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Cvent's Houston meeting planning guide provides planners with a wealth of information about meeting space, facilities, attractions, and all of the Houston meeting planning and event planning information planners need. Great things continue to happen in Texas' largest city as it rises to meet the challenges of a changing world. Simply put, Houston never stops. Developments in hotels, restaurants, nightlife, entertainment, attractions, retail, and special event venues pop up at a dizzying pace, enough to keep any meeting planner busy constantly discovering what's new in H-town.
It's "back to the future" as Market Square Park, renovated in 2010, is one of the newest pockets of activity in the downtown historic district. This original town center is two blocks from Allen's Landing, where the city's founders—the entrepreneurial Allen brothers from New York—landed in 1836, determined to create the city of the future. Making a comeback as a gathering place for residents and visitors alike, the urban green space was redeveloped as a truly diverse place featuring artwork, performance stage, plaza, dog run, bike share program, meditation garden, and surrounded by restaurants, bars, shops, the newly renovated Hotel ICON, and the stylish Crystal Ballroom at the historic Rice Hotel.
The "super block" in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center draws groups from all over with its stunning "front lawn," Discovery Green, a 12-acre urban park with a Gold rating from the LEED Green Building Rating System. The sky's the limit for special events here just steps from the convention center—fundraisers, festivals, concerts, fun runs, parties, receptions, dinners, even ice skating in the winter. The park offers restaurants, an amphitheater, picnic areas, a dog run, pond, putting green, bocce courts, jogging trail, playground, and many beautiful vibrant green spaces—and Wi-Fi.
North of Discovery Green will be a new 1,175 room Marriott Marquis Convention Center Hotel with 100,000 square feet of meeting space, scheduled for completion in mid-2016, that will bookend the existing 1,200-room Hilton Americas-Houston. Also nearby is the BBVA Compass Stadium opened in 2012 and home to the MLS Houston Dynamo. Rounding out the "super block" will be the $40-million Nau Center for Texas Cultural Heritage tourism center, scheduled for completion by fall 2016 on property lying between the convention center and Minute Maid Park.
The Port of Houston Authority has partnered with Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines to offer a roster of passenger cruises from the $108-million Bayport Cruise Terminal opened in 2011. The 100,000-square-foot Bayport terminal features an exclusive VIP lounge for special events. Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line each plans more than 25 departures during the cruise season.
As the fourth-largest city in America, Houston has emerged as one of the nation's premier meeting destinations. A large, cosmopolitan city with a small-town feel, Houston is unique among other major cities due to its hospitality. With over 330 restaurants, teams in every major professional sport, golf 365 days a year, world-class shopping, nationally renowned museum and theater districts, cruise ships and the beach just a short drive away, Houston has it all.
With the fourth-highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies, Houston has a strong base in the industries of technology, energy, and aeronautics. Houston has the second-highest employment growth rate in the nation. Well-known ports of call include the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, the Texas Medical Center, and the Astrodome, the first indoor sports stadium in the world.
Houston is an international and diverse city where over 90 languages are spoken. Many Asian immigrants call Houston home, including the third-largest Vietnamese American population in the United States. The Asian American population is strongly represented in a Little Saigon and two Chinatowns. Houston also has a large gay community, with an annual Pride Parade every year.
The lushness of Houston can be appreciated in 337 city parks encompassing over 19,600 acres managed by the city. Facilities focusing on nature include the Nature Center, the Houston Arboretum, and the Downtown Aquarium.
Houston has one of the best arts and culture scenes in the nation. Houston is one of only five U.S. cities with permanent performing arts companies in all disciplines: theater (The Alley Theatre), music (Houston Symphony Orchestra), ballet (Houston Ballet), and opera (Houston Grand Opera). Popular festivals include the Art Car Parade and the Bayou City Art Festival, one of five top art festivals in the U.S. Houston's Museum District draws more than 7 million visitors per year with attractions like the Houston Zoo, the Holocaust Museum Houston, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and the Museum of Fine Arts.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Houston's humid subtropical climate means it is hot and wet in the summer and temperate in late fall, winter, and early spring. June, September, and October are the wettest months, and summer thunderstorms are common. To avoid the summer heat, an extensive seven-mile system of skywalks and tunnels has been built to link buildings in downtown with convenience stores, restaurants and shops.
