Hilton Anatole Scores Big With Sports Planners

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If history is any indication, Alabama should roll to a victory over Michigan State this week. Why? Ahead of the College Football Playoff semifinals, the Crimson Tide are staying at Hilton Anatole, the Dallas property that’s hosted seven-straight Cotton Bowl winners, and Ohio State was based there winning last season’s championship. “We call it the luck of the Anatole,” jokes Kavin Schieferdecker, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing for seven years. Whether the streak continues this year or not, teams and sports organizations staying at the Anatole feel like winners. The property’s reputation is so strong that it has become the hotel of choice for not only the local bowl game, but also the NFL, MLB and U.S. Olympic organizations. Hilton Anatole has a not-so-secret advantage over its competitors, says Schieferdecker. Namely, it benefits from its age. Built before hotels were constructed to maximize profits for each square foot, the Anatole has a huge atrium that makes for a creative takeover from visiting groups and events. “We have great real estate,” says Schieferdecker. “Hotels are not built like this anymore. Groups look at this hotel and are amazed at what they can do.” 1230_CS_Anatole1For instance, the College Football Championship unfurled a banner at least eight stories tall last year ahead of the title game. Other branding options include wraps around doors and the hotel’s marble pillars. The Cotton Bowl likes to take advantage of the huge space by creating floor drops for each member of the team staying at the Anatole—making the young athletes feel like they are on a walk of fame. The branding has become so popular that the Anatole will begin charging for adorning its space effective Jan. 1, 2016, a common practice by most hotels. Some of the longtime partners—the Cotton Bowl has used it for 25 years, for instance—will be grandfathered in. There are other benefits to the building’s size. The NFL closed its New York offices and set up shop there ahead of the 2011 Super Bowl, and the Cotton Bowl moved its headquarters there too. Teams and organizations maintain their privacy and security through back elevators and entrances. Meeting space on the mezzanine level also keeps groups separated from the general public staying at the hotel. However, Schieferdecker recalls Johnny Manziel decided he’d rather mingle with fans than stick with security during his Heisman Trophy-winning season at Texas A&M that culminated with a trip to the Cotton Bowl—a precursor to some of his off-field actions with the Cleveland Browns. The University of Arkansas took advantage of the property’s 7-acre park for a massive tailgate before a game there, adds Schieferdecker. More recently, USA Weightlifting held its national championships—the largest event in the organization’s history—there in August. The Anatole has hosted USA Taekwondo previously as well. A resort pool set for completion next year should make the property all the more attractive to youth sporting events.