Guide to Meeting & Event Planning in

Southern Texas

Hotels and venues in the Lone Star State have been revamping, reopening and debuting, and are ready to host your next gathering.

Why Southern Texas for Your Next Meeting or Event?

Remember the Alamo? It and all the other iconic Lone Star destinations are ready to see your groups again. New hotels are opening their doors just in time, such as two Thompson properties: one in San Antonio, near the former mission, and another in the state capital. 

After Gov. Abbott lifted all pandemic restrictions in the state, mayors in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and other cities reiterated that masks must be worn in such city-owned spaces as convention centers.

Austin

Recent Updates to Hotels and Venues for Meetings and Events
  • The expansion of the Austin Convention Center moved forward in June. New city council approvals allow the facility to begin the search for an architect and a general contractor for the project, which was stalled by the pandemic. Portions of the facility will be demolished and rebuilt to add more space for conferences of all sizes. The city is ready to pay for the work: The room tax was raised 2 percent in 2019 for the expansion.
  • A guest room refresh has finished at the 393-room Omni Austin Hotel Downtown. Renovations to the 21,000 square feet of meeting space began in August, adding technology and a new look, to be completed in October. Work on the public spaces will be done in February 2022.
  • The 613-room Austin Marriott Downtown with more than 60,000 square feet of meeting space has opened half a block from the convention center. 
  • Opening in late fall is the 212-room Thompson Austin, part of a mixed-use development. For groups, there will be a 3,500-square-foot grand ballroom, as well as a junior ballroom. Award-winning chef Mashama Bailey and partner John O. Morisano are bringing their Grey Diner Bar to the new hotel this fall.
  • Greater Austin features more than 39,000 guest rooms. Major downtown hotels include the 1,048 Fairmont Austin Hotel, 1,012-room JW Marriott Austin and 801-room Hilton Austin.
Group Venues 
  • Sometimes, only the best will do. A shining star in town is Jeffrey’s, a sophisticated neighborhood spot serving dry-aged prime beef and French-American classics. The Napoleon Room wine cellar holds 12 for dinner, and The Apartment hosts 20 people; take over the restaurant for parties of up to 120 people. jeffreysofaustin.com
  • Finding fabulous regional cuisine is as easy as sampling this list of where you can get the best margaritas in Austin. Sazón’s Mexican menu pairs beautifully with their specialty drink, the frozen coconut margarita. The patio at Iron Cactus overlooks Sixth Street, making it a great spot for people-watching.
  • Put fun on the agenda with a visit to Zip Lost Pines. The adventure park features long side-by-side zip lines so friends can ride together. For those who don’t want to fly, access to McKinney Roughs Nature Park and its 17 miles of trails is included.
  • A gorgeous bar marks the front lounge of The Eleanor, a fun 3,750-square-foot space for a night out in Austin. The main room at the back doubles as a dance floor when the music’s just right.

Travel Essentials

Convention Center:Austin Convention Center; exhibit space, 247,052 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 54

Airport Transit:Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, about 8 miles from downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $28; by shuttle, $12; Uber and Lyft start at about $25

Taxes: Room tax, 9%; sales tax, 8.25%; total tax on rooms, 17%

CVB:Visit Austin

Local Topper
Arrange for your VIPs to get the gift of a lifetime — an authentic custom-made felt or straw cowboy hat from Catalena Hatters near College Station in Bryan. A range of styles and colors (from white and beige to grey and black) are available, along with a variety of braided or belted décor options.

College Station

Recent Updates to Hotels and Venues for Meetings and Events
Group Venue
  • When Texas A&M’s Aggies aren’t at home, groups are welcome to use Kyle Field for events. The stadium’s Ford Hall of Champions offers an expansive 30,000 square feet of space.

Travel Essentials

Airport Transit: Easterwood Airport, about 4 miles from downtown. Most hotels offer shuttle service.

Taxes: Room tax, 7%; county and state tax, 8.75%; total tax on rooms, 15.75%

CVB: City of College Station

San Antonio

Recent Updates to Hotels and Venues for Meetings and Events
  • A multimillion-dollar propertywide renovation has been completed at the 1,000-room San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter, one of the city’s largest hotels. In the process, the event space was increased by 11,000 square feet to a total of 70,136 square feet. The property’s new M Club overlooks the Alamo, and the revamped F&B options include the signature restaurant, Tributary, serving seasonal and local fare; the Café Bocadillo coffeehouse; and Sundry for grab-and-go bites.
  • A luxury 390-room InterContinental hotel, the city’s first of the brand, will open in the city in 2023. A remake of a former Wyndham hotel, the project will transform the property’s 40,000 square feet of meeting space, add new food-and-beverage options, and revitalize the rooftop pool area. The InterContinental will have direct access to the River Walk.
  • The 162-room Thompson San Antonio opened earlier this year. The property’s signature restaurant, Landrace, is led by chef Steve McHugh. The hotel has a 5,000-square-foot spa and 10,000 square feet of event space.
  • Now open is the 277-room Estancia del Norte San Antonio, part of Hilton’s Tapestry Collection, with 10,000 square feet of gathering space. Lazo Restaurant serves South Texas classics, and the Paseo Bar looks out on the Grand Courtyard.


Group Venues 

Still a fan favorite is Biga on the Banks, a fine-dining spot serving “very new American cuisine.” The brainchild of chef Bruce Auden, a London transplant, the menu changes daily; on a recent night, dishes were made with Scottish salmon, Australian lamb, Gulf shrimp and New Zealand deer. Private dining options host from 10 to 400 people, offering river and River Walk views. 

Send a group out to see the city by recumbent bike with San Antonio Bike Tours. Two-, four- and six-hour outings head out to the missions, the historic downtown and more.

Once available by food truck only, the delightful confections of Mary Collazzo make the perfect gift for your chocolate-loving VIPs. The delectables vary seasonally, so it’s worth a stop at the downtown shop, Chocollazzo, whenever you visit the city. Maybe you’ll be able to grab a few of these honey-touched bites.

Seven signature beers and outdoor space for mingling are available for up to, yes, 18,000 people at the expansive Alamo Beer Co.

Safety Rules

While gatherings of all sizes are welcome in San Antonio, masks are required indoors at all city- and Bexar County-
owned facilities, including the Henry B. González Convention Center. Thousands of business owners in Greater San Antonio also have taken a safety pledge to use face coverings, practice physical distancing and more. Check out all the hotels, restaurants and venues that are on the lit.

Travel Essentials

Convention Center:Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center; exhibit space, 514,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 70

Airport Transit:San Antonio International Airport, 8 miles north of downtown. Transfer cost to downtown by taxi, $29; Lyft and Uber start at $17

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

CVB: Visit San Antonio

2020 Stella Award Winners