While our readers’ choice awards cover a variety of categories, here is a nod to a handful of my favorites throughout the great state of Texas.
BEST POOLSIDE RESORT MENU
Lakeway Resort & Spa
Situated on the shores of Lake Travis, the rustic Lakeway Resort & Spa provides a beautiful backdrop for leisurely afternoons at the swimming pool. The 168-room property is located roughly 30 minutes northwest of downtown Austin and just steps from the Lakeway marina.
The resort’s pool complex includes three outdoor pools, the Adventure Waterslide, a large hot tub and the swim-up Sunset Pool Bar. Both the hot tub and pool with bar access are for adults only. The Lakeway Resort pool complex is also home to the Sunset Pool Grill.
The grill menu features appetizers such as tortilla chips and homemade salsa and a seasonal fruit bowl. For lighter fare, the grill offers a Greek salad or Caesar salad and a mesquite turkey wrap. For those who have worked up an appetite in the water, the grill offers burgers, hot dogs and one of the biggest and best Frito pies I have ever eaten.
The Sunset Pool Grill menu also includes a variety chips and candies, ice cream cups or bars, swim goggles, sun screen, bottled water, juices, soda, sports drinks, ice cold beer and a large selection of cocktails. I recommend the Lakeway Paloma made with Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka, fresh lime juice and grapefruit. lakewayresortandspa.com; 512.261.6600
BEST ROOFTOP EVENT VENUE
Omni Frisco Hotel
The Omni Frisco Hotel is the anchor hotel property at The Star, a 91-acre entertainment district in Frisco. The site includes the Dallas Cowboys world headquarters and practice facilities, and the Ford Center, a 12,000-seat indoor stadium.
The 300-room Omni Frisco Hotel features 24,000 square feet of event space, including a 13,000-square-foot ballroom and 16 meeting rooms. It is connected to the Ford Center via an indoor walkway. The crown jewel of event space at the 16-story Omni Frisco is The Edge, a fourth-floor rooftop pool, bar and pool deck.
The open-air event space provides planners with 3,640 square feet of space overlooking the Ford Center plaza, the outdoor practice fields of the Dallas Cowboys and the surrounding Frisco cityscape. The space features a number of private cabanas, an infinity pool, a large terrace, a dedicated bar recessed into the hotel tower and furniture equipped with LED lighting to brand any event with color. The rooftop event space can accommodate up to 375 people.
The pool area and adjacent terrace are appointed with trees and greenery, soft and modern lighting and two elliptical pergolas that loosely form the shape of a football. Soft, comfortable seating can be arranged to accommodate any event and three fire pits are available for cooler evenings. The rooftop can accommodate up to 400 guests.
“The Omni Frisco Hotel is the perfect destination to host your group or next event because we offer such a wide array of meeting and event spaces,” says Jeff Smith, general manager at Omni Frisco Hotel. “Whether you require our 13,000-squarefoot ballroom or The Edge rooftop pool and deck, we have spaces that are sure to play the perfect host to your group.” omnihotels.com; 469.287.0000
BEST OUTDOOR SPACE
Lone Star Court
Lone Star Court is a retro-inspired court concept hotel nestled within The Domain at Austin. The 123-room boutique property was built by Valencia Hotels and draws upon the golden age of family road trips and motor court hotels.
Lone Star Court is an editor’s pick quite simply because my family and I had an absolute blast at the property during a recent business trip. The trip involved lengthy indoor meetings off-property, which made the courtyard at the hotel a welcome retreat. Once on the Lone Star Court property, I had to remind myself that I was indeed in the middle of a bustling retail district in a city of nearly one million people. It was that peaceful!
The courtyard at Lone Star Court is a long oval flanked by inward-facing guest rooms, the hotel’s restaurant and bar, the Sisterdale School House and Tack Room event buildings, and a stone office building. There are a few gated walkways leading out of the space but virtually no direct lineof-sight to the outside traffic. A swimming pool with flagstone deck is the focal point of the landscaped courtyard, and there is easy access to a pavilion, fire pits and the restaurant’s outdoor seating. The landscaping was designed to echo the surrounding Texas Hill Country with native trees and shrubbery, vines growing along the outdoor stairwells and railings, and an arroyo that actually functions to channel water through the property during rainstorms.
The guest rooms are appointed with vintage-inspired décor and custom-built furnishings designed by Houston-based Rottet Studios. Local snacks and beverages are stocked in retro-looking Smeg refrigerators in each room—and I mean fully stocked.
Despite my meetings, I was able to get in some very refreshing reading and swim time at the pool. My family staged a corn hole tournament on the lawn. Our last night was possibly the best; we enjoyed great food, drinks and live music at The Water Trough, the hotel’s restaurant.
We had so much fun being outside and spending time with each other, we were already planning a return trip as we loaded our luggage into the SUV. lonestarcourt.com; 512.814.2625
BEST HOTEL RENOVATION
The French Room at The Adolphus Hotel
The historic Adolphus Hotel opened in Dallas in October 1912. The 22-story hotel was originally built by Adolphus Busch, co-founder of Anheuser Busch. At the time, the property was the tallest building in the state and the first luxury hotel in Dallas. The recent restoration and renovation of all public spaces of the hotel was spearheaded by design firm, Swoon the Studio, which was hired to reimagine three lobbies, two bars, the ballroom, a barbershop, bistro, coffee shop, retail store and the iconic French Room. The hotel now has the feel of a European estate.
Art books and furnishings were added in communal spaces and stone fireplaces were imported from France. Tall, dark wood-paneled walls and warm strategic lighting creates an elevated comfort in the public spaces. Large-paned industrial windows were installed, which create more intimate spaces within the lobby yet preserve views throughout.
The hotel’s renowned restaurant, The French Room, received highly anticipated upgrades, along with the French Room Bar, which is now a deliciously dark and cozy space. Vintage portraits complement the custom-made barstools and banquettes, while black marble tables echo marble flooring and details found throughout other public spaces.
The French Room Salon now features a curated collection of contemporary art with Texas ties, a piano that is said to be a sister to one that went down on the Titanic and an original marble floor which had been covered by carpet for decades. adolphus.com; 214.742.8200
BEST PRIVATE EVENT SPACE
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
The main campus of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is situated in the heart of the city’s Museum District just minutes from downtown. The museum was established in 1900 and today includes the Audrey Jones Beck Building, the Caroline Wiess Law Buillding, the Glassell School of Art, the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden and two house museums—Rienzi and Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens.
With a total of 300,000 square feet of space dedicated to the display of nearly 63,000 artworks, the museum is one of the largest art museums in the nation. With such a large campus, the museum provides groups a wide array of unique venues for private events.
Award-winning architect Rafael Moneo designed the Audrey Jones Beck Building, which opened in 2000. The Beck Building is home to antiques, American art, old masters works, impressionist and modern or contemporary art. Groups of up to 150 people can enjoy a seated dinner amongst the artwork or receptions of up to 1,000 can be held in the Beck Building.
The two house museums are also available for private meetings, parties or receptions. The Brown Auditorium Theater is yet another space available to groups. The theater is housed offers clear sight lines and lecture-style seating for 350 attendees.
On Thursdays the museum has free general admission from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and free garage parking from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. mfah.org; 713.639.7754