Photo: Courtesy of Thompson Chicago

A model of the king suite at the Thompson Chicago, coming this fall

Two of Chicago’s most anticipated hotel openings of the year were set into motion last week with the soft opening of Langham Chicago (330 N. Wabash Ave., 312-923 9988; from $356) on July 10. Occupying floors 2 to 13 of the 52-story former-IBM building designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the opulent Langham promises to move to the top tier of Chicago’s hotel scene, no doubt facing off with its shiny neighbor across the street, Trump Chicago.

But locals should know that although the hotel has opened (meaning, rooms are available), some key offerings are not yet complete, including its 22,000-square-foot Chuan Spa and the new Travelle Restaurant, helmed by Tru’s Tim Graham. Word on the street is that the hotel has missed an opportunity to create an interior that matches or even nods to the legendary architect’s modernist, less-is-more style. We’ll reserve judgment until the grand opening on September 10, when all areas of the hotel are expected to be ready.

Close on the Langham’s heels, the Thompson Chicago at 21 East Bellevue Place recently announced that it will open on October 1. Interior designer Tara Bernard (Belgraves London) and the AJ Capital team (Hotel Lincoln and the forthcoming Chicago Athletic Association) gutted the former Sutton Place Hotel down to the studs. The luxury hotel (one of the rooms is pictured above) will be the home to Nico, a new restaurant by 2013 James Beard Award winner Paul Kahan (Blackbird, Avec, Big Star). Read more on the Thompson at HotelChatter.

Change Is In the Air for Airline Loyalty Programs

American, Delta, JetBlue, and United are among the U.S. airlines over the last few weeks to announce new programs and changes to their existing frequent flier programs. “Some changes could be for the better (earning miles on partner airlines, converting hotel stays into airline miles, access to more lounges); others, not so much (higher award ticket fees, minimum annual spending requirements, disappearing bonuses),” writes Stephanie Rosenbloom. Find out where your program lands in the New York Times.

Here Are 26 Cool Finds to Pack for Your Beach Vacation

A beach tote that sifts out sand ($90), a mythology-themed Fredericks & Mae skim board ($320), a splash-proof speaker case for your smartphone ($69.50), and a breezy Hollie & Harrie Sombrilla ($180) to replace that old umbrella. Gear up for your next beach trip with these stylish picks from Daily Candy.

Avoid Tourist Pitfalls With These 10 Rules for Traveling

“The best way to the heart of a destination is to explore the everyday side of life there,” writes Erik Tourkells in the July issue of Travel+Leisure’s The Anti-Tourist Travel Rules. “By pretending you live somewhere, you can discover the minutiae that make one place different from every other.” Our favorite tips: shopping at stores you might frequent as an expat, renting a bike, and running an everyday errand.

A New Todd English Restaurant and an Early Bird Deal Are Two Reasons to Go to Atlantis

Obsessive planners take note: Atlantis on Paradise Island in the Bahamas is offering a killer deal available now: If you book by August 12 for travel between September 2 through December 25, you can get a room for as low as $99. Need another reason to visit the 141-acre water park resort that has pools, saltwater lagoons, and boasts the largest open-air marine habitat in the world? Last week, the celebrity chef and four-time James Beard Award–winner Todd English unveiled his newest Olives restaurant, joining a slew of other top-tier dining options at Atlantis, including Nobu Matsuhisa’s Nobu, Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, and Jean Georges-Vongerichten’s Café Martinique. Go in December, after hurricane season has blown away.