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Scott Ellis: Welcome to the Frisco Podcast. I’m your host Scott Ellis. And in this episode we’re chatting with Jeff Smith, the general manager of the new Omni hotel that’s going up at The Star. He’s gonna give you the inside scoop on all of the fantastic thing’s they’ve got going on at that facility.
Welcome to the Frisco Podcast. Jeff Smith from the Omni hotel at the Star. Good to have you here today, thank you for joining up.
Jeff Smith: Thank you, Scott. Very, very excited. Thank you very much for this opportunity to speak to your audience.
Scott Ellis: You bet. We’ve very excited to have you guys here. We’ve been watching that thing go up for quite a while now and you guys are getting pretty close to opening. When is the big day?
Jeff Smith: Well we’re, at this point, looking at somewhere in the very early part of July. So we don’t have a specific date yet just because there’s few things that are moving back and forth our construction. But very early in July we will be open for business.
Scott Ellis: Well, we’ve seen the renderings. We’ll have some of those linked up in the show notes for the show, so if people want to go out and take a look and get a sense for what this gonna look like inside and out they can do that. But it looks like it’s gonna be a beautiful hotel, but how would you describe the aesthetic and what we’re gonna expect to see on the inside?
Jeff Smith: Well, this is going to be unique, certainly one of a kind. I say that from the perspective of the hotel being lifestyle experience hotel. There’s nothing like this in the Frisco, North Texas area, we’re very excited about that. When you think about a lifestyle experience hotel the way to describe that is really a hotel that is very luxurious, very intimate, very, very high level of service that is specific to the guests. So that unique, intimate experience will be, again, a first of a kind for the Frisco, North Texas region.
Scott Ellis: Okay. So when we come and we want to do a little getaway or even a stay-cation or we’re gonna have guests in town and we’re gonna put them up at the Omni, what kind of experiential facilities and things do you guys have? How does that come to life when somebody stays there?
Jeff Smith: Yeah, excellent. Well, first of all let’s start with our pool deck. We have the largest pool deck in the North Texas region. We’ll have a waterfall pool experience, an infinity edge pool, we’ll have a full restaurant, and a bar offering called The Edge. We’ll also have a separate event space that can serve up to 400 guests for outdoor reception on the pool level as well. And that whole level’s on the fourth fool. It will look down onto the plaza of the Star. So the viewing will be exceptional, to include five cabanas that could be rented for the guests experience as well as outdoor fire pits and soft seating.
In addition to that we will have a wonderful lobby bar that will be craft coffee’s in the morning, very high end, unique intimate coffee experience, and that’ll transition into wonderful wine bar in the evening. The wine bar will have a 60 bottle cruvinet and that’s a very sophisticated product that stores wine to make sure that it’s optimal in terms of the taste for our guests. As well as craft cocktails in that lobby bar experience.
And the lobby bar is adjacent to the living room which is a wonderful guest seating area that they can feel very comfortable to enjoy those experiences. Also in the evening with the lobby bar and that wine and craft cocktails experience will be a cheese cart. So we’ll have a different cheese and charcuterie offering every day that we’ll wheel right to the guests that they can enjoy a different cheese experience to be accompanied with their wine or cocktails. Those cheeses are being specifically chosen by a cheese monger, which is a consultant that we’ve hired to help us have the exact offered of cheeses that pair up with their wines and cocktails.
In addition to that we have our Neighborhood Services which we’re very excited about. Nick Badovinus, who is the founder of that brand, this will be the fourth Neighborhood Services location in the metroplex, and that is a classic American cuisine done exceptionally well that it fits this wonderful, luxurious experience. Neighborhood Services will have a full bar offering as well. A little more comfortable in our casual experience, in that environment. Of course we’ll have 24 hour room service and then we have 24 thousand square feet of meeting space.
So if one is staying at the hotel to attend a corporate group of a catering function we can serve, in our ballroom, which is 13 thousand square feet, over a thousand guests for a meal, if they have that experience. So once again, the food and beverage offering and the luxury of that experience will be second to none when they are dining in one of our meeting rooms.
Scott Ellis: Well, it sounds fantastic. You’re making me want to live there. That’s a lot of good stuff. Is that possible?
Jeff Smith: Well, that would be wonderful. Absolutely. We’ll take good care of you, Scott, and any guests that stays in the hotel. So yeah, we’re very excited and again that’s unique. It’s an offering that’s just unlike anything else. And to be associated with Star and have that larger, complex that dynamic that that provides is just exceptional.
