What Type of Webcast is Best for Your Meeting?
The experts at AMI walk you through the key event platforms available to deliver a best-in-class virtual meeting experience.
The best business destinations are those that can offer you more than lovely venues for meetings and formal transactions. Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth present the top five business destinations around the world, as chosen by the American Express Global Business Travel. Together, they dissect these beautiful cities in terms of culture, leisure, tourism, and history, making the business travel to these places not only memorable but also worth your money. They also share their personal experiences when visiting some of these areas, highlighting their most interesting aspects.
Todd Bludworth and Andy McNeill are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings Inc. From sourcing hotels to corporate event management, their team sources corporate event venues and have a team of corporate meeting planners for their clients. They provide ideas for convention themes and how to run global meetings and events around the world. For more information go to www.americanmeetings.com.
Watch the episode here:
The Top 5 Business Destinations Around The World
And Where To Find Them
Recently, American Express Global Business Travel published an article discussing the top global business destinations. After reading which cities made it to the list, Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth decided to look into why they are worth a visit for companies and organizations.
In North America, Chicago and Las Vegas are included as runner-ups, but the one that reigned supreme is Orlando, Florida, a desirable city for businesses to visit. There are spaces for rent for private tours and golf courses perfect for unwinding.
Orlando, Florida highlights:
- Offers over 450 resort options
- Home to one of the largest convention centers in the world, the Orange County Convention Center, with theme parks and dinner spaces available for rent
- Accommodation to the Hyatt Regency, which is connected to the convention center
- The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa at Disneyworld, a great place to hold a meeting
- Loews Portofino, a place of high luxury
In America’s northern neighbors, Canada, the best business destination is Toronto, Ontario, beating the lovely cities of Montreal and Vancouver. With almost half of the entire US population having easy access to a 90-minute flight to Toronto Pearson International Airport, this city is one of the most multi-cultural on the planet.
Toronto, Canada highlights:
- Metro Toronto Convention Center, the largest convention center in the region, has more than 36,000 hotel rooms
- A beautiful walking experience
- An immersive shopping district
In the Asia-Pacific, picking the best business destination may be impossible, but that’s the mindset 30 years ago. With globalization changing the game, this region is where many progressive cities in the whole world can now be found. The only one that could beat Bangkok, Thailand and Sydney, Australia in this title is one of the largest financial centers in the world – Singapore. They take pride in their cutting-edge meeting technology, a step ahead of the rest of the world.
- Singapore Changi Airport, which has a butterfly garden, two 24-hour movie theaters, and a swimming pool
- Located right next on the water and offers a magnificent atmosphere and sights all year-round
In Europe, Berlin and Barcelona are all considered for the title. Berlin is a hidden gem, a historical city that connects people not only emotionally but also both coasts to one another. Barcelona draws its uniqueness in its local cuisine and gorgeous neighborhood. But unsurprisingly, London, England takes the cake. Hotels in this city showcase both historical and modern aesthetics, catching the hearts of a huge number of people. Thanks to tubes and taxis, getting around London is never a difficult task.
London, England highlights:
- Has six international airports
- Offers more than 1500 hotels choices
- Provides the most elegant suites with their own private theaters inside for rent, available for both personal and business purposes at the region of Mayfair
In South America, Mexico City and Cancun are considered. Mexico is great for its historical significance and centralized downtown that has a lot of hotel options. Cancun is known for its affordability and excellent business meeting places, each one highlighting the beauty of Riviera Maya. In the end, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil takes the crown. As one of the most industrialized cities in South America, its energy concentrates on oil, energy, consumer goods, finance, and media.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil highlights:
- Home to a major university system, making it a cradle of research and development
- The most beautiful beaches in South America
- An international airport that had an under $600 million renovation
- The main venue of the 2016 Sumer Olympics
From famous movie sets to afternoon tea, Sophie Malerba shares her Blue-Badge Guide knowledge on all things London for your next corporate meeting or event planning. Plus, from the official hotel of London Fashion Week and London Film Festival, The May Fair Hotel’s Anjie Keegel shares some insider tips.
Together with Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth see London as you’ve never seen before, for business, pleasure or both. Curating unforgettable experiences for your next London trip, this episode will give you a glimpse of the London scene through the eyes of locals.
Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing venues in London, to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.
Watch the episode here:
London. Official Blue Badge Guide Sophie Malerba Shares Best Things To Do In London, And Catch Iconic Events With The May Fair Hotel’s Anjie Keegel
There is a reason why London is simply a must-visit travel destination. From its medieval history to pop culture, this United Kingdom capital has something to offer every traveler. From famous movie sets to afternoon tea, Sophie Malerba joins this episode to share her Blue Badge Guide knowledge on all things London. Plus, as the official hotel of London Fashion Week and London Film Festival, hear from The May Fair Hotel’s Anjie Keegel. Together with Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth, they take us into a view of London as we’ve never seen before, be it for business or pleasure or both.
