by Maya Dollarhide | July 05, 2017
Austin, the self-proclaimed "live musical capital of the world," is part country, part rock-and-roll, with an abundance of city chic. The Texas capital offers a bonanza of choices for business and fun. "Groups enjoy our easy access to being in the center of the country, the walkability to our entertainment districts, and just the overall distinct vibe attendees experience from being in a great university and foodie town," says Steve Genovesi, senior vice president of sales for Visit Austin.  
Austin--Bergstrom International Airport, less than eight miles from the downtown Austin Convention Center, offers some 300 flights daily and 60 nonstop destinations. Its strong transportation infrastructure -- including city rail and buses plus rideshare companies -- make it easy to get around.

Austin boasts 8,500 downtown hotel rooms and by 2019, the number is projected to grow to more than 12,000. Currently, there are 35,500 rooms across the entire city. "With the addition of so many luxury hotels, Austin is now able to accommodate more meetings and conferences -- both in conjunction with the Austin Convention Center and in-house programs," says Genovesi.  

This spring, the new Hyatt Place hotel with 139 rooms and more than 1,900 square feet of meeting space opened just steps away from the airport. The dual-branded Aloft (278 rooms) and Element Austin Downtown (144 rooms) opens in July. Shared amenities will include nearly 2,500 square feet of flexible meeting space, a full-service restaurant, plus bar and patio. The luxurious Fairmont Austin, a $370-million project, is scheduled to open this fall. With over 1,000 guest rooms and 42 suites, the 37-story hotel (making it the second-tallest building downtown) will offer 128,000 square feet of meeting space. To experience the natural beauty of Texas Hill Country, the Lake Austin Spa Resort, with 40 rooms on 19 acres of pristine lakeside, caters to incentive groups seeking small-scale luxury. And in 2020, an African-themed water park and convention center, with 1,000 guest rooms, is slated to open just north of Austin.

BBQ, Live Music, and More
For a taste of local culture, enjoy Texas brisket and local entertainment at Lamberts Downtown Barbeque. Try country line dancing (you can pick up cowboy boots at Allen's) at the Broken Spoke, and order the chicken-fried steak, or enjoy a private dinner cruise around Lady Bird Lake. Austin is home to food tours (try Austin Eats), and this fall, the city's first "inside-outside" food hall, Fareground, will open in the heart of downtown. Breweries abound here, too. For an eclectic, laidback vibe, try Elmo's Brewing Company, serving up suds and Asian-inspired dishes. For an upscale, but low-key night, book tables at Odd Duck restaurant, specializing in local ingredients and seafood fresh from the Gulf Coast. The Lone Star State is vast, but groups seeking an authentic Texas experience, need look no further.

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This article appears in the July 2017 issue of Successful Meetings.