Bryan College Station, Texas

Setting Clients up for Conference Success in Bryan College Station, Texas

Setting Clients up

For Conference Success

In Bryan College Station, Texas

A destination with equal parts professionalism and small-town charm

By Ashley Donde

As a professional meeting planner I’m a lot like a matchmaker. Among other things, I match venues with clients. One of my recent clients—a group of educators hosting a very prestigious annual convention—proved a difficult match to make. I wanted to give them the right balance of upscale amenities, access to flexible meeting space and high-quality tech in a welcoming locale with plenty of entertainment options. I highly respect these education professionals, and venues I’d worked with in the past weren’t right for the job.

An industry friend of mine mentioned Bryan College Station—an hour and a half north of Houston, Texas—as an impressive option. I decided to scout the area and see if it was the match made in heaven I hoped for.

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The old college try

Hall of Champions

Fingers crossed, I made my first stop: Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center, located right on the Texas A&M campus. This venue was an ode to education—which was delightfully appropriate for my client. I could tell it was Aggieland from the moment I walked inside. Collegiate spirit was infused in so many details, from the maroon and white color scheme to the A&M logo featured proudly throughout the building—even painted on the pool floor.

I toured the 35,000 square feet of meeting space, which included a ballroom and 22 meeting rooms. It was obvious to me that they had the capacity and the tech—including on-site A/V equipment and support—to meet my client’s needs. I also learned that they host a variety of fun team-building programs, and that they’re IACC (International Association of Conference Centers) approved. As far as hosting meetings, this site was above and beyond a match.

The rooms were cozy and classy, with touches of Texas charm and Aggie history. The hotel boasted three separate eateries, which also cater events, each serving up Texas favorites. The rooftop pool, complete with cabanas and lounge chairs, was the icing on the cake. I filled up my binder with notes, and headed to the next venue.

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Sophisticated Texas

A short drive to the north side of campus was The George. It held a prime location in the bustling area of Century Square, a trendy mixed-use hot spot with plenty of shops, restaurants, bars, cafes and a lawn, which plays host to a variety of events.

The name “The George” evoked a sense of dignity and sophistication. I knew it was a “boutique hotel,” but what did that look like in practice? In short, I’d say “rustic elegance with luxurious amenities.”

While the building wasn’t exceptionally tall, it did have a larger than life personality. Accents included a massive Texas flag made entirely of red, white and blue books (dedicated to First Lady Barbara Bush) and a lounge area with floor-to-ceiling windows bordering the outdoor pool. It was “Texas chic” at its most refined.

The meeting rooms were more than useful spaces for conventions. They were truly beautiful—the lighting alone was its own distinguished work of art. From “The Statesman,” their ballroom with outdoor terrace access, to “The Library,” a more intimate meeting space that could be opened up to the bar, The George had an innovative take on conference space.

Before leaving, I texted my colleague: “You were right. Bryan College Station is where it’s at.”

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Retro chic

Sensational sips

Just across the street was The George’s sister hotel, Cavalry Court. Another boutique hotel, this one featured a retro military concept that paid playful homage to the town’s rich military roots. I checked out the pool area first, which was pleasantly resort-like. People relaxed under cabanas, sunned on poolside lounge chairs, and played board games and Ping-Pong. I wanted to join them, but had work to do. I needed to tour the property.

The ballroom, dubbed “The Stables” (a nod to the cavalry) was flanked by hay bales outside the entrance, and had a simple rustic interior with wood plank walls and iron chandeliers involving horseshoes. At nearly 3,000 square feet, it was large enough for my client’s needs, while providing a comfortable setting. The other meeting spaces were just as charming. While the decor was retro, the high-tech amenities were exactly what my client required. The rooms were decorated with creative touches like sliding barn doors and repurposed military paraphernalia.

In the lounge, The Canteen, I scribbled down my thoughts. While snacking on a savory cheese fondue, I asked my server about the area. He mentioned Messina Hof Winery & Resort, telling me it was one of the oldest and most acclaimed wineries in Texas. After a quick internet search, I was planning my own visit.

I discovered Messina Hof has an on-site bed & breakfast (distinguished with a Five Diamond rating), wine bar and gift shop (which offers not just wine, but many sauces and dressings made with their wine). A whole lot of other perks include catering service and an on-site event planning team. Who could ask for more?

