Convene On Site

The Omni Dallas Goes Big

The grand-opening celebration for the Omni Dallas Hotel, held on April 26–29, was an exceptional event, delivering once-in-a-lifetime memories to 200 meeting planners, media professionals, and their guests.

 The long weekend was packed with information, entertainment, delicious food, and superb service, showcasing the city as well as the LEED Gold–certified, 1,001-room Omni’s meeting facilities, which include 110,000 square feet of function space.  The property is the only LEED Gold hotel in Texas and the largest LEED Gold U.S. hotel outside of Las Vegas.

A connecting walkway from the hotel to the Dallas Convention Center led participants to the first morning’s presentations.  A representative of American Airlines explained how the beleaguered company is modernizing its fleet, while a social-media presentation by Live Loud Texas gave tips on optimizing web presence and utilizing new technology.

In the afternoon, we got to choose from a variety of activities.  Speed demons raced NASCAR vehicles at Texas Motor Speedway.  Sports buffs tossed a pigskin with former Dallas Cowboy superstar Drew Pearson in Dallas Cowboys Stadium.  I joined a group visiting Southfork Ranch from the “Dallas” TV show — and stepping off the bus, we were greeted by actor Larry Hagman, who played J.R.  Ewing.  That was complemented by horseback riding and the chance to sit astride a thankfully docile longhorn steer named Black Jack.

We returned to the Omni for revitalizing massages and facials at the hotel’s Mokara spa, in preparation for an evening sponsored by the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau at the I.M. Pei–designed Fountain Place.  On the top floor of the iconic 60-story skyscraper, we enjoyed a panoramic view while a cappella group Face serenaded us with snappy pop hits.  Delectable small plates of tuna tartar, short ribs, and other goodies were served by some of the city’s best restaurants.

The next morning, breakfast was in a ballroom staged with artificial turf and stadium seating.  Local high-school cheerleaders warmed up the crowd, and then Pearson took the mic, regaling us with tales of Hail Mary catches and inspirational messages about teamwork.

That afternoon, we had our choice of golf, shopping, an arboretum tour, a hardhat tour of the new Perot Museum of Nature & Science, or a downtown tour — which included the Sixth Floor Museum (in Dealey Plaza, chronicling the legacy and assassination of John F.  Kennedy) and the Dallas Aquarium, with a stop at the YO Ranch Restaurant for lunch.

Our last night was a glitzy affair held in the Omni’s 31,733-square-foot Dallas Ballroom.  Local celebrities, politicians, and society joined us for a superb meal of filet mignon and duck, with creamy chocolate ganache for dessert.

Afterwards, I gathered some opinions of the event.  “The food-and-beverage service was beyond expectations,” said Sandra Daniel, president and CEO of Fire Light Group, a Madison, Wis.– based meeting and incentives planning company.  “It was top-notch all the way, from bourbon-pecan-flavored coffee in the morning to pulled-veal appetizers in the evening.  I’ve tweeted my colleagues about the property already.”

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Maureen Littlejohn

Maureen Littlejohn was a contributing editor of Convene.