Austin, Texas has long been known for its barbeque, live music scene and Southern hospitality, but today, this city on the rise is also attracting visitors with an array of arts, culture and entertainment events. To account for this influx of guests, Austin is quickly amassing a diverse collection of hotel offerings that speak to the city’s distinctive character. Recommend got the inside scoop on how Austin is becoming a top destination in the U.S. from Joe Pagone, general manager of the new Hotel Van Zandt, a Kimpton Hotel.
Austin on the Map
“Austin’s burgeoning scene is a byproduct of Austin’s exposure nationally and internationally,” says Pagone. “The festivals and events such as South by Southwest (SXSW), Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix, Austin City Limits Music Festival and various others have put Austin on the map as a major destination.” Hotel Van Zandt opens this fall with the goal of blending “an all-inclusive authentic Austin experience” with the city’s attractions.
The 319-guestroom property boasts 12,000 sq. ft. in Downtown Austin’s Rainey Street Historic District, a neighborhood famous for its bars, food trailers and bungalow-style homes. Signature amenities and services—such as complimentary guitar picks for guests at the front desk, a classic jukebox in the communal living room, and a complimentary can of Tejas Lager brew upon arrival—speak to the hotel’s target clientele of guests “looking for a personally curated experience for both business and pleasure.” Before guests’ arrival, Hotel Van Zandt sends out an e-mail with information on upcoming hotel and local events, suggested hotspots, and the playbill of events hosted at the onsite restaurant and live entertainment and music venue, Geraldine’s, as well as a request for guests’ music preferences, which will later be turned into personalized set lists playable via Jamboxes located in each guestroom.
According to Pagone, the hotel sets itself apart from nearby properties by offering an “authentic [Austin] experience—live music seven days a week, a chef-driven onsite restaurant, progressive meetings, and the personal service Kimpton is known for providing.” Geraldine’s, Hotel Van Zandt’s Texas-style restaurant, serves hors d’oeuvres, local beer and margaritas; craft brews, cocktails and fresh pressed juices are also served poolside on the fourth floor terrace. In addition, guests can enjoy Fire Eagle IPA, brisket spice rub, beef jerky, and spiced nuts inside the Cafe 605 restaurant or order food to take on a picnic to Lady Bird Lake, located a few blocks away. The hotel’s wellness programs are also centered around the lake with opportunities for guided bike tours, paddleboarding, kayaking and running tours. Room rates start at $329 per night. For more information, call (512) 542-5300 or visit hotelvanzandt.com.
Everything’s Bigger in Austin
The new 34-story, 1,012-guestroom JW Marriott opened in Downtown Austin earlier this year, making it the largest hotel in the city, the largest JW Marriott in North America, and the second largest JW Marriott in the world. The high-end property is located one block away from Austin’s Second Street Entertainment District, which features some of the city’s best shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Major Austin attractions including the Texas State Capitol building, the Long Center for the Performing Arts and the Frank Erwin Center are all located within a short distance.
The JW Marriott Austin itself is really an attraction all its own. Featuring a “Texas-sized” fitness center, a full-service Starbucks and a rooftop pool deck with a large outline of the state of Texas etched at the bottom of the pool. In fact, elements of Texan culture are found throughout the hotel, such as large columns built from Texas limestone situated around the hotel and lobby, plus a topographical map of Austin illustrated on the lobby ceiling and floor. Osteria Pronto, one of three onsite restaurants, offers regional Italian dishes made from scratch; the Corner restaurant, serving Texas-inspired cuisine, includes a selection of grilled meats and fish served alongside tequila cocktails, local craft beers and Texas wines and spirits. Guests in need of a quick bite can walk up to the hotel’s third restaurant, Burger Bar on Congress Avenue, and order freshly ground flat-top burgers, French fries and shakes from a food truck-style window during lunchtime or early evening. Room rates start at $249 per night. For more information, call (512) 474-4777 or visit jwmarriottaustin.com.
The Hotel Van Zandt and JW Marriott Austin’s central downtown locations are sure to appeal to guests visiting the area to attend major concerts, street festivals and local attractions. Upcoming events include the Austin City Limits Music Festival, a 6-day festival held the first two weekends in October. The festival is one of the largest music celebrations in the country with more than 130 musical acts performing on eight stages in the 351-acre Zilker Metropolitan Park. Later in the month, Austin will host its annual film festival at the historic Paramount Theater and other locations in the city. On Nov. 1, the City Terrace at The Long Center will welcome barbeque fans to the third annual Texas Monthly BBQ Festival. This weekend buffet brings together local barbeque joints serving their specialties to an audience voting for the event’s best dishes. For more information, visit austintexas.org.