Apple has added more than 2,000 jobs to the city, Oracle has cozied up with a new 40-acre campus, the Capital Factory is a gravitational pull for tech start-ups and the new Dell Medical School at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin is reimagining education through medical simulations, interactive lectures, and partnerships aimed at solving community issues.
What’s all this got to do with meetings? Steve Genovesi, executive VP for Visit Austin, says it means that “Austin’s in the game. We’re on the map.”
Development wise, there’s much ado around the city. Here are five, turn-your-head developments that should be on your radar for 2018 meetings.
The Hotel Boom
More than 3,000 hotel rooms were added last year, including the Hyatt House Austin Downtown, Aloft & Element Austin Downtown and Fairmont Austin. This year and the next will see the opening of the Hotel Zaza, The Proper Austin Hotel and the dual-branded Autograph Collection and AC Hotel by Marriott at the UT campus.
These are popping up like wildflowers. Take a look at Waterloo Park’s new Moody Amphitheater and lawn for up to 4,000 attendees, part of a larger downtown revamp. The reimagining of the Seaholm Power Plant has revitalized the Lady Bird Lake waterfront with shopping, restaurants and meeting space. The latest addition here is Boiler Nine restaurant, serving wood-fired cuisine and curated beers across three levels, including a rooftop and a “subterranean cocktail laboratory.” The LEED Gold plant is the crux of the Seaholm EcoDistrict, an 85-acre development recognized as a model for green building design.
The Food Scene Evolves (Again)
Austin’s food scene is a spinning wheel of bold, innovative and eclectic bites. More than a 1,000 food trucks are scattered throughout the city offering everything from cupcakes to Korean-style barbecue, and there is no shortage of James Beard Award-nominated and winning chefs to choose from. East Austin’s psych rock Moloko bar was inspired by the film “A Clockwork Orange,” while Sellers is mixing craft cocktails in a swanky, ’70s-inspired lounge in the Warehouse District. South Congress neighborhood’s new 11-acre St. Elmo Public Market district, the first indoor-outdoor market in Austin, is expected to be a haven for creatives, with locally-curated dining, boutique shopping, live music and a yet-to-be-named hotel when it opens later this year. A short walk from St. Elmo is The Yard with breweries and artist and maker studios that groups can explore.
The Beat Goes On
In a city dubbed the “Live Music Capital of the World” with more than 250 live music venues to kick your heels in, entertainment should be high on the to-do list. Genovesi says Austin City Limits aside, groups should head on down to the South Congress neighborhood for live music at the legendary Continental Club. “It’s like another world down there.” This nook of the city is also a great spot for homespun bites, tours and shopping.
A Dash of Africa (Why Not?)
Slightly north of Austin in Round Rock, Texas, Kalahari Resorts and Conventions is adding even more flavor to the area with an African-themed waterpark and convention center that will add 1,000 guest rooms to the area in the next couple of years.