It looks as if the Ambassador Park Hotel may finally find the magic combination of food and entertainment necessary to draw Dallasites to the white stucco building with a troubled past.
The rocky path to the rebirth of the 79-year-old hotel has left general manager William Bes-son a forgiving man, but just barely. Besson isn’t about to let anyone forget the jewel just south of downtown Dallas, but he says that he will forgive the local media for a few misquotes and for reporting last June that the Great Texas Development Co. filed for bankruptcy (actually, it was the Ambassador Park Hotel Ltd.-not its parent company-that “reorganized” under Chapter 11).
Since the hotel first opened in 1905 near the intersection of South Ervay Street and what is now Interstate 30 near Old City Park, the Ambassador Park has had a roller-coaster history that has paralleled the rise and fall of the decaying neighborhood that surrounds it.
During the hotel’s early years, it was a great luxury hotel where a number of presidents stayed during visits to Dallas. But as the neighborhood began to decline, the hotel went through many transitions, winding up as a home for transients in 1981. Hotel renovation began then, with hopes that the historically designated building would reopen as a luxury hotel in May 1982. A change of ownership and the reorganization delayed that opening. The hotel finally opened with a whisper last December, a move that allowed its owners, Tap Historic Properties, to take advantage of the tax break that comes with a historical designation. Now the hotel is slowly building a clientele of well-heeled executives who are willing to pay the $70- to $250-a-night room tab.
Other signs point to the hotel’s growing popularity. Besson says that 30 brides-to-be have booked receptions at the luxuriously decorated hotel this year, and delegates from Delaware have booked rooms there during the Republican National Convention in August.