With 13,500 hotel rooms clustered downtown, all of them a quick staircase away from the famed River Walk, San Antonio is tailor made for meetings. But if you haven’t done a site inspection lately, it’s time to go back. “We are a healthy city and a growing city,” says Marise McDermott, Char of the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Commission, who cites medical, government, information security, and the military as thriving elements of the city’s economy.
The city’s economic success is translating into some great projects that will benefit its meetings and tourism industries, including a River Walk expansion. The goal is for the promenade, lined with shops and restaurants, to stretch 15 miles, from new museums in the north to the city’s four renovated Spanish colonial missions in the south. The $358.3 million project is expected to be complete in 2013.
The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center has finished $40 million in renovations, which added a 2,400-seat theater and spruced up the building’s beautiful limestone façade. The center, with a total of 1.3 million square feet of space including 67 meeting rooms, is full of natural light and interesting architectural details, sculptures and lovely wooden benches, alcoves tucked away and bright local art. It’s high-tech, too, with touch screens throughout that show meeting information as well as updated flight data from the airport. Also new at the center is Plaza Acequia, 29,000 square feet of paved, tented outdoor event space that can accommodate 1,500 guests.
And how about a very of-the-moment theme party: Top Chef! The reality TV show’s November premier was set in San Antonio—no surprise, considering the city’s 15,000 restaurants.
Visit the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau Web site for more details, tools for your meetings, value dates, and other news about the destination.
Take a Day Trip
While the Riverwalk offers plenty of diversion, groups with an afternoon to dedicate to tours can get a sense of San Antonio’s diversity by venturing farther out of town. For example, the charming city of Greune (pronounced “Green” by Texans) reveals the city’s German heritage. German settlers arrived in 1846, and became San Antonio’s political, economic, and social leaders. The River Walk, in fact, was known then as “the Little Rhine.” Greune was settled by a pair of farmers, but fell into ruin after the Depression, eventually becoming a ghost town. It was “rediscovered” in the 1970s by a group of investors from Houston who began buying and restoring the town’s buildings. Today it is a delightful collection of shops, restaurants, and the oldest dance hall in Texas—a must see.