As the weather turns cold up north, the temperatures stay hot in the "Live Music Capital of the World," where Sixth Street's intimate venues reign supreme. The city's tuneful vibe is apparent on arrival, as local musicians serenade passengers at Austin Bergstrom International Airport.
IN THE MUSIC DISTRICT
Opened on Sixth Street in 1975, Antone's has since moved around the corner but still is the place to go for blues. The club accommodates up to 650 people for special events.
Two-steppin' and toe-tappin' are required moves at the Broken Spoke, the epitome of a colorful Texas honkey-tonk. Dance lessons are available, and private events for up to 500 people are welcomed.
Looking for the right music to play at your Austin event? Hook up your phone to the sound system, fire up your Spotify app and navigate to the Music Austin channel, featuring live performances recorded around town.
When not using any of the 1,012-room JW Marriott Austin's more than 100,000 square feet of meeting space, try a blissful Sleep Deeply massage at the property's new Spa by JW.
• The 1,048-room Fairmont Austin Hotel, the largest Fairmont yet, is on schedule to open by the end of the year. The property will connect to the Austin Convention Center via the $6 million Red River Canopy Walk. Plans call for more than 138,000 square feet of in-house meeting space, and a Fairmont Spa with nine treatment rooms. The six restaurants and bars will include a pool bar and a rooftop terrace.
• The Sydell Group is turning the 413-room Radisson Austin into the 428-room Line ATX Hotel. Along with 22,000 square feet of meeting space, the property will have three restaurants and four bars. The hotel, opening in 2018, also will have access to Austin's hiking and biking trails, and will be within walking distance of the Red River music-district, also debuting in 2018.
• Beginning on March 28, 2018, Norwegian Airlines will commence daily service between Austin Bergstrom International Airport and London Gatwick Airport.
• The combined, 422-room Aloft and Element Austin Downtown opened this past July; the Aloft has 278 guest rooms, and the Element, 144. The properties share the Caroline restaurant, an outdoor lounge with open-air gaming space called Upstairs at Caroline and approximately 3,000 square feet of meeting space.
• At the 366-room Westin Austin Downtown, the rooftop pool and bar have been renovated, adding more seating capacity and cabanas. A new drink menu features hand-crafted cocktails available by the glass or pitcher; daytime offerings include "edible cocktails." Food choices are separated into Bites, Bowls and Bentos. The new open-concept design affords better views of the sky, as well as Lady Bird Lake and the city itself.
• The 220-acre, 70-room Travaasa Austin Resort closed on Sept. 1 as work began on an expansion and redevelopment of the property, which was purchased by the Miraval Group, now under the Hyatt Hotels umbrella. To be completed by January 2019, the project will add 50 guest rooms, and total indoor and outdoor meeting space will grow to 15,864 square feet. The expanded spa will offer 30 treatment rooms, and the existing pool will be converted into a spa pool. New dining options will include a pool café, a cocktail bar, a mobile demonstration kitchen, and a grab-and-go marketplace.
JUST FOR FUN, INSIDE OR OUT
When the budget
allows for a dose of recreation alongside the business of meeting, the Austin area features a number of top-notch resorts with all the right amenities. A few options:
On Lake LBJ sits the 377-room Horseshoe Bay Resort, where water sports such as fishing, water-skiing, sailing and boating rule. More than 43,000 square feet of meeting space is available.
For participants who love to be pampered, the intimate 40-room Lake Austin Spa Resort is pleased to oblige, with 25,000 square feet for relaxing (and 4,500 square feet for meetings).
The 491-room Hyatt Lost Pines is an all-around option, with horseback riding, kayaking, trap-shooting, hiking, golf and more -- not to mention more than 60,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and 240,000 square feet to accommodate outdoor events.
Meeting Hotels: Austin has more than 36,000 rooms citywide. Properties include the 1,012-room JW Marriott Austin, 800-room Hilton Austin, 492-room Renaissance Austin Hotel, 448-room Hyatt Regency Austin Downtown, 422-room Aloft and Element Austin Downtown, 366-room Westin Austin Downtown, 319-room Hotel Van Zandt and 312-room Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa.
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; austinconventioncenter.com
Airport Transit: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, about eight miles from downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $28; by shuttle, $12
Taxes: Room tax, 9%; sales tax, 8.25%; total tax on rooms, 15%
Group Venues: Bon Appetit, Eater and GQ agree: Kemuri Tatsu-Ya is one of the best new restaurants to open this year, not just in Austin but in the entire United States. Peruse the eatery's creative menu for a taste of the fun Japanese-Texan vibe that is its hallmark. Private parties of 25 or more are welcome (email [email protected] for details and group reservations). (512) 893-5561.
Need to go big in Texas? The Long Center for the Performing Arts, known for the care that went into constructing spaces with incredible acoustics, presents a schedule of top performers, but also features a host of venues for rent. The Michael & Susan Dell Hall accommodates up to 2,442 people, while for a more intimate event, the Debra and Kevin Rollins Studio Theatre is a flexible black-box space that seats up to 229. The center's City Terrace, which holds as many as 2,000 for an outdoor gathering, looks out over downtown Austin. Last but not least is the glass-enclosed Kodosky Donor Lounge, hosting receptions or dinners for as many as 210 people. (512) 457-5100.
For adventure-seeking groups, Live-Love-Paddle takes up to 60 participants in kayaks out on Lady Bird Lake to see Austin's iconic bats taking off in the evening from their home underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge. The company also offers urban kayak tours, a full-moon kayak tour, and various on-water team-building excursions and scavenger hunts. Or, groups can opt for a more leisurely outing with no specific destination or theme in mind. Live-Love-Paddle also has access to a great lawn on the banks for gatherings after the paddling. (512) 804-2122.
Austin is not missing out on the craft-beer craze. Independence Brewing Company's suds menu starts with Austin Amber and its compatriots, Power & Light pale ale and Stash IPA, among others. In a nod to the perennial rivals of the hometown team, the University of Texas Longhorns, this fall's seasonal brew is the Oklahoma Suks American Amber. The Tap Room is available for private events of up to 50 indoors with room to grow outdoors, and brewery tours are available. (512) 707-0099.
To coax out the inner child lurking within your attendees, plan on an excursion to Driveway Austin, a lively motorsports training and entertainment complex. For the tech-minded, the facility's Grand Prix Course is an F1-calibre track with elevation changes and signature corners. Go-karting is the fun option here, and the venue also arranges team-building track days that include tactical driving, paintball and evasive maneuvering. Groups of up to 30 participants are welcome. (512) 971-9100.
Contact: Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, (800) 926-2282