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Renovated Venues

By Kandice Bridges

Today’s convention centers are so much more than massive steel and concrete structures designed to hold the masses. These renovated buildings have ushered in a new era of fresh, revamped spaces and exceptional amenities sure to make guests swoon.

Fort Worth’s Cendera Center
When it comes to perpetual reinvention, the Cendera Center has cornered the market.

“The Cendera Center was originally a community center, then a bowling alley, skating rink and ice hockey rink before it was pulled out of foreclosure by the new owner,” says Amy Shackelford, event director for the Cendera Center.

Today, the Cendera Center boasts 16,000 square feet of event space and serves as a corporate event site. It includes a modular soundstage to accommodate any vision for the space. Add Wi-Fi and top-of-the-line audio-visual equipment to the mix, and it’s a recipe for fun.

“The center is a huge, raw space that can be manipulated to fit almost any specification,” says Shackelford.

The Cendera Center accommodates groups of 100 for classroom-style training seminars, groups of 800 in auditorium sessions and groups of 1,100 for social gatherings.

The San Luis Resort and Conference Center
The San Luis Resort and Conference Center is nestled on 32 acres of prime beachfront property where guests can walk in the surf or gaze from the windows of their luxurious accommodations before heading to the resort’s renovated meeting spaces overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

The Galveston Island Convention Center at The San Luis Resort features more than 140,000 square feet that incorporates state-of-the-art audio-visual technology, while the newly renovated conference center has 40,000 square feet of meeting space.

“We are most excited about the new look and feel of the conference center,” says Paul Schultz, The San Luis Resort’s general manager and vice president of hospitality. “The color scheme and décor provide a professional atmosphere while providing a more comfortable and residential environment.”

Not only has the space been redesigned, but several new amenities have been added, including Herman Miller ergonomic chairs, writing surface tables and tack-able walls in the conference rooms, says David Townsend, the resort’s director of conference and convention planning.

“At The San Luis Resort, we pride ourselves on anticipating the meeting planner’s needs,” says Townsend. “In the planning process, we find out what the hot button issues are-special menu needs, team-building, VIP amenities, furniture in the meeting rooms or audio-visual equipment. We focus on these issues, and go above and beyond the meeting planner’s expectations.”

The Waco Convention Center
Waco isn’t simply the home of Baylor University. It is also an outstanding place to host a meeting, as evidenced by Waco Convention Center’s recent spate of awards for its recently renovated space.

In 2007, the citizens of Waco approved a bond that resulted in a $17.5 million renovation to the city’s convention center.

“The Waco community takes a lot of pride in the new convention center,” says Liz Taylor, Waco Convention Center director. “We turned the existing building inside out.”

The innovative design created 21,000 square feet of prefunction space, along with a 33,000-square-foot exhibit hall and a 15,000-square-foot exhibit space, both of which can be joined for even larger functions.

The center’s new ballroom-ideal for highend events-clocks in at just under 15,000 square feet.

The lower level of the existing convention center space was converted to breakout rooms, allowing clients the flexibility to use several rooms simultaneously.

Although the Waco Convention Center allows outside caterers, the renovation included the addition of a large, full-service catering kitchen.

“The new and improved convention center can accommodate events for up to 4,000 guests,” Taylor says, “or small, intimate meetings in our boardroom that seats 24.”

Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio is in the midst of a multiphase update. Beginning later this year, a $325 million renovation will improve existing event space and add several hundred square feet of new meeting areas. “We’re calling it an ‘innovation,’ not a ‘renovation,’” says Ronnie Price, former assistant executive director of sales and marketing, San Antonio CVB. “When the project is complete, we will be home to a flexible, state-of-the-art event space that will allow us to accommodate larger conventions.”

Not only does the convention center have its eye on hosting huge conventions, but it anticipates bragging rights to the largest ballroom in Texas- at more than 50,000 square feet.

“Our goal is to have the most technologically advanced center,” Price says. “We want a beautiful convention center that complements the River Walk, and we will focus our resources on exquisite finishes that will make the convention center feel more like a hotel.”