Starting with the basics, Andy and Todd dive deep into the world of tour guides. Bringing you only the best experience, they talk to Sophie Malerba to share the prestige that comes with being a Blue Badge Guide.
A Blue Badge Guide stands out from all other guides in the city. One, it is not just a summer job; it’s a profession. People wearing this badge have to go through a tough and competitive 2-year course with roughly 30 people a year. From entry exams to written and practical, the Blue Badge ensures that any traveler, no matter where they come from and what language they speak, is getting high-quality standards.
Kicking off this tour in the most English way, Sophie gives us an insider perspective of London, revealing some of the city’s secrets.
Her top three places to visit for an afternoon tea are:
- The Goring Hotel – This hotel is a family-run hotel just outside Buckingham Palace frequented by the Royals.
- Ham Yard Hotel – This hotel offers design-oriented, beautiful interiors. They do afternoon tea for £25, which is a steal in London.
- Fortnum & Mason – This final entry serves not only the three tiers but after you finish them, they then bring along the cake trolley with more cakes to choose from.
From there, Sophie takes us to the streets, but not just like any other streets out there, because for her, “Whenever you’re in London, don’t stay on the main streets. Go to the side streets.” Everybody knows Piccadilly, but not many know the treasure that is St. James. If you want to shop where the Royals go, then this is the place to be! A lot of shops here have Royal Warrants, which means they produce goods and services for the Royal Family.
If you’re into the arts, then Sophie recommends the East End of London’s Shoreditch, London’s creative hub. Most people nowadays are familiar with this area as the place where street artist Banksy started. Since then, this has become the holy grail of the world’s best street artists.
Moving on from the Royals to A-listers, Andy and Todd also sit down with Anjie Keegel of The May Fair Hotel, which is the official hotel of the iconic London Film Festival and the London Fashion Week. She shares some insider stories, celebrity encounters, and high-end events that take place in this great hotel.
Going deeper, Anjie tours us to some of the little gems around The May Fair area, where musicians, celebrities, and the Royals also love to visit:
- The Coach & Horses – One of the oldest pubs in May Fair
- Shepherd’s Market – Located just at the back of the hotel where you can visit a few galleries, pubs, and restaurants
Curating unforgettable experiences for your next London trip not only with a great hotel but also with equally great bucket list items to match, listen to this episode and have a feel of the London scene—be it the lifestyles of the rich and famous or exploring the city through the eyes of locals.
About Sophie Malerba
Sophie Malerba has been a Blue Badge Guide of London for 5 years and absolutely loves it! She mainly works with the US market, both private bookings (families and couples) and Incentives.
Her past experience is in the travel industry, where she worked for an Italian DMC for 8 years, before returning home to London.
She then worked for a London DMC, before fulfilling her dream to be a guide, which takes 2 years training.
About Anjie Keegel
Anjie Keegel has been in the industry for over 20 years.
She started out in operations (reservations, reception/ front of house) prior to moving in to reactive sales, then proactive sales.
Some of her previous roles includes, Corporate Sales Manager, Director of Leisure & Group Sales, Business Development and Director of Sales (property based) for hotels in London, Heathrow and Manchester UK.
Originally from Sri Lanka, Anjie moved to the UK over 25 years ago and never looked back.
From its eclectic restaurant selections to the local music scene, Dallas offers great opportunities and venues for business travelers and corporate meetings. Learn about the best things to do in Dallas with our guests Dean Fearing, the Executive Chef and Partner of Fearing’s Restaurant, and Ryan Miyamoto, the General Manager of the Statler Hotel. The two showcase the unique beauty of the city embedded in the Southwestern cuisine and dashing hotels. We go beyond Big D’s year-round rodeo and highlight the less-explored side of Dallas, Texas’ third-largest city. Come along to visit historic sites, an annual floral blooms festival, and on an invitation-only dinner hosted by three Master Chefs.
Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing venues in Dallas, to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.
Watch the episode here:
Father Of Southwest Cuisine Chef Dean Fearing Shares His Famous Tortilla Soup And The Statler Hotel’s Ryan Miyamoto Tells The Tales Of Its Historic Past
Never been to Texas? Bless your heart. The Lone Star State’s third-largest city, Dallas boasts TV fame with its namesake show wild West notoriety and ritzy Highland Park Village. In this episode, we hear from Chef Dean Fearing, the Father of Southwestern Cuisine and the author of The Texas Food Bible. We’ll also speak with The Statler Hotel, a spectacular property right in the center of the city’s action. Let’s explore Dallas’s trendy hotspots on this episode of Destination Everywhere, Dallas.
