Texas experienced the worst of storms and the best of comebacks during this past year. While Texas extended a big hand to victims of Hurricane Katrina, which hit at the end of August, September's Hurricane Rita devastated East Texas. Despite the horrific storm, Texans were outside in its tailwinds, helping each other to begin a comeback that is ongoing.
Many displaced 2005 and 2006 conventions that were originally scheduled for the damaged areas were accepted in other cities such as Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, and San Antonio. After the storm, San Antonio began returning a portion of its convention center revenues to relief efforts. But, while lending a hand, the unscathed majority of the state has not missed a beat in finishing new developments, one-of-a-kind venues, and property upgrades.
In transportation news, two of the state's major gateways have expanded. At Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the new International Arrivals Building has opened to streamline customs and the baggage processing. In 2004, the airport could process about 2,000 international arrivals an hour; now, about 4,500 people can be welcomed to the United States each hour. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has the new Skylink high-speed airport train, reported to be the world's largest automated people-mover system. Skylink is part of an expansion that also added 28 gates in a new 2 million-square-foot International Terminal D and Texas' first Grand Hyatt Hotel, integrated into the new terminal. Hotel guests can go straight from the hotel to all terminals via Skylink.
Major hotel developments around the state include the new Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa opened in June in the Hill Country near Austin, the same part of the state that saw the Horseshoe Bay Resort Marriott Hotel open last summer.
In San Antonio, two towers reaching 525 feet high will change the skyline when the Grand Hyatt San Antonio opens in 2008. The 1,000-room property broke ground last summer adjacent to the convention center and will be the city's second-tallest structure when it is finished.
In Houston, the upscale Galleria area is boasting three new hotels: the Hilton Garden Inn, the renovated Hilton Houston Post Oak (formerly the Doubletree), and, from the InterContinental Hotels Group, Hotel Indigo, which opened in April. The Hotel Indigo will change all its “mood” elements — even the way employees answer the phone — quarterly. North of Houston in The Woodlands, conferees can cruise beside a waterfall in air-conditioned water taxis as they travel from shopping to dining and back to their hotel through the sparkling lights of a new waterway.
In Dallas' Victory Park district, five new buildings are expected to open this year, including the W Dallas Victory Hotel and Residences this past spring. Victory Park, an emerging master-planned area, includes office space, residences, retail shops, premier restaurant brands, and nightlife options. In downtown Fort Worth, Omni Hotels plans to build a 600-room convention center hotel.
Galveston has been in the cruise business for only five years, and already six ships are calling it home port during the 2006 winter cruise season, with more than 1 million passengers expected during the next year. Another new Galveston attraction: Schlitterbahn Galveston Water Park. It has 19 rides spread over 12 acres, plus a portion of the park with capacity for 2,000 people can be enclosed. Still, Arlington is “Fun Central” in the state, and its Six Flags Over Texas theme park debuted 10 rides this spring, the largest capital expansion in its 45-year history.
The HILTON ARLINGTON has renovated its 252 guest rooms. The hotel has 11,000 square feet of meeting space.
The 310-room WYNDHAM ARLINGTON renovated its guest rooms in the second half of 2005. The hotel has 21,200 square feet of flexible meeting space.
BARTON CREEK RESORT & SPA has expanded its Darrell Royal Ballroom to 8,240 square feet and added an 18-hole putt-putt golf course behind the spa building, next to the nature trail. The resort has 300 rooms, 30,000 square feet of meeting space, a 156-seat amphitheater, and 72 holes of golf.
The HYATT REGENCY LOST PINES RESORT & SPA opened this summer near Bastrop, 13 miles south of Austin Bergstrom International Airport. The resort has 491 rooms, 50,000 square feet of indoor function space, an 18-hole golf course, a spa, and eight restaurants. It offers canoeing and fishing on the Colorado River, with hiking and equestrian trails in a 1,100-acre nature park.
The 211-room LAKEWAY INN CONFERENCE RESORT of Austin will be redeveloped, adding a grand lobby entrance and upgrading 168 rooms, including 16 spa guest rooms. A redesign of a 5,500-square-foot spa and fitness center is planned. A new 5,200-square-foot ballroom will overlook Lake Travis. The resort has 20,000 square feet of meeting space.
