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Courtesy of Teressa Foglia

Round Top’s newest boutique hotel will partner with one of America’s premier hat makers for a one-week pop-up that's taking place alongside the fall antiques fair. Modern milliner Teressa Foglia will bring her stylish headgear to the Hotel BeBe from Monday, October 24 through Saturday, October 29 from 11 am to 7 pm daily.

Recently opened on Route 237 directly across from Marburger Farms, Hotel BeBe is a passion project for proprietor Abbie Byrom-Botello. The former marketing exec and her husband, Truth Barbeque owner Leonard Botello, have created a property built around four standalone bungalows, a pool, fire pits, and more. Rooms feature canopy beds, leather furniture, and large pieces of art.

“Teressa Foglia has a world class vision and brand, and I appreciate her eye for detail, creativity, and just her approach to her craft and her clients,” Byrom-Botello tells CultureMap in an email. “She embodies a lot of what we do on the Truth/BeBe side, and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner to truly ‘launch’ the hotel with.”

Byrom-Botello explains that she met Foglia about six months ago. After initially discussing the possibility of the Foglia team staying at the property, they decided to work together on a shopping event that also includes vintage-inspired looks from New York City’s LoveShackFancy and vintage jewelry pieces from Los Angeles-based designer Samantha Knight Fine Jewelry, which will each occupy one of the bungalows.

The event also includes both the Casa del Sol Lounge, an outdoor space that will serve a tequila-driven happy hour from 4-7 pm with food by Truth Barbeque, and furniture and design elements by luxury furniture and décor retailer ARHAUS.

“We worked to create a one of kind space and shopping event for her, which is typically not something a standard venue can offer,” Byrom-Botello writes. “Here, Teressa got a lot of creative control, and I supported her vision.”

That vision includes an immersive experience that’s a little more relaxed than other Round Top shopping destinations. Shoppers will be able to work with shop with Foglia on custom orders or shop ready-to-wear items. Appointments are available via the Join Us at Round Top page on the Teresa Foglia website.

Courtesy of Teressa Foglia

Shoppers will have their choices of hats at the pop-up.

“We are so excited to be a part of the launch of Hotel BeBe,” Foglia said in a statement. “Together with ARHAUS, LoveShackFancy, Casa del Sol Tequila, Samantha Knight Fine Jewelry, and Truth Barbeque, we’re opening the doors to a handcrafted and artisanal experience in such good company.”

Courtesy of the Hyatt Regency Houston/Galleria

Galleria hotel reopens Texas-themed, ranch-to-table restaurant

'urban' dining

A Galleria-area hotel has stepped up the offerings at its in-house restaurant. Urban Star has reopened at the Hyatt Regency Houston/Galleria, a 325-room property located directly across from the bustling mall at 2626 Sage Rd.

Although it’s primarily an amenity for hotel guests, Urban Star recently reopened with a new look and a new menu. Built around earth tones, the refreshed dining room aims to offer an approachable environment for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

In keeping with a new “ranch-to-table” approach, the restaurant now serves only meats sourced from Texas producers and seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. Similarly, all ingredients are organic and “responsibly farmed and raised,” according to a release. Specifically, diners should look for wagyu beef from Rosewood Ranch as well as cheeses from Brazos Valley Cheese and The Mozzarella Company.

Highlights from the breakfast menu include Southern peach waffles that are served with two eggs and a choice of bacon or sausage as well as Houston favorites like biscuits and gravy and migas. At lunch and dinner, the restaurant serves dishes such as barbecue brisket pizza, Gulf shrimp tacos, and a spice-rubbed wagyu filet.

Patrons will find similar upgrades at the Urban Star bar. Cocktails are made with Texas-owned spirits such as Rebecca Creek Whiskey, La Dulce Vita Tequila, and Waterloo Gin. Taste them in the bar’s takes on classics such as the margarita, ranch water, and whiskey sour. The seasonal La Poderosa cocktail utilizes a mix of La Gritona tequila, St. Germain, lime juice, and hibiscus-infused simple syrup.