We are excited to bring you one of my favorite places and a place that I lived for six years, Dallas, Texas. It’s what I consider one of the most underrated cities in America. It has a beautiful skyline and downtown that has blossomed over the last several years. There’s so much to do, and great weather as well. Todd, I know we’ve taken a lot of clients here over the years. What are your thoughts?
I love Dallas. First of all, Dallas changed so much at such a short time, and it continues to change. I had this perception of Dallas because I am a pop culture fan, and I watched the show Dallas. Dallas is big money. There’s industry there. We like Southfork, the house from the Dallas show. We did go and see that, which was cool. You can do events there. There are a lot of private clubs. There’s an insider’s version of Dallas and then there’s the rest of Dallas. Trying to find out that insider’s Dallas is a fun thing to do.
We’re going to give you some ideas around that. When I lived there, it was a growing city, the food is amazing.
What neighborhood are you in?
I was in Deep Ellum. Deep Ellum is the eclectic, cool area with the garage band, bars and great food. We’re going to have a great chef on, Dean Fearing. What you learn about Dallas is it has all different types of food, the Southwestern style, as well as the amazing continental that they’re known for. That’s something you want to do when you’re there, but overall, it was a great experience being there. The people are nice and polite. It’s like a modern Southern charm.
Dallas is great. On the meeting side, I remember we always liked Dallas because we were bringing people from all over central place. It’s easy to get you from the West Coast, easy to get to from the East Coast. There are lots and lots of Lyft in Dallas because you have a couple of airports there.
It’s in Northern Texas. It’s a metropolis. It’s huge. It goes on forever. They have beautiful springs and beautiful falls. It’s hotter than Hades in the summer but extremely dry. It’s one of those places like Phoenix or Tucson that’s warm. Take that into account. We’re excited to bring on our next guest. Todd, who is it?
We’ve got somebody who I’ve worked with in the past, who has done amazing meals for groups, and I’ve eaten there in his restaurant when he was at The Mansion on Turtle Creek. Dean Fearing is going to be joining us. He is the undisputed King of Southwestern Cuisine. I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say and what he’s got coming up.
Our guest is a guest I’ve been familiar with for a long time. We have the Chef-Owner of Fearing’s Restaurant in Dallas, the author of The Texas Food Bible, and crowned but non-contested Father of Southwestern Cuisine, Chef Dean Fearing. Chef, thank you for joining us.
It’s great to be here on your show. Todd, I love your background. I didn’t know you were standing in the restaurant.
I’m in the restaurant. I’ve got it all to myself now.
[bctt tweet=”Dallas changed so much in such a short time, and it continues to change.” via=”no”]
Andy, you’ve got the whole Dallas skyline behind you.
I used to live there. I loved it.
We had brought meetings and events to your former property, The Mansion on Turtle Creek, another great spot. You used to have the restaurant there. You would always do such an amazing job with our guests. You always made them feel like VIPs, but your food was always off the hook. You go and everybody’s like, “Get the Tortilla soup, start with the Tortilla soup,” and then work your way up from there. How did you go from where you were to Southwestern cuisine?
Right after culinary school, which was Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. I graduated in ‘78 and went straight to the La Maisonette in Cincinnati, which was one of the famous five-star Mobil Guide restaurants. I worked there for about two years and the chef says, “I have a job for you in Dallas, Texas.” What got me to Dallas was the Fairmont Hotel. I became the poissonier there, that was the fish cook. I fell in love with Dallas. The landscape there is the skyscape, which I fell in love with. If you can imagine, I lived in River Belt, Rust Belt, Steel Mill City all through the Midwest, which had its charm, but then coming to Dallas, which was brand spanking new, I couldn’t believe it. I fell in love with new. I stayed. It was in my first restaurant in 1981 called Agnew’s, which ironically was the first American restaurant in Dallas, Texas.
If you can imagine in ‘81, it was all French and Italian restaurants. The only American restaurant was Luby’s Cafeteria, barbecue joints, and a hamburger joint along the way, but there wasn’t any American-style, white tablecloth, casual restaurants. They weren’t there. It was there that I said, “I am going to lay my claim to do American cuisine.” All the French chefs at the time said, “Good luck.” They gave me about six weeks to survive because they said, “It’s not American cuisine that people want. They want French cuisine.” It spooked me. Within six weeks, we were five-star in both of our local papers. It started the career.
I started to develop what would be Southwest cuisine along with Stephan Pyles, who was also in Dallas, Texas, and also Robert Del Grande from Cafe Annie in Houston. The three of us banded together to start a style of cuisine that is still current to American-style cuisine. It was using all the products indigenous to our area, fish from the gulf, wild game from South Texas, great steaks from West Texas, all the white trash coming out of Oklahoma, which is not intended to be a slang or a slam by any means. It was those great Southern flavors that we love, fried chicken and anything fried.
The term Southwestern cuisine, what year was that coined?
