Planning a Meeting? Why Not in Galveston?

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Most visitors come to Galveston to relax on the beaches, stroll the Strand, maybe visit museums and to dine at some of the island’s most popular restaurants. Yet despite it being a vacation destination, Galveston is also a great place to hold meetings.

And what makes Galveston’s meeting venues particularly unique? Well, what can be more enticing than doing business with sandy shores just a stone’s throw away.

It’s no secret that meeting planners have eyed Galveston’s scenic setting and cooling breezes as a refreshing backdrop to business-as-usual meetings and conventions. Meeting in a vacation destination at a resort can often help ease stress levels and offer more exciting before and after meeting activities as opposed to typical venues.

Between meetings at the Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa & Convention Center, for example, delegates can wander through the adjacent Aquarium Pyramid teeming with aquatic life, or the Rainforest Pyramid with its tropical plants and exotic fish and birds. The hotel facilities offer 103,000 square feet of combined meeting space, including 60,000 within its exhibit hall as well as 15,180 square feet in the Frances Moody Ballroom.

The Galveston Island Convention Center at the San Luis Resort sits adjacent to the beach skirting bustling Seawall Boulevard. The Center has 140,000 square feet of total meeting space including 43,100 square feet in a column-free exhibition hall, 15,500 square feet in the grand ballroom, 29,000 for pre-function space and 12,000 square feet of breakout meeting space. There are more than 700 adjacent hotel rooms, 250 of which are in the San Luis Resort, Spa & Conference Center which in itself has 40,000 square feet of meeting space.

Both Wyndham properties, the downtown 119-room Tremont House in the Strand District and sister property, the 224-room Hotel Galvez at the Seawall have 15,500 and 25,000 square feet of meeting space, respectively. The Hilton Galveston Island Resort offers 15,000 square feet, while The Grand 1894 Opera House can accommodate groups with 11,000 square feet of space. For small events and meetings, the elegant 1894 Moody Mansion with its stained glass windows is available, particularly for weddings and family events.

Other than the beaches, Galveston has many attractions to keep delegates occupied. The Strand is great for browsing with its boutiques, galleries, shops and restaurants. Just a few of the island’s museums include the Texas Seaport Museum which offers tours of the Tall Ship Elissa berthed alongside the waterfront museum, the Railroad Museum housed in the old Galveston Union Depot and the Mardi Gras Museum, all located within the Strand District or nearby. Galveston’s many historic and Victorian homes including the Menard Home, an 1838 Greek Revival mansion, and the 1839 Samuel May Williams Home offer a glimpse into the city’s cultural history.

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Galveston Capital Tourism and Marketing – Missing the Boat

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So you’re visiting an island for the day – maybe enjoying a few cold ones – and lose track of time – OOPS! To the many readers who have asked “will the ship leave without me?” – The answer is a definitive YOU BETCHA! Cruise ships run on a schedule – X-number of hours to dock at the next port, and they stick to it.

The only time Lorraine has seen exceptions to “departure time” is when a ship-approved shore excursion is running late – then there is a wait for passengers to return – otherwise, you need to be prepared to find your own way to the next port. She personally witnessed a group of six or eight late arrivals in Cozumel running down the pier yelling “WAIT! WAIT! COME BACK!” as the ship pulled away –someone from a balcony yelled to them “get a watch!”

Be sure to keep time a priority when ashore – especially when return to the ship involves a “tender” ride. The line for tenders gets longer and longer as the day wears on and while you may think you have plenty of time, you could be in for a rude awakening! The closest Lorraine has come to “missing the boat” was in Costa Maya. She was happily consuming “cold Sols” and did not realize that her watch had stopped – no problem – the port’s time was one hour different than ship’s time. She leisurely browsed the shops –priced-out a Costa Maya condo (like in her dreams) – and returned to the ship at what she thought was an hour before the posted “Guests Onboard” time. There she was on the Lido Deck enjoying a coffee when the ship began to move – OMG! It turns out the port’s time difference was one hour, BUT in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION. Had she not returned when she did, the only way home from Costa Maya (the ship’s final port) would have been a minimum 2 hour cab ride to the nearest regional airport to get a flight to Mexico City to get a flight to Houston. Hullo? her passport was locked in the safe on the ship.

And, once Lorraine and daughter got caught short in Key West – departure time was Midnight and “passengers onboard” was 11:30 – well – at 11:10 we were at the opposite end of Duval Street in some sleazy bar……you have never seen two panicked people move so fast! Then on a later cruise, daughter (with Lorraine as co-conspirator) was frighteningly late returning to the ship in Acapulco!

In retrospect, we laugh about our “near misses” – but at the time, believe me – THEY WERE SCARY!

Have you ever had a “close encounter” or witnessed one? Let Lorraine know – she loves your input!

Local law enforcement undergo water training in Galveston

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GALVESTON, Texas – From drugs to human smuggling, it all happens out on the water.

Local law enforcement agencies just finished up training this past week in Galveston. KHOU 11 News got a first hand look at what it takes to keep all of us safe.

It’s not for the faint of heart, it’s high speed and action packed.

“We like to call it top gun of boat operations,” said Brad Williams, an instructor with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.

Local law enforcement is learning to chase down the bad guys on the water.

“We’re looking for weapons, we’re looking for additional people we might not know are aboard,” said Williams. “We found after September 11th that we can’t do the job, any of us, we can’t do the job alone.”

For the first time, NASBLA instructors are in the waters off Galveston training local law enforcement on everything from high speed chases to protecting high value targets.

“This opens up your eyes to what these boats are capable of doing,” said Sgt. Louis Trochesset, with the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office.

alveston County sees it’s fair share of action.

“We have some vessels that might be smuggling in some dope from offshore, we have some human trafficking,” said Trochesset.

Now, more than ever they want more of their deputies, especially heading into the busy summer season to be ready.

“They get so used to the daily routine, driving the neighborhoods, driving around conducting traffic stops, but it’s those times you get into a pursuit they need to know how to handle their vehicle,” said Trochesset.

Or in this case their boat. So, deputies can catch illegal activity on the water, before it ever makes it to shore and into Houston.

“It could happen today, it could happen tomorrow, hopefully it will never happen but we will always be prepared,” said Trochesset.

It’s a week long class, funded by a grant. The goal is to synchronize training across the nation, so more law enforcement agencies can work together on the water.