Why Austin for Your Next Meeting or Event?
The capital of the Lone Star State revels in its reputation as a mecca for live music, but the city and surrounding area also offer a wealth of outdoor attractions and activities. When it comes to hospitality, meeting professionals will find plenty of top-notch hotels in which to house their groups.
Austin Convention News
• The westward expansion of the Austin Convention Center has been halted, reportedly because the cost to acquire the necessary land was too expensive for the city. Rumor has it that additional space could be added vertically, but no official word has been given on such a plan. During the pandemic, the center achieved GBAC Star accreditation for its cleanliness and safety practices.
• The Palmer Events Center has earned LEED Silver certification for existing buildings operations and maintenance. All of the electrical power for the facility, as well as the Gold-certified Austin Convention Center, is supplied by Austin Energy’s GreenChoice program, which is generated by wind turbines. The Palmer Center diverts 35 percent of all waste away from landfills through the building’s comprehensive recycling, reuse and composting program. The facility features two column-free exhibit halls that combine for 70,000 square feet of space, as well as 50,000 square feet of covered outdoor canopies. Groups also can rent the five 1,000-square-foot breakout rooms.
Hotel Additions & Renovations
• A guest-room refresh is underway at the 393-room Omni Austin Hotel Downtown, scheduled to be finished this summer. Work on the Club Lounge on the 14th floor already has been completed. The property offers 20,000 square feet of meeting space.
• Scheduled to open in the fall, the 212-room Thompson Austin will be part of a mixed-use development downtown. The Grey Diner Bar, the ground-floor restaurant, will be an outpost of The Grey, a Savannah, Ga., eatery from James Beard–award winner Mashama Bailey and her partner, John O. Morisano. On the fourth-floor deck, guests will find two bars and private event space. For groups, there +will be a 3,500-square-foot grand ballroom, a junior ballroom and three breakout rooms.
• Now open is the 613-room Austin Marriott Downtown, half a block from the Austin Convention Center, with more than 60,000 square feet of its own meeting space and an event terrace by the rooftop pool. Zanzibar on the rooftop is becoming a hot spot for cocktails, and the signature Corinne restaurant serves up "feel-good" American fare inside and on the large outdoor patio.
• The University of Texas campus has welcomed the 162-room Moxy Austin–University, the first of the brand to debut in the state. The hotel’s outdoor venue, the Backyard, hosts up to 30 people for an event.
• Among the latest boutique properties to open downtown are the 140-room Canopy by Hilton Austin Downtown with a 657-square-foot poolside pavilion, and the 80-room Colton House Hotel with a 5,000-square-foot event lawn.
About 40 minutes from Austin, the 491-room Hyatt Regency Lost Pines
has upgraded its LBJ and Chef’s pavilions with floor-to-ceiling windows, air conditioning and heating for year-round indoor/outdoor events.
• Two lifestyle hotels from Marriott have also opened, bringing 347 guest rooms to the city. The dual-branded 156-room AC Hotel Austin-University and the 191-room Otis Hotel, an Autograph Collection property, have more than 7,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 3,480-square-foot ballroom and five smaller meeting rooms. The hotels share their food-and-beverage offerings: Acre 41, with a menu of American fare sourced locally; Burger Bar, a walk-up streetside spot; the Otopia Rooftop serving signature cocktails; and Bar AC, a Spanish-inspired bar and tapas restaurant.
• Construction is underway on the 246-room Hyatt Centric Congress Avenue Austin, aiming for an early 2022 opening. The upscale hotel will be within walking distance of the Austin Convention Center, the 6th Street district's live music, the Texas State Capitol and the University of Texas campus. The property will feature a 1,400-square-foot presidential suite that can be used as event space, as well as 2,000 square feet of high-tech meeting space.
• At least one night in Texas, barbecue should be on the menu. Lamberts Downtown, in Austin’s old Schneider Brothers building, welcomes buyouts for 200 people, as well as smaller events on the second floor for up to 85 and on the back patio for up to 60 guests. The food can be all house-made barbecue, or you can mix it up with steaks and seafood.
• Add a nighttime view of the city to your evening event at the Summit Rooftop Lounge. At 5,000 square feet, the deck hosts up to 500 people and is equipped with state-of-the-art lighting and sound, as well as an LED wall.
Things to Do in Austin
Lady of the Lake
Downtown Austin sits on Lady Bird Lake, named for the wife of President Lyndon Johnson. Not just a lovely natural feature to gaze upon, the lake supports a host of water sports. Rowing Dock ATX can take small groups out on the lake for a kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard tour.
Plenty of boats ply the waters. Private day, sunset and moonlight tours for 30 to 100 people are run by Lone Star Riverboat's four vessels, of which the Lone Star is the largest. Pride and Joy II from Capital Cruises hosts up to 140 guests; the 75-foot Destination Yacht has dinner seating for 80 people.