We coined it in 1985 and it started to take off. That’s when I came back to The Mansion as Executive Chef. I said, “The only way I was going to be the Executive Chef of The Mansion on Turtle Creek was if we marketed the restaurant as a Southwest cuisine restaurant.” That was big at that time because Southwest cuisine was in its infancy and who was going to bite and say, “We’re going to do that.” Bob Zimmer, the President of Rosewood Hotels at the time who was a visionary said, “We’re going to do it,” and we never looked back.
I want to talk about some of your accolades because it’s impressive. You’ve won a James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest in ‘94, nominated for Best New Restaurant in 2008 with Fearing’s Restaurant, Outstanding Restaurant ‘95 and ‘98 at The Mansion. Not only that, you’ve also been featured in the New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, Food & Wine, the list goes on and on, but this one I thought was the most important and most impressive, Guitar Aficionado. You’re in two groups, you’re a guitar player. You’re with an all-chef alternative country group called The Barbwires and then the Lost Coyote Band.
I love to play. Being the Chef-Owner of Fearing’s Restaurant has been the greatest thirteen years of my life. It has taken me to new heights, and to be able to do food that I want to do in an atmosphere that is come as you are, pretty much. We have no rules. We don’t say no. I love that. To be able to create food in that environment has been stellar, but also to be able to write music, which my songwriting partner is Robert Del Grande from The Annie in Houston. He and I have been writing songs since 1985. We have a whole slew of songs.
Where do you play in Dallas?
We played mainly in food events. We mainly play at Fearing’s Restaurant or The Annie. There are a lot of food events that are going on and they always say, “Dean, can you and the group play?” We love that. It’s not like we’re supporting ourselves out on the bars. It mainly is to keep our toe in the water.
Let’s go back to Southwestern cuisine. Where do you see it going from here? It’s been around for several years. Where do you see it headed or what has happened that’s been different?
It never has left. Let’s talk about Tortilla soup. Tortilla soup has been with me since 1981. When Caroline Hunt brought the scratchy, almost unreadable recipe from The Argyle Club in San Antonio to the kitchen of The Mansion, and handed it to the chef who was Christian Chemin at that time and said, “I think we should do a local soup.” A Texas-style soup in our restaurant which was all French at that time. I’m standing next to the chef and there’s Mrs. Hunt in front of us. She leaves the kitchen and Christian hands me the recipe and says, “I can’t believe she’s going to make me do a peasant soup on the menu.” Now it is the greatest soup known to Dallas and still is with Fearing’s. We have some time a lot of dishes that are never going to go away. The chicken fried lobster with the prime filet at the restaurant has been on the menu for several years. If I took it off the menu, I’d have to leave Texas. It’s soaked in maple syrup for 48 hours with jalapeno grits and butternut squash taquito can never leave the menu. People come in for that. It’s such a legendary item now. Where is it going? It’s never going to leave is probably the best way to put it. It’s those flavors that people love. That little tinge of spice is what everybody is addicted to.
Chef, when did you decide to make the jump and go from a coveted position at The Mansion on Turtle Creek? A great restaurant to go out on your own and open up Fearing’s at The Ritz in Dallas. When I make a change, I’ve always got a nervous knot in my stomach, but what prompted you to do that?
John Goff, who’s my business partner, came over and said, “How would you like to have your own restaurant, design your own restaurant, and run your own restaurant?” I said, “Sure.” I tripped probably three times running over to The Ritz because it was exciting.
Where you are with Fearing’s, which is a little bit north of downtown, that area has come together nice in the last several years. Tell us a bit about that and what people should visit.
We call it Uptown. It has become a major restaurant area, but also with The Ritz being there and the most gorgeous office buildings.
They’re doing parks over the freeways there.
Klyde Warren Park is amazing. It’s 5 acres of park that’s over our major freeway that connects I-35 with 75, which are our two major arteries in town besides the tollway. You get on this park and you think you’re somewhere else. You’re surrounded by all of these beautiful architectural buildings.
All the museums are right there as well.
Everything is pocketed perfectly. That’s the other thing is I like the way Dallas has laid itself out.
Chef, I want to go back to Fearing’s. You said you got to design it yourself. Chefs and designing, sometimes they go hand-in-hand, other times probably not, but what were you trying to do when you were building out the restaurant?
Bill Johnson Studios out of Atlanta was our interior designer. He’s an old hippie, I’m an old hippie so we fit right in. His idea of the restaurant was one big dining room. I was like, “Bill, we can’t do that.” In the middle of July, on a Sunday night, when somebody walks in and there are four tables there, just because there’s nobody in Dallas, the business traveler isn’t traveling in the middle of that month. They’re going to walk in and psychologically, they’re going to say, “I’m at the wrong spot. This isn’t happening.” I said, “No, we need to break it up into smaller rooms, seating 40 people in each room. With that, we can still have a big restaurant, but let’s change the look of each room to give it its own atmosphere.” We have a white tablecloth room we called The Gallery that is beautiful, 18-foot ceiling. You walk in and it’s this gorgeous, beautiful, lots of art in the room, which is called The Gallery, all of this beautiful art you see.
