Docent-Led Destinations

With the guidance of experts, travelers are able to experience more than simple sightseeing.

Spanning across Africa, Europe and The United States, these expert-led trips — curated by Architectural Adventures — blend world-class vacations with a deep appreciation for culture, history and architecture. Serving as the official travel program of The American Institute of Architects, Architectural Adventures plans each trip alongside knowledgeable architectural experts — unlocking the historical, cultural, and aesthetic significance behind the world’s most notable architecture.

©istockphoto / Daniel_Keuck

©istockphoto / TomasSereda

“In both Barcelona and Rome, we stay in the same city, and each day discover more about it. Staying in one place affords developing a more intimate look at the architecture and culture of the city.”

Sophia Gruzdys

Barcelona, Spain

Whether she’s embracing the local language, indulging in local cuisine, or exploring historic architecture, Sophia Gruzdys — an Architectural Adventures expert since 2017 — brings her own perspective to each tour she plans.

The licensed architect and educator has led tours in Barcelona and Rome, and will lead two Barcelona tours in 2019. “In both Barcelona and Rome, we stay in the same city, and each day discover more about it. Staying in one place affords developing a more intimate look at the architecture and culture of the city,” Gruzdys explains.

In Rome, travelers explore a wide range of architectural styles — including Contemporary, Fascist-style, Art Deco, and Renaissance. Meanwhile in Barcelona, travelers visit Antoni Gaudí’s iconic Sagrada Família and recently opened Casa Vicens, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s famed Bareclona Pavillion, and the modern urbanism of the @22 District. “It’s fascinating to compare the styles that emerged in our culture in different periods of history in different cities,” Gruzdys says.

Gruzdys, who encourages travelers to engage with local languages and embrace local culture, values the importance of hands-on experience. “It’s so rewarding to travel with people who are interested in the architecture — and to share their enjoyment. Each time I visit the sites, I’ll notice something new, and continue to learn from the experiences of others,” she says.

©istockphoto / TomasSereda

“I have traveled all over the world, but traveling back to San Antonio makes me more aware of its architectural history, and its many layers and textures.”

Jane Martin

San Antonio, Texas, United States

First discovered by Spanish explorers in the 1600s, San Antonio’s identity has always been strongly rooted in Mexican culture, history, art and architecture. From exploring the city’s Spanish colonial past at the Alamo and other UNESCO World Heritage Missions to cruising along the San Antonio Riverwalk, those who travel to San Antonio will be deeply immersed in local culture.

Jane Martin — architecture educator, historian and resident of San Antonio — will lead her first trip with Architectural Adventures in 2019 in her hometown. “I have traveled all over the world, but traveling back to San Antonio makes me more aware of its architectural history, and its many layers and textures,” she says. “There is a lot to see in San Antonio, and I am constantly discovering new things. There are a great variety of architectural styles — with everything from Spanish Colonial, all the way to International Modern.”

Travelers will also visit Sir David Adjaye’s cutting-edge Ruby City, the newest of the city’s world-class museums, and learn about historic Pearl Brewery, now a 22-acre complex with housing, retail and fine dining. “I hope this trip helps to bring San Antonio to the world, encourages people to sign up for the tour and enjoy the city,” Martin says.

©istockphoto / Marco_Bonfanti

Milan, Italy

From marveling at Milan Cathedral, touring Santa Maria delle Grazie (home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper), to visiting the UniCredit Tower, those who travel to Milan will surely learn a great deal from Architecture Adventures expert David Rifkind.

Leading a nine-day tour in 2019, the architectural history professor and practicing architect will explore the city’s range of historic architecture, as well as its recent cultural renaissance — which led to the creation of new museums, sustainable architecture, and Contemporary art exhibits. “I was surprised to learn that architects tend to be very interested in Contemporary architecture,” notes Rifkind, who also finds that non-architects tend to be more interested in historic structures.

