JAN 2018

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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Page 51 of 67

⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 8 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 52 T E X A S undeveloped stretch of barrier-island beach in the world. A bird watching mecca, the area is also full of historical landmarks as well as the NASA Space Center, museums and art galleries. Beaumont Situated along the Gulf coast between New Orleans and Houston, Beaumont offers big-city comforts combined with the coziness of a small town. According to the Beaumont CVB, the area has 3,770 guest rooms and more than 186,000 square feet of meeting space, citywide, Beaumont offers lots of options for meeting planners. Ford Park Event Center offers five versatile facilities on 221 acres and is a popular spot for conven- tions and trade shows, sports events, concerts, entertainment and outdoor events. (For more information see breakout spotlight on page 54.) In the heart of downtown, on the banks of the Neches River, the Beaumont Civic Center has 41,300 square feet of meeting space. There are also two full service convention hotels; Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites Beaumont Plaza and the MCM Elegante Hotel and Conference Center. Vi Griffin, who planned the Grand Chapter An- nual Convention for the Texas Order of Eastern Star, praised the area meeting facilities and CVB staff. "We were pleased with the outcome of our convention," she said. "Choosing Beaumont as host city and Ford Park Entertainment Complex with the two convention hotels made everything convenient. The Beaumont CVB helped us keep expenses manageable for our members and ex- ceeded my expectations." Brenham According to the Brenham / Washington County Chamber and CVB, this destination provides an upscale country setting with a historic downtown, great shopping and diverse dining, set in the roll- ing hills between Houston and Austin. The area offers 653 guest rooms, in small hotels or B&Bs, with the largest room block at 275. Among the meeting and event facilities, the Barnhill Center at Historic Simon Theatre is a restored 10,525-square-foot facility which can ac- commodate events for more than 300 attendees. (For more information see breakout spotlight on page 58.) Other event venues include Silver Wings Ballroom, a family entertainment center that can accommodate 1,000 people, the Dr. W.W. O'Donnell Performing Arts Center, which has a 500-seat theater and Rockin' Start Ranch, a retreat destination with a 7,000-square-foot ball- room. Houston As the fourth-most populous metropolitan area in the U.S., Houston offers meeting planners plenty of everything they need and the South Texas city keeps adding more. The 97,000-square-foot Avenida Houston, running from Minute Maid Park to the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel beside George R. Brown Convention Center, continues to be a welcoming greenspace and retail develop- ment for meeting planners and locals alike. Recent major openings in Houston include the new three-acre Midtown Park, a green space, in- cluding a game lawn, playground, dog park and a pavilion for concerts and other live performances and public events. Also recently opened is the Lone Star Flight Museum, which relocated to Houston's Ellington Airport last year from Galveston. The facility is home to the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame, an Aviation Learning Center, historic aircraft and 130,000 square feet of interactive, state-of-the- art exhibit space including classrooms, meeting space, hangars, and an executive boardroom. Expected big-project openings for 2018 in- clude the largest elements of the 632-acre Grand Texas Theme Park located about 30 miles north of Houston in New Caney. The Grand River RV Park and Speedsportz Racing Park opened in 2016. The current phase of development will include Big Rivers Waterpark, The Grove Factory Outlets and more. Additional projects underway are expected to be completed in 2019. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is undergoing a $450 million expansion that includes construction of three new structures to complement the museum's two existing build- ings. The 164,000-square-foot Nancy and Rich Kinder Building will have a 202-seat theater, a restaurant and a café, with seven gardens and six reflecting pools. A new 85,000-square-foot building will house the Glassell School of Art and feature a rooftop garden. A planned expansion of the Holocaust Museum Houston will more than double the size of the facility and add a 200-seat theater, exhibit space, a library and classroom space. Prominent among hotels that have opened re- Event attendees in Laredo should set aside time in their itinerary for a culinary class. "Frontera Fusion is a hands-on cooking class that takes place at La India Packing Company and Tasting Room," said Selina Villarreal, marketing coordinator with Visit Laredo. "La India was named a certified Texas Treasure by the Texas Historic Commission, so come visit Laredo, soak up some culture and take a couple of recipes home with you as a souvenir." If you'd like to leave the cooking to professionals or if retail therapy is more your speed, Visit Laredo suggests a stroll down San Bernardo Avenue, lined with a series of import shops. "These unique little stores strongly appeal to everyone from the trailer-hauling customer to the tourist who just wants to pick up that something special that says 'Hecho en Mexi- co.' We have remarkable shopping and great bargains around every corner." Want help making plans for your group? The Laredo CVB is always ready to assist in coordinating special outings of any kind to enhance your group's experience in our city," Villarreal said. n B R E A K O U T S P O T L I G H T : Laredo Contact:

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