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Fox Valley scores with Ryder Cup fans

The Naperville Inn has put out welcome all Ryder Cup fans staying Naperville.  |  Dan Cassidy~Sun-Times Media

The Naperville Inn has put out at welcome to all the Ryder Cup fans staying in Naperville.  |  Dan Cassidy~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 29, 2012 6:26AM

The Ryder Cup may be playing 45 minutes away this week, but it’s still scoring a hole in one for Fox Valley businesses.

Hotels, shops and restaurants around the region are welcoming golfers, fans and their families from around the world here for the U.S. vs. Europe competition at the Medinah Country Club.

“The U.S. only hosts the Ryder Cup every four years, so for the Cup to be in the Chicago area is such a coup. It’s having a large impact on the entire Chicago area, and the western suburbs are no exception,” said Jennifer Piazza, sales and marketing director of the Herrington Inn in Geneva.

Hotels in Aurora and neighboring towns are enjoying increased bookings this week, even though the Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau did not launch an advertising campaign to attract Cup-related business.

“The hotels here are very happy with the spike in bookings,” said AACVB Executive Director Chris Hamilton. “We market in the Chicago area anyway, so people who are interested in the Ryder Cup would have seen what we have to offer.”

The Chicago Premium Outlets Mall in Aurora has been crowded all week with European and Asian visitors seeking bargains on luxury goods that never go on sale in their home countries, Hamilton noted.

Hundreds of Ryder Cup fans, many from England, have poured into Naperville over the past couple of days as Ryder Cup Travel Services, the premier travel affiliate of the European PGA, picked Naperville as its preferred host destination for fans from Europe.

Five hotels in Naperville are serving as host hotels under the program, said Christine Jeffries, president of The Naperville Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.

Accounting for 800 room blocks and 4,000 total room nights, the Ryder Cup will mean big money for Naperville’s hotels and also for restaurants and bars in the city, Naperville officials said.

“This means a lot for our local economy,” Jeffries said.

In Geneva, The Herrington Inn has been booked solid for Ryder Cup week for more than a year, Piazza said.

“We have a lot of British guests here, as well as some guests from Europe and some gentlemen from Japan. They don’t mind being this far from Medinah because none of them are driving — the corporate sponsors send buses for them every morning,” she explained.

While the hotel has all but emptied every morning this week, guests returning after a few hours spent watching the U.S. and British teams play practice rounds are eagerly exploring the area.

“I’ve seen some guests rent bikes across the street so they can ride the Fox River Trail, while others are walking around downtown Geneva, sampling the restaurants and shopping on Third Street. We’ve taken busloads of guests to Geneva Commons — they really like the Crate & Barrel store there,” said Piazza.

Even Batavia, which has no hotels to host well-heeled golf fans, is getting its share of attention.

“I’ve heard that some folks from the Ryder Cup have visited our downtown dining establishments,” said Batavia MainStreet Executive Director Joi Cuartero. “It’s fun to know that the Cup is going on so close to us and that people from around the world are patronizing the Tri-Cities because of it.”

“Unlike a political event like the recent summit in Chicago, with the Ryder Cup people won’t be there from morning till night,” Hamilton said. “They’ve got the entire evening to go out and have a good time near their hotels; or they have Cup tickets for only one day, so they want to have a vacation the rest of the time they’re here. I expect a lot of people will be out exploring the Fox Valley this weekend.”

Staff writer Dan Cassidy
contributed to this story.

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