Culture / Travel

Your Sneak Peek at Fort Worth’s Spectacular New Showcase Hotel — Bowie House Exceeds the High Expectations With a Flourish

From the Mind of Jo Ellard and Auberge Resorts

BY // 11.20.23

Jo Ellard is a woman of many talents and exquisite tastes. Her newest project, which is set to become Fort Worth’s new Cultural District jewel, certainly reflects that. Get ready for Bowie House, Auberge Resorts Collection. The much-anticipated new showcase hotel is set to open to the public next Friday, December 1.

Bowie House, Auberge Resorts Collection brings unmatched attention to detail and design, a world class art collection and seriously cozy spaces intended for relaxation and retreat.

“I spend 70 to 90 nights a year in Fort Worth,” Ellard tells PaperCity Fort Worth. “I’ve been coming here for 3o years and I bought a cottage that was originally on the property. So I was very familiar with the area.”

Bowie House has been designed by BOKA Powell which serves as both the architect and interior designer of record. Ellard, the owner of Bowie Place Properties, also brought on Auberge.

Ellard visited many different luxury five-star hotels to explore the different hotel flags and the experiences they provide. When Ellard saw the remarkable Commodore Perry Estate in Austin, it sealed the deal.

“This is the experience you want,” she says. “Auberge elevated the project. The amount of management services that they provide is exceptional.”

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Auberge Resorts Collection boasts a portfolio that includes hotels, resorts, residences and private clubs. With 26 one-of-a-kind hotels and resorts under its umbrella, Auberge is now adding only its second Texas resort in Bowie House. The new Fort Worth wonderland is also the only new Auberge Resorts Collection hotel to open in 2023.

Inside the New Bowie House

An exclusive early tour of the hotel, given by Jo Ellard herself, provided an eye-opening look at what to expect. Bowie House is very classic from its front elevation and its design gets more modern as it progresses toward the courtyard and outside areas to the seven residences beyond. This metamorphosis is intentional.

“As you move to the back it totally transforms,” Ellard says.

Balconies take in the pool view at Bowie House. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Balconies take in the pool view at Bowie House. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Guests will be welcomed by archways with matte Venetian plaster walls and a stunning rock crystal chandelier at the main entrance. The space will be studded with painted longhorn mounts by an artist Jo Ellard found in Round Top ― Caroline Jarosz. The old world check-in desks are to your left and a bank of elevators is tucked into an alcove to your right.

Ellard has an eye for art and design. She and her late husband bought their first yacht in 1974. And in 2017, Ellard’s remarkable Horizon Yacht called Do It Now took her sleek Western aesthetic to the high seas (in high style). All the art on a yacht has to be fixed and able to withstand movement. While that’s not the case at Bowie House, Ellard does plan for the hotel’s art collection to have movement. It will rotate.

The art at Bowie House will be an extension of Ellard’s own personal collection, with each piece hand picked and purchased by her. The hotel’s unique art program will be known as The Gallery at Bowie House. Even common hallways will become art galleries.

“I own it, it’s my collection,” Ellard tells PaperCity. “I started collecting 20 years ago. If it’s interesting to me and a piece draws you in, I have to have it.”

Ellard has an eclectic passion for art. Some pieces bring Western and equestrian themes for sure, but others are unexpected like the four pieces from California-based pop artist HIJACK.

Bowie – Table top with hand-tooled leather effect and Max Zorn artwork glowing in the background. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
The Bowie House is certainly no ordinary hotel. Tabletops shine with a hand-tooled leather effect and Max Zorn artwork glows in the background. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Jo Ellard likes the idea of a rotating art gallery. Some of the artworks at Bowie House will be available for purchase, including the two signed prints by Constance Jaeggi, which are incorporated into the design of every hotel room. They are for sale as part of The Gallery at Bowie House.

But there are some pieces Ellard says she simply will not part with like the backlit Max Zorn tape art cityscape titled Let them have the rest, we own the night baby, that graces The Bar with its warm glow.

Bowie House’s Restaurant and Bar Power

Of course, the restaurant and bar have to be special at Bowie House too. The Bar at Bowie House centers the hotel’s main lounge area. The space wraps to the right leading to the hotel restaurant dubbed Bricks and Horses. The central feature is a turn-of-the-century massive wooden saloon bar which was salvaged from Waco. It is a real showstopper with a story to tell, but that will require a bit more research, Ellard notes.

The standing bar has been fitted with a pale blue quartzite top and foot rail, while its original mirrored sections remain intact.

Vintage rugs now outline seating vignettes and upholstery in an eclectic mix of textiles, leathers and patterned fabrics for a cozy feel. High-top tabletops mimic tooled leather as well. Still, this is all far from rustic ranch style.

BOKA Powell interior project designer Megan Linquest helped lead my tour of the soon-to-open spaces. She and Ellard were still putting on the finishing touches in room after room, as furniture and design elements continued to arrive and find their places.

“Megan fell into the vision of what I wanted but couldn’t quite explain,” Ellard says. “This is the designer of Bowie House.” Ellard motions towards Linquest.

“It is rare that you get the opportunity to work on a project of this scale,” Linquest says. “We reviewed every detail together.”

The Bar at Bowie House with its salvaged saloon bar in place will make for a striking scene. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
The Bar at Bowie House with its salvaged saloon bar in place will make for a striking scene. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Just beyond The Bar at Bowie House, you’ll find the Fireplace Lounge, with its double-sided fireplace and handscraped wood floors underfoot, a chevron wood ceiling and green suede walls.

