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In Laredo, Two Cultures Mean Twice the Spice

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The streets of Laredo, Texas, were a little livelier late one afternoon earlier this year. The unmistakable music of a mariachi band – that lively mix of guitars, violins and trumpets –brought shopkeepers to the sidewalk. “What’s going on?” asked one, watching the band in snappy black costumes lead a crowd from the La Posada Hotel to the Laredo Center for the Arts two blocks away.


A Happy Start

The happy procession – a riff on la callejoneada, a wedding parade that’s a tradition in some parts of Mexico – was a farewell to a conference at La Posada. “We wanted to send them off with a memorable experience,” said Selina Villarreal, marketing and conference sales staff member for Visit Laredo.

It’s just one example of how this Texas border town of a quarter million adds its special spice – a blend of Texan and Mexican cultures – to the meetings of up to 200 attendees that best fit its two conference hotels: La Posada, a AAA Four Diamond property fashioned from several historic buildings, and the Embassy Suites, on the edge of town, near I-35.

Laredo’s Waterfront Wows

There’s no better reminder of how closely connected the two countries are than the Rio Grande, which courses through downtown, one bank American soil, the other Mexican. It is a visual reminder of where the border lies.

The river and Mexico beyond are the scenery at the Max, Laredo’s municipal golf course. Far from your average city golf course, the Max is a Robert Trent Jones Signature, which typically signals a high price to play. Not in Laredo though, where a round runs $40 to $50.

Popular for golf outings, the course’s clubhouse is also designed for meetings, with a ballroom that has large windows with river views and a large, adjoining deck for cocktails, yoga classes or barbecue and Tex-Mex meals.

The river is also a focus at downtown’s Laredo Water Museum. The Rio Grande is the area’s water source and the museum educates people about the importance of water conservation in such an arid climate. Engaging exhibits detail the amount of water needed to run a dishwasher or make a pair of jeans. “It will make you never want to use a plastic water bottle again,” Villarreal says. Its meeting spaces are popular with small groups, especially an auditorium that seats 50.

Add in Some Local Flair

Like the water museum, exhibits at the Laredo Center for the Arts convey local culture through rotating art works in four galleries. Located in a historic building that once was a marketplace, its large, open meeting space can be used in varied ways.

In fact, when the mariachi parade arrived there, conference attendees were greeted by Mexican dancers, music and booths set up by local import shops. The mini-marketplace was a hit, especially with attendees who’d had little time to shop during their stay. “It adds to the experience and reminds you that it doesn’t have to be all business,” said Villarreal.

For more information:

Visit Laredo

Selina Villarreal