With a Cajun vibe fueled by zesty cuisine and timed to the giddy meter of zydeco, Beaumont, Texas, provides a hearty combo plate for groups. Think of Texas barbecue with a side of gumbo. Or is that vice versa?
“It’s our hospitality,” explains Freddie Willard, director of sales for the Beaumont CVB. “We do have the big city amenities, but with that small city charm. Yes, you’re going to come into town and use our great facilities, but we’re not so big that you’re not going to receive that personalized attention. You are going to be that big ticket item in town.”
Beaumont’s unique culture draws much from Louisiana, located a little more than a half-hour away, and meetings could come infused with dance breaks as part of its Git Fit program, just to get the blood pumping. The city also offers monetary incentives to groups that book more than 500 room nights, as part of its Easy As Pie campaign.
It all adds up to a city and CVB that will pull out all the stops to draw in and serve up a meeting or convention.
“We’re a second-tier city, so we typically have to work hard for the business, so we’ve had to become creative,” Willard says.
Groups wanting to cut loose a bit can flock to the downtown Crockett Street Entertainment District, which is full of dining and nightlife opportunities. Top “only in Beaumont” dining options include barbecue at Floyd’s Cajun Seafood & Texas Steakhouse or barbecue crab at Sartin’s West Seafood—“that’s a must,” Willard stresses. And as the name suggests, Shugas Deep South Cuisine and Jazz Bar is the place to indulge in both of those tasty treats.
Activity options include tours of the area’s many historic homes, as well as an excursion to Gator Country Adventure Park, which features live shows and the opportunity for attendees to cradle and feed baby alligators. Gator Country is also home to “Big Al,” a 1,000-pound, 14-foot-long gator that takes “center swamp” as the star attraction.
Unique off-site venues include the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum, with a replica of Beaumont circa the late 1800s, complete with a saloon, post office and printer, along with a courtyard that stages live entertainment and is used for dinners. Other options include the Texas Energy Museum, which comes alive via animatronic figures; the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, featuring a contemporary 19th century collection and primed for group receptions; and the Fire Museum of Texas, boasting a large collection of firefighting apparatus and equipment dating to the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Shopping opportunities ranging from boutiques to antiques and malls are also a popular off-session activity.
Many groups take advantage of the city’s close proximity to Louisiana to take a casino sojourn to nearby Lake Charles, located about an hour away and brimming with entertainment options.
Beaumont accommodation options include the MCM Elegante Hotel, with 276 rooms and 26,000 square feet of meeting space, and the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Beaumont Plaza, with 253 sleeping rooms and 20,000 square feet of space. Groups that need a lot of room can utilize the Ford Park Event Center, which offers a 48,000-square-foot exhibit center and an arena with 83,000 square feet of space and nine meeting rooms.
In the end, Beaumont lives in two worlds.
“We like to say we’re Texas friendly, Bayou fun,” Willard opines. “We guarantee that they’ll have a great Beaumont experience.”