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Major $10 million Galveston resort makeover includes a hot new restaurant, center

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San Luis Resort and Conference Center, exterior, Galveston
The San Luis is undergoing a $10 million renovation. Courtesy of Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
San Luis Conference Center, Windjammer entry
The Windjammer meeting room, one of several at the new San Luis Conference Center. Photo by © Manny Chan
San Luis Conference Center, Entry
The new San Luis Conference Center has its own special entrance. Photo by © Manny Chan
San Luis Conference Center, San Luis Executive Boardroom
The San Luis executive boardroom. Photo by © Manny Chan
San Luis Conference Center, Easily accessed refereshment and break space
Marble kiosks are filled with refreshments for break time. Photo by © Manny Chan
San Luis Conference Center, Planning Concierge
The concierge area is close by; it is staffed by experts to meet any request. Photo by © Manny Chan
San Luis Conference Center, Conference Lounge
The lounge with pool tables allows for relaxation and team building. Photo by © Manny Chan
San Luis Conference Center, Windjammer conference room
The Windjammer conference room includes Herman Miller Setu chairs, hard-surface writing surfaces and tackable walls. Photo by © Manny Chan
San Luis Resort and Conference Center, exterior, Galveston
San Luis Conference Center, Windjammer entry
San Luis Conference Center, Entry
San Luis Conference Center, San Luis Executive Boardroom
San Luis Conference Center, Easily accessed refereshment and break space
San Luis Conference Center, Planning Concierge
San Luis Conference Center, Conference Lounge
San Luis Conference Center, Windjammer conference room

The San Luis Resort recently threw a party to show off its spiffy new conference center, but I misread the invite and ended up at the nearby Galveston Island Convention Center, where a regional Mary Kay meeting was going on. Amid the sea of pink ladies in pink Cadillacs, I marveled over how much Galveston has grown as a destination spot.

Now, there are so many venues and so much happening on The Island that it's easy to get lost, particularly in "Tilmanville,"  a 32-acre area that stretches for six blocks along Seawall Boulevard. In addition to the convention center, it includes three hotels, nine restaurants (including a Rainforest Cafe, Landry's restaurant and The Steakhouse) and meeting areas developed by billionaire businessman Tilman Fertitta.

 The conference center "makes us unique in the market and separates us from the pack," says Nicki Keenan, senior vice president of sales. "There are a lot of hotels out there." 

As part of a $10 million renovation of the 16-story San Luis hotel, rooms are being updated with a green and brown color scheme and a new state-of-the-art conference center on the second and third floors has opened, meeting all of the exacting standards required by the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC).

The conference center includes a series of meeting rooms with Herman Miller Setu chairs, hard-surface writing tables, the latest projection equipment and tackable walls. Marble-topped kiosks with snacks and a lounge with pool tables, poker tables, a shuffle board table and flat-screen TVs allow for fun breaks without having to leave the premises.

Team-building sessions featuring the hotel's executive chef, poolside volleyball games and scavenger hunts on the property can also be part of a meeting. And a conference planning manager is around to handle any last-second requests to ensure everything runs flawlessly.

The conference center "makes us unique in the market and separates us from the pack," says Nicki Keenan, Landry's Inc. senior vice president of sales. "There are a lot of hotels out there."

The hotel renovation includes new lighting, carpet, wall coverings and furnishings in neutral and warm tones mixed with brown, gold and mossy green accents with a touch of purple. Two on-staff artists are creating wall adornments paired with sepia photography of Galveston historical landmarks, including Fort Crockett, which forms the foundation of the San Luis, and the Balinese Room.

Thus far, workers have complete renovation of 90 of the 250 guest rooms. Other areas slated for updating include the lobby, the promenade, the grand ballroom and the spa (in 2014).

But fans of Grotto restaurant in Houston won't have to wait that long. Workers are constructing a new Grotto restaurant near the oversized hotel pool. It is scheduled to open in June.

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