Austin Has Rich Offerings for Meetings of All Sizes and Styles

With a growing hotel inventory and new dining highlights, the Texas capital continues to be a top choice

Austin night skyline

WHERE TO…
MEET - Blanton Museum of Art
Boasting a collection of more than 17,000 works of art, this museum also offers a number of innovative meeting spaces, from the 60-person Capitol Room to the Mezzanine in the Michener Gallery Building, with space for more than 500 reception attendees.

STAY - Four Seasons Austin
This lakeside hotel offers 291 recently renovated guest rooms and suites, 49 of which include balconies. The 5,500-square-foot spa provides eight treatment rooms and offers a signature treatment incorporating Hill Country lavender and local lemongrass.

EAT - Driskill Grill
Dubbing itself "authentically Austin," this historic restaurant has been delighting palates since 1929. While the menu changes daily, some signature dishes, like the cornbread-stuffed Texas quail, are not going anywhere.

Though perhaps best known for music gatherings like SXSW and Austin City Limits, Austin ensures rich offerings when it comes to meetings of all sizes and styles. A growing hotel inventory and number of new dining and cultural highlights are keeping meeting groups coming to the Live Music Capital of the World.

On the hotel front, last month saw the opening of the 1,012-room JW Marriott Austin. This convention-style hotel set on Congress Avenue sits just two blocks from the massive Austin Convention Center, ensuring easy transportation for groups traveling between the two (though the hotel itself offers more than 110,000 square feet of flexible meeting, banquet, and event space).

Dining at the JW Marriott Austin runs the gamut from the full-service Osteria Pronto Italian restaurant offering a lengthy wine list, to the al fresco Burger Bar with a menu of "Texas-sized burgers," including the signature Big Mouth Burger topped with blistered peppers, jalapeño jam, bacon, and cheddar.

This May will see the opening of the Hotel Van Zandt, a 16-story property from Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. Those staying in its 320 rooms can enjoy the pool deck, exercise facility, "gastro lounge," and 12,000 square feet of meeting space.

But there are more openings to come this summer, as the 195-room Sonesta Bee Cave opens on July 1 at the Hill Country Galleria (in Bee Cave, TX, just west of Austin). It will offer 10,000 square feet of function space and a ballroom, an outdoor swimming pool, and lots of outdoor space to hike or bike. The same month will see the opening of the Westin Austin Downtown, with 15,00 square feet of meeting and banquet space -- just a block and a half from the Austin Convention Center and near Austin's famous Sixth Street entertainment district.

ESSENTIAL Tool Box
CONVENTION CENTERS & FACILITIES
Austin Convention Center
(246,000 sf exhibit space)

ROOM TAX
9 percent


READERS RECOMMEND

Pinnacle Awards Go To:
Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau
AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center

Austin Excitement
Beyond the new properties, new nightlife, dining, and culture offerings will be available to groups visiting Austin. On the food front, Jacoby's Restaurant & Mercantile offers diners a "ranch-to-table" dining experience, serving Jacoby Beef born, raised, and sourced from Central Texas. The menu also includes many other offerings sourced from the Jacoby Family's sheep, goats, and pigs.

 

The Austin Convention Center
offers a quarter-million
square feet of exhibition space
The Austin Convention Center offers a quarter-million square feet of exhibition space

Olamaie, near the University of Texas at Austin, puts its own twist on traditional Southern food, while Wu Chow serves up Chinese food staples. Those hankering for Tex-Mex can visit Taco Flats, inspired by a favorite 1970s Austin Mexican taco joint.

No visit to Austin is complete without a sampling of this vibrant city's nightlife, and now groups have a few new options to choose from. These include the karaoke-and-cocktail bar The Highball, or darts-and-drinks spot Punchbowl Social (which, as the name implies, serves a menu of classic punches).

Questions or comments? Email [email protected]

This article appears in the March 2015 issue of Successful Meetings.