We received at the office yesterday an invitation from a Florida-based PR firm to take a press trip to Dallas to visit the recently renovated Sheraton Dallas (the largest hotel in Texas, for those keeping score at home). Besides the fact that we were invited to take a press trip to our own city, there are a number of things about this invitation that I found entertaining. Jump for the itinerary that journalists from across the country will enjoy — along with my comments.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Journalists arrive via sponsored airline flight into Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport or Dallas Love Field, met at baggage claim by Geiger & Associates staff and escorted to the Sheraton Dallas Hotel
[Ed: As one who works at a publication that recently referred to the city of “Forth Worth,” I suppose I can’t throw rocks very hard. So I’ll just say this: you folks in Florida have Fort Lauderdale, and we’ve got Fort Worth. No need to abbreviate among friends.]
The Sheraton Dallas is the largest hotel in Texas and one of the most sophisticated. “Big” is a way of life in the Lone Star State [Ed: It’s true! Everything’s bigger in Texas!] but the Sheraton Dallas isn’t just another “big” downtown hotel [Ed: Thank “goodness”]. This press tour will showcase on-property amenities and activities as well as a number of Dallas arts events. Journalists can take full advantage of the Sheraton’s location — in the center of the Dallas Arts District — a unique, 68-acre, 19-block neighborhood in the heart of the city. [Ed: Hang on just a “second” here. The center of the Arts District? I’m looking out my window right now. Lessee. There’s the Wyly, the Nasher, the DMA. I don’t see the Sheraton. Strange.] A rare jewel that is the centerpiece of the region’s cultural life, the district is home to some of the finest architecture in the world. Enhancing the downtown Dallas skyline are buildings by Pritzker Prize winners I.M. Pei, Renzo Piano, Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas and AIA “Gold Medal” recipient Edward Larrabee Barnes.
Early arrivals check in and can stroll down to Neiman Marcus for high-end shopping or satisfy a sweet tooth at Chill — selections include soft serve frozen yogurt with a variety of toppings, yogurt smoothies and multiple varieties of chocolate bark. [Ed: The Main Street Garden just called. It’s angry at you for overlooking it.]
Journalists writing for meeting and travel trade publications can have a private tour of the Sheraton Dallas’ extensive meeting facilities and have individual interviews with hotel sales staff. With more than 230,000 square feet of ballrooms, boardrooms, and entertainment suites, the Sheraton Dallas offers enough flexible meeting space for functions of any size, from two to 20,000! The hotel was designed to facilitate quick access for attendees, with more than 50 elevators and escalators to get attendees to meetings with time to spare. [Ed: I’ve never heard of a hotel bragging about its escalators. I guess some people are into that sort of thing, though.]
Enjoy cocktails and meet press tour hosts at a private reception prior to dinner at one of the numerous locations in the Sheraton Dallas. Evening Dinner at the Kitchen Table Restaurant and Lounge — offering a casual atmosphere for dinner, signature menu offerings include coffee rubbed short ribs, chicken fried pot roast and pies for dessert. [Ed: Okay, I get it. First night, you want us to eat at Kitchen Table. No problem. But we’ll get to go to Samar later, right?]
Catch some March Madness action in the Draft Media Sports Lounge — a 4,000 square foot sports nirvana. Walk in the door and be propelled into the ultimate entertainment experience. [Ed: Let’s not go overboard. I’ve been to Draft. Pretty decent hotel bar. Friendly service. But ultimate entertainment experience? It doesn’t even have a single escalator — much less skee ball or strippers.] Whether relaxing or connecting with friends, Draft Media Sports Lounge provides the perfect setting with a cool dozen draft beers, pool tables, Wii stations, private karaoke salons and 21 flat screen HDTVs, one of which is 104 inches! [Ed: I’ve heard about a “bigger” flat screen TV — in Phoenix of all places.]
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Enjoy a full breakfast at the Kitchen Table or at one of the numerous outdoor seating areas if the weather cooperates — spring is usually a wonderful time in Dallas, with cool mornings and warm afternoons — perfect weather for exploring! [Ed: Awesome! I love to explore! We headed to the Audubon Center or what?]
After breakfast, take a guided tour of the newly renovated Sheraton Dallas. [Ed: Oh.] This new prototype Sheraton Dallas underwent a recent $90 million transformation including:
# Ever struggle to plug in an I-pod or laptop in a hotel room? Now, with special peripheral connectivity packs, guests finally have full control over their electronics they bring with them. [Ed: I can’t tell you how many times my electronics have conspired against me and done something beyond my control.]
