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October 16th, 2009 No Comments

The Hotel Zaza – Houston and Dallas

Last week I attended two events for Catwalk for the Cure, both held at the Hotel Zaza in Houston. It was so refreshing to be back there again!  Then, while enjoying a plate of their famous grilled quail, it dawned on me that while I had referenced my experiences there this summer, I had never told you why I enjoyed it so much.

Let’s put aside the fact I now know the staff personally at both locations of the Zaza, but instead focus on how and why that came to be. 

What seems like forever ago, my friend Jen took me to the hard hat event when the Houston location was under construction, but I wouldn’t set foot into the finished product until years after it’s opening. 

After hearing the rave reviews, I referred a friend visiting Houston to the hotel and went to meet him for a drink one night.  When I pulled up to the valet I felt like they were rolling out the welcome mat just for me.  Entering the lobby I was instantly in love with the modern, eclectic decor, and when I found my friend had not yet arrived at Monarch, the manager bought me a drink and chatted with me until he arrived.  I’m pleased to call Alex (the manager) a friend now as well.

Sure you could say he was just making small talk with a pretty girl, but I’ve since heard the same account from several other people.  Alex wouldn’t be the only friendly member of their staff.  With a simple hello, I befriended many others and now keep up with them on Facebook!

So obviously I was instantly enamored, so I wanted to know more about the space, the people, and everything they had to offer.  Here’s what I found:

GREAT THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES

Both hotels have a more intimate feeling than your average Ritz or Four Seasons.  Honestly, I have no idea if there are less rooms, but it feels like a smaller, more personable space than the aforementioned chains.  So not only is the price point better, but so is the ambiance. 

In terms of the hotel itself, Zaza Houston (built on the skeleton of the historic Warwick hotel) is a bigger location but maintains the boutique feel of the original in Dallas.  The rooms boast a modern but comfortable decor with cozy beds and Molton Brown toiletries .  From my experience, it seems the rooms in Dallas a little bigger and more plush.  My favorite feature are the “Seven Wonders of the World” suites that are decorated in different themes like Rock Star, China, Space age, etc. And don’t even get me started on the rooftop “Black Label” suite with the amazing views you can enjoy from the gigantic bathtub on the balcony (God only knows what has gone on in there). 

If you’re into the celeb scene, the Zaza is a good spot for sightings.  Many times I stopped by stars like Kid Rock and Young Jeezy were residing in the suites.

FINE DINING I CAN AFFORD

Downstairs in the restaurants – Monarch in Houston and Dragonfly in Dallas – you’ll find a menu with a little taste of every cuisine.  Both the Houston chef Aaron Neeley and Grant Morgan in Dallas update their menu seasonally.  In fact, the dinner I attended last Thursday was a sampling of their new fall menu.  People loved the steak, but we all agreed the scallops were some of the best we’ve ever tasted.  Consistent favorites of mine are the grilled quail, deconstructed ahi roll, and their fish specials. 

As with most restaurants right now, they usually offer a special promotion.  Right now if you mention “Fall 09” you will get 15% off your meal.  Mondays they have half off all bottles of wine, and Wednesdays the whole menu is discounted fifty percent.  So you can see it was an easy sell to get me to come on multiple occasions.  Rumor has it they are also starting “reverse happy hour.”  Another winner in my book!

As for the dessert (I mention this because my request has fallen on deaf ears), don’t be deceived by the sound of the red velvet cupcakes.  Even if you’re an amateur when it comes to sweets, you’ll be highly disappointed by the bite-sized blandness.  I’m pretty sure the cupcakes are my only real complaint about the hotel actually…..

BE SWEET TO YOURSELF

But I’ll tell you something you can indulge in without guilt – the spa!  I didn’t get a chance to go to the one in Dallas during my stay,  but if the Houston one is any indication, I can recommend them both without hesitation.  First of all, they have these pedicure chairs that tilt you backwards so you’re laying comfortably while the esthetician is meticulously primping your feet.  Then if you decide to get actual treatments, they have a fully equipped locker room and a delightfully dark lounge with beds for you to await your service.  The facial was acceptable and left my skin glowing, but the massage from Emin (who is often referred to as “AMEN”) is ridiculous.  After an hour rub down I asked him how he was able to control the hot rocks over the contours of my back.  His response, “what rocks?”  What felt like warm stones were actually his strong, oh-so-smooth hands.  Holy moly y’all.  Holy moly.

POOLSIDE PEEPS

I actually started spending time at the hotel because of the pool.  Due to their summertime Urban Oasis, I enjoyed the peaceful patio during the week, and then throwing back a few Coronas with a fun crowd on the weekends.  Ok, so the weekends would get a little rough in Houston, but Dallas was the trendy place to be seen.  I wasn’t really into the whole wearing heels in my bikini, but my gladiators worked as well.  Either way, at both hot spots, the people watching was unprecedented. (Because of the recession, most hotels were opening up their pool area to locals to drive business, Zaza was no different.)

YOUR LUXE HOME

After college, Andy and I frequented the Beverly Hills Hotel so it became like our “home away from home.” Unfortunately I was never able to find a place I wanted to hang my hat in NYC.  The Zaza welcomed me with open arms and it’s always nice to return for a visit.  And I know they will do the same for you.

(**In total, Hotel Zaza generously comped a 4 night stay in Dallas as well as 3 spa treatments.)