San Antonio is giving Texans many reasons to celebrate. And this gorgeous and pristine city is just getting started. With a mix of rich history, modern event venues, top-tier meeting hotels and offsite entertainment, there are are plenty of reasons to book meetings in the seventh largest city in the U.S.
The city of San Antonio welcomes more than 28 million visitors per year, including the large amounts of meeting/event groups that gather at popular hotels like The Westin La Cantera Hill Country Resort, The Mokara Hotel & Spa, Hotel Contessa and The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa. The San Antonio Convention Center is located downtown and includes four exhibit halls with over 440,000-sf of exhibit space.
During a recent visit, we explored the city and learned about new projects, city style, sustainability, innovative cuisine and modern venues in the works. After hiking through the Texas hillside and exploring popular theme parks and historic venues, we rounded out our top five reasons to book the City of Yellow Roses.
#1 Downtown River Walk Expands
The downtown River Walk in San Antonio is one of the biggest attractions for groups. The variety of restaurants, walkable streets and outdoor spaces provide planners a variety of options for dinearounds, offsite activities and events. This past August, the first phase of a $358 million project to extend the River Walk was unveiled to the community.
By end of the year, the area will expand from one to three miles long. Nature trails will be added for hiking and biking, along with immediate access to popular museums and dining. The Mission Reach will join the original River Walk to four of the city's Spanish colonial missions.
F&B options include The Palm Restaurant, a family-owned eatery serving American/Italian dishes since 1926. Menu highlights include prime aged steaks, jumbo Nova Scotia lobsters, chicken parmigiana and veal martinis. Book one of the many private dining rooms suited for groups from 10 to 300-pax.
#2 Culinary Wonders at the Pearl Brewery
Believe it or not, it isn't a brewery… at least not anymore. The Pearl Brewery is a 128-year old urban village located at the birthplace of Pearl Beer. The art-filled district is located next to the River Walk and is getting huge buzz after openings of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), the largest farmers market in the city and 500 residential spaces. Next year, Kimpton Hotels will open an 88-room hotel in the old brewhouse.
Book the Pearl Stable, the 19th century home of the brewery’s early draft horses. Today, the 5,525-sf ballroom accommodates up to 400-pax. Use the outdoor courtyard area surrounding the stable for a romantic space to host the cocktail hour before your reception begins. Other venues include the 300-seat studio and amphitheater.
The most popular spot in the district is NAO restaurant, an innovative food concept by the CIA. The restaurant is staffed by students who serve a variety of Latin-inspired dishes with new techniques in preparation. The restaurant is open for dinner only, but offers semi-private dining options for groups. Also check out The Boiler House, a 200-seat restaurant with a beer garden and private dining rooms for 10.
#3 Coming Soon: Briscoe Western Art Museum
The newest venue in Texas opens on October 26th, featuring a private collection of local art and monumental pieces. The $32 million project will add a new dimension to San Antonio's art scene. The Briscoe will include an arts and education center as well as a residence program for visiting artists. The Briscoe Western Art Museum features an $18 million renovation of the former San Antonio Library and Hertzberg Circus Museum. Total meeting space is 14,000-sf.
#4 Tobin Center for the Performing Arts Opens in Fall 2014
Once known as the Municipal Auditorium, the 2,100-seat theater will transform from a historic WWI memorial into a LEED Gold certified facility. The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts will feature high tech sound systems, a 250-seat studio theater and event space for 600-pax on the outdoor lawn. The grand opening is scheduled in September 2014.
$5 Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center Expansion Scheduled in 2016
This year, the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center will begin a $325 million expansion, creating more space for meeting/convention groups visiting San Antonio. The expansion will round out the total meeting space at 500,000-sf. Renovation highlights include a 50,000-sf ballroom which will be the largest in Texas. The present convention center will demolished upon the 2016 completion, creating a 12-acre park for outdoor events.—Photo by Scott Martin