DALLAS, TX: Westin Stonebriar Resort

When I arrived at the Westin Stonebriar Resort in Frisco, just north of Dallas, Texas, my initial impression was that this hotel had grown a bit long in the tooth and hadn’t quite kept up with the times. After three nights, it had won me over, though there are some shortcomings that ought to be corrected.

Generally, the resort is lovely. Located about a half-hour cab ride north of DFW, it’s in the metropolitan area but not in the heart of the Big D. That may be a plus or a minus, depending on your reason for being there and/or your perspective.

Staff embodied the best of what I expect from people at a four-diamond-rated property: courteous, attentive, helpful, and friendly.

I was welcomed warmly by a bellman who grabbed my bag from the back of the cab and ushered me to the short line at check-in. The front desk clerks were equally attentive, apologizing for the brief delay and checking me into my room swiftly.

Obvious damage in the hall
Making my way to my room, however, one of the areas that need attention was painfully obvious.

The halls leading to the guest rooms are all marred where housekeeping carts have rubbed against them … and not just one or two scratches. The marks lead down the full lengths of the halls on several floors, ruining the sophisticated effect the wallpaper was intended to create.

Checking into my room, I found one of the bedside lights was not working.  A call to the front desk brought a maintenance person within minutes. Other requests were answered equally promptly, again demonstrating the hotel’s excellent service.

Guest room 2021
My guest room was standard, but very nicely equipped. In addition to the king-sized Heavenly Bed, seating area with chairs and a side table, and a workstation, the room had a flat-screen TV, safe, coffee maker, iron and ironing board, and a robe waiting in the bathroom.

The deep soaking tub/shower combination featured an overhead “drench” shower and an optional wand that can be used as a hand wand or placed in its bracket to form a more traditional showerhead. The Westin “Heavenly Shower” with its dual showerheads is being replaced, according to a front desk clerk. While the drench shower is OK, I’m sorry to see the Heavenly Shower go, though I certainly understand the need to conserve water.

As I was there to speak at a conference, I had a fair bit of work to do, and that revealed another shortcoming: the in-room workstation.

Guest room bath
While it offered a desk with a lamp, it lacked a proper task chair, making it hard to work there for extended stretches. Equipped with a network port, the hotel offered both wired and wireless Internet access at a charge of $9.95 per day for basic service. Connectivity, however, was inexcusably slow: less than 1 MBPS in the room, compared to the 25 MBPS I get at home with my cable service.

Better Internet connectivity was available at the complimentary business center, where speeds were about 3 MBPS. In addition, basic business services including printing and copying were offered without charge; a very nice – and rare – benefit indeed.

In addition to the slow connection speed, places to plug in one’s electronics were in short supply: there was only a single power outlet in the base of the lamp at the workstation. These days, even leisure travelers carry several electronic devices on their journeys, and no one likes to have the laptop plugged in at the desk, the cell phone in the bathroom, and the iPod charging on a footstool near the closet.

Like the damage in the hallways, there were areas in my room that should be addressed. There were several stains on the carpet that needed to be dealt with, either with a deep cleaning or by replacing the carpet. In addition, some of the fixtures were showing wear while others were looking dated.

As I’ve said in other posts, excellent service can turn an average experience into a good one, and that was certainly the case at the Westin Stonebriar. Everyone I passed in the halls, at my meeting venues, and elsewhere said hello, asked if there was anything they could do for me, etc.  It was as it should be in a hotel with a Four-Diamond AAA rating. 

The hotel offers several dining options including Ernie’s Bar, the Legacy Grill, Peter’s CafĂ©, and in-room dining. A light dinner at Ernie’s the night of my arrival was tasty and well prepared.

The other meals, prepared in the banquet kitchen and served at my conference, were surprisingly good, particularly considering it was prepared for a large conference. No complaints there about either the quality or the variety.

Other dining venues are close by. A coffee shop that is open for breakfast and the Silver Fox Steakhouse are both a five-minute walk from the hotel for those who want to go off campus. While I enjoyed a light breakfast at the coffee shop, I did not have the opportunity to eat at the Silver Fox, though my cab driver said it was one of the best in the area which, for Texas, is saying something.

The resort offers a well-equipped workout room with locker facilities, and a pool and Jacuzzi® which are, unfortunately, outdoors. I understand it’s Texas where outdoor pools are the norm but it was 55 degrees on the November evening I arrived; a bit too cold for me to go scampering out to the hot tub.

Westins now offer The Westin Workout. For a $5 fee, you can rent New Balance workout gear, including shoes, for the length of your stay, meaning travelers don’t have to pack their own gear.  A very nice benefit for busy travelers who would like to travel light(er).

The hotel is also adjacent to a golf course for those who hit the little white ball.

While the hotel should address the shortcomings, I would definitely stay there again and recommend it with only the minor caveats I’ve mentioned.

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Photos by Carl Dombek

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