Virgin Dallas

As the gateway to summer, Memorial Day weekend feels like the right time to start thinking about pool action in Dallas. Who among us has not harbored a fantasy of sneaking into a pool that is not ours for a quick, stealthy dip.

These five hotels actually do not require stealth. They accept non-hotel guests, some for the very first time. Some limit access to the pool bar only, others allow a swim, and some rent out poolside cabanas.

Here's where to find the new hotel pool action for summer 2023:

The Joule
Downtown Dallas hotel has opened its pool packages and amenities to the public for the first time. Non-guests can purchase $50 day passes for visits Sunday-Friday. (Saturdays are open to hotel guests only.) Each pass comes with a cocktail and valet service.

They also have cabanas for rent, Sunday-Friday, 11 am- 5 pm:

  • Small Cabana Package for 2 is $175, and includes bottle of sparkling wine and valet service.
  • Large Cabana Package for 6-8 is $350, and includes bottle of sparkling wine, pitcher of signature cocktail, and valet service.

Omni PGA Frisco Resort
New 600-acre resort in Frisco offers day passes and cabana rentals for outside guests based on availability.

Day passes are $50 and afford access to two outdoor heated leisure pools with a splash pad; adults-only infinity pool; lounge chairs (first come, first serve); towel service; poolside service with food & drinks (available for purchase); and complimentary wifi.

Cabana rentals start at $250 and include day passes for up to 4, a cabana at the main resort family pool, sofas, ceiling fans, smart TV, mini fridge, storage cabinet and server with food and drinks available for purchase.

Adult-only (21 and up) cabana rentals start at $450 and also come with food and drinks available for purchase at Bluestem Pool Bar.

Dallas Renaissance at Plano Legacy West Hotel
The hotel just unveiled its Zen Pool + Bar, located on the third floor, and has added five new poolside cabanas plus food & beverage offerings.

Day passes to the pool start at $40. Reservations can be made at ResortPass.com in half day and full day increments.

Four cabanas hold up to 6 people, with rates beginning at $250.

One VIP cabana accommodates 10 and includes Renaissance branded swag, fruit platter, and two bottles of sparkling wine served with juice. Rates begin at $1,000.

There are food & beverage packages such as the Endless Summer, with a carafe of a speciality cocktail plus bao buns, Texas wontons, and meatballs, serving four people; plus charcuterie board, flatbreads, and sweets.

The Stoneleigh Hotel
The pool is open for summer. Single-day passes and covered cabanas for parties of up to six people are available for purchase.

Virgin Hotel Dallas
The pool is open to hotel guests only until 8 pm, but they've updated their rooftop Pool Club, open to the public, with new food and drink. Public entry begins at 8 pm but does not include pool access. On weekend nights, they're hosting Skyline Cinema, beginning Memorial Day Weekend beginning Saturday May 27 with Mamma Mia, and Sunday May 28 with Jaws. Tickets are $20 and are required for entry. A bag of popcorn is included.


Hotel Swexan in Dallas' Harwood District will debut with 3 new restaurants

Hotel News

A new hotel opening in Dallas' Harwood District will open with three culinary concepts including a steakhouse.

It's the Hôtel Swexan, a 134-room boutique hotel fusing Swiss heritage and Texan hospitality, launched by Harwood Hospitality Group (Happiest Hour, Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar, Dolce Riviera) and set to open in mid-2023.

According to a release, all three restaurants and cocktail spaces will be open to Hôtel Swexan guests and non-guests alike.

The "headlining act" is Stillwell’s, a bold Texas steakhouse which pays homage to its female heroine for which it is named, Hallie Stillwell.

Located in the heart of the hotel on the seventh floor, Stillwell’s will be a gathering point and celebratory destination for locals and guests alike, with a lively bar, inventive cocktails, plush seating and mid-century, jewel-toned and walnut adorning design.

