San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter and Marriott Riverwalk contribute about 10 percent of downtown San Antonio’s guest rooms (they have a combined 1,513 rooms), making them ideal for large groups. Half of the properties’ group business comes from the association segment, including many meetings for the likes of American Dental Association, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, American Hospital Association, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and International Society for Technology in Education. As a bonus, both hotels are part of Marriott’s Convention & Resort Network, a global collection of convention and meeting properties under the Marriott name with numerous benefits for meeting planners.
Thanks to shared ownership, the next-door-neighbor hotels give groups reciprocating privileges. “It’s common for us to utilize rooms at both hotels. We operate them as if they’re two towers, one building, so groups can overflow from one to the other,” says Robert Ramirez, director of sales and marketing for both hotels, which are 8 miles from San Antonio International Airport and can accommodate up to 1,400 attendees on peak.
San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter has 1,001 rooms, including 86 suites, and San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk, which wrapped up a $25 million complete renovation earlier this year, has 512 guest rooms, 252 of which have walkout balconies overlooking the famous River Walk. While the properties have a combined 81,000 square feet of meeting space, they are only a three-minute walk from Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, which is unveiling a $325 million renovation, including the largest ballroom in Texas, in January 2016. “Groups are excited about San Antonio with all the investment that’s taking place,” shares Ramirez, who notes that 40 percent of room nights come from groups—many of which are citywides—meeting at the convention center.
Groups can take advantage of the properties’ strong ties with the local community, as well as their prime downtown location. “What differentiates us is the walkability to venues that enhance our destination,” shares Ramirez, who says the Marriotts have provided catering for groups on the grounds of The Alamo. “You can’t replicate that anywhere else,” he adds. The properties also team up with local purveyors such as Garcia Art Glass, a nearby glassblowing studio the Marriotts often use for gifts and amenities for groups. For one medical electronics group meeting on-site, the hotels commissioned the creation of 1,500 glass hearts as a customized take-home for attendees.
Marriott Rivercenter and Riverwalk donate leftover banquet food to San Antonio Food Bank, making them the largest contributor to the organization. “Our chef makes the effort to give back to the community,” says Ramirez.