Less than three hours from four of the 10 largest cities in the country, Round Rock, Texas, is becoming a go-to destination for meetings.
With multiple large sports venues, Round Rock has held the nickname of “Sports Capital of Texas” for a while now. But the late 2020 addition of Kalahari Resorts & Conventions has expanded the city’s meetings capacity as well.
The African-themed resort has a 200,000-sq.-ft. convention center, plus 50,000 square feet of outdoor event space. The 975 guest rooms and 16 food and beverage outlets mean that Round Rock can accommodate significantly larger groups than ever before.
“Kalahari has been a game changer for us. It’s opened the market for ‘bleisure’ travel,” says Round Rock CVB Director Nancy Yawn. The record-breaking amenities coupled with the amount of meeting space in the resort are a plus for event planners looking for venues that appeal to entire families. Guests coming for business often bring their families along or extend their stays to include leisure time, says Kalahari Resorts & Conventions Director of Sales Shaun Yates.
“It’s really the best of both worlds,” Yates says. “We are a true convention center but have full resort amenities on the property, including the nation’s largest water park.”
Round Rock is just 15 miles north of Austin and close to an international airport, but Yates says drive-in business has been most popular for Kalahari so far, as folks are sticking closer to home due to COVID-19. In fact, he says that the property has hosted an assortment of Texas-based association meetings.
The Kalahari in Round Rock is the destination for Connect Faith 2021 later this fall. While in town, attendees can head to Dell Diamond to catch a Round Rock Express game, the Texas Rangers’ triple-A baseball team. Other popular excursions are the Brushy Creek Regional Trail—home to the city’s namesake round rock—and the walkable downtown district. True to the Texas Hill Country’s reputation as a mecca for music, the downtown district hosts seasonal outdoor concert series. Can’t-miss eats include Round Rock Donuts, which has been around since 1926, and Southwestern favorite Jack Allen’s Kitchen.
The Austin Marriott North, which is in Round Rock, is the next largest meeting venue in the city, with a total of 15 event spaces on-site. Its ballroom can host receptions for up to 700 guests or banquets for 550. Other venue options in Round Rock include Centro—a free-standing event facility with a contemporary vibe—and Lone Oak Barn, a rustic event space modeled to feel like an authentic Texas ranch. The Williamson County Expo is a 30-minute drive from downtown Round Rock, plus an assortment of venues in Austin.