The scenic property—featuring a pond with a burbling water fountain—was within a 15-minute drive of Cavalry Court. My client could easily plan an afternoon excursion for a tour or tasting, or count on them to host a special event. I recorded my notes, and called it a day.

After visiting these outstanding venues, I felt great about Bryan College Station. With another day of research ahead, I wondered if it would continue to inspire me.

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Lone Star luxury

I found my answer the next morning. The Stella Hotel was stunning. Located in Lake Walk Town Center, I noted the trails for biking and walking, a small lake where visitors can go paddle boarding, and even a sunset yoga class held at the top of a 70-foot tall observation tower. It was a beautifully groomed outdoor wellness hub.

The interior of the hotel was eclectic, with a Texas-inspired theme—accents of wood, brick and leather—and included a farm-to-fork restaurant, Campfire. The design was so gorgeous that it looked like a living magazine cover.

But I needed to know the nuts and bolts of their event capabilities. With 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, it had more than enough capacity. I snapped pictures of the floor-to-ceiling windows, which made the space bright and open (good for morale). The outdoor area, called “The Backyard,” was in a grassy courtyard. Top it all off with a complete A/V service package, two outdoor pools and cozy rooms that had plenty of creature comforts—like plush bathrobes, Keurigs and free high-speed Wi-Fi—this location checked off all my boxes. I headed back toward campus for my final venue visits.

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Lakeside yoga

Conferencing made easy

Professional chic

One mile away from Texas A&M was the sleek Hilton College Station & Conference Center. This facility proved to be very skilled in the art of the conference. Boasting 27,000 square feet of event space, it was clearly created with large-scale events in mind. The benefit to ample space is that it gives clients flexibility and resources. This venue provided A/V equipment, printing, photocopying, catering, multiple conference rooms, an amphitheater with raised seating and even a free personalized group web page for conventions. It was a one-stop-shop for conferences. With a pool, hot tub, business-friendly rooms, bar and steakhouse, attendees would have everything they needed all in one place.

Just a few minutes down the street was the final hotel on my list: Embassy Suites Hilton College Station. Within a short walk from the A&M campus, the hotel pays homage to the college mascot, Reveille the collie, with conference rooms named after the beloved pup. A ballroom, boardroom, private dining room and additional meeting spaces would make hosting a convention a breeze. Additionally, the hotel had an indoor pool, business center, fitness center, complimentary made-to-order breakfast and restaurant. Another venue with exceptional meeting capabilities had me wondering how my client would make a choice.

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Presidential history

My scouting trip wasn’t complete without a visit to the recent past. A few Texas A&M students I’d bumped into told me to check out the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum, which was located on campus. The library chronicles the Bush 41 presidency, with archives and artifacts on display—including a replica of his Oval Office and a real piece of the Berlin Wall. I was impressed, and I knew the educators attending the convention would appreciate it even more.

As I prepared my notes, I was eager to showcase what Bryan College Station had in store for this special client. What better place to hold an education convention than an area steeped in collegiate pride and history? After my proposal was complete, I sent a thank you note to my industry colleague. Bryan College Station was a gem that I knew I’d be recommending again and again.

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5 Reasons to Host Your Event

in Bryan College Station

World-Renowned Hospitality

If there’s one thing you can count on in Aggieland, it’s that good ol’ fashioned Texas hospitality. Kindness is their way of life, making event hosting an effortless experience.

Distinct Accommodations

From whimsical to luxurious, Bryan College Station is home to hotels that ensure your attendees will have an experience unlike anywhere else.

Exceptional Meeting Venues

While local hotels have more than enough space for your conference needs, other area venues will add an unexpected element to your meetings. Host an event at The Hall of Champions, the Benjamin Knox Art Gallery & Wine Depot or the Astin Mansion, to name a few.

Small Town Charm

Downtown Bryan is one of only about 30 cities in Texas to claim the title of “Texas Cultural District.” Explore and enjoy this historic slice of small-town America. Features include comfort food and exquisite shopping.

Excursions Galore

Treat event attendees to cultural excursions during their off time. With museums and art galleries, wineries and breweries, and festive nightlife, there’s no shortage of attractions to entertain visitors day or night.

Discover more reasons to hostconferences in Bryan College Station.