The restaurant will exclusively serve HWD – Harwood Premium Beef – a new sourcing vertical that has been years in the making. Through a partnership between Harwood International and a Texas/Oklahoma ranch, Stillwell’s guests will receive world-renowned, locally raised and ranched Akaushi cattle. One of the hallmark features of the HWD Beef (aside from its exclusivity at Harwood restaurants) is its zero-waste component. HWD utilizes the full animal, turning hides into leathers and rugs, and bones to make stocks, sauces and even dog treats, ensuring no waste is produced from the partnership.

Menu highlights at Stillwell’s will include a decadent chilled shellfish & caviar selection pulling the best from Pacific & Atlantic waters; appetizers blending steakhouse classics like Steak Tartare with playful items like Lobster Corn Dogs with Mustard Crème Fraiche & Micro Shiso; a wide selection of proprietary bone-in cuts such as a the 32 oz. Tomahawk & 24 oz. Smoked Beef Rib, sit alongside a 28-day Dry-Aged New York Strip and other classic cuts from the HWD Beef selection. Guests will also find familiar but over-the-top sides like Beef Tallow Fries, Port Salut Mac & Cheese and Jumbo Onion Rings with Green Goddess.

“When developing the menu for Stillwell’s, we wanted to infuse traditional steakhouse offerings with an unexpected twist – whether it be an adventurous new flavor, an elevated childhood treat, or plates that bring local farmers and purveyors to center stage,” said Executive Chef Raymond Bocanegra. “Stillwell’s dishes are sophisticated, yet colorful and inspiring, meant to be shared, promote conversations and expand to new palettes, while remaining proud and true to our roots as an authentic Texan steakhouse.”

On the beverage front, Master Sommelier Barbara Werley has crafted a stunning wine list featuring rare and hard-to-find wines including back-vintages from world renowned producers to a robust selection of large format bottles. The cocktail menu tips its hat to steakhouse classics while a curated list of spirits and after-dinner drinks round out the program.

Isabelle’s is Hôtel Swexan’s chic lobby-level enclave with a patio inspired by the sidewalk cafes of Europe. Dappled with bright light and French flare, it will serve Parisian-approved breakfast, lunch and light bites. The main event will be Isabelle’s afternoon tea program, a curtsy to the hotel’s European influence and inspired by the grand hotels of London and Paris. Guests will enjoy the combination of sweet and savory with classics like Cucumber and Caviar Tartine or Tea Sandwiches, side-by-side with craveable pastries and fruits of the season. A selection of teas, coffees, sparkling wine and aperitifs ensure a perfect accompaniment, whether the guest is seeking a traditional experience or something more celebratory. In the evenings, Isabelle’s will transform into a swanky martini bar for the perfect night cap, with a menu inspired by the mixology capitals of the world, from Tokyo to New Orleans.

Babou’s and the Library at Babou’s
Babou’s and the Library at Babou’s is an energetic, underground room and cocktail lounge. Towering bookshelves and rich leather seating allow for intimate conversation, but a separating door gives way to a hidden cocktail bar, with colorful carpeting, electric wall art and even expertly curated, one-of-a-kind restrooms. Babou’s and the Library at Babou’s will be the hotel’s exuberant nightlife destination – a floor dedicated to entertainment, connection, and curiosity.

A family-owned, 134-room boutique concept, Hôtel Swexan strikes the perfect fusion of its familial Swiss heritage with quintessential Texan hospitality (as denoted by its moniker). Situated in the heart of Dallas, Hôtel Swexan offers enchanting suites, five independent hospitality concepts, a private social club and an expansive rooftop infinity pool with panoramic views of the Dallas skyline. Exuding European elegance and old-world luxury yet remaining true to its lovable and unwavering Texan spirit, the hotel is uniquely playful and inviting.

Harwood International is an international real estate firm with offices and developments in select niche markets, including Dallas, Geneva, and London which has transformed the Dallas neighborhood into the acclaimed Harwood District featuring office, residential, and retail within a park-like campus with gardens and art-filled lobbies. The 19-city block District will continue to grow to include over 14 million square feet of office, retail, and residential development.

