As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the staff of the new Homewood Suites by Hilton located in downtown Dallas, Texas, is working on its first big test.
The hotel, which previously was an office building, opened its doors in early October and celebrated its grand opening Nov. 21. And with Nov. 22 marking a half-century since President Kennedy was shot in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, the new hotel was quite busy, to say the least.
“It has been a madhouse since we opened the door,” says Mindy Dennis, general manager of the new Dallas Homewood Suites. “We opened the doors on Oct. 9, so we are just passing that 30-day mark, and it has been really busy. Being the only Hilton hotel in downtown Dallas, we have been a hotspot for dignitaries and news anchors.”
Bill Duncan, global head for brand management of Homewood Suites, says he was impressed with the new hotel.
“It is just really amazing what they’ve been able to do,” Duncan says. “It looks like a brand-new beautiful hotel, which it is. But they’ve really brought it to life. I’m very, very proud, a little speechless in fact.”
Adding to the excitement is opening right in time for this historic anniversary.
“This was perfect timing,” he says. “I am not quite sure in my time with the brand that I can think of [a Homewood Suites] that has opened at a [time like this]. I think this is probably a first.”
That, he says, has inspired the hotel’s staff.
“I think it adds a bit of enhanced energy and adrenaline to make sure they have a great opening, and obviously it’s incredibly poignant,” Duncan says. “This particular location is not very far from the spot where President Kennedy was assassinated. It’s a vital part of the Downtown Dallas area. It’s a great location because it’s so close to the memorial and the Book Depository and all of that.”
The new Homewood Suites is three blocks from Dealey Plaza, which will host a ceremony in honor of the anniversary on Nov. 22. All of the living presidents are expected to be there, as are many senators and prominent people like former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
While Dennis was unable to provide names of prominent figures staying at the hotel, she did mention that a national anchor was a guest, as were several dignitaries. Crew members for CBS and NBC news have also been occupying the property. According to Dennis, those crews were able to walk to Dealey Plaza and to conduct interviews in the living rooms of hotel suites.
“It’s been quite challenging with a new team, however we’ve been working through it with training, and we’ve had wonderful support,” Dennis says.