HORSESHOE BAY RESORT MARRIOTT in the Hill Country near Austin had its grand opening in May 2005. The 349-room hotel overlooks Lake LBJ, and its conference center has 22,000 square feet of meeting space, a 12,000-square-foot grand ballroom, and up to 40,000 square feet of outdoor meeting space. On-site activities include golf at three Robert Trent Jones championship golf courses.
Austin's downtown landscape changes again this year with the opening of a COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT and a RESIDENCE INN. The adjoining hotel properties, which are adjacent to the convention center, add 449 rooms to the downtown inventory.
The GRAND HYATT DFW opened in DFW International Airport's new international terminal in July 2005 with 298 rooms, a 34,000-square-foot ballroom, 45 meeting rooms, a fitness center, a full-service meeting center, wireless Internet, and a rooftop pool.
The HYATT REGENCY DALLAS is the closest hotel to the Dallas Convention Center. With 1,122 guest rooms, the property is prepared for a range of groups in its 160,000 square feet of function space, which includes 56 meeting rooms and 55,000 square feet of exhibit space.
The W DALLAS VICTORY HOTEL opened in June with 251 rooms, a 10,000-square-foot spa, a restaurant, a fitness center, and 11,000 square feet of meeting space.
In Grapevine, the GAYLORD TEXAN RESORT plans to open the “Glass Cactus” in the fourth quarter of 2006. The 29,000-square-foot entertainment complex will be available for private parties. The 1,511-room Gaylord hotel has six restaurants, seven lounges, and a spa and fitness center. Its adjoining convention center has 400,000 square feet of function space, including a 180,000-square-foot exhibit hall and three ballrooms.
In 2007, the RITZ-CARLTON, DALLAS will open with 216 rooms, 14,000 square feet of meeting space, a 10,000-square-foot ballroom, and a 12,000-square-foot spa and fitness center.
ADAM'S MARK in downtown Dallas has renovated 500 rooms in its south tower. The hotel has 1,840 rooms, a 41,000-square-foot ballroom, and 230,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space.
The 1,610-room WYNDHAM ANATOLE in downtown Dallas has renovated its 27-story tower and the 4,620-square-foot Wedgwood ballroom. The hotel has 341,000 square feet of meeting space equipped with high-speed wireless and wired Internet access.
Omni Hotels plans to open a 600-room facility in 2008 adjacent to Fort Worth Convention Center. The new OMNI will have 48,000 square feet of meeting space, two restaurants, a pool, and an exercise facility.
HOLIDAY INN NORTH and HOLIDAY INN SOUTH, acquired by Allegiance Hospitality Corp., are being redesigned. Fully renovated, each hotel will have 247 rooms and 12,000 square feet of conference facilities.
In Fort Worth, the DORAL TESORO HOTEL AND GOLF CLUB, formerly the Westin Beechwood, now has wireless Internet service in its 286 rooms. The property has 22,000 square feet of meeting space in a conference center and an 8,978-square-foot ballroom.
The RADISSON PLAZA HOTEL FORT WORTH is renovating its 517 rooms and public places. The hotel has 62,738 square feet of meeting space.
In Irving, the HILTON GARDEN INN DFW AIRPORT SOUTH opened in 2005. It features 151 rooms and suites, more than 5,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, and wireless high-speed Internet access.
The new SPRINGHILL SUITES BY MARRIOTT DALLAS/LAS COLINAS in Irving has 122 rooms and more than 3,100 square feet of meeting space.
The 168-room WYNDHAM LAS COLINAS in Irving has completed a million-dollar renovation and has high-tech amenities in all guest rooms and 2,900 square feet of meeting space.
A renovation was recently completed at Irving's 421-room OMNI MANDALAY HOTEL AT LAS COLINAS. The hotel has 31,000 square feet of function space, including a 10,659-square-foot ballroom.
The 303-room SHERATON GRAND DFW in Irving completed an extensive renovation. It now has 25,000 square feet of meeting space and a business center.