Scott Ellis: Yeah, so tell me a little bit more about that aspect of it. We know that you’re located in the Star but what is your relationship with the Ford’s center and the Cowboys, is there any kind of more tie in there beyond just simply being a hotel that’s in that location?
Jeff Smith: Yes, absolutely. Well, first and foremost as you know the Star is a partnership between the Dallas Cowboy, the Frisco Independent School District, and of course Omni Hotel’s and Resorts. Our specific hotel is jointly owned by the Dallas Cowboys and by Omni Hotel’s and Resorts. When you think about the city of Frisco and the mantra of progress in motion nothing simplifies that more than what the Omni Frisco will be providing for our guests.
So as a result of our relationship and being co-owed with the Dallas Cowboys and Omni Hotel’s and Resorts we can provide some unique services for our guests. So we have packages that include, for example private, behind the scenes tours of the Star, we’ll have retail offerings that’ll be in our retail store, which is called 1960, it’ll be a very high end, luxurious retail offering that we’ve partnered with Charlotte Jones Anderson and the Dallas Cowboys to choose products that will really be fitting of a luxury experience, that again, are unique because of our relationship with the Dallas Cowboys and be co-owned.
So as a result of that we’ll even have packages that will include retail offerings as well. And then with the Star of course, you know, there’s a significant number of additional restaurants and shops and that creates incredible density for the hotel guests. So certainly we’d love to have the hotel guests experience our hotel and all that that means, but if they do want to venture out and have an experience outside of the hotel in the area then Star provides a wonderful offering for the guests.
Scott Ellis: So how much of this is open to visitors? Because I’m sure people from around town are gonna want to come in and kind of check it out and maybe hang out a little bit versus what is really reserved just for people that are guests staying at the hotel?
Jeff Smith: Very good questions. So from the perspective of the Neighborhood Services and the lobby bar and certainly the 1960’s retail store, that is certainly open to the public. We encourage that and want those individuals that are interested to come and visit our hotel and enjoy those experiences.
The pool deck, the Edge Bar, and restaurant on the pool deck, that will be specific to the hotel guest. If a hotel guest is obviously staying there they’ll be allowed to utilize that space and so that will be restricted from that perspective. Now, the exception to that is of course if one is attending an outdoor event on the pool level, the fourth floor, then naturally they may not be staying in the hotel. They would be of course utilizing that space for that event.
The outdoor event space is called The Edge, and again the restaurant and bar on the pool level is called the Edge Bar. So the Edge Bar, the pool experience will be specific to hotel guests. The Edge event space will be, of course, for anybody that’s attending an event on the fourth floor.
Scott Ellis: Okay, very good. So I guess no just coming up and hanging out at the pool, but that completely makes sense and that was really partly why I asked, selfishly.
Jeff Smith: Yeah.
Scott Ellis: Now, on that front I have to ask, because I know this will be one of the questions my wife will have, is do you have a spa?
Jeff Smith: Well, we have a fitness center and what we’ve done is partnered with Cowboy Fit and as you know Cowboy Fit is an incredible fitness offering-Scott Ellis: Oh yeah.
Jeff Smith: – that is provided by the Dallas Cowboys. So they have treatment rooms, some cryo treatment, very much a fitness and wellness experience to those treatments and those offerings and then of course have a full array of those offerings. So we partnered with Cowboy Fit to allow our hotel guests to utilize Cowboy Fit for any treatment they would want, especially as it relates to wellness and fitness which is their corner stone.
Scott Ellis: Let’s talk about you a little bit. Because this is a big deal, this is a one of a kind in North Texas, this is a brand new Omni hotel, the Star is a brand new facility, how did you come to be the guy that got to be in charge of all that?
Jeff Smith: Well, first I’m very blessed to work for Omni Hotel’s and Resorts. So for me to be chosen to be the general manager of this hotel is very humbling and again I can’t tell you how excited and how blessed I am that this was afforded me. I’ve been in the hotel business for over 30 years, 34 years to be exact. And I’ve worked for Omni Hotels and Resorts for over 24 years and I’ve had a variety of assignments in all of the years of my career to include working at Omni’s corporate office as a vice president of operations, but at the corporate level for over 11 years and I’ve been field based as a general manager for several Omni hotels.
So when this project was announced I was fortunate enough to be involved in even some of the project work at the very beginning, intelligent architectural design and some of that work that’s done years in advance of the opening. And so again, I was selected to be the general manager and I said this a few weeks ago to an individual and I really meant this, that I just could never have imagined that this would be afforded me in my career, this particular assignment because it is so unique and again it’s very humbling and I’m just very, very blessed because I take none of that for granted and it is unique.