Courtesy of WAX

Tallest high-rise in Texas to tower above Austin in late 2026

Up, up, and away

Texas’ tallest building is set to grace the Austin skyline three years from now.

At 74 stories tall and 1,022 feet high, the downtown mixed-use project – carrying the new name of Waterline – is scheduled to open in late 2026. Construction is underway at 98 Red River St., near the Austin Convention Center.

Developers of Waterline released specifics about the project September 6. Word surfaced in June 2020 that the Red River site would be home to the state’s tallest building, but the developers hadn’t confirmed the height.

The height of Waterline will eclipse that of Texas’ current titleholder by 5 feet. Houston’s 75-story JP Morgan Chase Tower stands 1,002 feet tall, making it the state’s tallest high-rise.

Of course, Waterline also will reign as Austin’s tallest building. The 66-story, 875-foot-tall Sixth and Guadalupe tower under construction in downtown Austin will temporarily hold the title of Austin’s tallest building.

In verifying the height of the building, developers Lincoln Property Co. and Kairoi Residential, along with investment partner PSP Investments, also unveiled details of Waterline such as:

  • 700,000 square feet of office space.
  • 352 high-end apartments.
  • 251-room 1 Hotel Austin, the first Texas location for hospitality company SH Hotel Resorts’ sustainability-focused 1 Hotels brand.

“Downtown Austin offers one of the most dynamic markets and skylines in the nation, and we’re excited to help drive its ongoing transformation,” Seth Johnston, senior vice president of Lincoln Property, says in a news release. “Waterline marks a new milestone for downtown not only because of its height but also because of the positive impact this project will have on improving connectivity, enhancing public amenities, and attracting more people to this beautiful area of downtown.”

Developers say Waterline will serve as a new gateway from the Central Business District to the Rainey Street entertainment district. The developers will add two pedestrian bridges over Waller Creek from the west, as well as three pedestrian and bicycle access points to Waterloo Greenway from the east.

The development team is contributing $1 million to the Waterloo Greenway initiative to help pay for improvements to the 1.5-mile trail connecting the University of Texas to Lady Bird Lake.

Designed by renowned architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, Waterline will feature floor-to-ceiling windows, warm textures, and native stone.

“Waterline will offer a truly unique experience with unrivaled views, world-class amenities, and a thoughtful design that connects the building’s interior with the project’s unique natural surroundings throughout the building,” says Michael Lynd Jr., CEO of Kairoi Residential. “We’re thrilled to introduce Austin’s next iconic project.”

The building’s ground floor will offer 24,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space overlooking Waller Creek and the Waterloo Greenway.

1 Hotel Austin will occupy the next 13 floors, with a ballroom and meeting spaces on the 14th floor, and a rooftop pool with food and beverage service on the 16th floor.

The office portion of the tower will occupy 27 stories, with a 14th-floor amenity deck offering 24,000 square feet of landscaped outdoor space along with a bar and lounge, indoor meeting spaces, and a prep kitchen for special events.

The apartments will take up the top 33 stories. Residents will enjoy access to two pools on the 41st floor, along with a lounge, bar, kitchen, and co-working space. A movement studio, workout studio, and steam room will be one floor above, in addition to soaking tubs, hammocks, a barbecue pit, and a dining area.

Tilman Fertitta and Draftkings' massive new sportsbook now permanently open in Lake Charles

game on

Sports and gaming fans, heads up: Tilman Fertitta’s Louisiana DraftKings Sportsbook — the largest retail operation of its kind there — is now permanently open in his Golden Nugget Lake Charles.

Enthusiasts visiting the Golden Nugget Lake Charles casino can now expect an elevated sports betting experience spanning more than 12,000 square feet, and including more than 3,200 square feet of LED TV screens to enjoy live games; approximately 300 lounge seats including VIP areas for comfortable viewing; five ticket cages to allow customers to place bets; 16 video poker machines; three Blackjack tables; and 30 self-service kiosks, per a press release.

As those who travel to Lake Charles are aware, this permanent outpost replaces the temporary retail spot.