Rifkind’s trip to Milan will bring together a unique group of travelers, consisting of both architects and non-architects from around the globe. “The dynamic of the people on the trip really does impact the experience in a really positive way,” Rifkind says. “Experiencing architecture first-hand is a unique pleasure, and alongside a group of diverse people who share your passion is truly magical. It has been rewarding to learn how travelers experience places that I thought I understood.”

While Rifkind understands the importance of an informative lecture, he also highly values hands-on learning. “It is really fascinating when a relatively small group of people experience a city together,” says Rifkind, who made unique contributions for this trip to contrast classroom learning.

“Experiencing architecture first-hand is a unique pleasure, and alongside a group of diverse people who share your passion is truly magical.”

David Rifkind

©istockphoto / Daniel_Keuck

“Although my studies will be very helpful, leading an Architectural Adventures tour will be a new experience for me. It will be very interesting to give tours to travelers who are already immersed in architecture.”

Stanley Ira
Hallet

Morocco

From volunteering in Tunisia for the Peace Corp to lecturing at the University of Kabul in Afghanistan, Architectural Adventures expert Stanley Ira Hallet’s range of cultural experiences has prepared him to lead a tour throughout Morocco in 2019.

“Although my studies will be very helpful, leading an Architectural Adventures tour will be a new experience for me. It will be very interesting to give tours to travelers who are already immersed in architecture,” says Hallet. The trip will include visits to the Hassan II Mosque, the French-designed Habous Quarter, and the Majorelle Garden (a two-and-a-half-acre botanical garden).

Whether travelers are exploring the ancient capital of Mauretania, Volubilis, visiting the medieval school of Bouanania (which was built in the 1300s), or marveling at the Sahara Desert, Hallet says they will partake in a “completely different urban experience.”

Hallet, who also has a passion for photography, hopes the trip will offer travelers a more complete story of Morocco.

For years, the coastal town of Port Aransas, affectionately called “Port A” by its residents, has seen visitors from other areas of Texas and from all throughout the U.S. In fact, the amount of visitors so far in 2019 has exceeded last year’s numbers by 40 percent.

 

This influx of new visitors is only expected to rise with the new festivals Port A is involved in over the summer. The location has long been described as an ideal fishing destination, and the 84th Annual Deep Sea Roundup is a reflection of just that. As the oldest fishing competition on the Gulf Coast, the Deep Sea Roundup, taking place from July 11 to July 14, brings people from all over to enjoy fishing in this relaxed atmosphere. Also attracting fishers from across the nation is the Texas Legends Billfish Tournament, taking place from August 7 to August 11.

The Beachtoberfest is a seven week-long festival involving a 5K run, a music fest, fishing tournaments, chef competitions, craft beer tastings, an art walk and other events as well. Also located at Port Aransas, the festival is taking place from September 13 to October 27.

Port A’s underrated food scene will also be showcasing itself during the Texas Super Chef Throwdown Series, occurring from September 18 to October 21. Consisting of 30 chefs from all around the state, the event qualifies the winning chefs to the World Food Championships in Dallas, Texas, consisting of 450 chefs competing from around the world.

All these events, taking place in Port Aransas, are a reflection of the culture and lifestyle in this coastal town — one where breathtaking luxury meets a casual atmosphere and invites all families to join in on the festivities.

Photos courtesy of Cinnamon Shore

Palmilla Beach Resort & Golf Community is taking their community to the next level with a new golf course, slated to open Saturday, June 1st in Port Aransas, Texas.

Red McCombs, the developer of the Palmilla Beach Resort and Golf Community, says “the damage to our golf course caused by Hurricane Harvey gave us a great opportunity — not just to rebuild the golf course, but to reinvent it to be much better, especially for vacationing families.”

Grand Re-opening

Palmilla Beach Golf is open to the public year-round, and everyone is invited to join the grand opening celebration from 10am-3pm on Saturday, June 1st.

Festivities will include:

  • Live music
  • Games
  • Prizes
  • Demonstrations from Callaway and a Dulce Vida tequila tasting tent
  • Guests can ride the new golf boards.