We have The Kitchen Room, which I designed the whole kitchen around the working kitchen. It’s called The Kitchen Room because of the fact that you can hear people talking, “Pick up. Don’t forget the special order on there.” You see flames and you smell fire from the grill. It’s all of that. Our guests become infatuated with being in our kitchen like they are there. In this day and age, people love that. We have a glass pavilion that looks out into our outdoor bar, our garden. It’s this whole beautiful area. We have Fearing’s patio, which is all outdoor dining and also outdoor bar with its own self-sufficient bar out there, fireplace, bandstand. We have live music on Friday and Saturday nights that are just fantastic. It brings people out, camaraderie and community.
[bctt tweet=”Dallas, all around, is such a big, diverse city with so many things to do on every corner.” via=”no”]
Chef, thank you so much for joining us. We’d like to tell our readers, Chef has agreed to give away five of his cookbooks to five of our readers, The Texas Food Bible. Thank you for that. Go onto our website and subscribe for that.
At AMI, we are passionate about meeting connections that change lives. For over twenty years, we have traveled our clients all over the globe supporting their business goals and helping them stand apart from hotel sourcing to audiovisual magic. We’ll help make your corporate meetings or events second to none. Go to AmericanMeetings.com to learn more. American Meetings, AMI, meeting, planning perfected.
We are talking Dallas, Texas. It’s one of my favorite places and where I lived for a number of years. There are many things to do. We’re going to give you a wide range of bucket list items to do. The first one we have, you may have seen it a few years ago when they hosted The Super Bowl, is visiting AT&T Stadium and having an event there or going to an event there. It’s about twenty minutes out of downtown. It’s in Arlington, Texas. It’s the largest dome stadium in the world and one of the most expensive ones ever built. Inside it, there are 22 event locations. Everything from hosting the Final Four, they’ve done. You can go to a concert. You could also have a birthday party in one of the smaller suites. There are lots of things to do, and a great thing to go see the sheer mass and the size of it. You’ll see it if you’re driving in from the airport, but it’s also a great tourist attraction.
The next one is for all of the history buffs and government enthusiasts. We’ve had in the past several years two President Bush’s from Texas. Everybody knows that the George W. Bush Presidential Museum is in Dallas. It’s a unique spot. It has exhibits highlighting the presidential term, and also an exhibit such as life in the White House, a 9/11 Memorial, and an exact replica of the Oval Office while he was in it. That’s always something cool to see. It’s got a lot of history to it.
Todd, you’ve been in the Oval Office.
I’ve been in the actual Oval Office. It was during President Bush’s term, Bush one. That’s a whole different story, but that was cool to see.
The next one is located at the spot where JFK was assassinated. This has a huge historical significance. It’s in Dealey Plaza, it’s right downtown. When I lived there, I used to run. It used to be part of my jogging circle, but there’s a city park there now near the West End district. There’s an X on the street at which marks the spot of his assassination. It’s great to go there. There’s a great museum called The Sixth Floor Museum. It’s where the person who assassinated him was.
That was the book depository where The Sixth Floor Museum is. When we were there, everybody is still trying to solve the case. People were running around on the street. They were going to the vantage points where they said the gunshots were. Everybody’s still working to actively see if there was a second shooter. There’s a ton of history and it’s interesting to see. They showed the live footage too in the museum, which is cool.
This next one is awesome. You can attend a private invitation-only dinner hosted by three master chefs. It’s a secret themed dining experience called Frank. It was created by three chefs who met on Gordon Ramsay’s show, Master Chef, and it features a communal table of twenty guests that are randomly seated from a reservation list. The location of the party changes. The three chefs prepare a multi-course meal of fresh local ingredients. If this is something that you’re interested in, they do have a website, it’s called FrankUnderground.com. You can add your name to the list. Guests are only selected one week prior to the dinner. You need to be flexible with your availability. That seems like an amazing experience.
The next one is visiting the grave of the famous criminal couple Bonnie and Clyde. The two started in Dallas and they ended up in Dallas. They’re buried in two different areas. Bonnie is at Crown Hill Memorial Park and Clyde is at Western Heights Cemetery. Check them out if you want to see the graves of Bonnie and Clyde. If you follow this show, we’re always finding those unique places to go and that’s one of them.
It’s a great movie. Bonnie was Faye Dunaway, and Clyde was Warren Beatty. Before you go, watch the movie to give you some perspective if you plan on stopping by that. The next one is something most people think about when they think of Dallas. There is a year-round rodeo. If you want to channel your inner cowboy or cowgirl, you can attend this year-round rodeo. It’s located about 30 minutes from downtown, and it is the Fort Worth Stockyards. You can watch the bull riding, the shootout shows, and enjoy a saloon-style bar.