In keeping with its Billion Dollar Buyer owner’s brand, this DraftKings Sportsbook will also offer a full-service restaurant, appropriately dubbed the DraftKings Sportsbook Bar & Grill. The eatery features breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a “quick grab” menu. For that gameday experience, the grill will serve burgers, wings, and a wide selection of beer, cocktails and frozen drinks at the full-service bar.

Hours for the DraftKings Sportsbook are 10 am to 11 pm Monday through Friday, and 9 am to midnight Saturday and Sunday. Customers can place bets at any time, however, on kiosks located throughout the casino floor.

“Just in time for football season, we look forward to offering our guests the excitement of live games in an immersive audio-visual experience,” said Gerry Del Prete, CEO of Gaming at Fertitta Entertainment Inc. “We believe this DraftKings Sportsbook will raise the standards in sports betting and offer an unparalleled entertainment experience.”

Notably, the operation is an active member of the American Gaming Association and part of the association’s Have A Game Plan. Bet Responsibly public service campaign, which “educates customers on responsible gaming best practices such as setting a budget and sticking to it and only playing with legal, regulated operators,” per press materials.

As CultureMap previously reported, Fertitta sold his Golden Nugget Online Gaming interest to DraftKings for a massive $1.6 billion in May. At that time, Fertitta and DraftKings announced plans to rebrand some current and future retail sportsbook locations at Fertitta Entertainment-owned Golden Nugget properties into DraftKings sportsbooks.

Photo courtesy of Legacy Hall

Start planning a drive-worthy weekend trip to Plano this fall

Let's Hit the Road

Like it or not, we're barreling toward fall and its close companion, the holiday season. The good news is that autumn and the ensuing holidays are also jam-packed with fun festivals, so you'll want to start planning a little getaway to Plano so you can enjoy them all.

Get your calendar ready for these can't-miss celebrations:

Plano Balloon Festival, September 22-25
There's more than simply a sky full of colorful hot-air balloons at this weekend festival, which also sports sky divers, live music, a kids' fun zone, and fireworks at Oak Point Park.

Oktoberfeast at Legacy Hall, September 24
The fifth annual feast includes beer, brats, and live polka music, along with a stein-hoisting competition. Oh, and it's free to attend, though you'll want to snag VIP tickets for an elevated experience.

Fall Plano Train Show, October 1-2
Brush up on your model-building skills or marvel at someone else's masterpiece when trains take over the Plano Event Center, courtesy of the North Texas Council of Railroad Clubs.

Plano International Festival, October 15
Food, music, dancing, and fun from around the world can be found at Haggard Park, site of the largest, longest-running multicultural festival in North Texas.

Beatles Night, October 15
Celebrate John Lennon’s birthday with A Hard Night’s Day at the Red Tail Pavilion located in Oak Point Park. Bring blankets, chairs, and coolers for a night of tunes under the stars.

Hollydays Market, October 21-23
Shop more than 100 merchants for new, unique, and one-of-a-kind gifts, all at the Plano Event Center.

Plano Food & Wine Festival, October 22
The 5th annual festival features over 100 award-winning wines, food from delicious local restaurants, culinary demos from local chefs, and lots of local boutiques and shops. Tickets have sold out the past few years, get yours while you still can.

Rest in Plano Fest & Apparition Expedition, October 22
It is spooky season, after all. Browse Halloween-themed food, art, and other curiosities in Downtown Plano during this devilishly good time.

Fall Harvest Festival & Outdoor Market at Shops at Legacy North, October 23
This brand-new event brings together 40-plus vendors selling everything from clothing to candles to flowers and more. Also enjoy fall-themed photo opportunities, live music, and specials from on-site restaurants.

Got the kiddos in tow? You'll find hours of entertaining fun at the Crayola Experience, Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park, and Southfork Ranch, which offers horseback rides.

Enjoy waterside dining and entertainment at The Boardwalk at Granite Park, then walk mere steps to your room at Hilton Dallas Plano Granite Park.