 

Palmilla Beach appeals to families looking for a luxurious community or vacation stay and has made changes to the golf course to include all types of golfers, including children, beginners and more.

“The improvements to Palmilla Beach Golf were influenced by changing consumer and golf trends,” commented Joe Shields, McComb’s grandson. “Play at traditional courses is down and Port A visitors want more variety, entertainment, and fun from their vacations.” The new course is a terrific activity for friends, families and novice golfers, yet still challenging from the tips for serious golfers, according to Shields. “It’s designed to be fun for everyone. And we are excited to bring these positive changes to the great game of golf.”

Additions to the course:

  • 9 holes of true links-style golf (still the only of its kind in Texas)
  • The LOOP, a 3-hole short course
  • Class A driving range  
  • Electric golf boards (plus traditional golf carts) 

 

In addition to booking a 9-hole round of golf, Palmilla Beach Golf is introducing the 12PACK and 21PACK. The 12PACK combines the 9-hole course plus The LOOP, a 3-hole, 85-100 yard pitch and putt. For avid golfers, the 21PACK allows players to play the 9 holes twice, followed by The LOOP.  The course also includes a full-size Class A driving range with five target greens, plus a short game practice green.

 

Every year we select locations to highlight as Markets to Watch. This year change is underway and we take a look at some top performers, others that are beginning to transition, and a handful of under-the-radar locations that are emerging.

Austin, Texas

On track for another record with sales up more than 3 percent, Austin’s luxury patina shines ever brighter. In October, the medium home value in Barton Creek increased to $1.02 million, making it the city’s first million-dollar neighborhood. Austin’s charms include no income tax to win over newcomers, but music and tech might be tops.

Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman might seem like a sleeper on this list, but with ranches, the Yellowstone Club and Big Sky country it’s an under-the-radar hangout for demi-billionaires and billionaires.

Brooklyn, New York

No longer second best! Buyers are making Brooklyn a first choice. Median prices in the most expensive neighborhoods hit the $1 million mark. Israelis, Chinese and Western Europeans also gravitate here. It’s no surprise this New York City borough is No. 2 on Urban Land Institute’s Markets to Watch. 

©istockphoto.com/Auseklis

 

 

Chicago, Illinois

By August, the Chicago area recorded as many luxury sales as in all of 2016 or 2017. Sales of $1 million-and-up properties set a record in the third quarter with a 19-percent increase over 2017. According to RE/MAX, luxury is booming in the west loop area. Upscale suburbs trail the city. Lots of new condos and stunning new buildings open doors to more urban opportunities in a market that hangs in the balance.

Dallas, Texas

Few cities have charted a post-recession course as strong as Dallas and the city remains Urban Land Institute’s No. 1 location for overall real estate prospects in 2019. But the dramatic post-recession price increases are over, say economists. Moderating prices and adjusting inventories are positive indicators that that a move back to a normal market is underway.

© istockphoto.com/Kanonsky

Denver, Colorado

Real estate’s Rocky Mountain high isn’t over yet. Denver continues to rank in the top group on many lists. In the upscale bracket, a shift toward balance is underway with the inventory of $1 million-plus homes at about seven months. Year-over-year prices are up on average 9.29 percent. Boulder remains a sweet spot for luxury, ranking 10th among cities and towns with at least 10 neighborhoods considered million-dollar.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Projections call for appreciation as high as 10 percent this year. Nevada was the fastest growing state, with new platinum communities; forward-looking, innovative architecture; and spectacular views capturing the attention of buyers looking for lifestyle and tax relief.

Hilton Head, South Carolina

Coastal South Carolina and Georgia are ground zero for demographic shifts and the growing ability among the affluent to live wherever they want — a trend just taking off. New developments including Palmetto Bluff add to demand for the Hilton Head region.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Moving toward balance. A long-awaited uptick in homes on the market is one of several hints of a market shift. Median prices reached a record high this fall, and homes still sell quickly. Still the inventory of homes for sale is one of the lowest in the country. Upper tier and move-up brackets are less competitive.

