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What you should know

Houston’s revitalized downtown area bears no resemblance to the city it was even a decade ago. Public green space occupies former convention center parking lots, and historic buildings house boutique hotels. METRORail lines connect downtown, midtown, the museum district, Texas Medical Center and Reliant Park to each other. The city’s two airports, Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), serve more than 100 U.S. and 70 international destinations. United Airlines offers the best airlift here and group travel booking assistance through its United Meetings program. A truly international city, Houston’s cultural, dining and arts amenities are top-notch. Most meetings anchor either downtown or in the upscale Galleria area (also called Uptown). If you need planning assistance, contact the Greater Houston CVB.

The 411

  • 1.6 million square feet in Reliant Park
  • 1.2 million square feet in George R. Brown Convention Center
  • 64,000-92,000 square feet available in individual convention hotels
  • 65,000+ guest rooms
  • 4,000 guest rooms in the Central Business District
  • Best values from July through September

Where to stay

Downtown, the 1,200-room Green Seal-certified Hilton Americas Houston has 91,500 square feet of meeting space including 40,000-sq. ft. and 26,000-sq. ft. ballroom. It’s the largest convention property in the area, connected to the George R. Brown Convention Center and next to the Toyota Center, home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets. Uptown, the 485-room Royal Sonesta Houston Hotel by Galleria Mall offers 50,000 square feet of function space in 23 meeting and breakout rooms. The largest space, the Legend’s Ballroom, accommodates groups up to 1,000. The AAA Four-Diamond 515-room JW Marriott Houston Galleria has 40,836 total square feet of space in 25 meeting rooms. Its largest room, Liberty Hall, accommodates up to 1,300 guests. Crowne Plaza, with six hotels in metro Houston, promises a two-hour response guarantee to all space and date availability inquiries. A designated meeting director can help with advance planning, last-minute changes and will help planners stay in budget with a daily debriefing. Properties include the 259-room Crowne Plaza Houston-Downtown; 207-room Crowne Plaza Houston Galleria Area; the 354-room Crowne Plaza Houston River Oaks; the 653-room Crowne Plaza Houston Near Reliant; the 259-room Crowne Plaza Northwest-Brookhollow; and the 244-suite Crowne Plaza Suites Houston Near Sugar Land. The 240-room South Shore Harbour Resort, located halfway between Houston and Galveston Island by Space Center Houston, has more than 30,000 square feet of conference space overlooking the marina at Clear Lake. Its staff can help planners arrange golf trips, dinner cruises and fishing charters.

Where to meet

If you doubt everything being bigger in Texas, you’ve never been to Reliant Park, North America’s largest complex of event venues. The park comprises Reliant Stadium (natural grass floor, retractable roof, 205 suites), Reliant Center (706,000 contiguous square feet of exhibit space), Reliant Arena (5,800 fixed seats) and Reliant Astrodome (capacity: 65,000 people). The George R. Brown Convention Center has 1.2 million square feet of meeting space; is within walking distance of several hotels, restaurants and attractions; and is across the street from the 12-acre Discovery Green Park. Several Houston museums have reception/meeting space, including the Menil Collection (and its Rothko Chapel) and the Houston Museum of Natural Science (check out the Gems and Minerals Collection room). The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts can do seated dinners onstage, and has special Monday-Friday corporate rates.

Where to eat

The Grove, a restaurant and bar in Discovery Green, uses herbs from its own garden, recycles and composts, and uses only compostable or biodegradable disposables. Its menu is rustic American, and it has three private dining areas for up to 170 people. An event lawn can be tented for groups up to 800. Carmelo’s Ristorante Italiano serves Sicilian-style Italian cuisine to groups of eight to 300. Treat guests to authentic Mexican food and killer margaritas at Armando’s, which has a private dining room with reception space for 70 and a banquet capacity of 30. Or hire Armando’s Taco Truck to bring tacos and magaritas to you for a midday snack or funky reception. The “Where the Chefs Eat” program from Houston Culinary Tours encourages attendees to munch their way through Houston the way its celebrity chefs do.

Where to play

With versatile meeting space for large corporate groups or small gatherings, Dave & Buster’s is perfect for kicking back or kicking butt. Engage your group in a team-building activity or let attendees explore on their own at the Katy Freeway or Galleria locations. Let groups feel like pro baseball players during batting practice or a softball game at Minute Maid Park, which also has an onsite conference center with videoconferencing equipment. Take attendees on bayou kayak or canoe trips from Allen’s Landing, where the city was founded, to Houston’s historic downtown. At the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, attendees create works of art alongside local artists. Space Center Houston offers reception and presentation space, space mission simulations, souvenir photos and space-related exhibits. Progressive events through Project Row Houses‘ unusual galleries/artist studios expose attendees to works that explore the African-American experience. Want a fun music venue? The Last Concert Cafe‘s outdoor stages pulse with live music seven days a week; Mexican food and tequila tastings also are available.

Where to find local educational resources

Third Coast Comedy offers corporate improv workshops and can facilitate or role-play at training seminars. University of Houston Corporate Training creates customized seminars on topics such as leadership and management skills, professional development and cross-cultural communication. The Holocaust Museum Houston teaches future leaders the value of diversity and inclusion with roundtables and seminars that can be adapted for private groups; a speakers bureau also is available. Contact the Houston Medical Center if you need health or medical education for your group.