If you're hitting up The Shops at Legacy or Legacy West, then the Marriott at Legacy Town Center and Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West — with its modern Asian-Texas decor — are both excellent nearby choices.

For slightly funkier digs, check into the Sandman Signature Plano-Frisco Hotel or the NYLO Dallas-Plano Hotel. The former is a sister company to the Dallas Stars, while the latter offers a free shuttle to anywhere within five miles.

Side note: The hotels featured here are just a sampling and are not "preferred" hotels. See all your Plano accommodation options here.

Prost! Oktoberfeast happens September 24.

Photo courtesy of Legacy Hall
Prost! Oktoberfeast happens September 24.
JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa/Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/jwmarriottsanantonio/photos/a.10150662365610854.422473.55807470853/10154264899865854/?type=1&theater]

3 choose-your-own-adventure San Antonio staycations to book this fall

Staycation's All I Ever Wanted

And just like that, summer is over. Kidding, kidding — we have months of 90-degree temperatures left. Still, school is back in session and with September's arrival, it’s time to start booking those fall vacations.

This year, with airlines flailing and the economy doing whatever it is the economy does, perhaps it’s time to consider splurging on a staycation. A change of scenery can boost mental health while taking a sustained break from work has proven to increase physical health. Plus, there's zero percent chance of lost baggage or flight delays.

It’s possible to live in San Antonio forever and not experience everything the city has to offer, which is just one of the attractions of living in a big city. This fall, as the heat begins to break, but before the holidays hit, consider being a tourist in your own backyard with one of these choose-your-own-adventure staycations.

Take the whole family to the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa
The magic of the JW Marriott is its combination of water park and resort, making it an ideal staycation destination for families. Situated in the foothills of the Texas Hill Country, this sprawling retreat offers nearly every amenity possible: golf courses, pickle ball and tennis courts, winding trails, luxury spa, onsite restaurants, Top Golf, and the list goes on. Adding to the fun, family-oriented atmosphere are special events like nightly s’mores by the fire and petting zoos.

Where the JW Marriott really shines is the water park, a massive complex of pools, sand beaches, towering water slides, and 1,100-foot lazy river encircling the entire thing. The slides range from kiddie-size flumes to the Canyon Oak Twister and Hill Country Plunge body slides, both of which start 60 feet in the air and hit speeds of up to 20 mph. (Just remember to keep your arms and legs crossed, something this author learned from experience is not just a suggestion.)

If you need a place to shake off the adrenaline high, consider renting one of the resort’s poolside cabanas. Though it’s an added expense, the attentive staff makes sure everyone has fresh towels, snacks, and cocktails while a personal fridge comes loaded with bottled water and non-alcoholic drinks. Cabanas also offer a personal mini-deck inside the larger pool with lounge chairs so the kids can splash while you relax.

Book your significant other a romantic downtown getaway
San Antonio has no shortage of fabulous downtown hotels, but there’s something magical about the Hotel Havana. The 113-year-old building has almost always been a hotel, beginning at the turn of the century when it was used to house out-of-town merchants who traveled into San Antonio to sell their wares. Today, the boutique hotel offers an industrial-meets-gothic vibe complete with creaky floorboards and crimson carpet leading up the grand staircase.

Though there’s no pool at this Bunkhouse Hotel (if a pool is a must, The Thompson is another favorite situated just a few blocks away), it does offer Ocho, an onsite restaurant with a gorgeous floor-to-ceiling wall of windows, and a subterranean bar.

Make the Havana home base as you explore the River Walk, Southtown, and King William. If you find yourself forced to take an e-scooter by your significant other, as I was during a stay at the Havana last fall, use it to play tourist. Take it for a drive by the Alamo (do note that scooters are programmed to automatically slow to a crawl around the famed attraction) and on through Hemisfair on your way to appetizers and early evening cocktails at Little Em’s Oyster Bar or the new-ish Up Scale, two Southtown hot spots owned by Houston and Emily Carpenter.

