The Lone Star State has more than its share of signature resorts.
Meeting planners who want to get out of the big city and experience what some smaller Texas towns have to offer should consider these properties that offer everything from meeting facilities to theme park attractions, golf, water parks, watersports and unique teambuilding activities.
On 500 acres about 30 miles from Houston, the Woodlands Resort offers everything a meeting planner could want in a meeting location. With 60,000 square feet of meeting space, including 33 individual meeting rooms, a grand ballroom and many outdoor spaces, the property also has 36 holes of golf, a world-class spa and a waterpark and lazy river.
Groups that book the resort have access to all the amenities and can enjoy the great outdoors by taking a bike ride through the East Texas Piney Woods or getting out on Lake Harrison with a kayak, a stand-up paddleboard or a paddleboat.
The resort has a lineup of team-building activities, including the Pit Crew Challenge, where teams work together to change the tires, make repairs and get their NASCAR race car back on the track; the Iron Chef Competition, which allows teams to fight for the Iron Chef title by creating an appetizer and an entree from available ingredients; and the Texas TreeVentures, a series of physical challenges on a three-level aerial adventure course.
With four restaurants to choose from, guests at the Woodlands Resort can select from dry-aged steaks, poolside eats, pizza and more. The Bistro offers casual dining with a lakeside view, and the Woodlands Dining Room is known for its extensive breakfast buffet, made-to-order omelets, fresh breads and pastries.
Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa and Convention Center
Galveston Island is a barrier island off the Texas Gulf Coast. Its beaches, nature and theme parks make it a great vacation spot. The Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa and Convention Center there is a destination in its own right. Meeting attendees take advantage of the rain forest area, the aquarium area, the 4D theater, the ropes course and zip line, the museum and outdoor activities such as paddle-wheel boats, said Jamie Weir, director of sales and marketing for the resort.
The resort has 60,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. Moody Gardens can host groups as large as 2,500 people. Many groups will take over the entire island and use the convention space at Moody Gardens.
Corporate groups will take advantage of the ropes course and zip line for team-building exercises. Scavenger hunts through the many attractions are also popular. The resort, with 433 guest rooms, sits on 242 acres and has many outdoor spaces for group activities like dinners, cocktail receptions and other events.
The city of Galveston has tons of shopping on the Strand and many types of cuisine. Nearby attractions include the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum, the Texas Seaport Museum, the Galveston Railroad Museum and the Bryan Museum.
Lakeway Resort and Spa
Set in Texas’ Hill Country overlooking Lake Travis, the Lakeway Resort and Spa is a boutique-style hotel with 168 rooms. It has more than 24,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting space and 18 spaces for prefunctions, meetings, weddings and events for groups of 10 to 300.
“We are the only resort on Lake Travis,” said Lisa Crowell, regional director of sales and marketing for the resort. The lake is part of the Colorado River system and is big enough for visitors to get out and enjoy. The Lakeway Marina is close to the resort, so groups can hire party barges or host fishing tournaments there. They also can rent Jet Skis and other water sports equipment.
For high-end executive trips, groups can book a sunset dinner cruise on one of the beautiful yachts in the marina. The marina also has event space.
“We provide every group with team-building ideas that are managed through companies such as Austin Detours or Groove Labs,” Crowell said. “They have everything from sailing regattas to salsa-making competitions. Being an independent property, we have a lot of ways to customize their experience.”
The resort’s catering department and executive chef offer a variety of menus for groups. The resort has three buildings. The original inn, built in 1963, is now the Travis Restaurant and the Colorado Ballroom. The resort was built in 1989, and the spa and fitness center building was built in 2006.
Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center
The Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center isn’t just a major event venue; it’s a destination resort as well. With a water park, late-night venues, multiple restaurants and bars, and entertainment, meeting planners have numerous options when planning an event there. The convention center has 490,132 square feet of event space, with a maximum capacity of 10,000 people and 100 breakout rooms. The resort has 1,814 lodge rooms.
Within every Gaylord resort, the “architecture and decor is regionally inspired,” said Martha Neibling, a spokesperson for the Gaylord Texan. The River Walk Atrium re-creates the feeling of the San Antonio River Walk, complete with koi and bridges. The resort also has an upscale steakhouse, an Italian restaurant and a sports bar with a beer garden patio.
The 10-acre Paradise Springs water park is on-property, making the Gaylord an excellent option if meeting attendees want to bring their families along for leisure-time fun. Groups can hold receptions poolside and even add live entertainment.
“When they build these hotels, there is so much flex space it really leaves the palette open to whatever event, big or small, fancy or casual, unique or standard you want it to be,” Neibling said. In-house catering takes care of all event details.
“As spectacular as the facilities are and as many amenities as there are for guests and meeting attendees, still, the No. 1 thing that makes us successful is the culture and our people,” Neibling said.
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa
On 405 acres 23 miles outside Austin, the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa offers many amenities that other resorts in the area do not, like guided horseback rides, trap shooting and archery classes. With direct access to the Lower Colorado River, the resort also provides several water activities, including kayaking and rafting trips, river float experiences and raft-building sessions for groups.
With more than 18 miles of trails that wend through the resort’s grounds, there are plenty of options for meeting attendees to get out and hike or bike in nature. The resort is a great place for health- and wellness-inspired activities. Its Spa Django features guided yoga and meditation classes, cardio sessions and a state-of-the-art fitness center. The Crooked River Water Park and Pool area offers a 1,000-foot lazy river, a swim-up bar, an adults-only pool and a waterslide suitable for kids.
The Hyatt has more than 60,000 square feet of indoor and 240,000 square feet of outdoor event space that includes the LBJ Pavilion and the Riverside Amphitheater. The Lost Pines Ballroom, which is 15,913 square feet, and the Baron’s Ballroom, which is 7,616 square feet, can host larger groups, and there are several midsize rooms and salons for smaller events. The amphitheater overlooks the Colorado River and is connected to the pavilion, which is a spacious, enclosed patio. Other outdoor venues include the Pecan Court and the Pecan Terrace, which are both located in a grove of pecan trees.