Visitors strolling down San Antonio’s festive River Walk can also treat themselves to some of the best Texas has to offer, from the historic lure of The Alamo—the beating heart of the state—to the city’s authentic Mexican cuisine and culture. San Antonio has always been the place to go for Texans craving a little rest, relaxation and perhaps a chance to rev up their engines for a little excitement with friends before, during and after any of the many fiestas for which the city is known.
This Lone Star State leisure travel magnet, joined by the enticing Hill Country that provides a respite of rolling hills and popular group options at a variety of luxury properties, knows a thing or three—or 300, as that’s how many years the city’s been around—about hospitality and creating memorable experiences. Your meeting attendees will heartily agree.
“More than ever, groups are seeking authentic experiences and opportunities to build connections,” said Visit San Antonio President & CEO Casandra Matej. “San Antonio offers 300 years of history and a vibrant culture that simply can’t be found in any other U.S. destination. We offer many ways for attendees to connect with our community and one another, whether it’s a dinner cruise on one of our iconic river boats or a community service activity with a local nonprofit. These unique experiences paired with the incredible expansion of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, the city’s affordability and walkability, and our friendly people make San Antonio an unbeatable meetings destination.”
[Cool Off With This San Antonio Staple: Boudro's Prickly Pear Margarita Recipe]
Perennial-favorite activity options include, of course, The Alamo and River Walk as well as the city’s popular theme parks, such as SeaWorld San Antonio and Six Flags Fiesta Texas. But the city’s exploding fine-dining and entertainment scene, highlighted by the Pearl district, are what’s keeping the destination new and exciting in the eyes of meeting attendees.
“Groups visiting San Antonio love to get out and experience some of our most well-known attractions, such as The Alamo, River Walk and our theme parks, but we are seeing increased interest from groups in our culinary scene and outdoor adventures,” Matej said. “San Antonio Detours and Food Chick Tours offer great food tours providing groups the opportunity to try regional favorites such as barbeque and Tex-Mex, but also what we’re calling ‘Tex-Next’—amazing modern food from innovative local chefs.
"For those seeking outdoor experiences, the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River Walk offers opportunities for stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, biking and even birding," she added.
The 338-room Omni La Mansion del Rio, which offers 18,000 square feet of space and 16 meeting rooms, is one of the most popular meetings hotels right on the River Walk, and is promoting a Surprise & Delight series of event options for planners.
Packages include a Taste of Texas, an upgrade of a standard reception that features Texas craft beer; Guacamole & Margarita Team Building, which lets attendees divide into teams to compete at making what could be described as the two main food groups of San Antonio; and Ice Cream Break with a San Antonio Flair, which finds an authentic paleta cart brought into the meeting, including the local favorite pickle flavor!
[Planner's Perspective: Pamela Dallstream Recaps Her Recent Meeting in San Antonio]
Other major hotels include the Grand Hyatt San Antonio, with 1,003 guest rooms and more than 115,000 square feet of meeting space; San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter with 1,001 guest rooms and more than 63,000 square feet of meeting space; Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk with 629 guest rooms and more than 40,000 square feet of meeting space; and San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk with 512 guest rooms and more than 15,000 square feet of meeting space.
According to Matej, a number of major projects are underway that will have an impact on the visitor experience.
“Hemisfair, the site of the 1968 World’s Fair, is undergoing a dramatic renovation,” Matej said. “The new development is just steps from the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and will include a new 14-story hotel, eight-story office tower, new retail shops and restaurants, as well as additional park space.”
Other major developments include the continuation of the San Pedro Creek Culture Park project, the first phase of which is expected to open in 2020 as part of San Antonio’s Tricentennial festivities and will span 2.2 miles through downtown once completed.
“We’re also looking forward to significant improvements at La Villita, a historic area along the River Walk that dates back to the 18th century,” Matej said. “The City of San Antonio has pledged $4.4 million to the project, which will include new restaurants from three prominent San Antonio chefs, Johnny Hernandez, Steve McHugh and Elizabeth Johnson. Each restaurant will pay homage to San Antonio’s rich culinary history as a part of our UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy designation.”
Meeting planners considering San Antonio should be sure to check out Visit San Antonio’s Synchronicities partnership with Anaheim, Calif., and Baltimore, which allows for rate discounts when booking the three cities as part of a rotation, for example.
Group Highlights in the Hill Country
The rolling expanse of the Texas Hill Country nearest to San Antonio features a few top-flight group-ready resorts: Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort, La Cantera Resort & Spa and JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa.
One interesting option capitalizing on the “glamping” trend—think camping, but with all the comforts of a hotel stay—is offered at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, which is located about 20 minutes from downtown San Antonio.
Attendees can savor the Hill Country in luxury at the resort’s Henry’s Hollow outdoor meeting venue, complete with crystal chandeliers hung from oak trees, string lights, lanterns and draped curtains, according to the property. Not enough? Add comfy chairs and sofas to augment the ambience.
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort offers more than 100,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space with three ballrooms that can be divided up into 33 rooms.
Other highlights of the 500-room property’s meeting space include the 20,200-square-foot Independence Ballroom, 13,590-square-foot Hill Country Ballroom and 13,000-square-foot event lawn.
The resort’s water features, which include four swimming pools, a five-acre waterpark with a two-story waterslide and a meandering lazy river, are a popular option with guests.
The AAA Four Diamond La Cantera Resort & Spa, a Destination Hotels property modeled after the historic King Ranch and located about a half-hour drive from the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and River Walk area, is situated on more than 550 acres and boasts two award-winning 18-hole golf courses.
Groups meeting in this tranquil oasis situated on the highest point in San Antonio, according to the resort, can take advantage of more than 115,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor space, including the 17,000-square-foot San Antonio Grand Ballroom.
Boasting nearly 270,000 square feet of space, the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa is surrounded by 600 acres of hills and offers up a Texas-sized splash of water activities at its nine-acre River Bluff Water Experience, which includes a 650-foot rapid river and 1,100-foot lazy river, along with two Tournament Players Club golf courses.
The 1,002-room resort wrapped a massive multimillion-dollar renovation in June.
CVB CONTACT INFORMATION
Visit San Antonio