Photo courtesy of The Post Oak Hotel

Raise a glass to the ultimate wine experience at Houston's The Post Oak Hotel


Oenophiles, rejoice! The Forbes Five-Star Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston is bringing together 32 of Sonoma County's most prolific wineries for one incredible evening of tasting, learning, and toasting.

The experts themselves – winery owners, wine makers, and grape growers — will be at The Post Oak Wine Experience on June 9 from 7-10 pm, held in The Post Oak Hotel Grand Ballroom.

But you don't have to be a vino connoisseur to attend this extraordinary affair; all are welcome, regardless of one's familiarity with the world of wine. Whether you seek a romantic rendezvous, a convivial gathering among friends, or an enriching educational encounter, this event promises to be a soiree tailored to the discerning tastes of wine lovers and novices alike.

"Sonoma is one of my favorite wine regions (even as a Napa native) and this exclusive event is a rare opportunity to taste through hundreds of wines that showcase the area’s incredible diversity and overall excellence,” says Keith Goldston, Master Sommelier.

To further elevate the experience, guests can indulge in the culinary creations crafted by executive chef Jean-Luc Royere while being serenaded by live music. An impressive charcuterie board that spans the ballroom is one snack that's on the menu.

The selection of wineries includes such renowned names as Kosta Browne, Kistler Vineyards, Silver Oak, Jordan, and 28 other esteemed participants.

If you want to experience a taste of five-star accommodations following the event, The Post Oak Wine Experience Package includes overnight accommodation, two admission tickets to the event, breakfast for two, and a wine welcome amenity. You can book the package here.

This is the second annual Post Oak Wine Experience event. Last year, The Post Oak Hotel welcomed the wine region of Rioja.

“As a fifth-generation grape grower in Sonoma County, I appreciate getting out into different markets and sharing my family’s story and our wines," says Steve Dutton, co-owner of Dutton Ranch and Dutton-Goldfield Winery. "For this event at The Post Oak Hotel, we are really going big with some special wines that we are excited to pour. I am looking forward to being there with some of the best winemakers and grape growers from our region and showcasing everything we love about Sonoma County."

Tickets for the event can be purchased here, and are priced at $195 per person. This includes admission to the event, unlimited wine tastings, food offerings, and complimentary event parking.

Chalk Hill Winery

Photo courtesy of The Post Oak Hotel

Try hundreds of Sonoma County wines at the event.

For more event details or to purchase tickets, please visit ThePostOakHotel.com.

Photo by Gus Schmiege

Luxe downtown Dallas hotel makes top 10 list of best lodgings in Texas

stay here now

Though we are in the era of short-term rentals, Texas Monthly is out on the prowl to recognize those truly local hotel gems scattered across our wonderfully vast state. And a Dallas hotel has earned a top-10 recommendation spot.

Sliding into No. 8 of the magazine's 2023 edition of "Where to Stay Now" is the Thompson Dallas. The Thompson hotel opened in 2020 inside The National, a historic 51-story mixed-use tower downtown that was originally built in the 1960s. Guest-favorite amenities include the choice between four different restaurants – Catbird, Kessaku, Monarch, and Nine at the National – and a solid reputation for high-class cocktails.

"Its fine dining and glamorous rooftop bar quickly turned it into one of the city’s swankiest hot spots," the magazine says.

Fort Worth's Western-glam Hotel Drover in the historic, rejuvenated Mule Alley district, took the No. 4 spot. The Drover opened in 2021 as an upscale “urban ranch oasis” for travelers and locals alike to enjoy. Little details like an embossed pattern on leather wallpaper, or a TV framed by rustic wood really sells the look and feel of what TheMonthly calls "Yellowstone meets Dallas" vibes. The hotel's soaring popularity frequently leads to basic rooms exceeding a $1,000 weekend nightly rate, so you'll want to plan your trip accordingly.

Hotel DroverHotel Drover opened in 2021 as an “urban ranch oasis” for travelers and locals alike. Photo courtesy of Hotel Drover

Topping this year's recommendations is Houston’s La Colombe d’Or, the landmark mansion that overlooks the historic Montrose neighborhood. It was built over a century ago and named after an inn and restaurant of the same name in France. As CultureMap reported, the hotel underwent a major transformation in 2019, reopening in 2021 with a newly renovated house and bungalows, and a 34-story tower.