It is a lot of fun. Rhinestone Cowboy was filmed there, and you’ll notice a lot of other famous Southwestern and country movies that have been shot at Gilley’s. The next one is something that’s beautiful. The best time of year to be in Dallas, which is March and April. There is the Dallas Blooms event at the Dallas Arboretum. It’s an annual festival showcasing over 500,000 tulips. There are cooking classes, wine pairings, live entertainment. This is a fun event. There are also Easter events that go on. It’s a great venue also for a corporate event or a fundraiser at the Arboretum. It’s a beautiful space. I highly recommend going to Dallas Blooms in March and April.
If you want a nice local neighborhood to explore, if you want to get out and walk, do some shopping and eating, there’s a great little neighborhood called the Bishop Arts District. It’s known for its small-town feel. It’s got a hidden gem appeal. It’s a close-knit community, and you can expect to find diverse nightlife, colorful street art, Texas-style barbecue, coffee shops. It also hosts festivals and wine walks. Check out the calendar for the neighborhood and try to line it up so you can do some great wine walks.
This is what we did one night, Todd, if you remember. We went to Deep Ellum for barbecue, for dinner. Deep Ellum is another eclectic neighborhood. It’s a short drive over to the Bishop Arts District. That has a much more of a tight-knit neighborhood feel. We walked around, shopped, and got some ice cream. It was a beautiful night. I highly recommend it. It’s that neighborhood feel, but near downtown Dallas. It’s easy to get to. I highly recommend that as a bucket list item. It’s a great evening to do and great food there as well. The next one is cool. Go to the first place the frozen margarita was created and visit the restaurant that started it all. It’s Mariano’s Hacienda and it’s owned by Mariano Martinez. The home to where the first soft serve ice cream machine was retrofitted to make margaritas back in 1971. You can see all the history there and experience a great margarita.
There’s a lot to do in Dallas. There is so much more to do in Dallas. We’re going to switch the topic. We’re going to come back with our next guest who is Ryan Miyamoto. He is the Hotel Manager for The Statler Hotel. The Statler is known for its celebrity appearances within the Statler ballroom, performances from the Jackson 5, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Cher. It’s got a lot of history. The Statler also features a bowling alley and a speakeasy bar, which are my favorites.
I’m excited to talk to our next guest. The next guest is the General Manager of The Statler Hotel in Dallas. The Statler Hotel has been around since 1956, but it did take an extended hiatus. It closed in 2001, reopened in 2018 after some large renovations. It’s the first hotel that introduced elevator music. The Statler Ballroom is famous for hosting such performers such as the Jackson 5, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and many more. I’d like to welcome Ryan Miyamoto, the General Manager of The Statler Hotel.
Thank you for having me.
Ryan, what are some of the hotel’s most recognized amenities?
There’s so much. When I think about The Statler, I think about a destination in Downtown Dallas. It’s built and designed for the business traveler, local traveler, and leisure traveler. Some of the things that stand out about us is the renovation that we did. It’s a blend of modern design with that old-style charm. We still have the original terrazzo floors that the hotel opened up in 1956. Some of the great offerings that we have here has to do with our food and beverage offerings, as well as the design. We’re fortunate enough to have one of the best views in Dallas on our nineteenth floor. It’s a great gathering place. The venue is called Waterproof. Funny back story about Waterproof is when the hotel first opened up, Downtown Dallas wasn’t built with all the skyscrapers and high rises then. It was originally the helipad for the hotel. When we had celebrities come in, they would have the helicopter drop them off on the rooftop then enter the hotel that way. As Downtown Dallas grew, it became unsafe to have the helipad up there. We transformed it into one of the most sought-after nightlife spots in downtown due to its view and the ambience.
I hear you also have a bowling alley. Is that true?
Yes, in our sports bar named Scout. There are four bowling lanes. It’s an interactive setting. You have your bowling lanes, you have pool tables, ping pong, TV screens everywhere, all the fun arcade games that you can find. It’s an interactive, family-friendly venue.
Ryan, I know you mentioned Waterproof, but something you failed to mention is there’s a rooftop pool up there, which is gorgeous.
It’s outside. You can get one of their specialty cocktails out there, hang out in the pool, and take in all the views. It comes in handy during the hot Texas summers.
Most major cities, New York, Chicago, I know when I go, the best thing to go to is a speakeasy. If you can find one, because a lot of times they’re hidden, it’s always a great experience. I understand that The Statler has a speakeasy.
