65th Annual NAEC Convention & Exhibition
“Deep in the Heart” is the slogan of the city of San Antonio, location of the National Association of Elevator Contractors’ (NAEC) 65th Annual Convention & Expo on September 8-11. Those who attend will find themselves not only deep in the heart of Texas, but also deep in the heart of the River City, where they are only steps away from San Antonio’s abundant natural beauty, Tex-Mex cuisine and rich history. The host hotel is the Grand Hyatt San Antonio, adjacent to expo venue, the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. The hotel is described by San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) spokeswoman Sara Gruber as an ideal location for experiencing classic San Antonio. She observes:
“One of the best things about the Grand Hyatt is that it is on the River Walk, in historic downtown, so it is within walking distance of numerous attractions, including the Alamo, Hemisfair Park, (historic arts community) La Villita, the Briscoe Western Art Museum, Market Square and the San Antonio Children’s Museum.”
While the convention center is in the midst of a several-hundred-million-U.S.-dollar expansion, the River Walk has also recently grown. A project that extended it from 3 to 15 mi. was completed in October 2013. Winding along the San Antonio River, the River Walk is a great place to get some exercise or just stroll to one of the nearby shops, restaurants or bars. Barges provide river-taxi service and tours. A couple of eateries near the Hyatt where people may sample traditional local cuisine are Boudro’s (www.boudros.com), known for handmade prickly pear Margaritas, and Mi Tierra (www.mitierracafe.com), notable for its Tex-Mex atmosphere, art and cuisine that includes breakfast served 24 hours a day and traditional entrées such as baked goat.
Mi Tierra is located in Market Square (www.sanantonio.gov/marketsquare), a historic shopping area that includes more than 100 shops and is home to the largest Mexican marketplace outside of Mexico. It is a great place to pick up a unique piece of artwork or that perfect souvenir, such as a papier-mâché piñata, a piece of pottery or traditional Mexican candy.
While out and about, visitors are advised to dress light. During September, the city’s daily high temperature ranges from 86 to 92°F with lows of 65 to 73°F. “We say San Antonio offers over 300 days of sunshine a year,” Gruber says, adding that, despite proximity to water, “we are not a particularly humid destination.”
For those who want to get a glimpse of San Antonio in one fell swoop, NAEC organizers have arranged an optional walking tour (not associated with the CVB) from 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Monday, September 8, for which tickets must be purchased in advance. The tour includes the Alamo, a look at the River Walk from a river barge and Market Square. Those not participating may want to opt for a golf tournament planned that day at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Golf Club (hillcountry.hyatt.com/en/hotel/golf.html), one of the city’s nationally acclaimed golf courses that boasts diverse terrain and lush foliage on more than 200 acres. The tournament fee includes cart, green fees, transportation, continental breakfast, beverage cart during the event, prizes and lunch. For the complete agenda and prices, visit www.naecconvention.com.
Perhaps San Antonio’s most well-known landmark is the Alamo (www.thealamo.org), which traces its beginnings to the early 1700s, when the site served as one of several Spanish missions providing religious and practical training for Indians. In the 1800s, the Alamo was the site of intense, bloody battles that proved pivotal in shaping Texas history and pride. Now one of the most popular and recognized tourist destinations in the U.S. and world, it has been transformed into a museum displaying artifacts that chart the area’s history from early Indian days to modern times.
Downtown is also home to the King William Historic District (www.sanantonio.gov/historic/Districts/King_William.aspx). It consists of grand mansions in the Victorian, Renaissance and Greek Revival styles, built mainly by wealthy German immigrants. Tours of the mansions offer a glimpse of opulent 1800s life.
Transformed into a public park after the 1968 World’s Fair for which it was built, Hemisfair Park, visible from the Hyatt, is home to the Tower of the Americas (www.toweroftheamericas.com), a 750-ft.-tall observation tower in the style of Seattle’s Space Needle, offering tours, spectacular views and fine dining in a slowly rotating restaurant at its top. The Chart House has a happy hour, during which gourmet appetizers and martinis may be purchased at a bargain for US$5 and US$7, respectively.
With both legendary attractions and new ones that continue to evolve — including museums, theme parks and a
world-class zoo — San Antonio is a great destination for adults and children alike. For complete information about all the city has to offer, visit the CVB website at visitsanantonio.com.