All 10 hotels on 2023’s "Where to Stay Now" list have either recently opened or undergone massive renovations since the publication's previous edition, in 2019. Commonalities between the hotels include a love of art, historic preservation, and attention to those tiny details that truly outshine the convenience of a short-term rental.

Texas Monthly's recommendations include:

  • La Colombe d’Or in Houston
  • Hotel Lulu in Round Top
  • Lively Beach in Corpus Christi
  • Hotel Drover in Fort Worth
  • The Loren at Lady Bird Lake in Austin
  • Stanton House in El Paso
  • Grand Galvez in Galveston
  • Thompson Dallas
  • Willow House in Terlingua
  • Commodore Perry Estate in Austin

Texas Monthly also included Dallas'Hall Arts Hotel, in the Arts District, as an honorable mention. Also on the list: Fort Worth'sHotel Dryce. The hotel was one of Forbes most anticipated hotel openings of 2021, and the only Texas hotel to make the cut. The hotel's bar, The Lobby, won Bar of the Year at last year's Tastemaker Awards.

Hotel Dryce lobby barThe Hotel Dryce scored an honorable mention. The Lobby Bar is 2022's Tastemakers Bar of the Year winner. Photo by Celestina Blok

The 10 honorable mention hotels are:

  • The Barfield, Autograph Collection in Amarillo
  • Hall Arts Hotel in Dallas
  • Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa
  • Cotton Court Hotel in Lubbock
  • Hotel Dryce in Fort Worth
  • Thompson San Antonio-Riverwalk
  • Canopy by Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk
  • Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park in El Paso
  • Austin Proper Hotel
  • Hotel Turkey in Turkey

More information about the hotels can be found on texasmonthly.com.


Dallas visitors pay an extra 34 percent in Airbnb surcharges, Forbes finds


We’ve all been there: You find that perfect Airbnb with the right price for your travel dates, only to be deterred at the checkout page when you witness the total skyrocket to an incomprehensible amount after the cleaning and mysterious “service” fees.

In a new study called "Cities With the Worst Airbnb Fees In 2023," Forbes Advisor discovered that Dallas travelers pay an average surcharge of 34 percent for an Airbnb in the city. Forbes looked at 32,000 listings across 100 of the most popular markets on Airbnb to find common trends.

The average Airbnb stay in Dallas is $229 a night, with a 13 percent cleaning fee, a 15 percent service fee, and an average 6 percent tax rate. Though that seems high, Dallas is only No. 67 on Forbes’ list.

Nearby visitors to Fort Worth pay just one percent less than their Dallas-destined counterparts, at 33 percent, earning them No. 77 in Forbes' report. The study also designates Fort Worth as the Texas city with the least amount of surcharges: Guests pay four dollars less in nightly rates for an Airbnb in the city, but pay 12 percent in cleaning fees, 15 percent service fees, and 5 percent in taxes.

Houston ranked as the Texas city with the highest fees, and No. 8 overall with their average surcharge at 45 percent. Though their nightly rate is lower than Dallas' at $193, they pay 15 percent in cleaning fees, 15 percent service fees, and another 15 percent in taxes. That’s a good dent in your wallet.

Here’s every Texas city that appeared in the top 100:

  • No. 8 – Houston: 45 percent total fees
  • No. 33 – Galveston: 39 percent total fees
  • No. 47 – San Antonio: 37 percent total fees
  • No. 67 – Dallas: 34 percent total fees
  • No. 69 – South Padre Island: 34 percent total fees
  • No. 71 – Austin: 33 percent total fees
  • No. 77 – Fort Worth: 33 percent total fees

Atlanta is the U.S. city with the highest percentage in fees for the average Airbnb stay, totaling an unfathomable 48 percent. Surprisingly, an Airbnb stay in New York City will only come with 23 percent in total fees, making it the lowest percentage out of all the top 100 cities.

