Planners are ever in search of the perfect location; the one that combines affordability with first-class hotels and meeting facilities. On all those accounts, Galveston scores big, with the added allure of its location on a breathtaking barrier island, surrounded by a plethora of beaches. It also tempts with its rich, colorful history and endless charm.
“Galveston is an affordable beach destination that offers a beautiful, tropical environment, world-class facilities, historic charm and plenty of tourist attractions, allowing meeting attendees to truly mix business with pleasure,” said Meg Winchester, director of the Galveston Island CVB.
Located on the Gulf of Mexico just 50 miles south of Houston, Galveston is a historic beach town offering 32 miles of replenished beaches, 5,000 guest rooms, the full-service Galveston Island Convention Center at The San Luis Resort, Texas’ premier cruise port and a variety of cultural and family attractions. It is also home to architectural treasures such as the Bishop’s Palace, a Victorian castle built from 1886 to 1892 and cited by the American Institute of Architects as one of the 100 most important buildings in America. Consistently mild temperatures also make Galveston a year-round destination.
“We always hold our conference in early December and the weather during that time is warm, more often than not,” said Diana Everett, executive director for the Austin, Texas-based Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD).
Everett’s group of 2,500 attendees has met in Galveston eight times, and while her attendees “love” that it accommodates activities like kayaking, outdoor “Dutch oven” cooking and zipline activities, it’s the history of Galveston that won Everett’s heart.
“It is so rich with tales from the early settlement by pirates, to the gambling days of the ’50s, to its survival of incredible hurricanes,” she said. “When I go back to visit on my own time, I enjoy the history tours.”
“Galveston is special for so many reasons,” said Bill Keese, executive director of the Association of Progressive Rental Organizations (APRO) in Austin.
Working closely with the CVB, Keese is bringing his group of 650 to Galveston this May, the first time the group has met in Texas in its 37-year history.
“It’s laid-back, the convention center overlooks palm trees, the beach and the Gulf of Mexico, and there are plenty of great restaurants and other activities,” he said.
Keese also finds the destination’s CVB helpful when organizing a meeting.
“The CVB is phenomenal,” Keese said.
He felt confident booking Galveston because as immediate past chair of the Texas Society of Association Executives (TSAE), he knew from the TSAE event held there in 2013 that Galveston had everything APRO was looking for in a meeting. For TSAE in 2013, Keese rented out the entire Pleasure Pier for his group of 600, including all the rides, events and food and beverage stations for his group.
“The Pleasure Pier is a marvelous venue on a pier, with a phenomenal view of both downtown and the Gulf of Mexico,” Keese said. “Frankly, the TSAE in Galveston was the most fun conference I ever attended.”
Keese stated that of all the islands off the coast of the U.S., Galveston Island, with its glorious, rich history, is the country’s hidden gem.