THE HOLIDAY INN SUNSPREE RESORT opened in summer 2005. All 100 rooms overlook Galveston Beach, and it has 1,500 square feet of function space for meetings and banquets.
In the Galleria area, the 314-room HOTEL DEREK has added a French bistro, with an 8,000-square-foot main dining room for 110 diners and a cafe for 40 guests. In February, the hotel opened six “business lofts” — office space with a personal computer, laser printer, and other supplies. The hotel has 10,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 4,800-square-foot ballroom.
The HILTON GARDEN INN opened in the Galleria area in November 2005. The 182-room hotel has a 24-hour business center and wireless Internet access throughout, 2,440 square feet of flexible meeting space, a fitness facility, and an outdoor heated pool.
A a renovation was completed at the 400-room OMNI HOUSTON HOTEL WESTSIDE at the end of 2005. The hotel has 25,000 square feet function space, a fitness center, and wireless Internet.
The ALDEN HOTEL (formerly the Sam Houston Hotel) opened downtown in September 2005. The historic hotel has 97 rooms, two meeting rooms for up to 20 people, and a 1,600-square-foot outdoor function area.
The 132-room HOTEL INDIGO opened in April in the Galleria area with 1,525 square feet of meeting space.
The new waterway at THE WOODLANDS WATERWAY MARRIOTT HOTEL AND CONFERENCE CENTER transports guests from shopping to dining and back to their hotel. The hotel, 20 minutes north of Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, connects to a 70,000-square-foot convention center, with a 37,000-square-foot ballroom and 13 breakout rooms.
In June 2005, groundbreaking began on the 1,000-room GRAND HYATT SAN ANTONIO on the River Walk, adjacent to the convention center. When completed in 2008, the hotel will offer 79,300 square feet of meeting and ballroom space, plus a restaurant that will seat 350.
SOLIS HOTELS AND RESORTS, the luxury hotel brand launched last year by hotelier Horst Schulze and his West Paces Hotel Group, is building a 150-room property, with meeting and banquet facilities, on the city's northwest side. A winter 2007 opening is planned.
THE WESTIN LA CANTERA RESORT has 508 rooms and more than 39,000 square feet of function space and 36 holes of golf.
In March, Omni Hotels bought two San Antonio properties: LA MANSIÓN DEL RIO HOTEL and WATERMARK HOTEL & SPA.
The 306-room EL TROPICANO RIVER WALK HOTEL, the original property built on the River Walk in the 1960s, has taken back its “El Tropicano” name after years of being a chain property. Its original styling is being restored, and a fitness center is being added. The hotel has 37,000 square feet of meeting space and a 12,000-square-foot ballroom.
ThePLAYERS CLUB OF SAN ANTONIO is moving forward on a golf resort northeast of San Antonio on 2,855 acres. The resort will have an 800-room JW MARRIOTT RESORT HOTEL and two 18-hole golf courses. The PGA Tour will operate the golf facilities. The hotel and courses are scheduled to open in 2008.
THE HOTEL CONTESSA-SUITES on the River Walk opened in November 2005. The hotel has 265 suites and 10,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 2,300-square-foot ballroom and a boardroom. The hotel also has a rooftop pool.
The San Antonio River Walk DRURY PLAZA HOTEL, a conversion of the 24-story Alamo National Building built in 1929, will open phase one with 310 rooms in fall 2006. Phase two will roll out 100 rooms in 2007. The hotel will have 15,000 square feet meeting space.
AMARILLO CONVENTION & VISITOR COUNCIL
Total Hotel Tax: 15%
ARLINGTON CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU
Total Hotel Tax: 15%
AUSTIN CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU
Total Hotel Tax: 15%
CORPUS CHRISTI CONVENTION &VISITORS BUREAU
Total Hotel Tax: 15%
DALLAS CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU
Total Hotel Tax 15%
EL PASO CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU
Total Hotel Tax 15.5%
FORT WORTH CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU
Total Hotel Tax: 15%
GALVESTON ISLAND CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU
Total Hotel Tax 15%
GREATER HOUSTON CVB
Total Hotel Tax: 17%
Total Hotel Tax: 13%
SAN ANTONIO CVB
Total Hotel Tax 16.75%
In Dallas, hop onto the McKinney Avenue Trolley for a free ride from downtown to Uptown, a 125-year-old neighborhood blending historic homes with new high-rise residences, and boasting 40 art galleries, antique shops, 85 restaurants, and more.
