The last part of my Texas “two-step” was attending the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) annual conference in Dallas. I was in Galveston just two weeks ago for a travel writers meeting. Now I can declare that the two places had something in common: the massive size of the resorts. As they say, everything is bigger in the Lone Star State.

I stayed at the Hilton Anatole, just a few miles from downtown in Big D. Set on 45 acres with three restaurants, an extensive convention center, a large spa and fitness center, a game arcade and a waterpark, it wasn’t quite the mammoth facility that Moody Gardens was. It’s more geared for large-scale conventions than families going on summer vacation. But I felt I could still easily get lost, and I have a decent sense of direction.

Combined with severe, nearly hurricane-force winds and rain that knocked out power to patches of city blocks, including the larger tower section of the hotel, it was quite a different travel experience. But the next day, right before the conference’s start, electricity was operational everywhere, and things were back to normal. So, here’s another resort review. We didn’t see any of the city as I did last year in San Juan, Puerto Rico, so Dallas will have to wait another day.


Hilton Anatole has two separate wings for rooms. One is the Atrium, which is in two 14-story buildings, and the other is the Tower, a 27-story skyscraper that has recently been renovated. Each featured extensive conference facilities, which were for our meetings and workshops. In between is an impressive glass ceiling atrium with a floating glass structure that looks like a flock of birds and changes color. Most of the suites are in the Tower area.

I stayed in the Atrium because my original reservation was in the Tower. But since Dallas just experienced severe storms and near hurricane-force winds, the entire structure's electricity was out. Luckily, it was restored the next day, and everything for the conference went smoothly. My room was spacious and comfortable, with a king-size bed, a bathroom with a combined tub and shower and a partial view of downtown Dallas. The décor was standard, neither modern nor dated.

Perhaps the only complaint I had about my room was its uneven temperature. The atrium always seemed stuffy, but full air conditioning wasn't feasible since it’s a large area. However, my room would get icy cold, so I needed to turn off the A/C until it was too warm.


Besides the conference facilities, the Hilton Anatole has a moderate-sized waterpark and a two-story spa and fitness center. Both are just outside the Tower conference center and across an extensive lawn. It did take me some time to go to the gym, as I had to cross the Atrium, the conference center and the lawn area to arrive there.

The Verandah, as the facility is called, has a larger fitness area with more equipment. However, most hotel guests must pay a $25-day pass fee. A smaller room has seven cardio machines, including a Peloton bike and some free weights. Jade Waters is the waterpark area, and there’s also a game arcade on the opposite side of the smaller gym, both suitable for kids.

Two unexpected hotel features are the collection of Asian art displayed around the Tower area and a TopGolf Swing Suite. I am unsure why Hilton Anatole has this, but seeing some of these artworks was fascinating. Unlike other TopGolf facilities I’ve seen, which are all outdoors and like driving ranges, this one is a simulator with three bays of virtual screens and sensors.


The hotel has three main dining areas – Media Grill and Bar, Counter Offer and Ser Steak and Spirits. I will honestly report that I only had a mule cocktail with tequila and skillet cornbread in the first eatery, as it was the only thing I had for dinner after arriving late when I checked in. But others who had breakfast and lunch here said the food was good, nothing outstanding.

I spent most of my non-conference-provided meals at Counter Offer, which has mostly grab-and-go items that were excessively priced. For example, a pasta salad was $10, a panini was $17, and a Kind Bar was $6). As much as I didn’t want to spend time here, there was nowhere else to go, and the coffee was much better here than at the conference. At least that was worth it. Ser is located on the top floor of the Tower. I didn’t go there at all, but from the hotel’s website photos, you can enjoy a killer view of downtown Dallas and the surrounding area.

On our opening night, we got to experience a Jubilee where “Texas fair food” was served. Most of this was surprisingly good, with my favorite item being a sloppy pollo Sammy, a biscuit topped with chicken tinga, queso, ancho guajillo salsa, pico de gallo and lime crema. There were also beef swirl lollipops, barbecue bubble waffle cones, elote mac dogs with lobster or vegetarian filling and desserts.