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. And when it comes to hospitality, meeting professionals will find plenty of top-notch hotels in which to house their groups.
Austin Convention News
• Since a public vote to block the city's plan to expand the Austin Convention Center failed last November, the city is going forward with the project. Currently the master plan is being updated, and once it’s approved, work to acquire the necessary land to the west of the facility will begin. The city hopes to redesign the center and its surroundings at a projected price tag of $1.2 billion.
• 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
• Downtown is getting two new boutique properties. The 140-room Canopy by Hilton Austin Downtown just opened this month with a 657-square-foot poolside pavilion, and the 80-room Colton House Hotel opens in September with a 5,000-square-foot event lawn.
• Two lifestyle hotels from Marriott have just 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 also 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.
• The 613-room Austin Marriott Downtown across from the convention center will open in August. The property will have 25 suites; more than 60,000 square feet of meeting space; an outdoor pool, bar and entertainment zone on the rooftop; and a full-service restaurant.
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.
• The 54-room Commodore Perry Estate, a member of the Auberge Resorts Collection and the National Register of Historic Places, will open near the University of Texas at Austin in July. The hotel is in a walled compound of historic buildings and English-style gardens on nearly 10 acres. For social gathering, the Living Room welcomes guests with a new cocktail bar, and the Solarium, sporting its original tile floors, serves up small bites and cocktails. The estate's largest room is the 1,600-square-foot chapel, which seats 250 theater-style.
• Construction is expected to begin midyear on the 246-room Hyatt Centric Congress Avenue Austin, aiming for a fall 2021 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.
• The 159-room Hotel ZaZa Austin Downtown has debuted in the Warehouse District. The luxury property features the Group Therapy sky bar and restaurant, a spa, a rooftop pool, and 8,500 square feet of meeting space. The brand's signature over-the-top accommodations include the rock-'n'-roll-themed Back Stage Pass King Suite in animal prints, leather and velvet; and the Palm Springs Bungalow 6 Suite, which is decorated in bold colors and patterns.
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.
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.
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
GOING FOR THE GREEN
Just outside of town, the 493-room Omni Barton Creek features four magnificent golf courses to challenge players of all abilities. A new golf clubhouse was part of a $150 million redo finished last spring.
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 Food and Beverage; Best On-Site Tech/Wi-Fi; Best On-Site Support Staff; Best Green Initiative; Southwest: AT&T Hotel and Conference Center
Best DMC, Southwest: Kennedy DMC Austin
Best Hotel/Resort, Southwest: JW Marriott Austin
Best Food and Beverage, Southwest: JW Marriott Austin
Best Food and Beverage, Southwest: AT&T Hotel and Conference Center
Best Green Initiative, Southwest: AT&T Hotel and Conference Center
Best Conference Center, Southwest: AT&T Hotel and Conference Center
Best On-Site Tech/Wi-Fi, Southwest: AT&T Hotel and Conference Center
Best On-Site Support Staff, Southwest: AT&T Hotel and Conference Center
Best Boutique Property, Southwest: The Driskill
Best CVB/DMO, Southwest: Georgetown Convention & Visitors Bureau, Georgetown