City Smarts: Amid spring-fed rivers and rolling hills, San Antonio’s rich culture flourishes with a repertoire of culture, architecture and historic legacies that welcomes 26 million business and leisure travelers each year. Originally part of colonial Spain, San Antonio has evolved into an ideal business destination and stands as the seventh largest city in the nation with a population of just under two million.
Offerings like SeaWorld San Antonio, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, historic missions and a mélange of museums, have made tourism one of the city’s top industries, second only to healthcare. The city is also a large military community with one army and two air force bases. Major companies who have made homes here include USAA, Valero and Toyota.
Jetsetter: Paul Foster CEO of the Foster CM Group a construction management company has been in business 16 years, headquartered in San Antonio. Satellite offices in Dallas, Austin and Houston keep the San Antonio native busy maintaining existing accounts, and canvassing for new business. He is no novice to the Texas market, and is a pioneer in his field in San Antonio. "We’ve done well because we were the first African-American owned firm in program construction management, whereas, in a city like Atlanta there would have been a lot of competing minority owned outfits." However, he cites the hind side. “We are not a major corporate city, so a lot of our work is not corporate based, but is other entities –public, private and federal based contracts,” he explains. “The dynamics are changing as more corporations come to San Antonio, and as the city grows.” Foster’s advice for African-American businesses planning to base to San Antonio is, “Establish relationships before you get here. Be persistent, and understand the Texas market and the different relationship base you have to cultivate.” He added with a chuckle, “They say Texas in a county in and of itself.” For more information, call 210-804-1004, or visit www.fastercmgroup.com.
Getting' Around: The San Antonio International Airport is approximately eight miles from downtown where you will find one of San Antonio’s most notable features, the River Walk. It connects business and meeting venues with hotels, restaurants, shopping, entertainment options and historic sites -- making San Antonio an easy city to get around whether by foot or river taxi. Other convenient means of transportation include charming trolleys and cab rides where four people ride for the price of one.
For more information, visit www.viainfo.net/BusService/Streetcar.aspx or www.riosanantonio.com.
Survival Kit: You’ll want to bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes to enjoy this city of many sights. All within downtown, you can walk to the Alamo, the River Walk, a Mexican market, a historic arts village, the 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas and so much more! And, don’t forget those sunglasses. You’ll need them in sunny San Antonio.
Catching ZZZ's: San Antonio has something for everyone with almost 36,000 hotel rooms throughout the metro area and more than 12,500 located in beautiful downtown. The city’s newest addition is the highly-anticipated Grand Hyatt hotel with 1,003 rooms on the River Walk. This prime location makes it a big draw for both business and leisure travelers.
The Grand Hyatt’s soaring architecture and glass-dominated design have made a stunning addition to the San Antonio skyline. Inside, a lavish décor immerses guests in a Latin meets contemporary art theme. This feel is carried throughout the hotel’s meeting space, rooms, common areas and even into its dramatic, river-level bar and restaurant. Here you will find “Pan Latino” dishes that showcase the rich culinary heritage of Mexico, South and Central America as well as the Caribbean.
Rooms at the Grand Hyatt live up to their luxurious reputation with flat panel HD TVs, impressive furnishings, impeccable views of the city and much more. The Grand Hyatt features 115,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space, much of which overlooks the famed River Walk; 29 meeting rooms; a 32,000-square-foot main ballroom and a 21,000-square-foot ballroom. For more information, visit www.grandsanantonio.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/index.jsp.
The Power Lunch: Located close to the popular Alamo Quarry Market, Paesano’s offers a delectable atmosphere brimming with sophistication. Peruse their menu filled with Italian specialties like the, oh so perfect Shrimp Paesano or Salmon in a Coriander Crust. Spaces within this eatery are flexible for the most intimate or grand of power lunches. For more information, visit www.paesanos.com.
Cultural Chow: Stop at a local favorite, Mi Tierra Café y Panaderia, and explore the flavors of authentic Tex-Mex. This family-owned café greets each morning with generational specialties like Chilaquiles, crisp corn tortilla strips scrambled with eggs, topped with ranchero sauce and age melted cheddar cheese. But make sure to save room for pan dulce (sweet bread) from their traditional Mexican panaderia (bakery). For more information, visit mitierracafe.com.
Cyber Site: Prestigious and newly renovated Main Plaza is a beautiful outdoor location with Wi-fi connectivity. Known as the center of the city, this urban retreat is close to all the amenities of downtown and offers direct access to the River Walk. Sit in the gardens of Main Plaza and relax aside interactive fountains that transition into stages for lively performances. For more information, visit www.sanantonio.gov/mainplaza/index.asp.
Networkin': Known for its hospitable nature, San Antonio is an ideal city for networking. The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce is a fantastic way to get connected with local business owners and leaders in the community. Meanwhile, the Alamo City Chamber of Commerce promotes and encourages programs and services that contribute to economic development and growth of minority and small business throughout San Antonio. The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, www.sachamber.org, The Alamo City Chamber of Commerce. For more information, visit www.alamocitychamber.org.
To De-stress: Relax in the picturesque Hill Country around San Antonio. This fertile province is home to the Texas wine country where more than 20 vineyards lie in wait of your arrival. In this seductive oasis, you’ll find intimate bed and breakfasts as well as luxury resorts that offer lavish spas and championship golf courses.
Footloose & Fancy-Free: San Antonio’s entertainment options are as diverse as the city itself. Meet Shamu and feed the dolphins at SeaWorld San Antonio. Just down the road, Six Flags Fiesta Texas is kickin’ up a good time with a great mix of shows and rides. Looking for something a little more authentic? Head out to Mission Trail which connects San Antonio’s five eighteenth century Spanish colonial missions. For a bit more culture venture to a bold assortment of historic districts and museums, including the Smithsonian-affiliated Museo Alameda which tells the story of Latinos in America. For more information, visit www.sixflags.com/fiestatexas/index.aspx, www.nps.gov/saan/ or www.thealameda.org/default_org.htm.
Flight Time: Centrally located between the east and west coasts, is the San Antonio International Airport. AirTran Airways offers daily, non-stop flights to San Antonio and flights to more than 50 major U.S. cities. For more information, call 1-800-AIR-TRAN or visit, www.airtran.com.
Someone Helpful: San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau, visit www.visitsanantonio.com or call 800-THE-ALAMO.
Thanks to our friends at the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau and other tourist venues for providing us with facts, figures and fun information for this article.
Editor’s note: Doing Biz In features continuously updated coverage of a full spectrum of top cities where readers conduct business. Publicist and travel writer Regina Lynch-Hudson has penned destination catalogs and articles for companies such as Vacation Express, AirTran Airways and North American Airlines. She also organizes cultural press trips, and handles destination marketing for resorts, bed and breakfasts, and tourism boards. More information on The Write Publicist & Co. can be found at www.thewritepublicist.com.