In the report, publicist Tracy Lamourie criticized Airbnb hosts and property managers for charging excessive fees, calling it "disingenuous."

“I’m old enough to remember when Airbnb was a more wallet-friendly alternative to hotels. That’s only rarely true these days,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dustin Abney, CEO of vacation-rental management company Portoro, defended Airbnb and praised the company's transparency around its listings with the fee breakdown. He noted that most guests are charged fees without knowing where that money goes.

“Most guests also assume that property managers or hosts are trying to price-gouge them, when this usually is not the case,” Abney said. “In reality, there are many hidden costs that go into running a short-term rental, and these costs fall on property managers to pay.”

Photo courtesy of Omni

Indulge in the art of ultimate relaxation at Omni PGA Frisco Resort

Endless Experiences

For some people, the definition of relaxation is a serene day spent on the links, perfecting their swing and chasing that elusive hole-in-one. For others, a therapeutic massage, calming facial, or fresh mani-pedi is the ticket to transcendent bliss.

No matter which camp you fall into, Omni PGA Frisco Resort is where you'll find the perfect escape. The eagerly anticipated, $520 million resort is accepting reservations for May 2023 and beyond, while spa bookings and tee times will become available in April.

Couple receiving massage

Photo courtesy of Omni

Indulge in a massage.

Here's what's waiting for you at this dream destination:

The resort boasts two 18-hole championship golf courses, collectively known as Fields Ranch. Fields Ranch East was designed by Gil Hanse, and Fields Ranch West by Beau Welling.

Registered hotel guests can book tee times 120 days in advance of their stay to play Fields Ranch, which will be home to 26 major championships starting in May and continuing through 2034.

More golf goodness
Not ready for the full 18-hole experience? Take a few practice swings at the Fields Ranch Practice Facility, then head to The Swing, a lighted 10-hole, par-3 short course, or The Dance Floor, a two-acre putting course and entertainment area.

This will also be the site of Frisco's first Lounge by Topgolf and PGA of America's new headquarters.

Take advantage of all that expertise at the PGA Coaching Center, which offers a high-tech, data-driven club-fitting and instruction experience.

A variety of retail and dining concepts throughout the mixed-use development, known as the Monument Realty PGA District, are also coming soon.

Say "spaaaa"
Omni’s signature full-service salon and spa, Mokara Spa, boasts 20 private treatment rooms, all dedicated to "The Art" collection.

The Art of Self Care encompasses Swedish techniques, deep therapeutic massages, and couple massages, plus the latest sports massage techniques and pressure point therapy for sports enthusiasts.

The Art of Skin Care offers facials that range from anti-aging and renewing to organic and calming, all blending natural beauty with advanced science and producing personalized results and a transformed feeling.

The Art of Salon Care encourages you to pamper yourself from head to toe with signature manicures and pedicures, specialized hair services, and artistic makeup services.

Guests can also treat their whole mind, body, and spirit at Green Cactus Cafe with wellness-driven foods including lite bites, healthy juices, elixirs, and sweet treats.

For a final indulgent touch, relax at the spa pool with private cabanas or recharge at the 24/7 fitness center and walking trails.

Dive in
Speaking of swimming pools, there are four total from which to choose. Families can post up at either of the two leisure pools, one of which features an attached splash pad.

Adults can gather at the child-free rooftop infinity pool and order up a cocktail from Bluestem Bar, all while enjoying panoramic views of the stunning fairways and Texas sky. Private cabanas are available at all pools for that VIP touch.

Stay a while
There's clearly too much to pack into one day, so you'd better book a room and stay for several. Omni PGA Frisco Resort features 500 luxurious guest rooms and suites with rates starting at $359 per night.

Those seeking a truly luxurious retreat can book one of the 10 four-bedroom private Ranch Houses, each with panoramic golf course views, upgraded amenities, and a 24/7 Experience Concierge for an added VIP service experience.