The best months to come to Houston are February, March and April, with daytime temperatures in the high 60s and 70s and little rain.
With a booming downtown, expanded Houston meeting facilities, a multitude of Houston meeting hotels and leisure activities, there has never been a better time to book a convention in Houston. Houston event facilities boast both size and flexibility to accommodate a range of meeting and event needs. The Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau offers an abundance of resources for meetings including site visits, housing assistance, convention awareness programs and attendance promotion trips.
Houston is a diverse and eclectic city with a plethora of unique and unconventional meeting and event spaces. Spectacular museums, beautiful theaters, and over 330 delicious restaurants form a blank canvas waiting to be transformed by your next meeting or event.
Houston's Museum District contains a myriad of places to explore; it's a world of leafy urban parks, restaurants, galleries and shops ranging from the eccentric to the exquisite. Praised for its breathtaking buildings where classic meets modern, the Houston Theater District offers a rare and beautiful combination of architecture, providing the ideal backdrop for an event of sophistication and style.
Looking for an authentic Houston meeting facility? A meeting at the George Ranch Historical Park is a must. This 480-acre living historical site has more than 100 years of Texas history and offers hands-on experiences with costumed historical interpreters. Choose from an elegant 1890s Victorian mansion or a 1930s ranch house.
Fascinated by spectacular land and sea creatures? Head to the Downtown Aquarium to enjoy dinner surrounded by a 200,000-gallon fish tank filled with a wide variety of colorful fish, sharks, stingrays and much more. Or, host a reception on the Aquarium's private wrap-around balcony followed by a seated dinner in its stunning 6,000 square foot ballroom, both affording breathtaking views of the Houston skyline.
For an out-of-this-world experience, visit the Space Center Houston meeting facility. Create a mystical atmosphere for your guests by hosting an event in the Astronaut Gallery, featuring flight suits that date back to the first American trip into space. The 5,500 square foot gallery can accommodate 50 to 900 guests. Host a reception at the Starship Gallery, home of Apollo 17 and the only place to touch an actual moon rock, for a delightful evening of splendid elegance.
Enchanted by the wild and exotic? Treat your guests to an extraordinary event experience at the Houston Zoo, which offers space for 10 to 2,500. Get conversations started with a reception at the Reptile House where guests will come face to face with pythons, crocodiles, poison dart frogs, and even emperor newts. Host a seated dinner for up to 200 in the Zoo's new Ethel G. and Allen H. Carruth Natural Encounters Building, a rainforest habitat with cascading waterfalls and a built-in wet bar.
George R. Brown Convention Center
Opened in 1987 and renovated in 2003, the George R. Brown Convention Center (GRBCC) is now one of the 10 largest convention centers in the nation. In addition to a variety of wireless services, this Houston meeting facility offers nearly 1.85 million square feet of exhibition, meeting, and registration space. The Convention Center's 6,000-seat Arena features telescopic seating, which allows for the accommodation of very large events.
The GRBCC also houses 7 exhibit halls comprised of 862,000 square feet of exhibit space; the newly upgraded, 31,500 square foot George Bush Grand Ballroom; a 3,600-seat theatre hall; and a festive outdoor reception space composed of 4 balconies and nearly 3,000 square feet of meeting space.
Convention-goers in Houston will appreciate the convenience afforded by the GRBCC's downtown location. The GRBCC is situated just north of the Toyota Center Arena and just south of Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. The Convention Center is directly connected to the Hilton Americas-Houston by skybridge. At over 1,200 guest rooms, the Hilton is well equipped to accommodate convention bookings.
Visitors will find 15 hotels and more than 5,000 hotel rooms within one mile of the GRBCC, as well as more than 60,000 hotel rooms in the Greater Houston area. Providing 7.5 miles of express lightrail transit along Houston's busiest corridor, the MetroRAIL connects the GRBCC to Reliant Park, the Texas Medical Center, the Museum District and more. The city's flourishing Theater District is also located within a nearby radius of the GRBCC.
Galveston Island Convention Center
Pasadena Convention Center & Municipal Fairgrounds
The Lonestar Convention & Expo Center
Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa and Convention Center
Seven Hope Blvd. Pasadena, TX 77507Total Meeting Space: 100,000 Sq. Ft.
