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PLANNER: KRIS STARR
Executive Meeting Manager
Advanced Micro Devices
Located next to the Fort Worth Convention Center in the “City of Cowboys & Culture,” the 614-room Omni Fort Worth Hotel champions a sophisticated saloon-style ambience. The decor is entirely themed around Western heritage with Native American and early Americana motifs, leather furnishings and a big ol’ fireplace in the lobby for sitting around and chewing on the day’s events.
Kris Starr has worked 16 years as an Executive Meeting Manager for Advanced Micro Devices based in Austin. For her global company’s annual 3-day Executive Forum, Starr chose the year-old Omni for its easy access to DFW, the neighborly vibe and varied nightlife for 500+ international attendees.
The group required enough meeting space to host 20 simultaneous breakout sessions. For AMD’s general session, Starr utilized the 18,800-sf Texas Ballroom that the hotel boasts is “big enough for your guests to practically waltz across Texas.” But it was the expansive foyer between the two 2nd floor ballrooms that really commanded attention. Even with 68,000 sf of flexible function space and 6,500 sf of outdoor space, Starr used the foyer for her welcoming reception and hosted meals.
“The foyer’s strong natural light from the tall windows, a magnificent floor-to-ceiling rock wall, and Southwestern decor in browns and coppers warms up the flow,” says Starr. “You don’t feel closed in.”
Attendees liked how well the guestrooms are designed with natural linens, saddle-blanket throws and stitched pillows. “But when it gets down to it, we’re there to conduct business,” says Starr. “The meeting rooms have to be right.”
As well as the service.
“I’m a firm believer that service starts from the top,” she says, acknowledging “the phenomenal service of the banquet staff and Convention Services Manager, Vicky Witt.” She also gives kudos to the chefs’ creativity in addressing the needs of an international group. “I’ve seen mashed potato stations before, but I’ve never seen a variety of salads served in martini glasses. For a standup reception, it was a great way for attendees to easily eat.”
Most evenings everyone hung out at the hotel’s Whisky & Rye Sports Lounge, with a low-key atmosphere that encouraged one particular raucous night of karaoke.
“Many made good use of the private dining rooms at Bob’s Chop House (holds 65) and the Cast Iron (holds 20) in the hotel,”
says Starr. She usually provides all meals, but with so many cool restaurants nearby for attendees staying for add-on sessions, she opted not to.
Just a few minutes walk from the Omni Fort Worth’s front doors, Sundance Square is a large shopping/dining district filled with over two dozen restaurants, including more than a few serving gourmet Tex-Mex.
“I liked the proximity of Sundance Square’s restaurants and entertainment and that the hotel is adjacent to the Fort Worth Convention Center in case we needed more meeting space.” February’s chill kept many indoors, because the “inviting big fireplace in the lobby—a rarity in Texas hotels—was appealing.”
A few folks checked out the nearby “world famous honky tonk,” Billy Bob’s Texas, where Urban Cowboy was filmed. Originally a cattle barn, it’s now a major attraction inside the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. Billy Bob’s accommodates 6,000 pax within a 100,000-sf entertainment center. It includes 32 bar stations, a Texas-size dance floor for two-steppin’ and a live bull riding ring. They don’t call these parts the real Texas for nothing.