With more than 14,000 hotel rooms located downtown and 300-plus years of storied history, San Antonio pairs big-city amenities with small-town charm. This combination provides abundant opportunities for educational engagement, interactive environments and cultural experiences.
“Our research shows that planners and attendees want to see and feel what’s unique about San Antonio, which includes our repurposed heritage venues, booming culinary scene, historical aspects and modern attractions,” said Visit San Antonio President and CEO Casandra Matej. “Our narrative accordingly leans into our authenticity, walkable downtown, confluence of cultures and vibrant imagery.”
The city does not trade solely on its past, however.
“Knowing that planners also seek modern, cutting-edge destinations, it is important for us to showcase that San Antonio is also a hub for today’s leading industries including technology, biosciences, healthcare and new energy,” Matej continued. “Accordingly, we’ve added a strong focus on our progressive business climate by positioning the city as a strategic meetings destination within these sectors. This continues to enhance our profile, as more planners are seeing San Antonio as a diverse and globally competitive destination.”
The recent $325 million transformation of the Henry B. González Convention Center has only reinforced San Antonio’s standing.
“Completed in 2016, that investment has allowed San Antonio to offer more innovative design, flexible space and advanced technology for groups large or small,” Matej said.
Ongoing support from the city also sets San Antonio apart.
“Recognizing the importance of the tourism and meetings industry to our community’s economy, our leaders allocate resources to ensure that San Antonio’s offerings are modern and sustainable,” Matej said. “This is true across both government and private industry, as we see our hotels and attractions continuing to reinvest in their product so attendees can see something new each time they visit.”
Customer support is yet another differentiator. Matej added that Visit San Antonio’s destination experience team members work alongside meeting professionals to streamline the planning process.
“Helping to create authentic, engaging and memorable San Antonio experiences, these talented, creative industry thought leaders are integral to San Antonio being a top meetings destination,” she said.
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Visit San Antonio
Q&A with Lisa Wong // Restauranteur and Co-Owner // GO RIO CRUISES
How do GO RIO Cruises capture San Antonio’s essence?
Visitors experience narrated tours filled with facts and stories about San Antonio’s timeless charm, rich culture, history and architecture. We can also customize tours matched to specific guest interests. Examples include fitness cruises and specialty dining cruises featuring many of the River Walk’s locally owned and operated restaurants.
What makes San Antonio an appealing culinary destination?
In 2017, UNESCO named San Antonio a Creative City of Gastronomy. While founded in our unique Tex-Mex heritage, it’s been my pleasure to see the culinary scene evolve during my 38 years as a restaurateur here. Major influences include the Culinary Institute of America; the Pearl complex; and nationally recognized home-grown chefs like Jason Dady, Stefan Bowers, Geronimo Lopez and Mark Bliss. Innovation continues to define our thriving culinary landscape—and I proudly count my restaurants Rosario’s and Ácenar as pioneers in this movement.
What awaits groups at your restaurants?
Both were designed for festive celebrations where large groups could gather and enjoy fresh, scratch-made Mexican cuisine. Located in the South Town/King William neighborhood, Rosario’s offers an affordable spin on traditional Mexican cuisine. Featuring one of the largest patios on the River Walk, Ácenar emphasizes chef-inspired Mexican specialties in a modern setting. Both offer private space for up to 100 guests, or full buyouts for up to 300 guests.
A Meetings Alternative: Nearby Fredericksburg Offers Small Town Charm and Texas-Sized Experience
Planners once viewed Fredericksburg as a sleepy charmer somewhat off the meetings map.
Founded in 1846 by German settlers, the Hill Country haven—an hour equidistant from San Antonio and Austin—relies on heritage as the cornerstone of its rising brand appeal.
“Preserved in our buildings, food, culture and hospitality, Fredericksburg’s German origins make us truly distinct,” said Fredericksburg CVB Executive Director Ernie Loeffler.
Being situated in the heart of Texas Wine Country is also bearing fruit.
“Like our wildflowers, award-winning wineries have taken root along Highway 290 offering wine tours, tastings and events galore,” Loeffler said. “We’re becoming the new hotbed for oenophiles, alongside an elevated culinary scene.”
Singular venues like the Pioneer Museum and Texas White House, a lively art and music scene, and an historic district free of chain restaurants or stores are also shifting planner perception of Fredericksburg.
“Uniqueness is an attractive and influential factor for today’s delegates, and certainly an attendance-boosting advantage for us,” Loeffler said.
“Our size also means reduced travel times, allowing groups to cost-effectively book multiple offsite experiences. Fredericksburg is small town charm with big results,” he added.