Explore this one-mile campus and all it has to offer this summer, no matter what type of getaway you're seeking. To book and learn more about the new Omni PGA Frisco Resort, visit OmniPGAFriscoResort.com or connect on Facebook and Instagram.

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These are the 7 best food and drink events in Dallas this week

This week in gluttony

On the tails of the holiday weekend, several events return by this week’s end. A gourmet Italian grocer will celebrate an Italian holiday; one of the longest running food festivals in town kicks off on Friday; and a wine tasting event themed after a hit movie takes place on Saturday. Get outdoors and pair a craft pint with a leisurely paddleboard tour. Or sip margaritas poolside after a refreshing yoga class at a top Dallas hotel.

Friday, June 2

Sunset Paddle & A Pint
DFW Surf Frisco kicks off its Friday night guided standup paddle tour of Hidden Cove Park and Marina with an extra incentive: beer. At the halfway point of the two-mile trek, participants stop for a sunset beer toast provided by 3 Nations Brewing. Board lamps, head lamps, and glow sticks provide light for the evening paddle back to shore. Tickets are $60 and the tour will run from 7:30- 9 pm.

All You Can Eataly
The Italian marketplace at NorthPark will close to the public and open to ticketholders for a Festa della Repubblica party featuring more than two dozen food stations, 50-plus Italian wines, 25-plus beers, and multiple cocktails bars featuring Italian libations. There’ll also be chef demos, DJ sets, photo booths, and live music with a dance band. Tickets start at $125, or pay $195 for VIP and get early entry, premium tastings, and a dedicated lounge. The party will run from 7-10 pm, with VIP early entry at 6 pm.

Taste AddisonThe popular family-friendly festival kicks off Friday night at Addison Circle Park for two days of local restaurant dishes, wine and spirit tastings, music acts, and more. Participating restaurants include Asian Mint, Taqueria La Ventana, Thai Orchid, Ron’s Place, Lupe Tortilla, and at least two dozen others. General admission is $15, or $5 for kids 6-12. Or go VIP and pay $60 for two beverage tokens, two Taste Bite vouchers, and access to the main stage viewing deck and private VIP lounge. Taste Addison runs from 6 pm -midnight on Friday and 2 pm-midnight on Saturday.

Saturday, June 3

Catalina Canned Wine Mixer at Truck Yard Dallas
The Truck Yard hosts a “bro-down” party themed after the 2008 hit movie Step Brothers. Wear your best tuxedo t-shirt and enjoy a wine tasting, photo ops, food trucks, and a Step Brothers cover band. Admission is free, but a $15 wine tasting from 7-9 pm offers six wine samples and a souvenir glass filled with frose. Costume contests will be held at 5 pm and 10 pm.

Sunday, June 4

Yogarita at The Stoneleigh
Move over, beer yoga. The Stoneleigh is leveling up boozy yoga classes with the launch of Yogarita, a Sunday morning yoga session paired with a margarita. The one-hour class includes a Casamigos margaritas and a fish taco from the hotel’s Perle on Maple restaurant. Bonus: participants also get a lounge chair for the day at The Stoneleigh pool. Tickets are $40 and yoga mats are provided. Class begins at 10:30 am.

Wine and Cheese Pairing Class at Dallas Arboretum
This seated class will take participants through the art of pairing wine with artisanal cheeses and will be led by a cheese expert from the Mozzarella Company and wine expert from Two Wine Guys. The class is $89 (or $79 for Arboretum members) and will run from 1-3 pm.

Monday, June 5

Lakewood Brewery Dinner at Urban Crust
The Plano wood-fired pizza kitchen hosts a four-course beer pairing featuring local Lakewood Brewery. The dinner will come with four different Lakewood brews. The event is $49.99, plus tax and gratuity, and will begin at 6:30 pm.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus navigates marriage pitfalls in You Hurt My Feelings

Movie Review

Anybody who’s been married or in a long-term relationship knows that it’s almost impossible to be completely honest with his or her partner. There are always going to be moments – whether for the sake of expediency, in a show of support, or other reasons – when one person withholds their true opinion so as not to hurt the other person’s feelings.

