High marks

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines takes off with new travel award

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines takes off with new travel award

Southwest Airlines airplane
Southwest earned applause in several categories. Southwest Airlines

With coronavirus grounding long-distance plans for a lot of Dallas travelers, the desire for a close-by getaway has escalated, while we continue to dream of our post-pandemic journeys. 

Released July 28, Tripadvisor’s 18th annual Travelers’ Choice Awards for the hotel, restaurant, and airline categories ranks one Dallas-based carrier among the best. Several Texas hotels are worth adding to a regional bucket list, as well. 

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines flies into the No. 1 slot among the best airlines in the U.S. and North America, the best low-cost carriers in North America, and the best economy carriers in North America.

“Awards such as these highlight our passion, which is to connect people to what's important in their lives with low fares, world-renowned hospitality, and customer-friendly policies,” Ryan Green, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Southwest, says in a July 28 release.

And, where to go these days?

In the category of best inns and B&Bs in the U.S., the Magnolia House Bed & Breakfast in Fredericksburg checks in at No. 5. For three decades, this charming, four-room B&B has served as a gateway to the Texas Hill Country.

Meanwhile, The Rainbow Courts Motel — located an hour northeast of Austin — unlocks the No. 4 ranking among the country’s best bargain hotels.

San Antonio also fares well in the Travelers’ Choice awards. Hotel Emma in the Pearl mixed-use development shows up at No. 5 in the category of best hotels in the U.S. Hotel Emma reigns as the most honored hotel in San Antonio.

“Hotel Emma stands out among travelers for its cool culture,” U.S. News & World Report observed in February. “Visitors marvel at the refined industrial elements featured throughout — particularly in the lobby — and are equally impressed with the quality of the accommodations. Guests report rooms to be exceptionally styled and comfortable, thanks to amenities like 48-inch flat-screen TVs, beds with Frette linens, and luxury bathrobes.”

In addition, the San Antonio area secures two spots on the list of the best U.S. hotels for families: Hampton Inn & Suites San Antonio Lackland AFB SeaWorld (No. 17) and Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort Hill Country in Canyon Lake (No. 23).

Elsewhere in Texas, in the category of best hotels in the U.S., Houston's The Lancaster Hotel ranks fourth while The Red Roof Inn Houston - Westchase grabs the No. 7 spot in the category of best bargain hotels.

The Lancaster Hotel is something of a comeback story. The hotel reopened in October 2018 after sustaining serious damage from Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, one month after the Shinn family of Dallas bought the 1920s-era property. Following a multimillion-dollar renovation, The Lancaster emerged as a 12-story, 93-room boutique hotel featuring ’20s-inspired design and décor, and more than 200 specially commissioned works of art by Texas artists.

The Lancaster brags that it “redefines modern hospitality” and “exudes a warm, classic elegance.”

The Travelers’ Choice program determined this year’s winners based on millions of reviews and opinions posted in 2019 on the Tripadvisor travel platform from travelers and diners around the world. The round of rankings published July 28 features hotels, restaurants, and airlines.

“This has been a tough year for our industry, but the global desire to go and explore, whether the destination is an hour away or across the world, remains strong,” Lindsay Nelson, chief experience and brand officer at Tripadvisor, says in a release. “We’re passionate about guiding travelers to the good out there, especially the good found within these recognized hotels, restaurants, and airlines that rise to the occasion in offering the best of the best.”