After designing 40 Hilton and Doubletree projects over the last decade, Portfolio Associates was called on for one of the company’s biggest jobs: the $57 million redo of Dallas’ legendary Hilton Anatole hotel, which included reinventing the property’s meeting space, public areas, and the 700 Tower guestrooms, as well as the creation of V Spa. "Dallas has an excellent group of hospitality design firms, any of which would have been a good choice for the city’s icon hotel, so we were very happy to have been able to come from Houston and be selected for this important project," says the firm’s principal Craig Smith.
The design direction was clear from the start—take inspiration from the clean lines of the property’s contemporary buildings built in the ’80s, and the extensive art collection (mainly Asian) of the hotel’s owners, the late real estate magnate Trammell Crow and his wife Margaret, that’s found at every corner of the property. (The owners’ love for the many forms and various regions of the artists yielded the Crow Collection of Asian Art, a museum in the Dallas Arts District. The Anatole Hotel contains a great many examples from the Crow collection and often shares exhibits with the museum.)
"Taking clues from the art collection and utilizing the spaces as the backdrop, we created an inviting atmosphere to humanize the large spaces and provide our guests every opportunity to interact with the collection, as if it were their personal compilation," Smith says. "Modern Asian was the underlying direction for the design, which allowed the team a wealth of colors and textures to work from while insuring that the interiors served to complement the art. We wanted to assure that the Anatole was fresh and meaningful, that it was viewed once again as THE place in Dallas for gathering, and that it became so with a modern aesthetic."
Smith points to one clear example of how he and his team incorporated the art into the design: the carpet in one of the ballrooms (the second largest at 20,000 square feet) located next to a vestibule that houses a collection of Bjorn Wiinblad paintings ("One of Mrs. Crow’s favorites," Smith says) features whimsical shapes and colors that are signature to the artist. "One of our concepts was to move the art to locations that better fit our design and find ways to make the art more focal for guests," Smith explains. "All of the art was properly placed and lit to reveal the pieces as they should be seen in settings that allowed their beauty to be taken in by visitors to the hotel."
Throughout, a bold, earthy color palette prevails (think cream, green, chocolate, yellow, and orange hues). Guestrooms feature a custom designed graphic carpet, art highlighted by framed, handpainted Asian fabrics, hardwood and black lacquer finishes, while bathrooms boast stainless steel fixtures, marble floors, and granite countertops. The new spa (which was carved out of under-utilized space in the hotel) continues the modern Asian feel. Rich, natural finishes—honey onyx stone, Macassar wood, natural charcoal pebble floor accents, Mother of Pearl accent tiles—mix with a color palette of caramel, cream, warm gold, and brown set off with splashes of blue hues. Elsewhere, custom designed chandeliers made of pieces of pieces of Italian blown glass in ribbon shapes, shoji screens, a custom rug inspired by reflective water, and handcarved accent mirrors, complete the look.
Challenges? "The Hilton Anatole is one of 13 big-box Hiltons (hotels with more than 1,000 guestrooms) and its 346,000 square feet of meeting space is 50 percent larger than the next biggest total at any Hilton property," Smith says. "Any project has an array of challenges and we faced each of them here as well. Add to that the sheer scale of the renovations over two-and-a-half years and the challenges are so much larger. In addition, the project renovation was completed in an operating hotel, which is one of the busiest hotels in the country. But because of the team atmosphere of everyone involved with the project, all of the challenges were met with a great deal of cooperation in finding the best way to meet those challenges."