This Texas city welcomes groups -- even the bats that congregate around the Congress Avenue Bridge (pictured). Among new meeting venues is the JW Marriott, with 1,012 guest rooms. A 360-room Kimpton hotel debuts this summer, and a 1,060-room Fairmont is slated to open in 2017.
• Take a restorative break at the Lake Austin Spa Resort. The 40-room retreat has a 25,000-square-foot spa, healthy-cooking classes and more than 20 fitness options, such as kayaking, hydro-biking, hiking and yoga.
• Downtown spa-goers flock to the 291-room Four Seasons Hotel Austin, which offers eight treatment rooms for delights like the Signature Lavender-Lemongrass Journey.
The Austin Convention Center is powered by 100 percent renewable energy, and the LEED Gold-certified building has a green roof to reduce storm water runoff. For more about the venue's practices: bit.ly/1FbHZ8J
In March, Zagat.com featured the 10 Hottest Restaurants in Austin Right Now. On the list: Fixe, Austin's Southern House, featuring new takes on Old South cuisine.
• The 1,012-room JW Marriott Austin debuted in February. The hotel is two blocks from the Austin Convention Center and has 112,000 square feet of its own meeting space. Among the eateries on-site are Osteria Pronto, a full-service regional Italian restaurant; Corner, focusing on Texas cuisine; and Burger Bar on Congress, a food-truck-style walk-up window. The new property is aiming for LEED Silver certification. Other features include a fitness center, a spa and an outdoor pool with an event deck.
• Ground was broken last November on the 1,060-room Fairmont Austin Hotel. The $370 million property, to be Fairmont's largest, will open in 2017 with 106,000 square feet of meeting space, including a deck that will host 1,200, and a Willow Stream spa. Details on the dining outlets have yet to be released. The building will connect to the Austin Convention Center via an aerial walkway.
• Construction began last December on a 23-story tower that will house two new Starwood hotels: the 260-room Aloft Austin Downtown and 150-room Element Austin Downtown. Both are set to open in early 2017.
• In July, a new boutique Kimpton property will open in the historic downtown Rainey Street District. The 360-room, music-themed Hotel Van Zandt will have 12,000 square feet of meeting space for up to 500 people.
• Debuting this summer just outside of town is the 195-room Sonesta Bee Cave Austin, part of the Hill Country Galleria complex featuring dining, shopping and entertainment. The property will include an outdoor swimming pool and sun deck, a fully equipped fitness center, a lounge, a rooftop bar and 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
• Work continues on the 224-room Sheraton Georgetown Hotel and Conference Center in the nearby suburb's Summit at Rivery Park development, which will open in 2016. Features include 30,000 square feet of meeting space, a signature restaurant, an outdoor pool and a fitness facility.
For a fun afternoon, send up to 55 people out on the Austin Brew Bus,
which visits several of the city's craft brewers for tours and tastings. Among the stops are Hops & Grain, a sustainable brewer, and Adelbert's Brewery, featuring the Philosophizer Belgian ale and Naked Nun wit ale.
Meeting Hotels: The city's downtown properties now include the 1,012-room JW Marriott Austin, 800-room Hilton Austin, 492-room Renaissance Austin Hotel and 448-room Hyatt Regency Austin Downtown. Among nearby resorts are the 309-room Omni Barton Creek and 491-room Hyatt Regency Lost Pines.
To compare hotels and send RFPs, visit 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 Venues: Set the stage for a memorable evening by hosting your group where legends perform. The home of PBS' Austin City Limits, ACL Live at The Moody Theater has acts such as the Punch Brothers, the Doobie Brothers, and Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga on the calendar this year, but the venue also welcomes private events in its sleek environs. Take over the whole theater for a dinner for up to 400 people and receptions for 2,500. Gathering space includes the main concert floor, two private galleries and the indoor-outdoor Music Porch, which holds about 500 for a reception. The sales team works with groups to find live acts to fit the event. (512) 225-7999
Founded in 1982 by Lady Bird Johnson and actress Helen Hayes, the National Wildflower Research Center now is named for the former first lady. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is charged with preserving North America's native plants and natural landscapes, and welcomes all with a love for flora, whether they have green or black thumbs. Among the spots where groups can gather are the 232-seat auditorium and the Gallery, which holds 150 people for a banquet. Outdoors, the Luci and Ian Family Garden accommodates up to 400 guests, while the Texas Arboretum seats up to 200. (512) 232-0100
For groups with zipline enthusiasts, go to Cypress Valley Canopy Tours, where, day and night, visitors fly through old-growth cypress trees, some as tall as 100 feet. Team-building zips are available for up to 200 people. Small incentive groups can stay overnight in the venue's four treehouses. (512) 264-8880
Golf: Plenty of great golf awaits just outside the city. Among nearby properties that host tournaments are Blackhawk Golf Club (512-251-9000); Colo Vista Golf Club (512-303-4045); Falconhead Golf Club (512-402-1558); Flintrock Falls (512-263-0028); Forest Creek Golf Club (512-388-2874); Pedernales Golf Club (512-264-1489), and Teravista Golf Club (512-651-9850). To explore these and other options, visit the Austin Golf Trail.
Sports: Nearby Round Rock is home to the Express, who play Triple-A baseball in the Pacific Coast League. The stadium, Dell Diamond, offers the United Heritage Center and Intel Club, which can host groups of up to 500 people, game or no game. (512) 255-2255
Downtown, the Cedar Park Center hosts the Austin Spurs (the NBA Development League affiliate for basketball's San Antonio Spurs) and the Texas Stars (the primary affiliate of hockey's Dallas Stars). Four party suites and 20 luxury suites are available for rent; the facility as a whole accommodates up to 8,000 people. (512) 600-5000
Racing fans come out to watch the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix every October at the Circuit of the Americas, about two miles from the airport. The track holds 120,000 people and also hosts Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic. Groups are welcome on off days for team-building and other private events. (512) 301-6600
Contact: Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, (800) 926-2282