Successful Meetings - March 2009 - (Page 54)

HOUSTON > TEXAS TWO-STEP TEXAS By Julie Catalano et’s face it. The words “walkable” and “Houston” do not roll trippingly off the tongue. Some might even call walkable the ultimate oxymoron for a city where people are practically welded to their cars as they navigate the seemingly endless sprawl. But lately, the fourth-largest city in the country is determined to prove that even though pedestrian-friendly is no mean feet, er, feat, Houston is definitely up to the challenge. “We’re not there yet,” says Greater Houston CVB Spokesperson Lindsey Brown, “but we will be.” Remember that song, ‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot’?” asks Tere Perry, spokesperson for the 1,200-room Hilton AmericasHouston, the city’s official convention hotel. “Here, they tore up a parking lot and put up paradise.” The result was Discovery Green, a welcoming oasis that has become “our front porch, a 12-acre fun factory that people can’t get enough of,” enthuses TWO-STEP Art Zehnder, director of sales for the George R. Brown Convention Center. Houston’s new baby celebrates its first birthday in April, and has caused quite a stir among those with an eye on the city for meetings. He adds, “I’m telling you, I go to DC, I go to LA, I go to New York, and planners pull me aside and say, ‘Tell me about the park.’ ” Suzanne Theis, Discovery Green’s program director, describes year one as “insane, but wonderful. We’ve done more than 400 events, about 60 to 70 of those convention-related.” There’s Pilates, yoga, tai chi, Zumba, boot camp, bocce ball, croquet, a weekly Farmers Market, picnics, movies, kite-flying, and—this is Houston, after all—runs through cooling water sprays. Even the upscale, salsa-red Taco Truck from nearby Armando’s restaurant got in the act during a festive registration, handing out tacos and margaritas. Fine-dining restaurant The Grove (think mini-Tavern on the Green inside a mini-Central Park) also offers HOUSTON REVEALS DISCOVERY GREEN, A NEW 12-ACRE URBAN OASIS L Euro Luxury on Lake Conroe ven in the land of abundant cosmetic surgery, the facelift at La Torretta del Lago Resort & Spa is one for the books. After a twoyear, $140 million makeover, this European-style, waterfront Mecca on Lake Conroe, with 445 deluxe accommodations, is determined to be not just another Texas resort. With a sushi bar, a Zeninfluenced garden, and a brand-new, stand-alone luxury spa, there’s little chance of that. A 73,000-sf renovated conference center, restaurants, cafes, a sports bar, an 18-hole championship golf course, tennis courts, miniature golf, a 300-slip E marina, and an aqua-park provide indoor/outdoor venues galore. At an hour’s distance from downtown Houston, spokesperson Jim Hill says, “Planners love being close to the city, but away from the city.” Distance will be irrelevant, however, to the foodies who will flock to master chef Albert Roux’s first American restaurant when it opens this month. With a glass-walled wine room, a private dining room for 20, and a chef’s table overlooking both the state-of-the-art kitchen and the shimmering lake, the long-awaited Chez Roux, says Hill, “will be our crown jewel.” 54 I SM I March 2009 I

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

Successful Meetings - March 2009
Editor's Letter
News Update
Management Matters
Meetings Law
Mouth for Sale
And the Award Goes to...
Taking Green Initiatives to the Top
Events of Presidential Proportion
It's a Small World After All
Places + Spaces
Big Island Supplement-Insert
NYC Metro
The Bahamas

Successful Meetings - March 2009