# Leaving so soon? The infrared sensor in the room will turn off the lights to conserve energy. [Ed: What will they think of next? Toilets that flush themselves?! Insane!]
# Send a digital postcard, map out afternoon activities, check email or show that presentation to colleagues — do it all from the new interactive Link@Sheraton system
# Check in and choose a room with the electronic check in system.
# Don’t get lost in the fitness center — it’s so huge it echoes! [Ed: Tell me more about your spaces that are so big and empty that I can conduct sound wave experiments!]
Stroll down to the world-renowned Dallas Museum of Art and have lunch at Seventeen Seventeen Restaurant — presenting imaginative, colorful dishes in a contemporary Paul Draper-designed room, Seventeen Seventeen creates “cuisine worthy of its museum environment” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram). The menu, inspired by the museum’s collections and developed in collaboration with renowned chef Stephan Pyles, offers a sophisticated dining experience.
Take a guided tour of the Dallas Museum of Art — located in the downtown Dallas Arts District, now considered the largest urban arts district in the United States. The DMA has a proud history of serving the North Texas community and connecting art and people, and welcomes over 600,000 visitors each year. The museum was established in 1903 and features an outstanding collection of more than 24,000 works of art from around the world, from ancient to modern times. In 2008, the museum opened the Center for Creative Connections, a ground-breaking space devoted to presenting interactive experiences with art for all generations and learning styles to explore and begin their journey into the collections. Along with the incredible permanent collection, current exhibitions include:
Jacob Lawrence: The Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture (through May 23) celebrates the artistry of Jacob Lawrence, an important American painter and print maker. Jacob Lawrence (1918-2000) created 15 dramatic and colorful silk-screen prints based on a series of 41 paintings entitled The Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture that he completed in 1938. This exhibition will present all 15 silk-screen prints from the Curtis Ransom Collection of African American Art, alongside the Dallas Museum of Art’s painting The Visitors, and a related portrait photograph by Arnold Newman of the artist from the DMA’s collections.
[Ed: Got it. Right. DMA. Art. Now I’m ready to start exploring.]
The Lens of Impressionism (through May 23) is an exploration of Impressionist painting’s response to early photography within the context of a single geographic locale that was intensely explored by painters and photographers in the second half of the 19th century, the coast of Normandy. The convergence of social, artistic, technological and commercial forces along the Normandy coast dramatically transformed the course of photography and painting, ultimately making a profound impact on the history of early Impressionism. Among the artists represented here are Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, and Gustave Courbet, and the exhibition will also include photographs of Gustav Le Gray, Henri Le Seq, and Louis-Alphonse Davanne.
Materials & Meanings (through Summer 2010), an exhibition of eight master works of art selected by Dallas Museum of Art educators and curators from the museum’s encyclopedic collections spanning 5,000 years, focuses on the materials from which a work of art is made and on the meanings associated with those materials to both the artist and to the viewer.
Put on your favorite team’s colors for dinner in Draft Media Sport Lounge — choose from Halftime Recliners like Frito Pie, Bleacher Flat Bread Salads and Pizzas (BBQ Brisket Salad, anyone?), Tail Gate Sandwiches, Burgers and Dogs like the Flat Bread Meatloaf sandwich and delectable Overtime Desserts as American as hot apple pie! [Ed: Huh. Seems like I was just at Draft. No Stephan Pyles? Couldn’t we pop over to Dean Fearing’s maybe?]
Optional Evening Activity
Continue March Madness in Draft Media Sports Lounge — just can’t get enough of that 104” HDTV? [Ed: Hell, who can get enough TV? Not me! I’d travel to Dallas just to watch TV!]
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Sleep in a bit (unheard of on a press tour!) [Ed: What? Draft not open yet?], but before having Sunday brunch at The Kitchen Table Restaurant, stop by one of the innovative Link@Sheraton kiosks in the lobby and send a digital postcard, map out afternoon activities or check email.
For the rest of the day, continue to explore the vibrant Dallas Arts District, with visits to:
Explore the Nasher Sculpture Center. The birth and growth of the Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection started more than fifty years ago. In 1950, Raymond and Patsy traveled to Mexico, where they became interested in pre-Columbian art and bought the first works in what would become a sizable collection of objects from all over the world. Surveyed as a whole, the Nasher Collection demonstrates considerable balance between early modern works and art of the postwar period, abstraction and figuration, monumental outdoor and more intimately scaled indoor works, and the many different materials used in the production of modern art. Perhaps its single most distinguishing feature, however, is the depth with which it represents certain key artists, including Matisse (with eleven sculptures), Picasso (seven), Smith (eight), Raymond Duchamp-Villon (seven), Moore (eight), MirÃ³ (four), and Giacometti (thirteen). Such well-rounded perspectives on the development of these masters provide, in effect, a series of mini-retrospectives within the collection’s overall historical spectrum.