Planners considering Galveston Island should contact the Galveston Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Moody Gardens Convention Center for up-to-date area information. They work together to bring business to the island.
Daytime traffic gives drivers and passengers scant opportunity to appreciate historic downtown San Antonio. For the best look or a delightful surprise, arrange a nighttime city tour in horsedrawn carriages for your group.
The Doral Tesoro Hotel and Golf Club is the official hotel of the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and has a great prize for group golf tournaments. The player who hits the ball closest to the pin on the signature 15th hole wins 10 laps in a 160 mph NASCAR ride.
Shoppers seeking specialty wares in Houston should be sure to check out the neighborhood shopping areas — The Heights, The Village Arcade near Rice University, Highland Village, and River Oaks Shopping Center.
The South Texas Institute for the Arts in Corpus Christi, fronting the bay front, is doubling in size. The new addition, which is scheduled to open in October, was designed by Mexican architect Richard Legorreta to add more gallery and education space. The museum's white structure anchors the downtown museum district. (361) 825-3500, www.stia.org
THE GLOBE-NEWS CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS opened in downtown AMARILLO in January, with a dramatic architectural design echoing the region's landmark Palo Duro Canyon. The 70,000-square-foot center is across from the Amarillo Civic Center. www.globenewscenter.com
THE GREEN ROOM restaurant in DALLAS, a Deep Ellum district favorite for musicians, offers eclectic New American cuisine and boasts of being the only four-star rock 'n' roll restaurant in America. (214) 748-7666, www.dallasdinesout.com
At ALDACO'S MEXICAN CUISINE at Sunset Station in SAN ANTONIO, groups can enjoy classes on cooking Mexican cuisine. The audience participates hands-on and learns techniques for favorites such as enchiladas verde. (210) 222-0561, www.aldacos.net/cook_tortilla.htm
The new CZECH CULTURAL CENTER in HOUSTON resembles a three-story, baroque-style palace. The first floor glitters with a grand chandelier made of the finest Czech crystal. An exquisite, wrought-iron staircase trimmed in silver and brass winds upward to the second floor, called “Prague Hall.” Its Wenceslas Chapel is named after good King Wenceslas, a 10th-century king of Bohemia and he of Christmas-carol fame. (713) 528-2060, www.czechcenter.org
WHOLE FOODS MARKET WORLD HEADQUARTERS in AUSTIN claims to be the largest organic supermarket in the world. It's an adventure for gourmands and group gatherings, with dining areas throughout various food departments, a café, and the second-story outdoor plaza. (512) 476-1206
THE FRISCO SOCCER & ENTERTAINMENT CENTER in FRISCO, completed in August 2005, includes Pizza Hut Park, a world-class, 20,000-seat stadium, as well as other sports entertainment attractions. U.S. Soccer men's and women's national teams compete here. The stadium has a private club and hosts concerts and other events. (214) 979-0303 www.pizzahutpark.com
FORT WORTH MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND HISTORY IN FORT WORTH opened “Lone Star Dinosaurs” in May 2005. The 8,000-square-foot permanent exhibit features Texas dinosaurs of the Cretaceous period. Visitors begin in a quarry-like field and end at a computer imaging station . (817) 255-9472, www.fwmuseum.org
TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY PERFORMING ARTS CENTER in CORPUS CHRISTI overlooks Corpus Christi Bay with a 50-foot glass-walled lobby and is home to an annual performing arts series. The center also serves as the principal venue for the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra. (361) 825-3369, http://falcon.tamucc.edu/~aandh/positions/pacdesc.htm
San Antonio's La Cantera development, which includes the Westin La Cantera Resort, two 18-hole golf courses, a golf academy, and Six Flag Fiesta Texas, has completed The Shops at La Cantera (above) — 150 specialty stores anchored by Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Dillard's, and Foley's, plus restaurants and a theater.