That idea is the central tension point of You Hurt My Feelings, which follows Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a writer/teacher, and her husband, Don (Tobias Menzies), a therapist. Beth is in the middle of trying to get her first fiction book published, a process that is causing her unceasing anxiety. Don sees a series of patients, including a constantly-bickering couple (played by real-life husband and wife David Cross and Amber Tamblyn), and a few lapses cause him to question his commitment to the profession.

When Beth and her sister, Sarah (Michaela Watkins), accidentally overhear Don telling his brother-in-law, Mark (Arian Moayed), that he doesn’t like Sarah’s new book and is exhausted having to tell her otherwise, it sends Beth into an emotional spiral. The aftermath winds up pulling in not just the two couples, but also Beth and Don’s son, Eliot (Owen Teague), dredging up feelings that all of them normally try to keep hidden.

Written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, the film is a funny and genuine look at how even the best couples can run into pitfalls. By most measures, Beth and Don get along fantastically well, supporting each other unwaveringly and showing their love in a variety of ways. When the story puts them at odds with each other, there’s never a question that they belong together, as even their arguments are tinged with exasperation instead of anger.

Holofcener complements the story of Beth and Don with a nice variety of side plots, including Eliot trying to start his own writing career while working at a weed store; Beth and Sarah’s mom, Georgia (Jeannie Berlin), offering up support and criticism in equal measures; and more. Don’s patients and Beth’s students offer an opportunity to expand the two characters’ personalities outside of their marriage while also adding a few other funny roles.

While perhaps not the most insightful film about marriage that’s ever been made, it is still highly enjoyable thanks to Holofcener’s writing and the strong performances. Filmed in New York City, the particular feel of that urban landscape and the way it affects the lives of the characters also plays a big part in the success of the film.

Louis-Dreyfus, as always, is a delight to watch. A kind of spiritual sequel to her previous collaboration with Holofcener, 2013’s Enough Said, the film gives her plenty of room to show off both her comedic and dramatic skills. Menzies makes for a steady presence, showing good chemistry with Louis-Dreyfus and a preternatural calm in therapy sessions. Watkins, Moayed, Teague, and Berlin all fit in seamlessly.

You Hurt My Feelings is not a world-changing kind of movie, but rather a solidly-told story about how relationships can be complicated. With actors who are easy to like and Holofcener’s reliably great filmmaking, it’s a movie for adults that’s nice counter-programming to the glut of summer blockbusters.


You Hurt My Feelings is now playing in theaters.

Tobias Menzies and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in You Hurt My Feelings

Photo courtesy of A24

Tobias Menzies and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in You Hurt My Feelings.

5 tips to build stunning sand sculptures from 2023 Texas SandFest winners

Fun at the beach

As summer fast approaches, sandy vacations to coastal destinations are on the horizon for many travelers. For those with kids in tow, sandcastle-making might top the list of beach trip must-dos.

But “playing” in the sand isn’t just an activity for children, as proven by the 22 professional sand sculptors from around the world who recently competed in the 26th annual Texas SandFest, held in Port Aransas in April. The internationally recognized event, started by Port A locals in 1997, is the largest native-sand sculptor competition in the nation; nearly 70,000 people attended this year.

Competition entries featured everything from mermaids to the Grim Reaper, all intricately carved, brushed, and chiseled from sand, ocean water, and perhaps a little diluted spray glue that sculptors say helps maintain detail. The competitors work on their masterpieces during the event, allowing spectators to witness their progress from start to finish.

“I do around five international sand sculpting competitions per year. It’s always a great challenge to compete a high level,” says Benoit Dutherage, a competitive sculptor from France who also creates snow sculptures in the French Alps during the winter.

Dutherage took first place in the Duo Masters category, along with his sand sculpting partner Sue McGrew, for their work called “Wish You Were Here.” Comprised of two loving faces (one mystically cut in half), the sculpture was a tribute to Pink Floyd.

“We like to reflect human emotions in our sculptures,” he says. “It is never easy to pick an idea among the thousands of ideas we have.”

