Many of the reasons for placing your meeting in a suburb instead of a major city are universal: lower costs, less competition and more attention for small groups. But when you move your meeting outside the city in Texas, you’ll find the saying “everything is bigger in Texas” applies to suburbs as well.
Suburban Texas meetings often have the added bonus of being in destinations that are bona fide cities in their own right, offering the kind of walkable downtowns, easy transportation and reception opportunities you usually have to go to a major city for.
Minutes from the airport? Check. A quick ride from not one, but two major cities? Check. Walkable, historic downtown? Check. Grapevine is a meeting destination that checks so many boxes, it may rewrite your expectations of what you can expect from a “suburb.”
“Grapevine is its own city centrally located between Dallas and Fort Worth, and you could do an evening in each very easily,” said Leigh Lyons, communications manager for the Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are within four hours by air of every major city in the U.S., and if you land at DFW, you are five minutes from your hotel.”
Hotels adjacent to the airport, such as the Grand Hyatt DFW with 34,000 square feet of meeting space and the Hyatt Regency DFW International Airport with 70 meeting rooms and a total of 92,000 square feet of meeting space that includes two ballrooms and a Made in Texas Hall, capitalize on Grapevine’s accessible location.
Grapevine is also home to the Gaylord Texan, a full-service convention hotel capable of handling very large meetings.
Several unexpected venues take advantage of Grapevine’s great outdoors. The Grapevine Vintage Railroad offers charters for groups on coaches from the 1920s pulled by either an 1896 or a 1953 steam engine either for a reception or as transportation to the Fort Worth Stockyards.
Scattered throughout Grapevine’s viticulture region — it really is named Grapevine for its wine — wineries like Cross Timbers Winery, housed in a historic ranch with 4,000 square feet of indoor space and patios scattered throughout the 2.5-acre property, and 18th-century French chateau-style Delaney Vineyards offer space for event rentals.
A double-edged-sword characteristic of Grapevine that meeting planners should keep in mind when looking at dates is that the city was designated a World Festival and Events City by the International Festival and Events Association, so there are major events happening year-round and more than 1,400 events on average in 40 days in the holiday season.
Close to Houston and also opening up access to the Gulf Coast region, Pearland is a small-meeting market that is regularly filled during the week with corporate business from local oil and gas, and medical companies, as well as international events like the Offshore Technology Conference and the March rodeo.
As Houston has grown and the allure of Pearland has become more clear to locals and visitors, Pearland has exploded, growing from a population of around 20,000 in 1995 to 108,000 today. Later this year, local William P. Hobby Airport will begin international service, as the main carrier, Southwest, expands into Latin America.
The result is a city that offers planners a residential feel with event venues including scenic park recreation centers and golf clubs like the Golfcrest Country Club and the Southwyck Golf Club, with capacities for 250 and 150, respectively, as well as fresh, modern event centers. Reflection Bay gives European glamour a dose of everything’s-bigger-in-Texas attitude with fountains, chandeliers and gilded mirrors throughout its ballroom, which has space for up to 300.
“All of our hotels and venues have that Texas, friendly customer service,” said Kim Sinistore, executive director of the Pearland Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We have everything from the traditional, such as the Hilton Garden Inn, to Texas-themed facilities like Billy’s Hall, which is good for anything from a small meeting to a reunion.” With 7,000 square feet of covered, open-air space with the rustic, wooden style of a honky-tonk bar, Billy’s embodies the Texas musical hall vibe.
The Hilton Garden Inn is Pearland’s only full-service facility, with 6,000 square feet of meeting space, but many of its 11 hotels, which include a total of 860 rooms, also include meeting space starting at 575 square feet for the smallest options. In line with Pearland’s expansion, Sinistore expects other properties to open locally soon, but nothing is yet official.