Visit the Crow Collection of Asian Art — a permanent set of galleries dedicated to the arts and cultures of China, Japan, India and Southeast Asia. The museum offers a serene setting for quiet reflection and learning. In addition to the permanent collection, the Crow Collection is also exhibiting Seizing the New World, which presents Yang Jin Long’s new paintings created in the last two years. Yang moved to the United States from China three years ago. Since his arrival, Yang has been exploring his new surroundings by creating vibrant, provocative and imaginative paintings. Eight pairs of large canvas paintings, one series depicting the Four Seasons and second series a colorful exploration of bright hues and celebration of good wishes and fortune. A set of smaller paintings of Chinese Zodiac will be included in the exhibition to commemorate the 2010 Year of the Tiger.
Yang’s extensive training in traditional Chinese painting gives him great poetical depth in his approach to oil painting. Yang expressed, “At last, I am able to paint with colors and images with no limitation.” These paintings show Yang’s acute talent and ability to transform his new medium into a marvelous visual feast bringing together on the same stage, references to Western and Chinese art masterpieces, music, literature, science and culture.
[Ed: Maybe this is just me. But we spent ALL DAY yesterday at the DMA. I’m a bit arted out at this point. I know the hotel is smack dab in the “center” of the Arts District, but couldn’t we “explore” aÂ bit farther afield? Play a round of golf? Maybe some shotgun sports at Elm Fork? A trip to the set of the new TV show “Code 58,” which is shooting in Fair Park?]
Tour the Winspear Opera House — Designed by Foster + Partners under Pritzker Prize-winning architect Norman Foster, the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House was engineered specifically for performances of opera and musical theatre with its stages equipped for performances of ballet and other forms of dance.
[Ed: I’m starting to miss Draft.]
A 21st century reinterpretation of the traditional “horseshoe” opera house, the Winspear Opera House’s principal performance space, the Margaret McDermott Performance Hall seats 2,200 and features retractable screens, a spacious fly-tower and variable acoustics.
The opera house’s principal entrance features the 60-foot Annette and Harold Simmons Signature Glass FaÃ§ade that wraps three-quarters of the way around the building, creating a transparency between the opera house and the surrounding Performance Park. The transparent faÃ§ade provides dramatic views of the Margaret McDermott Performance Hall, which is clad in vibrant red glass panels. From within the Winspear Opera House, the Simmons Glass FaÃ§ade provides a sweeping view of the skyscrapers of downtown Dallas that line the northern edge of the Performance Park.
Take some time to wander downtown. [Ed: On a Sunday? Seriously?] Maybe stop to shop at Neiman Marcus or die hard basketball fans who really haven’t gotten enough — claim a seat at the best spot in Dallas to watch the NCAA basketball tournament. Draft Media Sports Lounge will be jumping all day with the action. [Ed: Back to the bar! Yes! I’m so glad I came to visit Dallas! Its pleasures abound!]
Sit down for dinner at the Kitchen Table. [Ed: Were Samar and Stephan Pyles and Dean Fearing’s all booked? Have you called Dakota’s? Dick’s Last Resort? The new Hard Rock?] The Sheraton Dallas’ culinary team has put together an excellent menu that caters to all palates — a necessity for a hotel with more than 1,800 rooms!
Optional Evening Activity
[Ed: The bar?] Enjoy a performance of the Soweto Gospel Choir at Dallas Center for the Performing Arts. Performing in Dallas for the first time, the Soweto Gospel Choir brings earthy rhythms, rich harmonies, a cappella numbers as well as accompaniment by an exciting four-piece band and percussion section. This magnificent 52 strong, choir, styled with a contemporary feel, leaves all who hear it stunned with emotion. It’s no wonder they are charting a meteoric rise to international fame. [Ed: AT&T just called. They’re angry at you, too. Oh, and after the Soweto Choir, is the bar open?]
Monday, March 22, 2010
Morning Informal farewell breakfast at Peet’s Coffee and Tea before departing for Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport or Dallas Love Field
Thank you for visiting!
[Ed: I can’t wait to tell the folks back home about the swell time I had in Dallas, at the Sheraton Dallas. “Big” truly is a way of life there. And now you’ll excuse me. My AA sponsor is on the line. I’ve got some bad news to tell him.]