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Berry Tramel  


Dallas travelblog: Mary Kay convention & the Omni hotel

by Berry Tramel Published: July 21, 2014

Big 12 Media Days has arrived, and you know what that means. An American hotel.

After 12 nights in Italy, the comforts of an American hotel are quite welcome. Of course, the Dallas downtown Omni has issues of its own.

It’s a poorly-managed hotel — the city of Dallas owns it; governmental ownership of a commercial business seems like a terrible idea — and Big 12 Media Days seems to always coincide with the massive Mary Kay convention, which is headquartered at the Dallas Convention Center next door.

I wrote about our check-in problems at the Omni last year for the OU-Texas game (which is NOT a Mary Kay issue), and we didn’t arrive at the hotel until 9:30 p.m. Sunday. You figure you’re pretty safe at 9:30 on a Sunday night.

Nope. Long line to check in. I don’t know why check-in flummoxes the Omni so, but it does.

But the wait gave me time to survey my surroundings, and I noticed that the lobby, filled with Mary Kay representatives, had a bunch of women walking around holding their shoes.

We have a hygiene issue here; if my granddaughters came to the lobby barefoot, I’d tell them to put their shoes on. Of course, I didn’t offer such advice to the army of cosmetic peddlers. I have a little sense.

But women, I implore, if you’re wearing shoes that hurt your feet, even if just at the end of a long day, get a different pair of shoes. I know high heels are all the rage. I know they make you look taller and I assume more distinguished and I don’t know what. But if they force you to walk around barefoot at the end of the day, they’re not working.

The Mary Kay invasion is impressive. I don’t mean there are 50 women at our hotel. I’ll bet there are 500. And 500 more at every other downtown hotel. And more beyond that. This thing goes on for 18 days and brings 30,000 to the city of Dallas. That’s like the Olympics.

Of course, it could be worse. We could be Jenni Carlson. Jackie O. keeps getting asked if she’s here with the Mary Kay people. It actually paid off for her. She checked in earlier Sunday and the line in the lobby was enormous. But some hotel employee asked if she was with the Mary Kay convention, and she said no, Big 12. The guy moved her to the front of the line.

So I’m glad the conference still has a little status.



The Omni rooms are nice. My shower literally is four times the size of the shower in Venice, which was about 2×2. And the beds are consistent. And there are plenty of plug-ins. And lots of space. And a television bigger than a laptop monitor.

Of course, you’re in Dallas and not Rome, so there’s a tradeoff.

But in general, American hotel rooms are quite an upgrade over what I encountered in Italy.



We came down in three cars. Jason Kersey, Ryan Aber and Kyle Fredrickson drove down together, John Helsley came down with videographers Damon Fontenot and Tim Money, Jenni was already down here for a writing conference and sports editor Mike Sherman rode down with the Dish and I.

The caravan paid off. The video car was about 30 minutes ahead of us; Chopper (Helsley) texted and said the construction north of Marietta had backed up traffic for miles. So we darted off I-35 at Exit 24 south of Ardmore, drove over to Overbrook at Highway 77 and went south to Marietta. Got to Marietta, drove two minutes through town and got back on the freeway with traffic wide open. The detour would have cost us maybe 10 minutes if there was no I-35 backup. As it was, it probably saved us 10 minutes.

I guess I-35 construction in southern Oklahoma will always be with us. Seems like it’s been going on for 25 years.



We met Gary and Donetta Nelson and their family for dinner. Donetta is the Dish’s cousin, and they’ve been great friends for 35 years. We met at Pappadeaux in north Dallas. Had a great time.

The Nelsons have lived in Dallas forever but grew up in Ada. One of their sons and his wife graduated from OU, and another is headed to OU next month. We have dinner every year the week before OU-Texas.

I had pasta Mardi Gras, which is Pappadeaux’s version of seafood pasta, and it was excellent, like always. In fact, Pappadeaux’s seafood pasta was as good as the seafood pasta I had in Italy. I’d probably put the lobster fettuccine I had in Rome ahead of it, but otherwise, no.



by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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