by Sarah J.F. Braley | October 01, 2018

Dallas-based Omni Hotels & Resorts, which has been cited in the recent past as a Best Place to Work by M&C, doesn't aspire to battle big-brand portfolios like those of Marriott and Hilton -- instead the chain works to build its group of luxury properties one carefully chosen destination at a time.

With the unveiling in the last 14 months of three new entries - the 300-room Omni Frisco (Texas) Hotel (August 2017), the 264-room Omni Hotel at the Battery Atlanta (January 2018) and the 612-room Omni Louisville Hotel (March 2018) in Kentucky, the brand's portfolio now stands at 55 properties.
Two already in the collection are poised to reopen after extensive renovations: The Omni Houston Hotel in the Galleria area, closed since Hurricane Harvey struck in August 2017, will begin welcoming guests again on Nov. 1, following a $30 million project that included renovating the two lower floors that took on water from the floods. The Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa outside of Austin, Texas, is in the process of adding a 180-room tower, bringing the total to 493 guest rooms; when the property reopens May 1, 2019, it will have six dining outlets, a rooftop Mokara Spa, 76,000 square feet of meeting space, and a new event pavilion with views of the Texas Hill Country and the resort's top-notch golf courses. The 355-room Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, N.H., is conducting normal operations while an extra 66 guest rooms are being built; they will become available in 2020. A rooftop terrace and bar also will soon be part of the resort's amenities.
In the past decade or so, the company began developing properties next to convention centers, building a collection of higher-end headquarters hotels such as the Omni Dallas and the Omni Louisville. Under construction now are two major additions to that group: Across from the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the 1,054-room Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport will open in the first quarter of 2021 with 102,000 square feet of its own meeting space. Ground was broken today on the 604-room Omni Oklahoma City, rising next to a new convention facility also under construction; the hotel is expected to debut in the fourth quarter of 2020 with 75,000 square feet of meeting space.
"I think what Omni is doing is different," Dan Surette, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the chain, told a media panel recently, as the company is the owner, or part owner, of most of its properties. Of Omni's 55 hotels, 42 are wholly owned, nine are only managed, five are joint-venture partnerships and two are franchised. "We want to own the experience and deliver incredible service," added Surette. "We want to own as many assets as we can. It's going to be fun in the next few years, tapping into new markets."
A new agreement has made Omni the official hotel of the PGA Tour, which might lead to a partnership on a resort in north Frisco, Texas, that will include a major new golf course (stay tuned for possible details).
In August, the company launched a meeting-planner loyalty program called Omni Select Planners, by which members earn free nights, rather than points. The earned stays are good at any Omni property; winners can opt for one of the gorgeous grande dame resorts, such as the Omni Homestead, or head to a city property in such places as Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, or Washington, D.C. 
Omni gives back to its hotels' communities with Say Goodnight to Hunger, which donates a meal to a family through the Feeding America network for every room-night booked. Over the plan's first two years, more than 13 million meals have been delivered, and as part of the new deal with the PGA Tour, four meals for a family in need will be delivered for every birdie or better made during each Tour event. In the few weeks since the agreement was signed, over 14 professional tournaments, more than 76,012 meals were earned for families in the events' host communities.
On the F&B side, Devin Burns, vice president of food and beverage, aims to bring the culinary innovations of the hotels' restaurants into the meeting rooms. "We like to take a trend and create our own twist from that," he said. "It starts with customizing menus to the group specific. Banquets used to have their own menus that were pretty bland and boring. Now we're bringing the restaurant to the banquet space. If we have trending items in the restaurant and the bar, why not bring that to the banquet space? We really need to push the envelope and push that concept."

Hear more from Burns on this concept in the video below: