The Lone Star State’s lakeside capital is awash in hospitality news. The newly expanded Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa is reopening on schedule, and a new boutique property has just debuted in East Austin. This summer, the sumptuous Hotel ZaZa Austin will begin accepting guests..
• During a special meeting on April 2, the Austin City Council received a study from the University of Texas on the downtown convention center district. The research concluded that the city has outgrown the Austin Convention Center and proposed five development options for the surrounding area, which the council is now considering. There is no timeline yet for any action.
• Austin has created a Tourism Commission to "provide expertise and recommendations to the city council concerning issues related to tourism and hotel occupancy-tax revenue collected by the city." Among its duties will be to advise the city on "recommendations
for marketing related to the advertising of Austin." In addition, the new commission will provide guidance on "studies, reports and plans related to the Austin Convention Center and any plans for expansion," and other issues.
Music on the Fly
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is taking a cue from its home city by offering more live music
on-site (making an argument for checking in even earlier than usual). The newest spot at the facility, Heart of Austin, features a taco truck, a bar, Jo’s Coffee, bleacher and table seating, and the Ray Benson Asleep at the Wheel Stage.
• About 30,000 square feet of meeting space has been added to the 297-room AT&T Hotel and Conference Center, bringing the venue's total to 80,000 square feet. The addition includes the 15,000-square-foot Zlotnik Family Ballroom, 5,000 square feet of pre-function space and a new banquet kitchen.
• The Sydell Group opened the 428-room Line ATX Hotel this spring with 20,000 square feet of meeting space and the lakeside Arlo Grey restaurant, from Top Chef winner
• The new 75-room East Austin Hotel opened in late April. The midcentury-modern design shines throughout, and there are three food-and-beverage concepts: a pool bar with a tropical vibe; the Upside, a casual bar and lounge serving cocktails and light bites; and Sixth and Waller, an all-day counter-service restaurant.
• The 222-room Sheraton Austin Georgetown Hotel & Conference Center in nearby Georgetown has a new outdoor event space called the Live Oak Patio, built around a 200-year-old tree. The 2,200-square-foot venue features views of the city’s Rivery Park and San Gabriel River, and hosts up to 130 guests for a reception. The property has 30,000 square feet of event space and a heated outdoor pool.
• The 1,048-room Fairmont Austin Hotel, the largest in the brand's portfolio and the largest property in the city, opened last year. Connected to the Austin Convention Center, the hotel has more than 138,000 square feet of its own meeting space, as well as a Fairmont Spa. Among its six restaurants and bars, the signature eatery is the Garrison Grill, serving a modern American menu.
• The 159-room Hotel ZaZa Austin will debut in late summer. Like its luxurious Dallas and Houston sisters, the new ZaZa will feature the brand’s lavish Magnificent Seven Suites and four concept suites. The 7th Floor Lounge will serve drinks and live music, and the lobby-level Perfect Strangers will pair a full menu with handcrafted cocktails. Also on-site will be the ZaSpa and 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
• A 613-room, full-service Marriott Hotel is being built adjacent to the Austin Convention Center. The property will have 65,000 square feet of meeting, exhibit and entertainment space; an outdoor pool, bar and entertainment zone on the rooftop; two bars, and a full-service restaurant.
• The 312-room Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa currently is closed for a major renovation and expansion. More than $150 million is being spent to add 181 guest rooms, bringing the property's total to 493. The resort is scheduled to reopen in May 2019 with a new hotel tower, an expanded poolscape, a new golf clubhouse serving four top-notch courses and a new spa. The resort now offers 76,000 square feet of meeting space.
Austin has more than 36,000 guest rooms citywide. Properties include the 1,048 Fairmont Austin Hotel, 1,012-room JW Marriott Austin, 800-room Hilton Austin, 492-room Renaissance Austin Hotel and 448-room Hyatt Regency Austin Downtown.
Austin is famous for the literally millions of bats that awaken each
night from March to October and come flying out from under the Congress
Avenue Bridge. Segway Tours of Austin
features a fun-filled evening outing for up to 25 people that
includes experiencing the winged creatures as well as haunted sights
around the city. The route visits popular sites such as the Texas State
Capitol, Lady Bird Lake, and the 6th Street
Music and Entertainment District. (512) 663-9634
Set on 22 acres, the Stunt Ranch
specializes in a host of vigorous team-building trials that the Rock,
Vin Diesel and their action-loving fans would appreciate. The varied
roster of challenging
activities includes "action-hero training"; fun with various ropes
and obstacle courses; zip-lining, rappelling and rock climbing; archery
and hatchet tossing; interactive stunt and pyrotechnic demonstrations,
and workshops in creating special effects.
The inventive on-site wizards can conjure up wind, rain, snow, mist,
explosions and more. (512) 898-9386
Things to Do
TASTE OF TEXAS
When you need to bring food into your chosen venue, Austin-based Freebirds World Burrito can show up with all fresh ingredients, as well as a team of burrito "rollers" for a full-service dinner experience. The caterers also can set up a make-your-own burrito bar or supply party platters or box lunches.
BEST BETS IN BOUTIQUES
Among the city's charming and quirky smaller hotels is the 47-room
Hotel Ella, a former mansion in the Greek-revival style built in 1900.
The 3,493-square-foot ballroom holds up to 200 guests.
Highly acclaimed BBQ master Aaron Franklin of Austin’s Franklin Barbecue
has put his secrets on paper in Franklin Steak
from Ten Speed Press. The book makes a nice gift for VIPs.
With 83 rooms, the South Congress Hotel has a more modern flare. A
boardroom hosts 12 people, the courtyard accommodates 150 and indoor
space holds up to 250. The Café No Sé does the catering.
Norwegian Air now flies to
Austin Bergstrom International Airport three times per week from London
Gatwick Airport. The route is served by new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
PADDLE WITH A PURPOSE
For the "Kayak the Colorado" activity at the 491-room Hyatt Lost Pines, just outside of Austin, guides lead a four-mile excursion, complete with lessons about the Texas ecosystem.
Getting Here and There
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, about eight miles from downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $28; by shuttle, $12