TX Travel Guide
The world is officially in "Countdown to Christmas" mode and now, so are we. Every day until Christmas we'll be featuring a hotel that's in a holiday mood--whether it be with gigantic gingerbread houses, over-the-top Christmas decorations, thrilling lighting displays and best of all, Santa appearances. But of course, any hotel can assemble a fake tree, put on some lights and declare themselves "festive." Which is why we're looking at hotels that are really going ALL OUT. Know of a hotel that's super excited for Christmas? Let us know!
The Four Seasons Austin got a jump on the holiday decorations last week, when they unveiled their Dr. Seuss-themed Gingerbread WhoVillage, a gingerbread replica of the town of Whoville from How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Conceived by the hotel's pastry chefs back in August, the WhoVillage features a Mt. Crumpet, Cindy Lou Who's house, a giant Town Center Christmas Tree, a Welcome to Whoville Sign and a train that looks like the Grinch's stolen bag of toys.
All in all, the village features ten houses made entirely out of edible materials (each one also takes the team of pasty chefs about 30 hours to construct.) Additionally, each house is sold to a sponsor and the proceeds are donated to the Seton Shivers Cancer Center. Sorry, we don't think sponsors can eat the house until the display comes down on January 1st.
When you hear this phrase, "A warm, welcoming and inspiring space", what do you think of? Wherever you may be thinking of, it's most definitely not the security checkpoint at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Yet that is exactly what Springhill Suites by Marriott is attempting to do with the space.
Now, through December 31st, passengers in terminal 3's E18 security checkpoint will be able to gaze at relaxing artwork, lounge in comfy seating, double-check their travel documents in soft lighting and listen to music from SpringHill Suites' custom Pandora channels.
Dubbed the Springhill Suites Security Area, the space aims to mimic the hotel brand's own "calm, comfortable, relaxing and stylish spaces." And we have to say, that checkpoint in the photos below does look way better than our usual stressed out security zone. We just hope the zone will also work its magic on grumpy TSA workers.
Not traveling through DFW? Another Springhill Suites Security Area also just opened at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina. Fingers crossed for LAX and JFK, and maybe MIA and SFO and ORD too?
[Photos: Springhill Suites]
Dream Hotels have made their mark in NYC but now they're dream of hotel expansion is taking them to Dallas.
Hampshire Hotels Management has signed a deal with the Dallas Dream Group LLC in Dallas to open a 128-room hotel in the city's Uptown district. The Dream Dallas will also have a 6,000-sq.ft. ground-level restaurant, a lofted pool deck and adjacent 14,000-sq.ft. lounge with killer views of Downtown Dallas. In other words, the Dream will be the same but the location has changed.
“We see huge opportunity in Dallas, it’s one of the most cosmopolitan and fashion-forward of Texan cities. I’ve always found it odd that there is such a relative vacuum of design-oriented, lifestyle hotel products there. “ Says Brendan McNamara SVP of Brand Development and Design at Hampshire Hotels, the parent company behind the Dream concept. “Dallas also offers up inspiration for a whole new twist on our design ethic. We are looking forward to turning some heads and shaking up the scene a bit… it’s what we do best.
The project will start construction in January and should be completed by winter 2015. Architecture group 5G Studio will do the design while Hyphen Construction Group, has been retained to build the project. We hope it's everything we dreamed it would be.
Remember the tooth fairy? That generous spirit who arrived during the night to alleviate the pain of losing our baby teeth with a few coins -- or paper, if we were really lucky?
The two Hotel ZaZas in Dallas and Houston remember her and are celebrating this year's National Tooth Fairy Day (um, that's August 22nd, didn't you know?) with a special dental-themed package.
Well folks, once again it’s Fantasy Friday and you know what that means. It’s time to steal a few moments to mentally check out of work (we know you are doing it anyway, it is Friday after all) while you momentarily imagine yourself enjoying a little slice of heaven.
For your daydreaming pleasure today, we bring you a package that has been put together by the Ritz-Carlton Dallas. As we all know they don’t do things on the small scale down in Texas, unless of course that less-than-large something turns out to be very expensive… in which case exceptions shall be made. So despite the immediate mental image of over-the-top extravagance that Fantasy Friday usually conjures up, this week we are highlighting a simple, $399 package – that can have you walking away with a very expensive little gift.
