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A complex Texas can be proud of.

The Family Life “Weekend to Remember” conference was held at the brand spanking new Gaylord Texas Resort and Convention Center. It literally opened up just hours before the conference started.

I have participated in enough theatre openings over the years to know how hectic the opening weekend is. No matter how much preparation you put into it something doesn’t work exactly right and there are always, always crowd control problems. It is the biggest challenge of a theatre opening – getting all of the people in and out in an efficient manner as possible. It is just something that cannot be accurately planned for. I was reminded of those wonderfully challenging and hectic days as we pulled up to the huge complex. The harried valet guys were running around frantically and the bell-hops were milling around lugging bags here and there. There were probably 30 cars up under the huge entryway and it was a real mess. There were no lanes. We were all trying to get our bags into the hotel or our cars parked and it seemed no one knew what to do. We sure didn’t. The valets were trying to get cars out and were blocked by people trying to get in. The valet guys didn’t seem to have a handle on it. It was crazy. I made me miss theatre openings.

That was just the start of a three day stay at a beautiful place. We were lucky to be at the Family Life conference which was the first conference held at the Grand Opening of this great resort. The Gaylord Texan embodies what Texas is all about. It is huge. There are three atriums all themed, one is the Riverwalk, one is the Lone Star Atrium, and one is the Hill Country. There are two swimming pools, eight restaurants, a number of shops, a full service spa, and a big exercise room. I have included pictures here if you are interested.

We got what was apparently a really discounted rate (conference rates were $99) for the conference because the room rates are about $400-$500 a night for a family. There are probably cheaper rooms and I don’t get how anyone would spend that much to stay there. Maybe they don’t want families to stay there. The property is magnificent, though. That is not to say that there weren’t problems.

There is an expensive steak house ($80/person) in the hotel and somehow the exhaust from there was getting into the clean air system. The hallway to our room and eventually our room smelled like hickory or mesquite smoke. What smelled good at first soon started to annoy us. Not much they could do about it so we just endured it. They didn’t even acknowledge that it was a problem when we told them about it.

The entire hotel was sold out. Every room was occupied. Considering this, another challenge for the hotel staff was getting the rooms cleaned efficiently. It didn’t happen. I guess there were too many rooms and not enough experienced housekeepers to take care of all of that. Our room did not get cleaned until about 7:00 pm. It was cleaned by this polite, yet very tired looking lady. We felt for her knowing that it must be hard to do this on opening weekend having not yet developed a system to do this efficiently. It is just another challenge that will continue to improve as they get use to the job.

Overall, the experience with the Gaylord Texan was quite positive. I am sure, if the hotel had been open for some amount of time, the small problems here and there would have been corrected. It is a great place. We probably won’t be staying there again – I don’t know, maybe next year when the conference returns there. Without some sort of a discount this place is a budget buster.

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