Florida resident Thomas Koet, whose sculpture called “The Prospector” won first place in the People’s Choice category, intended to create something with horses and a cowboy as an homage to Mustang Island, where the competition took place. High tides just before the event thwarted his plans.

“The high tide washed away so much of the sand, I had only enough left for a mule or a foal,” he says. “So I decided to make an old prospector with a mule.”

Thinking out of the box when it comes to carving sand is just one of several suggestions Koet has for recreational sand sculptors. (“Who says it has to be a castle?” he says.) He and other winners from the 2023 Texas SandFest say they are always happy to see novices get creative.

Here are five of the pros' top tips for producing a beachfront masterpiece.

1. Think beyond the standard sandcastle
“Design and sculpt outside of your comfort zone,” says Abe Waterman, a sculptor from Prince Edward Island, Canada, who took first place in the Solo Masters division with his sculpture, “Sleeps with Angels.” The mega sculpture featured four angels at four corners holding a blanket carrying a sleeping woman. “While this may not lead to the best sculpture results, one will improve faster by doing this.”

Waterman noted that there are different types of sand depending on location. Some are better suited for detailed work while others work well for verticality. “But something can always be sculpted regardless of the sand quality, the design just may need to be altered,” he says.

Koet recommends picking something that will fit your attention span. “You can make anything you want,” he says. “You can make a cat, a shark, a monster truck, your high school mascot, a sneaker, or a shark eating an ice cream cone.”

2. Use the right tools
Forgo the cheap tourist shop plastic bucket and shovel set. “You definitely need proper tools to get a good result: A solid shovel, a few trowels – not too big – and a wall painting brush to clean your sculpture,” says Dutherage. “You’ll also need buckets.”

Think big painter’s buckets, he says, used to make what’s essentially “sand mud” consisting of lots of water and sand. Which leads to the next tip ...

3. Create a form mold
Consider this the secret to head-turning sand sculptures. Whether it’s a 10-foot-tall wooden box with sides that come off, or a plastic bucket with the bottom cut out, a “form mold” is an open-top vessel used to hold packed sand and water to create a carve-able structure.

“It’s a very useful thing to have in order to get a solid block, and to go high,” says Dutherage. “If you are a handyman, you can build your own forms. But a quick solution is to take a bucket, no matter what size, and cut out the bottom. Then put that bucket upside down on the sand. Add a few inches of sand, some water, mix with your trowel and compact that layer. Repeat until the bucket is full. Then gently pull the bucket up and surprise! You will get a nice block of sand ready for a sandcastle full of windows, arches, and gates.”

The compacted layers of sand and water almost act as cement, creating a sturdy base for carving. Dutherage says folks can easily repeat the form mold process to create multiple bases, either side by side or stacked.

4. Use plenty of water, for the sculpture and yourself
Benoit recommends adding even more water during the sculpting process.

“Bring a plant sprayer,” he says. “Sand needs to be wet to be sculptable.”

Even rain during sand sculpture building isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “One of the biggest misconceptions is that rain will destroy a sand sculpture,” says Waterman. “While this is possible, most often it just textures the surface.”

Water is also essential for the sculptor, as staying hydrated is key during the process, Waterman adds.

Texas SandFest

Texas SandFest

"The Prospector" took first place in the 2023 Texas SandFest People's Choice category

5. Practice, Practice, Practice
“The biggest misconception is that I do anything different than anybody who does it only for the first time,” says Koet, who’s been sculpting sand for 25 years. “Sure, I bring more and bigger tools and I spend much more time shoveling the sand high and mixing it with water. But there is no magic other than years of practice.”

Waterman, who admits sand sculpting has taken over his life, competes in up to 10 contests a year and also creates sculptures for exhibits and corporate commissions.

“Tricks and tips will only get a person so far,” he says. “But ultimately practice and putting the time in will get them a whole lot further.”

Benoit agrees. “Making a sand sculpture requires a lot of work and the more you practice, the better you will get,” he says. “But first of all, you have to enjoy the fun of it.”