The Mansion on Turtle Creek
It’s impossible not to feel right at home at The Mansion on Turtle Creek, a pink-stuccoed masterpiece nestled in Dallas’ leafy Highland Park. It’s like you’re visiting a distant cousin’s residence---albeit a wealthy one’s---rather than the flagship of Rosewood Hotels’ impeccable roster. It was the city’s first five-star property when it opened in 1983, and whenever my cooking or speaking business takes me to Dallas, I just wouldn’t think of staying anywhere else. Hotelier Caroline Hunt transformed a cotton baron’s dilapidated, outlandish 1925 house into a “restaurant with rooms,” a club-like-cocoon of personal elegance that felt privileged, with her own specific mandate: residential NOT institutional. The restaurant inhabits the mansion itself, and several new buildings were built to house the hotel and residences. “I cannot speak of the Mansion without bias,” says colorful Atef Matkorious, founding Mansion GM and CEO of Rosewood. “We focused on the small things---the little details that became hallmarks of the luxury hotel industry as we know it today.”
Not such small things: the consistent use of a guest’s name by all staff throughout his stay, a religiously used guest history with guest’s room and service preferences, a comprehensive zero-defect policy in all matters of housekeeping, relationships with local farmers and growers to provide the basis of the cuisine the Mansion served, and the presence of all senior members of staff at all times. “There was no management by remote control,” Mankarious explains. “No way. We were there. We said goodbye as much as we said hello.”
The lobby is chic and cozy---richly appointed with original hand-painted de Gournay apricot/gold wallpaper and plush sofas by a fire even if it’s rarely needed in Dallas. The gingerbread cookies and warm cider say, “welcome” Texas-style to its myriad of international visitors, and the moment you enter, you feel invited. The deluxe rooms and suites are oversized and generous, and there’s no shortage of perfectly placed mirrors, hooks, and plugs---everything conceivable for dressing, make-up, and shaving. As you bathe and dress there’s a sense of occasion, and with each glance you know that the lavish accomodations were uncompromisingly choreographed by visionaries who understood luxury---and were not parsimonious in their appeal to a guest’s vanity. These details are signatures of The Mansion, but define the excellence of Rosewood as we know it today.
It’s all so well thought out you just know that the team who conceived it fully inhabited that lifestyle, not merely observed it.