The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center
1601 Lake Robbins DriveThe Woodlands, TX 77380Total Meeting Space - 70,000 Sq. Ft.
Houston Airport System (HAS)Traveling to Houston has never been easier. The Houston Airport System (HAS) serves 193 cities worldwide, with Bush Intercontinental ranking third among U.S. airports for nonstop destinations. The Houston Airport System consists of three airports: George Bush Intercontinental Airport, William P. Hobby Airport and Ellington Field. Together they form one of North America's largest public airport systems and position Houston as the international passenger and cargo gateway to the south central United States.
With 118 U.S. and 76 international destinations, the HAS served nearly 50 million passengers in 2011, including more than 8.5 million international travelers, and passenger volume continues to increase with a projected 80 million passengers expected in 2025. The main gateway to Latin America; Houston ranks No. 1 in the nation for weekly nonstop flights to Mexico. According to a 2010 economic impact study, HAS supports more than 230,000 regional jobs and contributes more than $27 billion to the local economy.
George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
Approximate taxi fare: $60 USD
Bush Intercontinental Airport is ranked No. 1 for on-time arrivals and on-time departures. There are five passenger terminals, including the Terminal E and Federal Inspection Services (FIS) terminal, the largest of its kind in the U.S., with 84 primary inspection booths capable of processing more than 4,500 passengers per hour. Bush Intercontinental Airport supplies nonstop or direct service to 115 domestic and 73 international locations, including Mexico, Canada, Central and South America, Africa, Europe and Asia. It is Continental Airlines' largest hub with 19 additional passenger airlines offering service as well.
Terminals within the airport are connected by TerminaLink (Terminals B, C, D, E and the International Arrivals Building) and a shuttle/bus service (Terminal A to B, C and E). In addition, an inter-terminal train connects the non-secured area of all five terminals and the Houston Airport Marriott.
There are a number of ways to access the airport including public bus, courtesy vans, shuttles, taxis and rental cars. Bus service is offered through the Harris County, Texas METRO with a stop located on the south side of Terminal C. Check with your area hotel as some hotels provide courtesy van service to and from the airport. In addition, there is scheduled shuttle and bus service from IAH to Downtown Houston, Reliant Park, the Galleria, Greenway Plaza, the Texas Medical Center, Westside hotels and William P. Hobby Airport. Ground Transportation service representatives can help hail a taxi, all of which must adhere to the flat rate zone or meter ate set by the city of Houston. IAH's Consolidated Rental Car Facility is accessible by shuttle and provides nine different rental car company options, including Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Thrifty.
Airline carriers serving Bush Intercontinental Airport
Ellington Field (EFD)
Approximate taxi fare: $53 USD
Ellington Field is a joint-use airport with military, civilian and NASA users. No commercial carriers currently fly into Ellington Field.
William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)
Approximate taxi fare: $35 USD
Hobby is the hub for Southwest Airlines; other airlines serving it are Alaska, American, United, and US Airways.
Amtrak service is available to Houston through the Sunset Limited route. The Sunset Limited route traverses the southern border of the United States and goes east to west through Orlando, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Lafayette, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Tucson and Los Angeles.
Houston also offers an excellent light rail and city bus system in the Metropolitan Transit Authority and a large taxicab fleet.
METRORail offers convenient accessible service within the heart of the city between downtown Houston and Reliant Park, including the Museum District and Texas Medical Center.
METRO also offers several types of bus service in Houston:
Houston has more than 2,200 taxis in its fleet. The City of Houston has authorized a flat taxi fare of $6 for all trips in the downtown area. This $6 fare will apply anywhere within the Central Business District, bound by Interstate 45, Interstate 10 and U.S. 59. The fare, in addition to increased downtown taxi stands, provides an easy alternative to driving to lunch, business meetings and activities throughout the downtown area. No surcharges will apply to the fare, which can accommodate multiple riders under the $6 total rate.
The number of downtown taxi stands has increased. These taxi stands are designated areas where cabs can "stand" and wait for a fare. Additionally, there are at least 30 "hailing cab" icons on various downtown streets, which mark that particular site as a three-minute zone where taxis can briefly stop to pick up and drop off passengers.
Approximate cab fares from George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
Approximate cab fares from William P. Hobby Airport
Houston has a fleet of 30,000 rental cars with every major rental car company represented including Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Thrifty. Renting a car is probably the best option for a longer trip in Houston. If you are staying in the downtown area, taxis, metro and buses will most likely serve well.
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