Work normally means spending time away from your family. Family-friendly venues, however, give planners the opportunity to include families in meals and activities in fun and unique ways that can also double as great branding and marketing for the event.
Check out three family-friendly resorts around Texas with plenty of on-site activities and dining options that will ensure participants that they and their loved ones have a great time.
Great Wolf Lodge, Grapevine
There are 18 Great Wolf Lodge properties across North America, but Grapevine is the star of the show, says Rhonda Khabir, corporate director of sales for Great Wolf Resorts Inc.
“This property was really designed to meet the unique needs of the groups and meetings market, coupled with expertise in family fun,” Khabir says.
The Grapevine Great Wolf Lodge is the largest groups and meetings property in the Great Wolf Lodge portfolio, Khabir says. The lodge’s location was key in serving the meetings and events market; Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine is located four miles from DFW Airport. The initial response to the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine when it opened in 2007 was so strong that the company added 200 rooms and 15,000 square feet of meeting space a year and a half later, Khabir says.
The resort has 605 guest suites and offers 23,000 square feet of meeting space. That space can be configured into 12 separate rooms to accommodate between 10 and 685 people. There is a separate entrance for the conference center to prevent distraction when work needs to get done.
When it’s time for fun, though, Great Wolf Lodge offers several activities for participants and families. Planners can set aside time in the schedule for pool time or group meals. The lodge’s 80,000-square-foot indoor and outdoor water park features nine different water slides and six pools. Groups can also rent out the entire water park, Khabir says.
Groups can invite attendees’ families to participate in team-building activities, such as a competition through the lodge’s Howlers Peak Ropes Course or a MagiQuest, a liveaction adventure game where kids and parents work to solve puzzles to battle an evil dragon and save the Goblin King.
There are several food and beverage options on-site, from an all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast to upscale dining and a confectionary. Groups can also enjoy a private space for meetings and events.
Family-friendly activities are also organized daily at the lodge, from a morning Wolf Walk where kids and their parents learn about animals and their habitats to a nightly Clock Tower Show, bedtime story and PJ party.
Engaging families is all about creating experiences, says Bryan Woodward, chief sales and marketing officer at Horseshoe Bay Resort.
“If you have families, specifically with kids, the more interactive and experiential you make it, the more people will pull out their shoes and celebrate the event and the destination,” he says.
Horseshoe Bay fits the bill with a wide array of activities for participants and their families to enjoy, plus multiple fine and casual dining options on-site. Located on the shores of Lake LBJ, Horseshoe Bay Resort is an AAA fourdiamond lake and golf resort located 50 miles northwest of Austin.
The resort offers over 400 guest rooms and 80,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space. This includes the 25,000-squarefoot Live Oak Lawn, a 90-person party yacht and the 5,000-square-foot Stargazer Beach. The property is in the midst of a $60 million renovation and expansion project, and just added a fully enclosed and temperature-controlled 9,600-square-foot Palm Pavilion that can accommodate up to 600 guests.
The resort offers a full-service marina, tennis and fitness facilities, and a day spa. At the resort’s marina, guests can rent stand-up paddleboards, jet skis and pontoon boats or enjoy the four resort pools.
Adults can enjoy three award-winning golf courses, while families can enjoy an 18-hole putting course. Designed like a regulation course with water hazards, bunkers and fairways, it’s one of four putting courses in North America with real Bermuda grass.
The resort holds major festivals throughout the year, including a hot air balloon festival every Easter weekend. The hot air balloons are so popular that groups are now requesting tethered hot air balloon rides for their events, Woodward says. Planners can leverage the activity as a branding opportunity by creating a hashtag for the experience or putting a branded banner on the hot air balloon basket, he says.
Other unique experiences at Horseshoe Bay include 5- to 10-minute helicopter rides over Lake LBJ and exotic animal experiences that allow guests to engage with exotic birds or tortoises. Waterfront concerts are popular, as the resort offers live music weekly, Woodward says. Horseshoe Bay can also set up movies and laser light shows for groups. Horseshoe Bay also offers half-day, full-day or nights’ out kids’ clubs to keep children entertained throughout the day.
The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa resort offers an expanse of indoor and outdoor meeting space as well as a wide variety of family friendly activities.
The resort’s 9-acre water park includes a 1,100-foot lazy river, a 650-foot rapid-river ride and an adults-only infinity edge pool. There are two PGA-Certified, TPC golf courses and seven dining options on-site. This includes 18 Oaks, an upscale steakhouse, and the resort’s signature Tex-Mex restaurant, Cibolo Moon. High Velocity, a sports bar with a 120-footlong curved, linear video wall, can be used by groups for breakfast.
The resort offers an extensive list of seasonal family-friendly experiences, including a nightlife nature walk, Zoomagination Wild Animal Experience and an agility boot camp for ages 5 and older. Planners can prearrange child care for groups.
The resort offers more than 260,000 square feet of event space, including 83,000 square feet of outdoor event space. This includes the River Bend Pavilion, which offers 5,000 square feet of indoor space, an 18,000-square-foot event lawn and a 4,200-square-foot covered deck. The 40,500-square-foot Grand Oaks Ballroom has a seating capacity of 6,300.
The resort has five outdoor event lawns, and the layout is designed so that there is ample space between the lawns. Groups won’t see each other as events take place concurrently.
“If there’s a children’s or family component in an evening reception, the outdoor lawn can become a playground,” says Mindy Miller, director of destination sales. “Some groups have big hamster balls and balloons, or kids can play bean bag toss or ladder.”
Families can also enjoy the resort’s Lantana Spa, which features 30 treatment rooms with elements reminiscent of the city’s Spanish missions. The treatment menu incorporates the herbal healing traditions of local folk healers.