And again, it’s one thing to be general manager of an opening hotel, a brand new hotel that that alone creates a level of excitement and as an opportunity that rarely happens in ones career. And so just to have that opportunity is amazing, but then when you add that opportunity with a dynamic of the Star, the Dallas Cowboys, and Omni Hotels and Resorts and the growth of Frisco in North Texas and you put that all into a larger context, again I’m just very, very fortunate. I guess it’s like dreaming in color. And I mean that sincerely.
Scott Ellis: Well, you definitely sound like the right man for the job. So we’re very glad to have you there. When do you start taking reservations? I know that the opening date isn’t firm yet, but if people are starting to think ahead a little bit what should they be looking for in terms of coming out to stay?
Jeff Smith: We are taking individual reservation. We’ve been taking group reservations for the last two years. So we’ve booked several groups into the hotel and corporate meetings and conventions and groups of that nature, and catering events. So we’ve been doing that for several years now. But in terms of individual guests both business and leisure travelers, we just two weeks ago turned on the availability of being able to book reservations and so yes. So those are now available for late July. Once we get a little bit close to the beginning of July then we’ll open up that availability to book, and that’s obviously just tied to the exact opening date of the hotel, which is still a little bit to be determined.
But yes, if one wants to book for late July, for example the James Taylor concert that’s at the Ford’s center, which is going to be the first concert in that venue we already have reservations for individuals that have booked the hotel for that evening or that weekend to coincide with attending that event. So yeah, from late July forward we’re available to book and we would love to have [inaudible 00:13:58].
Scott Ellis: Well that’s interesting you would mention the James Taylor concert, that is on July 31st at the Star and as you said it’s the first concert there and my wife had actually just sent me a link to it and I said, “Yeah, we should go to that,” so maybe we’ll come stay with you that night and hang out and check the place out in person.
Jeff Smith: Absolutely. You let me know and I’ll take great care of you.
Scott Ellis: I have no doubt about that.
Jeff Smith: VIP service.
Scott Ellis: Well, I appreciate that Jeff. Anything else that you want to leave us with or tell us about the hotel and then last but not least, if people want to find out more where should they go?
Jeff Smith: Yeah, well from the standpoint of anybody that’s interested in reservations then of course Omni Hotels and Resorts website is omnihotels.com. So you would just click omnihotels.com and then choose Omni Frisco and you’ll be able to see specifically the guest rooms and they have the different packages that are available. On that same website is also career opportunities as well and there’s the career job section and that’s where one would click and take a look at what we have in terms of job postings for Omni Frisco.
The other thing that I want to mention is we talked about that luxury lifestyle experience, we have in addition to everything I’ve described at the hotel, we have 300 guest rooms and the rooms, the quality and the luxury of our guest rooms and what we will offer are phenomenal. Of those 300 rooms we have 27 suites so it’s a great opportunity for individuals to maybe upgrade to a suite if they’re interested, especially if it’s an event such as an anniversary or a birthday or something that somebody wants to do something special.
And the views at the hotel are just spectacular. When we open we will be the tallest building in the city of Frisco. And we’re very proud of that. So the views looking to the West are phenomenal, you can see all of Lake Lewisville and you can see all the way to AT&T Stadium and DFW airport. And the views to the East and equally spectacular. Again, on a clear day you can see over 40 miles. It’s just breathtaking. And again, so not only do we have all those offerings I described in terms of public space, but the luxury and quality of the guest rooms, which have a very subtle hint of the Dallas Cowboys, in their offering will just be tremendous and they certainly will be the best rooms in the Frisco/ North Texas area.
Scott Ellis: Well, for anybody that’s ever stayed at an Omni hotel and certainly knows about the Cowboys and Jerry Jones reputation, collectively I can only imagine you guys would have done it right. It’s gonna be a very luxurious experience.
Jeff Smith: Yeah.
Scott Ellis: So Jeff, thanks again. I really appreciate your time today. You know, keep us posted. Let us know when the final date is established so we can make sure everybody knows and we get a chance to come out and take a look.
Jeff Smith: Absolutely will do. Again, Scott, I want to thank you for this opportunity to speak to you and speak to your listeners and again this has been a pleasure. Thank you.
Scott Ellis: Thank you very much.
For everybody else, you guys keep tuning in and we will talk to you on the next episode of Frisco Podcast.