For dinner, book a late table at Shiro and take a Lyft (or a scooter if someone forces you to) to the north end of the River Walk for sushi and other Japanese fare. After dinner, take a leisurely stroll back along the river to the hotel for a night cap. (Pro tip: Use the restroom before leaving Shiro or you may end up speed walking the last half of the River Walk and your romantic walk will be ruined.)

Live out your Eloise fantasies at the Hotel Emma
Looking for a solo staycation? San Antonio has the perfect spot for that too: Hotel Emma. At this point, the Emma needs no introduction; the hotel has won countless awards and topped best-of lists for the past seven years. And the August 25 news that chef Jorge Hernandez is taking over the culinary program will only heighten its acclaim. All of this is to say is the Hotel Emma is nice. Very, very nice. And there is no better place to spend a little time (and a lot of money) than soaking in a giant tub in a four-star hotel with a professionally made cocktail delivered directly to your room.

Hotel Emma is located in the heart of the Pearl, a tourist destination in its own right, but when we’re traveling alone, we want to explore as much as possible. Head to Alamo Heights to fuel up with an early morning nosh at Bird Bakery before heading to the McNay Art Museum. On your way back to the Pearl, take a detour down the St. Mary’s Strip for lunch at Singh’s (shrimp bún with a side of chili oil and a Topo) and poke around the nearby vintage shops.

Recharge that afternoon with an in-room massage at Hotel Emma by Hiatus Spa + Retreat and the aforementioned soak ‘n’ cocktail. For dinner, take yourself on a date to Scorpion, an impeccably designed cafe and natural wine bar on the East Side. Once back at the Emma, cozy up in the plush robes and an episode of reality TV. You deserve it.

The otherwordly sunsets atop the JW Marriott willl have guests forgetting they're still in San Antonio.

JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa/Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/jwmarriottsanantonio/photos/a.10150662365610854.422473.55807470853/10154264899865854/?type=1&theater]
The otherwordly sunsets atop the JW Marriott willl have guests forgetting they're still in San Antonio.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Iconic Texas 'cowboy-style' BBQ joint's Katy outpost closure leads week's top stories

this week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week.

1. Iconic Texas 'cowboy-style' barbecue joint's Katy location quietly closes. Sadly, the local outpost couldn't replicate the magic of the original in Llano.

2. Ken Hoffman urges Houston travelers to keep calm and enjoy the trip at the new-look Bush IAH. Our columnist explains why travelers might be in "for a big, pleasant surprise at Houston’s Bush-Intercontinental Airport."

3. Houston's most spectacular winter light shows and events dazzle for the holidays. We rounded up where to see dazzling lights with family, friends, and visitors.

4. Disgraced Theranos CEO and former Houstonian Elizabeth Holmes sentenced to 11 years for fraud. Additionally, Holmes faces a fine of $400 million.

5. Houston's NASA leaders 'giddy' after historic Artemis 1 moon flyby. The spacecraft cruised just 81 miles above the lunar surface.

Disney's Strange World is a visual stunner with too many story ideas

Movie Review

For a studio whose entire reason for being seems to rely on creating and sustaining familiar characters, Walt Disney Animation takes its fair share of risks. In the last 10 years, it has released nine films, seven of which were not based on pre-existing properties (the other two were sequels for two of those seven). That’s a lot of new stuff, most of which has succeeded mightily for the perennially-popular leaders in animation.

They’re at it again with Strange World, which takes place in an unknown country/world known as Avalonia, where Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) is a famous explorer whose only desire is to find a way over, around, or through the imposing mountains surrounding the land. His son, Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), doesn’t share his enthusiasm, and an early discovery by Searcher of a unique energy source leads to a rift between father and son. Jaeger continues onwards, while Searcher returns home with a plant they call Pando that creates harmony throughout the land.

Years later, when the plant shows signs of failure, Searcher is recruited by Avalonia leader Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu) to help in an expedition to find the source of whatever is attacking Pando. What they and others – including Searcher’s wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union) and son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) – find in their travels certainly lives up to the title.

