The Stella: A Shining Star of Southern Hospitality
Written by: Samantha Latta | Photos Courtesy of: Nick Simonite
Anchored in the rolling meadows of Central Texas, a bright and shining star of hospitality has emerged in the Bryan/College Station area. Built in a town rich in tradition, The Stella beams as an establishment that evokes the comforting memories of true southern hospitality while simultaneously encouraging the reality of modern, progressive nature.
Situated in the center of the vibrant 180,000-square-foot Atlas community, The Stella’s name was modeled after a woman’s title – something bold, comforting, and reflecting of hospitality. Corresponding with the namesake of Atlas, ‘Stella’ was stumbled upon due to its relevant Latin derivative, meaning star. Though it seemed rightfully fitting to most, research was pushed even further to ensure the most captivating name had been chosen to represent the most endearing new destination in the Brazos Valley. It was not solidified until the president of The Stella’s ownership group, Spencer Clements, found the omen for which he had been searching. His exploration led him to a story dated back to 1963, when retired Major General James Earl Rudder integrated Texas A&M University and officially opened admission to women for the first time in its history. The first to enroll under the new policy was a sixth-grade teacher in Bryan; her name was, coincidentally, Stella Haupt.
Staying at the Stella
From stargazing on the 75-foot-tall observation tower to enjoying poolside service in the resort-style cabanas, The Stella strives to provide the best accommodations and luxuries to make for the most memorable stay in the area. Unapologetic about its unique interior, The Stella successfully balances the feel of stylish urban design with a rural rustic atmosphere. The goal of the establishment is to create a true memory value, from check in to check out. The upscale, Texas-causal experience offers all the fine offerings with the comfortable feel of home; as general manager Steve Dennis puts it, “The quality and luxury you would expect at a Texas homestyle hotel.”
The guest rooms have a sophisticated, yet casual look that brings a clean and fresh residential feel. Designed with attention to detail, the rooms have high-quality luxuries from the integrated lighted bathroom mirrors down to the lavish linens. With guests’ needs in mind, specialty LATHER product soaps and toiletries are provided, which is a high-end all-natural bamboo cream product based out of California. Accompanied by a breathtaking view, rooms and suites offer wraparound balconies equipped with the sights of the lakefront, golf course, and Kyle Field, the famous stadium home to the Texas A&M Aggies. “Guests want to experience the high quality furnishings and luxury bedding you won’t find at other hotels in the area,” Dennis said. “The hotel’s location fills the need to be close to the action while providing the option to stare into the Texas night sky.” With a design that purposely reflects the hotel’s values, The Stella’s Design Principal & CEO of Design DMU, Kimberly Miller says “The hotel is genuine and authentic, and is not pretending to be something it is not; it is honest in its presentation and has a sense of humor.”
Named after the Texas A&M Aggies’ star running back from the national championship 1927 team, The Stella’s speakeasy-style bar has an undeniable authenticity. Boasting the Brazos Valley’s largest Bourbon selection, Hershel’s is known for more than just their refreshing drink menu. Standing on the same land that namesake Hershel Burgess once owned himself, The Stella offers a laid-back lounge with a sense of vintage eclecticism and unique connection to history. From Burgess’s collegiate team photos on the walls to the leather club chairs and comfortable dim lighting, the atmosphere is alluring to all guests looking for a place to relax. Whether looking for an every-day domestic drink or a unique hand-crafted cocktail, Hershel’s mixologists cater to every guest’s requests. “Hershel’s is dedicated to the memory of a true Texas hero with flavors and beverages that pay tribute to that legacy,” Dennis said. “Our speakeasy styled lounge brings you back to a simpler time, however our bartenders have the skills to meet your modern needs.” As employees described, many say that Burgess was often seen walking around his ranch drinking rye from the bottle followed by a bite of an apple; the apple-infused whiskey concoction called “The Old Goat” resonates with the history of Hershel’s, a place that is truly different from your typical bar.
With the scent of smoke drifting through the air, firepits on the outdoor patio, and lakeside views to complement the fun and timeless atmosphere, Campfire definitely lives up to its name. As described by many, Campfire truly is the heart of the house at The Stella. Much like the hotel, this on-site restaurant has a progressive, market-driven, and upscale feel that embraces the taste of Texas from its seasonal ingredients to its locally farmed beef, slow smoked proteins, and sustainable local seafood. Led by Executive Chef Nick Green, Campfire brings a unique taste to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As Dennis assured, each meal period is unique. If you are looking for an amazing light meal such as soups, sandwiches, or salads, lunch is your ticket. “The menu at Campfire features a taste vacation as you experience the various regions of Texas cuisine,” Dennis said. “Chef Green focuses on natural foods, locally sourced farm items, and a flair for the unexpected.” The menu really reflects what is available in the area, as Green’s farm-to-fork style dishes shine with fresh originality. Bringing years of experience and remarkable culinary leadership to Texas, Green and his team have a flavorful experience to share with the Bryan/College Station area. “This culinary region demands authenticity and imagination to create that comfort meal, while paying homage to the upscale traditions of the Texas eating scene,” Dennis said. “The Southern hospitality of our service staff, coupled with the warmth of home brought to you by the Campfire theme makes each visit to the Stella eatery a memory maker. Ignite your senses at Campfire.”
Activities and Amenities
Upon the inclination to explore outside the modern lines of The Stella, the 176-key property conveniently sits on Lake Walk, the town center of Atlas and the Traditions Club, which is complemented by several restaurant options, retail stores, a five-acre lake, waterfront park and pavilion, observation tower, and over two miles of hiking and biking trails. As Miller clearly explains, “[The Stella] is one with the outdoors, and the lines between outdoor and indoor experiences are purposely blurred.” The property allows guests to enjoy the outdoors with activities including paddle boarding, lakeside concerts, outdoor yoga, stargazing, and more. The Stella and Lake Walk Town Center frequently host events and happenings such as farmers markets to buy local produce, and music series featuring live performances from top local artists. Considering all it has to offer, The Stella truly provides the unexpected hotel experience in the town of Bryan, Texas.