We do, it’s called Bourbon & Banter. It’s one of my favorite places to visit in the building. It’s an interesting field. The thing that makes it fun is that it’s located in our basement. Originally, when the hotel opened, there was the original barbershop. When you walk into it, the entryway has the shoeshine station, and then there’s a telephone booth in there. You have to know the secret code to type into the telephone booth, and then the speakeasy door opens up. We did a great job down there. The concept still revolves around hairstyles. All the drinks are still named after old hairstyles. We carried on the tradition of leaving it as the barbershop.
[bctt tweet=”Dallas locals are known for their politeness and modern Southern charm.” via=”no”]
Do you hold any annual events on the property? Do you have anything that comes in on a regular basis that our guests would be interested in?
We do have annual events. We mostly center them around the holidays. We have a great event every Halloween. It’s a two-featured event focusing on trying to accommodate everyone during the day. It’s a trick or treat for families. We have the local kids from the neighborhoods come in and pass out candy. There’s a small haunted house feature that goes on and then at night, it turns into more of an adult-only Halloween gathering. We always put on a great New Year’s Eve party. The nice thing about us is that we have this beautiful ballroom, 14,000 square feet of space, which is an entertainment venue, and we can bring in DJs and set it up. It’s a great time. We put on a spin on the state fair, because the state fair here in Texas is big. It’s iconic in its own.
It’s right down the street from your hotel.
It got curtailed a bit. We put on a performance called Fair Play at The Statler. It was more of a photo opportunity, get out of the house, be safe and still get all the same great things that you could at the state fair. We had photo booths, corn dogs, turkey legs, and we had all the great things that you could get at the state fair. We had the midway going with games. Everything’s pretty much short of a petting zoo and the rides.
Ryan, as General Manager of the hotel, I know you’ve only been open since 2018, what are some of the most extraordinary requests you’ve received from guests to make their experiences over the top?
One of the most requested items, and it’s from our groups, it ties all the way back to when the hotel first opened. It’s one of the most signature events in Statler history, Neiman Marcus is located right down the road from us, about two blocks away. In 1959, they had a llama, and her name was Llinda Llee, flown in from New York and flew into Dallas Love Field at the time. She took a limo from Love Field all the way to The Statler where she did a check-in. It’s neat because we have a picture of her at the desk getting the registration paperwork from the desk agent. We have pictures of her throughout the building. She was here on a promotional tour with Neiman Marcus, visiting children at the Children’s Hospital while she was here. One of the requests that we get all the time from groups is, “Can we have Llinda Llee stop by and say hi? Can we have a photo opportunity with Llinda Llee?” From time to time, Llinda Llee makes a special appearance here at The Statler.
You had Frank Sinatra there. You had the Jackson 5 there over the years. Are there any stories, any urban legends about what happened to The Statler way back when it was in its prime before it’s had this amazing redo and has come back into its own?
I don’t know about urban legends. There are a lot of things that happened here. I’ll share one with you that happened that’s not a legend. Back in 1976, The Statler was getting ready to welcome Tina Turner and Ike Turner, and they were going to get ready to perform in our ballroom. They came and they checked into the hotel. The night before they performed is when Tina Turner famously fled from Ike while he was asleep in the guestroom. With the help of one of the hotel bellmen, she exited the hotel through the service stairs and out the back door and down the road.
Do you have a guest that’s come back after all these years that’s experienced The Statler prior to the renovations and now? Have you talked to anybody specifically that had been a guest prior?
When we reopened in 2018, we knew we would have some of that. I don’t think we expected as many people to remember what it was like back in the glory years. It’s seems weekly that we’re having a conversation with a guest. One thing that we do have out front in the drive is we always have two classic cars out front, from the ‘50s, the ‘60s. I hear guests all the time, “When we came back in 1960, we remember the cars out front and they’re still out here.” They’ll stop and they’ll take photos. It’s funny, referencing back to the Llinda Llee experience. In all of our guest rooms we have pictures of Llinda Llee and we have a statute commemorating her. This was around June or July of 2020, I got a letter from a gentleman who said, “We loved our stay at The Statler. Thank you. We’re here celebrating our wedding anniversary.” I looked over at the side of the bed and I noticed the picture. My dad worked here and my dad is in the picture. He was the desk agent handing Llinda Llee the envelope. It blew my mind. We get guests all the time that come up to us and thank us for bringing this iconic fixture in Downtown Dallas back to life.
You are on East Commerce Street right downtown. What are some great activities within walking distance from the hotel? As we wrap up the interview, we’d also like to know, what’s your favorite thing as a hospitality professional to do in Dallas?
I mentioned Neiman Marcus, their flagship store is two blocks down the road from us. Going back to where we’re located on Commerce Street, right across from the Main Street Garden. We’re blocks away from the historical sites here in Downtown Dallas, such as the JFK Tour Memorial Park. That played a big role in Dallas’s history. Funny enough, when that tragic day in our history happened, the FBI set up headquarters here at The Statler Hotel. We had a big part in that as well. We’re close to the Arts District and we’re right down the road from the Farmer’s Market. There are a lot of activities within walking distance of the hotel.