Co-directed by Don Hall and Qui Nguyen and written by Nguyen, the film is a visual stunner. The quality of animation in Disney movies rarely fails to impress, and Strange World is the latest and greatest example. Whether it’s the humans, the landscape, or the innumerable weird creatures that populate the film, there is almost nothing that doesn’t deserve to be stared at and admired.

It’s odd, then, that the story does not come close to matching the graphics. There are a variety of reasons for this failure. Nguyen is the sole credited writer, and he stuffs the film full of big and small ideas, probably too many for this type of project. Searcher’s family and the world of Avalonia and beyond are diverse in multiple ways, to the point that it feels like Nguyen was trying to include everything he could think of in case he never got another shot.

The bigger sin, though, is how quickly the film advances through its plot, often bringing up new things out of nowhere. While Searcher and his family make for an interesting group, the side characters never make an impact. There are also multiple instances where the story takes a turn that makes no sense, either in the world of the film or a storytelling manner.

This includes the final act of the film, which features a significant twist that is presented and accepted in a way that doesn’t fit with the rest of the film. It adds on yet another message in a movie that contains a lot of them, but in a way that even those inclined to believe in what it’s trying to say may wonder why that part is there at all.

The science fiction element of Strange World is a bonanza for the filmmakers and animators to go as wild as they wanted in the visual department. But all that splendor is in service of a story that just doesn’t measure up, making it one of Disney’s less successful offerings in recent years.

---

Strange World is now playing in theaters.

Photo courtesy of Disney

Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), Jaeger (Dennis Quaid), and Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White) in Strange World

Affluent Houston suburb leads region for highest holiday spending budgets in U.S.

Santa Baby

As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, holiday shopping budgets are in the spotlight, and a study from WalletHub lists Sugar Land as one of the top cities where Santa doesn't need a whole lot of help.

According to the personal finance website, the average holiday budget in Sugar Land is $2,793 per person, the 15th highest in the nation. As CultureMap previously reported, Sugar Land residents here make an average of $123,261; the average home price is $337,600.

Fittingly, Fort Bend, home to Sugar Land, was recently named the second-richest county in Texas.

As for Greater Houston, Santa's bag could be a mixed bag, with three suburbs in the top 100, but the urban center falling far behind:

  • Sugar Land, No. 15, $2,793
  • Pearland, No. 36, $2,172
  • The Woodlands, No. 71, $1,733
  • Houston, No. 366, $890

Each year, WalletHub calculates the maximum holiday budget for over 550 U.S. cities "to help consumers avoid post-holiday regret," the website says. The study factors in income, age of the population, and other financial indicators such as debt-to-income ratio, monthly-income-to monthly-expenses ratio and savings-to-monthly-expenses ratio.

Despite nationwide focus on inflation strains, holiday spending is expected to be healthy, and higher than last year.

"The seeming social upheaval in recent times may lead households to spend more in an attempt to take some control of the environment which they can control," says Robert Wright, University of Illinois, Springfield professor emeritus who was among five experts consulted for advice about holiday shopping.

Elsewhere in Texas, 10 North Texas cities landed in this year's top 100 heftiest holiday budgets:

  • Flower Mound, No. 3, $3,531 (The only Texas city in the top 10)
  • Allen, No. 17 , $2,670
  • Frisco, No. 37, $2,150
  • McKinney, No. 45, $2,070
  • Plano, No. 50, $1,999
  • Carrollton, No. 55, $1,837
  • Richardson, No. 58, $1,823
  • North Richland Hills, No. 81, $1,658
  • Lewisville, No. 90, $1,630
  • Fort Worth, No. 366, $890
  • Dallas, No. 401, $845

Spending in the Austin area won't be ho-hum with the Capitol City's budget of $1,705 ranked at No. 78. Two Austin suburbs, Cedar Park (budget $2,855) and League City (budget $2,541) ranked 14 and 20, respectively.

Things don't look too jolly for San Antonio, ranked at No. 431 with an average budget of $803 or Pharr, which was the lowest ranked city in Texas.

At No. 553 with a budget of $487, the Rio Grande Valley city came in just a few spots ahead of last place Hartford, CT with a budget of only $211.