by Sarah J.F. Braley | May 01, 2016
Why here?
One of the country's hottest spots for live music welcomes groups in a big way, with two top-notch convention hotels (the 1,012-room JW Marriott Austin and the 800-room Hilton Austin). Joining them in 2017 is the 1,060-room Fairmont Austin, which will be that chain's largest property.

 All the toe-tapping action starts at 4 p.m. on weekdays and 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, at the Elephant Room, often cited as the best spot for Jazz in town.

 Dance under the stars at Cedar Street Courtyard. The venue welcomes buyouts for groups of up to 600. Both the VIP Veranda and the Lido Room are available for smaller events.

Austin sits along Lady Bird Lake, which actually is part of the Colorado River. More than 10 miles of well-maintained hiking and biking trails line the banks; rent a B-cycle and enjoy the great outdoors.

Have a golf-loving attendee who is celebrating? The Omni Barton Creek's gift is a free round at one of the resort's pristine layouts: the Fazio Foothills, Fazio Canyons, Crenshaw Cliffside or Palmer Lakeside.
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Local Update

The 319-room Hotel Van Zandt, a Kimpton hotel, opened last November with a signature restaurant, Geraldine's, serving Texas-inspired food and specialty drinks. The property's fourth-floor terrace features cabanas, a pool, and a bar overlooking Lady Bird Lake and downtown. For events, the hotel offers 12,000 square feet of meeting space.

 The AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center has renovated its 297 guest rooms. The property will open new meeting space in July 2017, including a 15,000-square-foot ballroom, 5,000 square feet of prefunction space and a 5,500-square-foot banquet kitchen. Currently, the center has 40,000 square feet of meeting space. Its restaurant, the Carillon, serves sustainable fare with seasonal ingredients.

 Scheduled for a 2017 debut is the 1,060-room Fairmont Austin Hotel, to be Fairmont's largest, which will be connected to the Austin Convention Center by skyway. The property will have 106,000 square feet of meeting space and a Willow Stream spa.

 The 194-room Hotel Granduca Austin has opened near the Wild Basin Nature Preserve just outside downtown. The property's six meeting rooms include a 3,506-square-foot ballroom with French doors opening to a courtyard. A heated saltwater pool, a spa and a fitness center are decorated with a Tuscan villa in mind, and the Italian theme extends to the Visconti Ristorante & Bar, which features Northern Italian cuisine using locally sourced ingredients.

 A double-branded property will occupy a new 23-story tower: The 260-room Aloft Austin Downtown and 150-room Element Austin Downtown are scheduled to open in early 2017.

 Hyatt's new Unbound Collection of independent properties includes the 189-room Driskill Hotel, which has more than 18,000 square feet of meeting space. An $8.8 million renovation, finished last November, upgraded the rooms, revamped the Driskill Grill, spiffed up the lobby and added power to the  hotel's WiFi.