Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Hilton Anatole Does Christmas Big

Like everything else about this legendary Dallas convention center, "Christmas at the Anatole Hilton" is a big and diverse event that entertains visitors of all ages. Decor throughout the eight-acre property ranges from multi-tonne slabs of the Berlin Wall, to bronze lifesize elephants, Ming vases worthy of owner Trammell Crow (a big Asian art collector) and in this season, 30-foot-tall Christmas trees covered with gumdrops.

Even Republican elephants get decorated for Christmas holidays

We've found that many families enjoy convention center hotels because there are so many facilities, and weekend or holiday pricing is such good value. And with one million Christmas lights, an outdoor skating rink, live entertainment, visits from local celebrities from the Dallas Stars and Dallas Zoo, a Christmas break at the Hilton Anatole is no exception.

Gift shop becomes a Gingerbread House decorated with real Oreos

For 2013, festivities begin Friday, November 29 and continue until Saturday, January 4. Christmas at the Anatole is free to hotel guests and those dropping by the hip Gossip Bar, terrific Media Grill sports bistro, or friendly Starbucks cafe.  "Sparkle!" charges a nominal fee, notes Harold Rapoza, general manager, Hilton Anatole. "We think it's important around the holidays to be able to offer family-friendly fun at a cost that won't break the bank, as well as offer something for everyone," and the hotel has surely done it well. 

Christmas at the Anatole Activities and Attractions

Free to hotel guests and anyone passing through are the many Christmas and winter tableaux: Rudolph and his animatronic reindeer friends prancing in their stalls; Santa's workshop where elves are busy at work; the tallest nutcracker in Texas towering more than 40 feet; and a gift shop turned life-size gingerbread house with its own Christmas tree draped in gum drop ornaments.

Son and grand niece enjoy Hilton Anatole decor

Allow enough time to take the hotel's fun 1-mile ArtWalk. Yes, there's an audio track you can stream from www.AnatoleArt.com that takes just 27 minutes, and while the kids get their bearings at the large white marble Buddha or the Jade Entrance filled with remarkable jade sculptures, they will keep everyone moving around the hotel, indoors and out, until your mile-long stroll has given everyone a fascinating glimpse of Trammel Crow's magnificent art collection (and a little exercise too.)

Sparkle is the Extra Glitter at the Anatole

With an admission of just $9/adults 18+ and $7/ages 7-17 (free 6 and younger), we found the "Sparkle" attractions to be great value. Stay a few nights or, if you're local, come back every day of the kids' vacation and you can catch an outdoor flick on "Movie Mondays," a big game on "Football Sundays," or use the Candyland Bounce House and fun, inflatable slide all day and night long.

Interestingly, the hotel wrangled 20 kids from ages 3-7 last June to get ideas for "Sparkle" the holiday season extravaganza. Dubbed the Children’s Advisory Panel by hotel management, the group shared ideas for the fee-based activities and attractions they wanted to see at the hotel.  For this year, they include:

Reindeer Barn in the Hilton Anatole

Outdoor Skating Rink

The skating rink resembles a small town pond with a railing height that's perfect for little ones to grab. Open daily, skate rentals are $6. Special events include Friday Date Night Skating and, weather-permitting, clinics run by the legendary Dallas Stars.

Musical Performances

Every evening, the outdoor stage will showcase entertainers ranging from the Dallas Electric String Quartet and Lone Star Attitude to school choirs; events take place indoors in case of inclement weather.

Origami Lessons

Founders of "Paper for Water," Isabelle and Katherine, ages 9 and 7, respectively, will conduct origami ornament lessons. For each ornament purchased from "Paper for Water," 100% of the proceeds go directly toward Living Water International to build clean water sources in third world countries.

Playing in the vast Anatole Hilton Lobby

Holiday Guest Animals

The Dallas Zoo will bring by a few of their favorite animals, including penguins and baby cheetahs, to visit on select Sundays.

Bark in the Park

Costume contests and four-legged fun in the hotel's huge back park.

Le Theatre De Marionette

"The Little Drummer Boy" to be performed using life-size, holiday-themed marionettes. Priced at $15 for children and $18 for adults.

Breakfast with Santa is very merry

Breakfast with Santa

Photo ops galore when Santa makes guest appearances over the hotel's breakfast buffet.

Hotel Stay Bundled with Christmas Holiday Guest Packages

During the winter holiday season, the Hilton Anatole "Sparkle!" Hotel Package starts at $109/night. This includes a night's stay at one of the Hilton Anatole's 1,600 rooms decorated with fine Asian artwork, breakfast for four and four complimentary tickets to "Sparkle!" The hotel will also provide free parking and internet.

The super "Sparkle!" Hotel Package which starts at $139 adds in admission to The Verandah Health Club, where there's a great big pool that kids will love plus workout facilities galore for those over age 16. Additionally, the "super" offer includes skate rental for four (and the rink is right outside the heated indoor pool, very nice touch!)  plus a commemorative "Sparkle!" ornament. Don't miss the many Holiday Spa offers with winter-themed treatments and savings.

To keep up with key dates and receive additional information regarding "Sparkle!" and Christmas at the Anatole festivities, visit ChristmasattheAnatole.com.

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