[caption id="attachment_4571" align="aligncenter" width="491" caption="Still work to be done: the two-story lobby of the Radisson Blu MOA, opening March 15."]
[/caption] The kind of cold day that literally takes your breath away and makes your face hurt was perfect for the first hard hat tour of the Radisson Blu connected to Mall of America, because you could easily imagine checking in and never leaving. One shopper's dream is another person's nightmare, perhaps, but you won't have to be a clotheshorse to keep yourself pampered and occupied without ever leaving the building . . . for days. At long last, it's the mall's mission come true. [caption id="attachment_4573" align="alignright" width="225" caption="Radisson Blu's indoor saltwater pool"]
[/caption] The upscale Radisson Blu MOA, which opens March 15, features a spa, an indoor saltwater pool, a 24-hour fitness center, and the heartland-inspired FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar. The restaurant and bar will have a chic look with black hardwood floors and reclaimed Minnesota barn wood on the walls. On the menu: craft cocktails and regionally driven dishes such as heirloom corn-crusted walleye from the Red Lake Nation Indian reservation. (Napa Valley Grill might want to consider a refresh—FireLake is sure to pull the mall's upscale visitors.)
Teardrop chairs dangle from the ceiling above the two-story lobby. The angular, white walls that greet people coming into the hotel from the second floor of the mall were inspired by the tissue paper of shopping bags. There are a few different styles of rooms and suites, ranging from urban contemporary to Vegas-style (my take, not theirs) glitzy with sparkling black marble and turquoise carpet. The hotel's two ballrooms are already booking up—the first wedding is scheduled for the day after the hotel's planned March 15 opening (like how much stress is that bride under?). For a wedding party with lots of out of town guests, Blu makes the weekend planning a breeze—between the hotel spa and pool and the mall's amusement park, aquarium, miniature golf course, movie theaters, and oh yes, 520 stores, folks ought to be able to entertain themselves. And for the girlfriends or couples who want to make a weekend of it, this will definitely be a way to do so in style. Radisson Blu staff will retrieve shopping bags for its guests from anywhere in the mall. Around the holidays especially, that could be reason enough to spend the night. [caption id="attachment_4574" align="aligncenter" width="430" caption="Radisson Blu room"]
[/caption] Radisson Blu MOA is already taking reservations for March 15. There's an introductory rate of $129; regular rates will be more in the $160 range. Radisson Blu represents the "upper upscale" for the hotel chain, owned by Minneapolis-based Carlson Hotels Worldwide. Most Blu hotels are overseas; MOA is the second Radisson Blu to open in the U.S.; the first is in Chicago.