The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center is typically known for being just that--a resort and conference center thirty minutes away from Houston in The Woodlands of Texas. Yet after a recent customer service story went viral, the hotel is now known for accommodating the strangest of guest requests.
Here's how it all began. A dude booked his room online and when he came across the service requests box, instead of typing in "Hypoallergenic pillows" or "A room away from elevator" or "A room with a view" or any other usual hotel room request, he wrote this:
Three red M&Ms on the counter. Not packages, just three single M&Ms. One for me, one for my girlfriend and one to split if we get hungry late at night. And a picture of bacon set on the bed. I love pics of bacon.
According to the dude, he totally forgot about writing this request. So when he checked into the hotel a month later, he was confused by the red M&Ms on the counter. But it "clicked" when he saw the picture of bacon on the bed.
Keeping up with the trend is Kimpton's Hotel Palomar Dallas, who just launched a new "Travel Lite" wellness package. Among the offerings are: in-room yoga mats, loanable bikes, and, our favorite: a morning run with the hotel GM, Andrew Wright.
We were curious just what makes Wright such a good running buddy...so, we asked him. Here's what he had to say:
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Often times, when we plead our case for free hotel WiFi, we hear that setting up a network or upgrading an existing network is an expensive investment for hotels and in order to recoup the costs, they need to charge guests to use the WiFi.
Now, every hotel is different but there are plenty of hotels out there that have been updating their networks to provide faster speeds and more bandwidth to guests and they still aren't charging for WiFi.
For example, The Hotel ZaZa in Dallas which recently added a new fiber data network throughout the hotel. Hotel president, Benji Homsey, explained the reason for the network upgrade saying:
We designed this network with special attention to the increased presence of Apple iPad, iPhone and Google/Android users in conjunction with the typical laptop usage. We want every Hotel ZaZa guest to have the best, from coverage and access points to best of breed fiber data network to the newly installed bedside power docks in every room.
And the charge to access the internet? It's still totally free.
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The 42nd president of the United States, George W. Bush is getting his own presidential library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and the hotels are expecting to fill up because of it. Yes, differing political leanings aside, President Barack Obama and all living presidents will attend the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum tomorrow though the library officially open to the public the first week of May.
Word on the street is that both the Hotel Palomar and the Hotel Lumen (both Kimpton Hotels), which are within walking distance of the library, are sold out or close to it. And one hotel, The Holiday Inn Dallas, Central-Park Cities recently underwent a $9 million, year-long renovation to spiff up its offerings for the influx of library visitors (estimated to be about 500,000 a year.)
Texas pecan pie for room-service dessert? Yee-haw!
It seems the room-service debate will never go away. Some people call us suckers for succumbing to ordering it, others find it a life-saver in those wee hours when we’re feeling a bit peckish and don’t feel like going out on a food hunt.
But today we’re not debating whether it’s a good idea or not, we’re going to celebrate what we consider one of the most interesting in-room dining room menus we've encountered in a while, and since it’s near quitting time, it’s time for food porn, anyway.
This submission comes courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas. Instead of yawn-worthy, limp Caesar salads and uninspired burgers, this hotel is bringing the goods with a Lone Star State-twist. We’re talking chilaquiles with smoked short rib hash, mini-elk sausage corn dogs with Dr.Pepper barbecue sauce, “Sous Vide” beef tacos, and Texas pecan pie.
And there's more, so much finger-licking more, after the jump.
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Nothing like a little celebrity appearance to make a hotel re-opening event really sparkle, and that's what happened last week when Sheryl Crow turned up at the Sam Houston (which used to be called The Alden).
The 100-room hotel recently completed renovation work on all guest rooms, suites, and public spaces (the rooms now "combine clean decor with contemporary touches," which is a good thing, since the hotel's been around since 1924!), and has spent the past month celebrating its grand re-opening. Meanwhile, Sheryl Crow has a new album coming out, and she was in town doing promo at a local radio station.
The opportunity was too good to pass up!
Co-founder John Mackey told USA Today the idea for a Whole Foods resort came out of the company's existing employee health program which "focused on weight loss and reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol." Mackey didn't divulge too many details on what the resort would include but it would be in the mold of a Canyon Ranch spa resort. And we're gonna assume that it will have a mini-Whole Foods market off the lobby.
But all you health foods nuts out there should slow your gluten-free roll. The resort is still a ways away from opening. Right now the company is looking for the right real estate and hotel chain to operate it. (Hmmm...may we suggest Even Hotels from IHG?)