CEO, entrepreneur, investor, vintner, art collector, philanthropist, former Ambassador to Austria—between the two of them, Craig and Kathryn Hall hold a lot of impressive titles. But while the bulk of their endeavors have taken them around the world (including to California, where they oversee the acclaimed HALL Family Wines), their newest project is a little closer to home—and to their hearts. Opened in late-2019, the 183-room HALL Arts Hotel—a Leading Hotels of the World member and the first hotel in Dallas’ acclaimed, 70-acre Arts District—was born of the couple’s passion for art, and their desire to create something new in the city. We chatted with the power couple about their inspiration and goals for the hotel, and how their passions for art and wine play a big part in the experience.
This hotel is very different from your SENZA Hotel in Napa. What was the inspiration for HALL Arts, and why did it seem like the natural next hotel for your portfolio?
Craig Hall, Founder and Chairman of HALL Group: The hotel is in the heart of the Dallas Arts District, and the location served as the chief inspiration for its character. Part of what we wanted to create was more street-level activity in the neighborhood, by inventing a hub (where) people could gather as they visit the surrounding arts venues. Additionally, we wanted to develop a great hotel that would complement the beautiful architecture that exists in the neighborhood, with all the incredible performing arts venues and museums. It is hard to do a dynamic district like this justice, but that was our goal and along with our team of architects, I think we were able to deliver.
Tell us a bit more about the location—what is exciting about this particular neighborhood?
Craig: The Dallas Arts District is the largest contiguous arts district in the U.S., and acts as the bridge between Uptown and Downtown Dallas, and flanks Dallas’s central business district. It houses the city’s most celebrated arts venues, and is also where you will find the most Pritzker Prize-winning architecture within a 19-block area. The neighborhood immerses guests into the ever-growing arts and cultural scene in Dallas, placing them close to our best museums and performing arts venues.
What is the role that art plays in your own lives, and how did you want that translated in the hotel?
Kathryn Hall, Co-Owner and Vintner of HALL Family Wines: Because of our personal love of art and sharing art with others, we wanted it to be a central focus at the new hotel. To do this, we collaborated with our dear friends Virginia Shore and Patricia Meadows to assemble a vast collection of art of all mediums (to be displayed) throughout the hotel. Virginia curated countless custom commissions for the public spaces and suites, and Patricia curated a collection of local photography of the Dallas Arts District for the hotel rooms. The combined collections and influences of each are really special, and something we are very proud of.
Craig: Art has always been very important to me; my mother was an art teacher and an artist herself, and I started collecting posters of great art when I was just barely a teenager. That said, I don’t believe in beings selfish with art, and far prefer to share it with the public –whether it is at our wineries, in our hotels or at our office buildings and other developments. We want to create experiences that make people smile, laugh, think, and reflect, and art does all of this.
What was your vision or mandate for the design of the hotel?
Craig: Our vision was to design a space that complemented the surrounding Arts District, while not trying to compete with the Pritzker Prize-winning architecture that surrounds the hotel. Rem Koolhaas’s stunning Wyly Theatre is across from the hotel’s entrance, on the other side is Sir Norman Foster’s Winspear Opera House and I.M. Pei’s Meyerson Symphony Center, and down the street is Renzo Piano’s Nasher Sculpture Center. Our goal was to respectfully join these great architects’ neighborhood, and our architect Eddie Abeyta with HKS did an exceptional job bringing this vision to life. We have worked together for more than 25 years, and his talent really shines through in this hotel and its adjacent luxury residences, which will open this spring.
Kathryn: Interior design firm Bentel & Bentel worked with us to design a hotel that is simple in its forms, elegant in its details and authentic in its material expression. It delivers on the promise of luxury and progressive design, and the soothing neutral palette is the perfect backdrop for the impactful works of art that adorn the spaces.
How is HALL Arts different from what’s in the current Dallas luxury hotel landscape?
Craig: While the hotel’s vast art collection is certainly a differentiator, I think its contemporary design also sets it apart from others in the market, as most Dallas hotels have tended to skew more traditional. We wanted to create a modern, informal space that is unlike anything else in the current Dallas market, and I think that was achieved through the design elements, art collection and restaurant. Additionally, we are the first hotel to open in the Dallas Arts District, and as such have planned several programs and perks for guests that incorporate our surrounding performing arts venues and museums, such as ticket packages, behind-the-scenes tours, and acting as a gathering place for artists visiting the area to relax and socialize.
Given your wine background, how did you want food and wine to be represented at the hotel?
Kathryn: As vintners ourselves, we wanted the hotel to have a great wine program, and that extends from check-in throughout a guest’s stay. Guests are offered a glass of wine upon arrival, and we have a sommelier on-site to answer any questions and suggest wine pairings for any occasion. Enjoying wine is an experience, and we wanted to extend the experience we’ve worked to curate in Napa to the hotel in Dallas.
Craig: We want the food and wine program to be a key part of the enjoyable, approachable experience at the hotel. Ellie’s Restaurant + Lounge, named after my late mother, is the centerpiece restaurant at the hotel, and is helmed by Chef Eric Dreyer, who brings over 20 years of experience and has worked at culinary destinations both locally and across the country,
When you travel, what do you look for in a hotel—and how does that inform your hospitality philosophy?
Craig: For me, hotels are all about experiences. Life is about living each day to the fullest and enjoying all of the little experiences that make it unique, so this is the hospitality philosophy I have come to adopt, and also what I look for in a hotel stay.