DeSouza Associates were involved in the event management & organisation of the 4th isirv-AVG Conference which took place at the University of Texas at Austin, 2-4 June 2015.
Lida and Kate were on site to event manage the event. This is Lida’s blog…
Austin is a great city and even though Texas had suffered some terrible storms and flooding for weeks just prior to our conference, we seemed to have taken the lovely British (!) weather with us and we didn’t see a drop of rain for the duration of our stay. Austin is known for hot, humid summers and that’s exactly what we got. Indoors everything is beautifully air-conditioned so no one has to struggle with the humidity.
We stayed at the AT&T Executive Education & Conference Centre on University campus, a 4 star hotel with 297 bedrooms which offers extensive conference facilities. These consist of 37 different meeting spaces ranging from a 300-seat tiered Amphitheatre, an 800-seat divisible ballroom to multiple smaller breakout rooms. As we were using the University for our conference we only used the Tejas Dining Room at the Hotel for the Welcome Dinner on the first evening. As the conference organisers, we opted for a Texan BBQ themed buffet for the group and a drinks package to include beer, wine and soft drinks and this went down very well with all delegates, providing a relaxed atmosphere for networking. The quality, variety, service and quantity of food was of a high standard.
The hotel offers two dining options – Gabriel’s Café which is a café, sports bar and a fine dining restaurant, the Carillon where breakfast is also served.
The World X Games were taking place in Austin, 4-6 June so on our last day we also got a taste of that event too as we wandered downtown before our flight home.
There are numerous hotels Downtown including all the chains such as Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, Radisson, Four Seasons, IHG and many of these chains have mutiple brands within a few yards of each other. There are also some excellent local hotels such as The Driskill, built in 1886. It remains a legendary landmark in Texas hospitality and a member of The Historic Hotels of America.
Austin is, in my opinion, a lovely city having some famous retaurants serving quality food and quite reasonable prices. And, being an Amercan city, generally, the portions are very generous and can often be shared by British folk.
We booked our Faculty Dinner into Fonda San Miguel, a good quality Mexican restaurant which opened in 1975 and is recognized as one of the finest interior Mexican restaurants in the country. It features classic regional Mexican cuisine served in a colourful, hacienda-style space. The margaritas were delightful but on the strong side for me, but then I can’t really take my alcohol! The restaurant is also famous for its Sunday Brunch, although we were too busy on Sunday stuffing conference bags to go and check it out.
Other restaurants which we, or members of our group, tried included Lamberts Downtown BBQ Restaurant, Second Bar and Kitchen (on Congress), Eddie V’s Prime Seafood and Kerbey Lane Café (there are several). If you want any more recommendations or are planning an event in Austin, Texas, just email me.
The music scene is also pretty phenomenal in Austin and 6th Street is the place to go. Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival takes place over two weekends in October and is said to be one of the better international music festivals – I will have to check it out one day! As Austin has the Colorado River running through it, the city is great for water sports too.
The Texas State Capitol, completed in 1888, in Downtown Austin, contains the offices and chambers of the Texas Legislature and the Office of the Governor and is well worth a visit if you have any spare time during your stay. It’s quite fascinating and the underground buildings are a real surprise.
Finally, for all you conference organisers out there, I musn’t forget to mention that Austin has a large convention centre, located Downtown. So, if you’re ever charged with event managing a Conference in Austin, please do get in touch – we have the knowledge and the contacts in the city.