I’d rather have a root canal than drive in Dallas. So when I got an invitation to spend the weekend at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, my first thought was, “No way!” But my husband Jack said he’d drive so I put on my traveling pants and off we went.
Here’s the thing about my job. Like Blanche DuBois, “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
It’s an interesting ethical dance because I couldn’t afford to go the places I do without being hosted — but I have to write honestly about the experiences. Otherwise, I have no credibility. So I’m very careful about the invitations I accept. I also rarely write about hotel or restaurant chains — everyone already knows pretty much what to expect.
So why did I decide to go to Dallas. This hotel has been around for four decades. There are many new options in Dallas. I was curious to see how it has stood the test of time. And it is in an interesting location. It’s connected to the iconic Reunion Tower. It’s a short walk to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and it’s handy to a variety of public transportation options.
First off, I was right about driving in Dallas. It’s a mess. The freeways are jammed and woe betide the driver who doesn’t know which lane to be in. We managed to get to the correct exit and thought we were home free. We weren’t.
Between one-way streets and Dallas’ penchant for working on them, our GPS couldn’t keep up. The frustrating thing was we could see the Tower and we knew we were close, but couldn’t get there! Finally, in desperation, we called the hotel. A friendly operator named Tina promised to guide us and stay with us until we arrived. And she did.
Once we got into the hotel life got so much brighter! Everyone was so helpful and friendly, and they didn’t even flinch when Jack dived into the complimentary candies with both hands!
About those candies — this was the weekend of the largest Harry Potter convention in the United States. And the hotel put out bowlfuls of Bertie Botts Beans (okay, they were probably Jelly Bellies, but the thought was there).
That wasn’t the only cool welcome conventioneers got. There was a Sorting Hat and stuffed owl near the restaurants and a photo op spot with accessories for fun pictures. And, by the elevators, a sign with a Gothic-style heading, “House Rules,” read “Casting of Spells Prohibited in Public Areas.” The hotel won me over with that. Corporate structure or no, these folks have a sense of humor!
Even better, the hotel is pet-friendly. I met the hotel mascot Leo, a little beagle, who keeps an eye on things and graciously accepts attention from guests young and old.
Our room was large and comfortable — done in neutral shades with interesting wall pieces. On one wall was a long gold, metal plaque etched with a map of the Trinity River. The windows were large and offered the best view of downtown Dallas possible.
You know a company is good when they retain great employees. Four of the hotel staff have been with this hotel since it was built. Our server at dinner, Mario Mattias, is a relative newcomer. He’s only been there 35 years! We ate at Parrino’s, the hotel’s Italian restaurant, which features a wood-fired pizza oven. My pollo pizza had a thin, crispy crust topped with chicken, ricotta cheese, baby bella mushrooms, pine nuts, fresh basil, and an ample drizzle of fig balsamic reduction. Wow! All the rooms at the Hyatt have small fridges and I promise the cold pizza the next morning was almost as spectacular as it was hot from the oven.
GREETINGS FROM HOME
While we were eating, we were visited by Julianna Romero, one of the hotel’s corporate management trainees. And, guess what, she’s from Edmond — a graduate of Santa Fe High School and OSU’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. She was delightful. I’d give her an A in a minute!
We visited Dallas on what may turn out to be the hottest weekend of the year. So, instead of walking the few blocks to the Sixth Floor Museum the next morning, we took advantage of the hotel’s chauffeur service — a ride anywhere within two miles is complimentary.
I’ll write a whole article about the museum in the future. It’s located in the Texas School Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald perched to fire on President Kennedy’s motorcade. The museum provides a great history lesson about the presidency of John F. Kennedy, his assassination and his legacy. A visit to the museum is a sobering experience but so important not only for those of us who lived through this period and remember it, but also especially for younger people who don’t know the history.
MARGARITAS FOR DUMMIES
The highlight of our afternoon was meeting with Derrick Lee, the Assistant Restaurant Manager, who met us in the hotel’s bar, Monduel’s. Derrick walked us through Margaritas for Dummies.
Monduel’s offers five different Margaritas, but the variations are many. According to Derrick, first you choose your flavor — Classic Tommy’s, Mango Thai Chile, Strawberry Rosemary, Orange Basil or Jalapeno Agave.
Then you choose your alcohol — either tequila or mezcal. I learned both are made from agave, but in mescal, the agave is smoked. These liquors come with more variations — blanco, reposado and anejo — depending on the aging.
After that, you choose your salt — Monduel’s offers plain sea salt, black sea salt, smoked sea salt and sal de gusado. This last salt includes dried, ground, agave worms. Sounds icky? Of course I tried it. Not my favorite, but I get points for bravery. My favorites were the Classic Tommy’s and the Orange Basil, but they were all good!
In the midst of this boozy binge, we tried some of the bar food: street tacos, messy tots (tater tots and smoked brisket topped with Bernaise sauce, a fried egg and scallions, and shrimp cocktail with avocado pico.) More gustatory goodness.
VIEW FROM THE TOP
We ended the day with a trip up the 470-foot Reunion Tower for a 360-degree look at Dallas. It was an expensive ride but you couldn’t beat the view. There were also telescopes and video screens to help identify landmarks and add more information.
So, bottom line — we had a great weekend. The Hyatt offers comfortable rooms with good beds, great food, a super location, and a solicitous and welcoming staff. And coins thrown in their multi-story fountain go to support local charities. So — a stay at the Hyatt combines having a good time with doing good. It’s definitely worth the drive.