebrating small humans with big ideas,” he said. “Candidly, every time someone hears about the program, they tell me we should play Jaws in the pool. While I don’t think this will make our summer line-up, I am slowly being convinced to do a special pop-up night on Halloween for that particular experience. Stay tuned.”