A lot of people probably don’t consider Dallas like a walking city, but it is a nice, condensed downtown with amazing skyline and great little neighborhoods all the way around it. You can probably walk straight out of The Statler and pretty much go in any direction and be a short walk from any of the activities.
The great thing about Dallas, and not many people think of it when they’re thinking about Dallas, that I love doing in the city is going to all the different museums. There are many great art museums and history museums, cultural museums here in the city. We’re close to the American Airlines Center where the Mavericks and the Stars play, and they put on great events over there. Catching an event over at the American Airlines Center is fantastic for me to do too.
Ryan, one more thing. If our readers want to follow you and see what’s coming up, where can they find you? What are some of your social media?
The best place to see what’s coming up is our website, TheStatlerDallas.com. We’re also on Facebook, The Statler Dallas, and then our Instagram feed as well. We do a great job promoting there. All of the upcoming events that we’re putting on, we put out all through our social media channels. Anybody that wants to come down, we welcome everybody in.
Thank you, Ryan.
Ryan Miyamoto, General Manager of The Statler. Thank you for your time.
Thank you. Have a great day.
Dallas is one of my old hometowns. I love it. There are many great histories. It’s such a great place to go to find Southwest cuisine. If you’re anywhere near one of Dean Fearing’s restaurants, make sure that you get the Tortilla soup. It is something that you will never forget.
It was nice to meet him. He is such a nice guy. We’ve found he’s connected with a lot of other amazing chefs around the country. If you’re ever traveling in a city, talk to the chefs because they seem to know all the best places to go. He was fascinating.
The Statler Hotel, I can’t wait to visit it. We haven’t been yet. It was closed when I lived in Dallas. From the pool to the speakeasy to the bowling alley. You can do all these great things just in the hotel without even leaving the hotel. When you leave the hotel, you’re riding Downtown Dallas and can walk around. It’s such an easy city to walk.
Ryan shared a lot of great history. One that stuck out was the night that Tina Turner left Ike and started her solo career. I thought that was fascinating.
I remember that from the movie.
I’m going to have to go back and see exactly where that was filmed and be sure that it was representing Dallas in that movie. It’s a great place. Dallas all around is such a big, diverse city and so much to do. I’m looking to get back there and check out some new things.
That concludes this episode. Thank you for joining us. We’d like to thank our team, Chris Jordan, our copywriter, Annie Fernandez, our creative director and Lauren Campbell, our podcast producer. Please make sure to subscribe, rate and review the show on your preferred podcast app or by going to www.Destination-Everywhere.com. Be sure to join us next time on Destination Everywhere. Safe travels.
Please be sure you subscribe, rate and review the show on your preferred podcast app or by going to www.Destination-Everywhere.com. Let us know where you want us to travel next on Destination Everywhere. Safe travels.
- Klyde Warren Park
- AT&T Stadium
- George W. Bush Presidential Museum
- The Sixth Floor Museum
- Fort Worth Stockyards
- Dallas Arboretum
- Bishop Arts District
- Deep Ellum
- Mariano’s Hacienda
- The Statler Dallas – Facebook page
- Instagram – The Statler
About Dean Fearing
Long known as the “Father of Southwestern Cuisine,” Chef Dean Fearing’s legendary cooking and infectious charisma have long captured the attention of a worldwide audience. An accomplished James Beard award winner, cookbook author, and successful restaurateur, Dean’s namesake Fearing’s has become one of the most critically acclaimed restaurants in Texas, recognized as “Restaurant of the Year” and “Table of the Year” by Esquire Magazine, as well as #1 in Hotel Dining in the U.S. by the prestigious Zagat Survey.
Each night, guests from all over the world are dazzled with bold flavor and variety of Dean’s favorite local delicacies from the Lone Star State, including his signature tortilla soup, rib eye cooked over live mesquite, maple-black peppercorn-soaked buffalo tenderloin, achiote-glazed antelope from his friend’s ranch, and a chicken-fried Maine lobster, which has been described as a genuine “taste of Texas.” The son of a Kentucky innkeeper, Dean grew up with grandmothers who knew all about food, appreciating the finer details of Southern cooking and barbecue.
He still uses and treasures their recipes, and they remain one of the most important inspirations of his culinary life. Some of them even received their own spin in Dean’s cookbook, The Texas Food Bible – published in 2014. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America and following 20-plus years at The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dean opened his own Fearing’s Restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas in 2007.
About Ryan Miyamoto
Honolulu native Ryan Miyamoto came to The Statler from the Sheraton McKinney.
The Pacific University grad has been managing properties for Plano-based Aimbridge since 2006.
His leadership has been well recognized, as he’s been at two different properties which have one the Aimbridge Hotel of the Year for outstanding overall performance.