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Flaws and all, the Hyatt Regency Dallas still a sky-high pick

Chris BaldwinBy Chris Baldwin,
Hyatt Regency Dallas - Downtown Hotel
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Hyatt Regency Dallas is set off by the connected Reunion Tower Dome. (Courtesy Hyatt)

On a Dallas golf trip, the Hyatt Regency might be your best bet for easy access to the best this Texas city has to offer.

DALLAS - Texas' largest metropolis slowly rolls by below. As far as you can look, tall buildings and bright lights stretch out. The city's literally at your feet and the drinks flow freely.

This is the scene at the Reunion Dome Lounge - a revolving bar with floor-to-ceiling windows high atop the Reunion Tower - and it's the most compelling reason to stay at the Hyatt Regency on a Dallas golf trip. Much more traditional golf resorts can be found around the land of cowboy chic. But even the best of these, the sprawling Gaylord Texan, removes you so far from downtown that you might as well be in Des Moines.

If you're golfing around Dallas, you presumably want to see the city or have business in the city. Otherwise, you'd be in someplace like Myrtle Beach or Scottsdale.

Hyatt Regency Dallas gives you city access.

When you first drive up, especially if you arrive at night, it seems like a very isolated hotel. It's right next to the old Reunion Arena by the railroad tracks, a little cut off from the rest of downtown. It's darker than dark on the surrounding streets, with few street lamps and fewer people.

Back in the day, when the Mavericks played their games at Reunion, this might have been the location. Once Mark Cuban moved his NBA franchise to the much nicer American Airlines Center several blocks away, it became something of a ghost town.

Turns out it's a fun ghost town though.

The Reunion Dome isn't the coolest bar in town. Good luck on finding anyone revolving who's not from out of town. But it's one of the most relaxed upscale bars. On the night of this visit, a waitress named Shauna had a group of golfers laughing even as she took last call at the ridiculously early hour of 11:30 (yes, there's room for improvement).

Dome is the type of place where tables of strangers start talking to each other. There's something about drinking while moving (especially if you're in one of the chairs facing the other direction than the way the floor's revolving) that breaks down barriers.

The wines by the glass are a cut above your average hotel bar quality too.

The strength of the Hyatt Regency Dallas comes in its public areas. It has a huge lobby complete with a Starbucks. The second level atrium bar and restaurant area sweeps out in grand fashion. Then there's the whole connected Reunion Tower with the Dome Lounge.

It's a hotel laid out in late 1970s style with open air corridors on guest floors, looking up to the top of the hotel and a zooming bank of elevators. Picture most Embassy Suites and you have the idea.

"It's almost like being on a big campus," actuary Chad Bentley said.

You probably spent more time out of your room in college too.

It's not that Hyatt Regency Dallas' rooms are bad. They're just not full of all the modern fluffy bedding and plush pillows that most higher-end hotels have converted to these days. The beds are also placed at a weird angle to watch the TV - which is stuffed into a low-lying cabinet and on rollers.

The Trading Places crew didn't design these rooms.

Still, the most annoying thing about the room on this stay came in how difficult it was to get the high-speed wireless Internet to work. Apparently, the problem is pretty well known because a convention group set up their own temporary cyber café with a good dozen cord connections available for its employees.

Hitting downtown Dallas

You are going to have to drive or use a car service to get out to top Dallas golf courses like Cowboys Golf Club from the Hyatt Regency. Then again, you need to drive to get almost anywhere in Dallas no matter where you're staying.

This is one of the more spread out cities in America.

Hyatt Regency makes the drive quick to major tourist attractions like the grassy knoll and the Texas School Book Depository Museum of JFK assassination infamy.

Perhaps even more importantly to golfers who love the high life (not the beer commercial kind, the real four-star thing), the Hyatt's super close to Fearing's, one of the hottest restaurants in America. Esquire named it the Best New Restaurant in America for 2007. And its scene is as much the star as chef/co-owner Dean Fearing's braised short ribs.

Fearing's does not have one hostess like most restaurants. It has a half dozen beautiful hostesses in silk blouses, in case six parties show up at once or something.

On a lunch visit, Fearing himself came out of the kitchen and welcomed a diner sitting at the counter personally, having no idea he was talking to a travel writer.

No wonder why Dick Cheney has been spotted in Fearing's in a jovial mood, getting taken on kitchen tours.

Fearings is no cheap meal, but it's a lot cheaper than a night at the Ritz Carlton hotel which houses it. Hyatt Regency Dallas offers a close-by alternative to those ritzy room rates while keeping you in the same general neighborhood.

That's the Hyatt Regency on Reunion. It's not close to the best hotel in town. But it just might be your best option when you factor your needs, your credit card balance and your golf and nightlife wants all into the equation.

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Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

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