All four outposts of the Pinstack bowling and dining portfolio are back up and running. The Allen, Austin, Irving and Plano spots are following strict safety measures, such as the use of contactless menus, tables limited to six guests, and team members wearing face coverings at all times. Get more information here
For an evening with a view of the lake, reserve the Edge Rooftop at the JW Marriott Austin. The venue, which hosts up to 200 for an event, also looks out over downtown; at sunset, patrons can watch more than a million bats take off from under the Congress Avenue Bridge.
Going for the Green
The highlight of Austin’s golf offerings are the four stunners at the Omni Barton Creek, two designed by Tom Fazio, one by Arnold Palmer, and one by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore. Another beauty is along the Lower Colorado River at the Wolfdancer Golf Club, part of the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa. Two public courses for tournaments are the Falconhead and Onion Creek.
The Lake Austin Spa Resort, one of the top retreats in the country, is perfect for award winners who like to try treatments such as the Day Dreaming massage that uses lavender chamomile oil.
Austin’s 250 live-music venues are just waiting to offer up concerts once again to suit a plethora of tastes. From outdoor events at Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden, to the gospel brunch at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q, as well as country, rock ‘n’ roll and more, the city has it all and Visit Austin can help find the right music for your group. bit.ly/MCATXmusic
Taste of Tex-Mex
They must be doing something right at Matt's El Rancho, opened in 1952 and still family-owned. An in-house tortilla factory grinds non-GMO corn daily for its tortillas and chips, and the bar carries more than 50 kinds of tequila. On the menu is the Bob Armstrong dip — a spicy delight with queso and taco meat that originated at the restaurant when the former Texas Land Commissioner asked for "something different." Groups of up to 500 are welcome.
Pan Am Memories
Hearkening back to the days when air travel still had a feeling of romance, the Hangar Bar in the Warehouse District is modeled after a 1950's airport lounge. Three levels, including an outdoor terrace, welcome groups of up to 275 people a few blocks from the convention center.
A tribute to President Lyndon Baines Johnson's industrious, independent wife — who once said, "Where flowers bloom, so does hope" — the 284-acre Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center encompasses gardens, a 16-acre arboretum, managed natural areas and wildlands. Events of up to 500 people are welcome.
Transportation in & Around the Area
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, about eight miles from downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $28; by shuttle, $12
Best Places for Live Music in Austin
Austin is known for its live performances and nightlife. Be sure to catch a live a concert or show while you're in town.
- Esther's Follies - magic show, comedy
- Pete's Dueling Piano Bar - bar, live music, comedy
- The Continental Club - bar, rock 'n' roll
- Craft Pride - bar, restaurant, live music
- The Elephant Room - bar, restaurant, jazz
- The Broken Spoke - bar, live music, dancing
- The Roosevelt Room - seated cocktails, restaurant
- Mean-Eyed Cat - Johnny Cash tribute bar, BBQ
- Antone's - blues / R&B, bar
- The Hideout Theatre - improv, comedy
- Best Hotel/Resort, Southwest: Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center, Gold winner
- Best Hotel/Resort, Southwest: AT&T Hotel and Conference Center, Finalist
- Best CVB/DMO, Southwest: Visit Fort Worth, Silver winner
- Best Convention Center, Southwest: Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center, Gold winner
- Best Hotel/Resort Event Space, Southwest: Marriott Marquis Houston, Silver winner
- Best Hotel/Resort Event Space, Southwest: AT&T Hotel and Conference Center, Bronze winner
- Best Décor/Design, Southwest: Gaylord Texas Resort and Convention Center, Bronze winner
- Best Food and Beverage, Southwest: AT&T Hotel and Conference Center, Bronze winner
- Best Sustainability Initiative, Southwest: AT&T Hotel and Conference Center, Gold winner
- Best Sustainability Initiative, Southwest: Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center, Silver winner
- Best On-Site Support Staff, Southwest: AT&T Hotel and Conference Center, Bronze winner
- Best DMC, Southwest: Kennedy DMC Austin, Finalist
- Best Hotel/Resort, Southwest: JW Marriott Austin, Bronze winner
- Best Food and Beverage, Southwest: JW Marriott Austin, Finalist
- Best Food and Beverage, Southwest: AT&T Hotel and Conference Center, Finalist
- Best Green Initiative, Southwest: AT&T Hotel and Conference Center, Silver winner
- Best Conference Center, Southwest: AT&T Hotel and Conference Center, Bronze winner
- Best On-Site Tech/Wi-Fi, Southwest: AT&T Hotel and Conference Center, Gold winner
- Best On-Site Support Staff, Southwest: AT&T Hotel and Conference Center, Silver winner
- Best Boutique Property, Southwest: The Driskill, Bronze winner
- Best CVB/DMO, Southwest: Georgetown Convention & Visitors Bureau, Finalist