Successful Meetings - January 2009 - (Page 98)

TEXAS BEACHES > BEACH BREAK BEACH BREAK MONTHS AFTER HURRICANE IKE, THE TEXAS COAST IS ONCE AGAIN WELCOMING GROUPS By Julie Catalano A swirl of wind and rain whipped up over the warm waters of the Caribbean last September and took aim at Texas’ beach communities. Although the news coverage of Hurricane Ike—a Category 2 storm that made landfall in the early morning hours of Sep 13—sometimes implied that the popular seaside resort town of Galveston, 45 miles south of Houston, had been virtually wiped out, “we are definitely open for business and still booking,” says Meg Winchester, director of sales for the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The seawall did its job,” Winchester says of the 10-mile-long, 17-foot-tall structure that was built after the 1900 hurricane that took 6,000 lives. “Everything built behind it, which is the majority of our hotels and restaurants, suffered little damage. Some of them opened back up immediately.” Some, like the AAA Four Diamond 244-room San Luis Resort that served as press headquarters for the city, never closed. Three months later, Texas beaches The blue waters surrounding Galveston Island are calm as the community returns to beach life were once again ready to welcome groups and meetings—and not a moment too soon. With demand struggling in the economic downturn, properties need all the opportunities they can get to attract groups, and cannot afford to stay closed for long. From the seaside Victorian charm of Galveston to the unspoiled beauty of the South Padre Island seashore, Texas offers some of the best beaches in the country, drawing millions of nature lovers each year in search of worldclass fishing, golf, birding, boating, shelling, hanging ten, or hanging out. Tiny fishing towns, historic hotels, distinctive museums, picturesque marinas, shops, galleries, and a variety of unique attractions dot a coastline that serves as a backdrop for fabulous sunrises, sunsets, and water, water, everywhere. Most affected by Ike’s storm surge were the graceful 119-room Tremont Hotel in Galveston, which is expected to finish renovations by April, the Lone Star Flight Museum, and stores at the Strand shopping district. A $6 million beach renovation started in Nov will be finished by Mar 31, in time for the endangered Kemp’s Ridley turtle season. Updates can be found on “As soon as we figured out that we weren’t that damaged on a hospitality basis, we started getting pictures out on our website, got a podcast up, and sent press releases to get the word out that Galveston was still here,” says Winchester. For some groups that couldn’t 98 I SM I January 2009 I

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Successful Meetings - January 2009

Successful Meetings - January 2009
Editor's Letter
News Update: Site's New Vision
Planner Spotlight
Management Matters
Meetings Law
Mouth for Sale
Cover Story: Fortune 100: Hitting the Road
Airline Update: Holding Pattern
Resort Meetings: Caribbean Crunch
Places %2B Spaces
Texas Beaches
Pacific Northwest
San Francisco

Successful Meetings - January 2009