San Antonios Gonzales Center

Why here?
Show-goers are driving development across Texas, as many major meeting cities are upgrading their convention facilities. San Antonio's Gonzales Center (pictured), opened new space in January, Houston will unveil its renovations in October and Fort Worth is finalizing details of an expansion project.

 The 1,511-room Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine is spending $120 million on an expansion. When finished, the property will have 1,811 rooms and 490,000 square feet of meeting space.

 The 811-room Hyatt Regency DFW International Airport has unveiled a new 10,000-square-foot event space called Aviators, part of the hotel's 92,000 square feet for meetings and events.


Local Update
 When Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau president and CEO Bob Lander retires this summer, Tom Noonan, current president and CEO of Visit Baltimore, will take his place. Lander came to the Austin bureau in 2001; Noonan joined Visit Baltimore in 2007 but knows Texas well, having spent 18 years at the Greater Dallas CVB.

 Coming next year is Fairmont Hotels' largest property, the 1,060-room Fairmont Austin Hotel, which will be connected to the Austin Convention Center. Features will include 106,000 square feet of meeting space and a Willow Stream spa. More than 130 guest rooms will be designated Fairmont Gold, offering private check-in and concierge services.

 The new 319-room Hotel Van Zandt, a Kimpton hotel, features 12,000 square feet of function space. The signature restaurant, Geraldine's, serves Texas-inspired food and specialty drinks, and the property's fourth-floor terrace has cabanas, a pool and a bar.

 The AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, which has renovated its 297 guest rooms, 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.

Meeting Hotels: The capital's range of properties includes the 1,012-room JW Marriott Austin, 800-room Hilton Austin, 492-room Renaissance Austin Hotel, 448-room Hyatt Regency Austin Downtown, 319-room Hotel Van Zandt, 262-room Hilton Austin Airport, 194-room Hotel Granduca Austin and 190-room InterContinental Stephen F. Austin. Several resorts are nearby, such as the 491-room Hyatt Regency Lost Pines, 385-room Horseshoe Bay Resort and 309-room Omni Barton Creek.

To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, visit mcvenues.com.

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

Airport Transit: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, 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: The sky's the limit at the Summit Rooftop Lounge, open to the stars in the city's warehouse district. State-of-the-art lighting and sound help make the night special for groups of up to 500 people. (512) 394-7347

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


Local Update
 The site is nearly clear for the construction of a new $450 million, 14,000-seat arena and sports facility at the Will Rogers Memorial Center Complex in the Cultural District. The facility is expected to debut sometime in 2019 and will host the annual Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo and other events.

Meeting Hotels: Fort Worth's hospitality offerings include the 614-room Omni Fort Worth Hotel, 504-room Renaissance Worthington Hotel, 431-room Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel and Spa, 294-room Hilton Fort Worth and 156-suite Embassy Suites Fort Worth-Downtown.

To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, visit mcvenues.com.

Convention Center: Fort Worth Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 253,226 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 41; (817) 392-6338

Airport Transit: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, about 17 miles from the downtown district. Transfer cost by taxi, about $48; by shuttle, $17; by Trinity Railway Express, $2.50

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

Group Venue: The décor might be unassuming, but Rodeo Goat Ice House delights with some of the best burgers in town. The menu gets patrons salivating with more than just beef options; there's also salmon, quinoa, chicken and more, matched by an equally fun list of craft beers on draft, in cans and in bottles. Groups of up to 60 are welcomed indoors, 75 on the patio. (817) 877-4628

Contact: Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau, (817) 336-8791 or (800) 433-5747

A Marriott Marquis connected to Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center opens this fall. Mike Waterman, president of the Greater Houston CVB, discusses this and other area developments at mcmag.com/houston.


Local Update
 A $1.5 billion reshuffling of the area around the George R. Brown Convention Center is finishing up, and the facility itself is being renovated to the tune of $175 million, adding multiple ground-floor restaurants. Four of six street lanes in front of the center are being turned into a pedestrian plaza running the length of the building. In addition, the center's entrance is being redone, and 90,000 square feet of contiguous foyer space is being added. All work should be finished by October.

The Crowne Plaza Houston Downtown has been transformed back into the Whitehall, its original name from when it opened in 1963. The property has undergone a $5 million renovation and now features the Buffalo Bayou Coffee shop; Edgar's Hermano, serving a variety of tasty Southern-Mexican fusion dishes; and Part & Parcel, a new outdoor bar.

 The 325-room Hyatt Regency Houston Galleria and its neighbor, the 157-room Hyatt Place Houston Galleria, are now open. The full-service Regency features the Urban Star restaurant, bar and market, plus more than 11,000 square feet of meeting space.

Meeting Hotels: By the end of the year, 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, 947-room Hyatt Regency Houston, 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, 771,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 94; (713) 853-8000

Airport Transit: George H.W. Bush International Airport, 20 miles north of downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $60 to downtown; by Super Shuttle, $23

William P. Hobby Airport, 10 miles north 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: Whether you come to town with a group of 40 or 40,000, Minute Maid Park, home of baseball's Houston Astros, has the space. The stadium's Baseball Bar seats 150, the MVP suites hold 50 each, the Diamond Club seats 250 and the main concourse hosts up to 3,000 for a reception. (713) 259-8800

Contact: Visit Houston, (800) 446-8786

Austin fans know where to go on a hot summer's night: Amy's Ice Creams. Buy the handcrafted flavors like Mexican vanilla and Belgian chocolate in bulk for a fun sundae event.


Local Update
 The $325 million expansion of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center opened in January. The facility now offers 514,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, 270,000 square feet of new exhibit space, 85,000 square feet of column-free multipurpose space, a 54,000-square-foot ballroom, 70 meeting rooms, and a wraparound balcony with views of the city's downtown and the River Walk.

The River Bluff Water Experience at the 1,002-room JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa has been expanded to nine acres, adding a 23,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor event area that includes a 5,000-square-foot pavilion. Also part of the new space is an 18,000-square-foot event lawn, a 4,200-square-foot covered deck and a covered stage. The property also features the 36-hole TPC San Antonio golf course, an adults-only infinity pool, more than 288,000 square feet of meeting space, the 26,000-square-foot Lantana Spa and six dining options, including the signature Cibolo Moon.

 A new spa at the 498-room La Cantera Hill Country Resort & Spa, a Destination Hotel, will debut in August, and a new restaurant by Andrew Weissman opens in the fall.

Meeting Hotels: Properties include the 1,003-room Grand Hyatt San Antonio, 1,002-room JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, 1,001-room Marriott Rivercenter, 629-room Hyatt Regency Riverwalk, 512-room Marriott Riverwalk, 500-room Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort, 498-room La Cantera Resort, 485-room Hyatt Palacio del Rio, 473-room Westin Riverwalk and 410-room Crowne Plaza Riverwalk.

To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, visit mcvenues.com.

Convention Centers: Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center; exhibit space, 514,000 square feet; meeting rooms, 70; (877) 504-8895

Alamodome; exhibit space, 160,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 16; (210) 207-3663

Airport Transit: San Antonio International Airport, approximately eight miles north of downtown. Transfer cost to downtown by taxi, $25-$29; by shuttle, $18

Taxes: Room tax, 16.75%; sales tax, 8.125%; total tax on hotel rooms, 16.75%

Group Venue: So close to the border, it would be a shame not to sample some dishes with flare from farther south. Contemporary Mexican fare and more than 100 kinds of tequila are the draws at Iron Cactus San Antonio Riverwalk Mexican Grill and Margarita Bar. The restaurant holds up to 500 for a private event. (210) 224-9835

Contact: San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau, (210) 207-6700