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by Sarah J.F. Braley | August 01, 2014
Why here?
A hotel boom in the Lone Star State's capital is making Austin, whose skyline is overseen here by a statue of rocker Stevie Ray Vaughan, more attractive to groups. The 1,012-room JW Marriott Austin will open next February. Construction should begin soon on the 1,000-room Fairmont Austin.


News from Houston 
Effective July 1, the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau became part of Houston First Corp., the public/private entity that runs the George R. Brown Convention Center and nine other city buildings and outdoor areas.

Construction began in April on the 1,000-room Marriott Marquis Houston. The headquarters hotel, on target to open in 2016, will be connected to the George R. Brown Convention Center.

Harborside 
Get onboard the tall ship Elissa at the Texas Seaport Museum. Receptions of up to 500 people are welcome; hors d'oeuvres stations can be set up in the ship's galleries and officers' quarters.

Culture Connection 
The galleries at the Mexic-Arte Museum hold up to 200 guests for a reception. Opening next month is "Miradas: Ancient Roots in Modern and Contemporary Mexican Art."

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AUSTIN

Local Update

 The 1,012-room JW Marriott Austin will open its doors on Feb. 20, 2015. The hotel, which is aiming for LEED Silver certification, will have more than 112,000 square feet of event space and three eateries, including a regional Italian restaurant.

 Construction begins in December on a 23-story tower that will house two Starwood hotels: the 260-room Aloft Austin Downtown and 150-room Element Austin Downtown. Both will open in summer 2016.

 Ground should be broken this year on a new Fairmont Austin, to debut in 2017. Plans call for the property to offer 1,000 guest rooms and 70,000 square feet of meeting space.

 Opened in January was the 123-room Lone Star Court, sporting an old motor-court style. The hotel features outdoor fire pits, a dipping pool designed like a swimming hole and free bicycle rentals. For groups, the property has 2,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, a 1,600-square-foot pavilion and a 1,800-square-foot event lawn.

 The AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center has joined Associated Luxury Hotels International. The property has 297 guest rooms (21 of which are suites) and 40,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 300-seat tiered amphitheater.

 Ground will be broken this fall on a 168-room upscale hotel at the Domain in North Austin. The Archer Hotel will have a chef-driven restaurant and bar, and 7,000 square feet of meeting space.

 A $21 million guest-room renovation has finished at the 800-room Hilton Austin, across the street from the Austin Convention Center. The property offers 80,000 square feet of meeting space, including 38 breakout rooms.

 Opening in 2016 is the 224-room Sheraton Georgetown Hotel and Conference Center in the nearby suburb's Summit at Rivery Park development. Features include approximately 30,000 square feet of meeting space, a signature restaurant, an outdoor pool and a fitness facility.

Meeting Hotels: Among the many downtown properties in the city proper are the 800-room Hilton Austin, 492-room Renaissance Austin Hotel and 448-room Hyatt Regency Austin Downtown. Nearby resorts include the 309-room Omni Barton Creek and 491-room Hyatt Regency Lost Pines.

To find and compare hotels and send RFPs, go to mcvenues.com.

Convention Center: Austin Convention Center; exhibit space, 247,052 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 54; (512) 404-4000

Airport Transit: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, about eight miles from downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $20; by shuttle, $18; by bus, $1; by Super Shuttle, $21

Taxes: Room tax, 9%; sales tax, 8.25%; total tax on rooms, 15%

Group Venue: There are only 13 venues holding presidential papers, overseen by the federal Office of Presidential Libraries. Austin's entry, the LBJ Library, celebrating the 36th president, host events in three areas, including the 8,500-square-foot Great Hall, which holds 880 for a reception. (512) 721-0206

Contact: Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, (800) 926-2282