The district around the George R. Brown Convention Center has been revamped (see "Next-Level Convention Centers
"), a new headquarters hotel has opened and properties all around the city are sprucing up to revitalize this Texas stronghold.Arena for Rent
For extra-special events, an empty arena is a wide-open canvas for creative planners. The Toyota Center
offers a range of spaces for groups of all sizes, such as the Memorial Hermann Sky Court with its replica of a center court, interactive games and a party room.Raise A Pint
• Take a tour of the workings and then enjoy some house-made brew at Saint Arnold's Brewing Co.
The Beer Hall hosts up to 300 while the more intimate Investor's Pub holds 100.
• The four-year-old 8th Wonder Brewery
entices with names like IntellectuAle, Rocket Fuel, Dome Faux'm and Hopston. Two private rooms accommodate up to 40 people each, and a beer garden is out back. Sweet Giveaway
Give Texas-themed treats in the shape of boots, cowboys and horseshoes from The Chocolate Bar,
or go for the top-selling sweet and salty Texas Frito Brittle. French Castle
Built as a private home, the 35,000-square-foot Chateau Cocomar
now welcomes elegant events of up to 999 to the seven-acre estate. Event areas include the Chantilly Chambers and the Salle de Versailles.
• The 1,000-room Marriott Marquis Houston, across the street from the George R. Brown Convention Center, opened last December with 154,000 square feet of its own meeting space, including Houston's largest ballroom at 39,716 square feet. An amenity deck with an infinity pool and a Texas-shaped lazy river sit 110 feet aboveground. Other amenities include a full-service Pure spa with seven treatment rooms, and a 5,000-square-foot fitness center. Among the five dining options are a tapas and wine bar called Cueva, and the High Dive pool bar and grill.
• The lobby, grand staircase and former lobby lounge have been redone at the 468-room Four Seasons Houston. The new bar, Bayou & Bottle, was created by restaurateur Richard Sandoval. The property has more than 16,500 square feet of meeting space and a new spa and fitness center. Two restaurants are on-site: Quattro, which serves Italian cuisine, and Vinoteca, which pairs small plates with an extensive wine collection.
• Room renovations are finished at the 448-room Hilton Houston Post Oak in the Galleria neighborhood. The rooms received new beds as well as upgraded bathrooms; most of the tubs were removed. A new digital key-lock system was installed, and the fitness center and pool deck were revamped. Work will be completed by the end of the year on the hotel's more than 28,000 square feet of meeting space.
• County commissioners approved a plan last September to redevelop the Astrodome, once home to baseball's Houston Astros. Two levels of underground parking and nearly eight acres of column-free exhibit space will be constructed. How the site's additional 500,000 square feet of space will be reworked is still to be determined.
• The 223-room Hotel Alessandra, a luxury property from the Valencia Group, will open this summer as part of the GreenStreet development, about six blocks from the convention center. Details on the second-floor restaurant and lounge, the third-floor meeting space, and the fifth-floor spa and fitness center are still to come.
• Opening this fall is the 255-room Le Méridien Houston with some 8,000 square feet of meeting space, including a penthouse ballroom. The property, created in a building that had been empty for 20 years, also will feature a rooftop pool and deck, and a ground-floor restaurant and bar.
Meeting Hotels: By the end of the year, a new total of about 6,000 hotel rooms will be within walking distance of the George R. Brown Convention Center. Current meeting properties include the 1,200-room Hilton Americas-Houston, 1,000-room Marriott Marquis Houston, 947-room Hyatt Regency Houston, 480-room Hilton Houston North, 468-room Four Seasons Houston, 448-room Hilton Houston Post Oak, 399-room Four Seasons Hotel-Houston, 350-room DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Houston Downtown, 328-room JW Marriott Houston Downtown, 314-room Magnolia Hotel, 262-room Embassy Suites Houston-Downtown, 259-room Crowne Plaza Houston-Downtown and 200-room Westin Houston Downtown.
To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, visit mcvenues.com.
Convention Center:George R. Brown Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 771,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 94; (713) 853-8000
Airport Transit: George H.W. Bush International Airport, about 20 miles north of the downtown district. Transfer cost by taxi, $60 to downtown; via Super Shuttle, $23
William P. Hobby Airport, 10 miles south of downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $35; by Super Shuttle, $19
Taxes: Room tax, 17%; sales tax, 8.25%; total tax on hotel rooms, 17%
Group Venue: A taste of neighboring Louisiana is on the menu of Gulf Coast delights at Bernadine's. A private dining room, oyster bar and patio combine to host groups of up to 200. (713) 864-2565
Contact: Visit Houston, (800) 446-8786