“It’s not stuffy or overdone, just casual and comfy,” Ellard says. Much like the owner herself.

Bowie House has brought on Las Vegas-native Antonio Votta as the executive chef of the hotel’s restaurant Bricks and Horses, a contemporary chophouse.

The restaurant space has full height leather-wrapped columns, finished with exaggerated leather lacing with rough-hewn wood and warm copper sconce accents. The main dining is wrapped in ochre-hued Venetian plaster, with suede wall paneling and rustic chevron wood flooring.

The dining room’s central banquettes will be home to artist Don Drumm’s pair of corten steel sculptures featuring galloping, wild horses.

Bricks and Horses will celebrate the land and ranches of Texas by specializing in dry-aged beef, including marinated Rosewood Ranch top sirloin, poached in rich beef tallow. A halibut fish fry served with nori hush puppies and a freshly ground Wagyu burger served with Texas cheddar are other menu features to anticipate. Votta also teased “a smothered boar chop, pounded thin and pan-fried to perfection.”

Bowie House Perks

Bowie House boasts 88 studios, 12 lofts and six suites in 17 different designs. The guest rooms have a more neutral palette. Each is fitted with a custom-designed brass hall tree, complete with double hat racks and a circular attached valet tray. All the balconies are on the courtyard side, Ellard notes.

Shower walls are clad in earthy, stacked green tiles with modern Calacatta Verde marble vanities. All the bathroom fixtures are unlacquered brass from Waterworks.

Inside the luxe bath of a Bowie House Goodnight Suite. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Inside the luxe bath of a Bowie House Goodnight Suite. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Junior suites at Bowie House are a room and a half, while all suites (including The Roan and The Sorrel) have soaking tubs and a living area component.

Bowie House’s signature three-bedroom Goodnight Suite is palatial if not presidential. The name carries a double meaning ― Jo Ellard is close with Veryl Goodnight (an artist in her collection) as well as a member of the Charles Goodnight family for which the Goodnight-Loving Trail, a historic cattle route, was named.

At $6,000 a night, the Goodnight Suite boasts open-air balconies, a dramatic view of downtown Fort Worth and nearby Dickies Arena, original artworks, alabaster lamps, a Deco-inspired fireplace, its own private catering kitchenette and ample entertaining space.

What else can you expect at Bowie House?

— Ash Spa brings five treatment rooms, a salt wall sauna and a steam room. Ash also includes a fitness center, a boutique, a relaxation lounge, daily fitness classes and visiting wellness specialists. The nail studio even boasts one of the more spectacular views of downtown Fort Worth you’ll ever see.

— The Mulberry Room is a library painted in a high-gloss aubergine tone, topped by two rose gold leather fringe chandeliers, with built-in bookcases backed with pewter metallic wall coverings and its own fireplace. The library can be booked for private events too.

— The Billet Room is the hotel’s game room, with peacock blue painted wood paneling, a vintage pool table, shuffleboard and tables for games of cards, dominoes or even Mahjong. This is where you’ll find the Bold “Misfits” artwork from California-based pop artist HIJACK.

— The Arcade is a row of arched windows that bathe the pre-function space in natural light.

A sunny stroll down the Arcade pre-function space at Bowie House is light filled. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
A sunny stroll down the Arcade pre-function space at Bowie House is light filled. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

— Silverton Room is the hotel’s main ballroom with carpeting inspired by patchwork quilts and wood paneled wainscoting topped with a hand-made braided wallcovering. This space is available to host a multitude of events.

— The Pewter Room will serves as an in-house boardroom.

— The Laney’s Room is adorned with pheasant feather wallpaper and serves as private dining or meeting room within the hotel’s restaurant. It is named after Jo Ellard’s champion mare Laney Doc.

— Whinny’s brings poolside dining. Relaxing in Bowie House’s courtyard and enjoying the secluded tree-lined pool and terrace will feel like a real retreat from the city. Backed by the private residences on site, poolside dining by Whinny’s will provide light bites, salads, ice cream sandwiches and cold drinks.

Yes, Fort Worth’s hotel scene is definitely growing up for the better. Fort Worth’s first Crescent Hotel just opened a few blocks down Camp Bowie’s legendary bricks and now Bowie House, the city’s first Auberge Resort Collection hotel, adds even more luster to Fort Worth’s tourist magnet Cultural District.

Bowie – Jo Ellard at home on her EE Ranches. (Photo by Steve Wrubel)
Jo Ellard at home on her EE Ranches. (Photo by Steve Wrubel)

And it all ties back to Jo Ellard’s love of horses and the Western life.

Not only does Ellard breed championship horses on her EE Ranches (which she built with her late husband Bill Joe Ellard) in Whitesboro, Texas ― located about 80 miles North of Fort Worth and Dallas — she also rides them competitively. Cutting is her sport of choice.

Ellard is a legendary equestrian in her own right. A National Cutting Horse Association (or NCHA) Hall of Fame Rider, she was the youngest person ever inducted into the NCHA Member Hall of Fame. Ellard got recognized for her 10-year commitment to developing the National Youth Cutting Horse Association.

In fact, her regular trips to Fort Worth for equestrian events, shows and sales were really the genesis for the building of Bowie House.

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