Two Wide-Open Spaces in Texas

Last November I left behind a spell of cold, rainy weather in New York City for four days in Plano and Irving, Texas, with several other journalists, all of us hosted by Visit Plano and the Irving Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Plano's Cru Wine Bar.
Plano’s Cru Wine Bar.

After landing at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, I checked into the stately, 404-room Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center. Our group met up in the hotel’s comfortable, high-ceilinged lobby and headed to Plano’s Shops at Legacy complex for wine flights at cozy Crú and dinner at Mexican Sugar, a cantina known for its locally sourced dishes. Shared plates of arepas and guacamole were a hit with our entire party, and my pan-roasted snapper with hearts of palm and citrus-and-fennel-dressed greens didn’t disappoint.

The next morning, we sat down to a chef’s-table breakfast at the Marriott, then toured the hotel’s meeting spaces, including the 13,858-square-foot Trinity Ballroom, which is divisible into four discrete meeting spaces. Our next stop was Southfork Ranch, where the hit TV show “Dallas” was filmed from 1978 to 1991. The sprawling ranch now features a 63,000-square-foot conference center just steps away from the “Ewing Mansion,” two full-time event planners, and in-house catering.

From there, we had a light lunch at Urban Crust in historic downtown Plano, where we sampled Sardinian-born chef Salvatore Gisellu’s antipasti and wood-fired pizzas. Next up was a tour of the 122,500-square-foot Plano Centre, which can host events for up to 5,000 people and will remain open during a soft renovation later this year. After a quick stop at the Marriott, it was off to Hickory for dinner, where no one left hungry after tucking into Kent Rathbun’s Texas-style brisket.

We were up bright and early the next day for breakfast at the Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park, which features 30,000 square feet of meeting space and has the capacity to host up to 1,000 attendees. Our last stop in Plano was the chic, loft-style NYLO hotel, where meeting spaces include several bright boardrooms, a library-inspired lounge for events, and a 1,500-square-foot pavilion.

The Ranch at Las Colinas.
The Ranch at Las Colinas.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in Irving, where our host hotel was the elegant, sprawling Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas at Las Colinas. After a quick tour of the hotel, it was off to the spa, where I thoroughly enjoyed an 80-minute deep-tissue massage. We had dinner at farm-to-fork steakhouse The Ranch at Las Colinas, where it became immediately clear that the “everything’s bigger in Texas” ethos extends to prime cuts of beef.

The Four Seasons is the only place in Texas where you can take an anti-gravity yoga class — and several of us were brave enough to give it a try on the final day of the trip. Aerial yoga is quite challenging, but a weightless, slow-motion backflip deserves a spot on everyone’s bucket list.

We had lunch at the retro-cool Big Fountain Grill, famous for its burgers and world-class, Blue Bell–ice-cream milkshakes, before touring the Texas Musicians Museum and the stunning Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas, which offers nearly 100,000 square feet of meeting and event space, and which was sold out even on a Saturday. That evening we were treated to a chef’s-table dinner at the Four Seasons’ Café on the Green. The four-course menu included ahi tuna tartare and octopus, chicken-fried quail, and New York strip steak, along with several decadent desserts. It was a fitting last supper in a destination that stands out as much for its local cuisine as its wealth of unique meeting spaces.

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Kate Mulcrone

Kate Mulcrone is digital editor of Convene.