Northern Virginia

D.C. continues to be in the top group on watch lists but Amazon’s recent announcement makes real estate in Northern Virginia much more interesting. What the prospect portends for current homeowners is uncertain, but sure to make this a market to watch in 2019.

Park City, Utah

No longer just a ski hangout, this Salt Lake neighbor is luxury’s newest player. The most desirable neighborhoods see a shortfall of inventory. Land prices increased by 25 percent with the highest number of sales occurring at Promontory. Opportunities abound: new projects at The Canyons, a large expansion of Deer Valley, a $4 billion renovation of the Salt Lake airport and a bid for the 2030 Olympics.

Wikimedia Commons / Don Lavange

Portland, Maine

Beaches and skiing, does it get any better than that? Hipsters meet old money here. Ranked among the top 20 for entrepreneurs, the city has a growing tech industry and one of the best foodie scenes in the Northeast. Look for more new construction. Prices will continue to ease upward as more people discover this hidden gem.

© istockphoto.com/DougLemke

Santa Barbara, California

Opportunities for buyers in many California locales continue to increase as markets shift. Median prices in Santa Barbara in November were down more than 25 percent, which is good news for buyers. The area remains a prized luxury refuge and lower prices open the door for newcomers to enjoy one of the most unique locations in the U.S.

Sarasota, Florida

The city’s iconic waterfront is being reimagined with a vision to increase cultural programming and urban amenities. Median prices have been increasing steadily, up 25 percent since 2014. New construction means more inventory with more on the horizon. Agents report steady and growing interest in individuals from high tax states.

© istockphoto.com/KarolinaBorowski

Seattle, Washington

Happier times are ahead for buyers in Seattle with active listings up by 41 percent. Even though inventories are still slim, it’s a good indication the frenzy is over. Closed sales in November were down 28 percent. Homes continue to appreciate but the increase has slowed to 5 percent. For buyers and sellers this is definitely a market to watch. The city still is in top groups in many rankings, but the frenzy is over.

Wikimedia Commons / Jeff Gunn

Toronto, Canada

Canadian Baby Boomers and Millennials came together and turned up the heat on the luxury condos in 2018; single-family home sales decreased by as much as 44 percent. While the foreign buyers tax has reduced sales to overseas buyers, it’s also opening new opportunities for locals. Local buyers will continue to drive demand for condos here.

Resort Markets

Luxury’s top performers in 2018. Not only are residences in demand, but new resorts are raising the bar for luxury and reinvigorating current markets. New developments in Turks and Caicos, including the ultra-indulgent Gansevoort Villas, turn up the heat on interest in the Caribbean. Easy reach from the U.S. and private enclaves generate new interest in the Bahamas. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico is seeing new resorts and other regions along the Sea of Cortez are seeing new development. Mandarina in Nyarit is the site of One & Only’s first collection of private homes. Owning a private island continues to be an ultimate purchase and the Bahamas is ground zero.

Thanks to:

Austin Board of Realtors

Michael Saunders, Founder and CEO Michael Saunders & Company

Anthony Hitt, President and CEO, Engel & Völkers Americas

Aleksandra Scepanovic, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Ideal Properties Group

National Association of Realtors

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, Kirkland, Washington

RE/MAX  Canada

Trulia

Zillow

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of Unique Homes Magazine. 

Palmilla Beach Resort & Golf Club in Port Aransas, Texas is the perfect place to settle with your family, gather with friends or relax on a vacation filled with elegance and luxury.

The historic town of Port Aransas has all of the charm and color to make it a perfect family destination with the excitement that you and yours are craving. Gregory Carr, development manager at Palmilla Beach Resort & Golf Community described the community as “fun, eclectic, and funky.” Port A — as it is fondly known by the locals —  has 18 miles of uninterrupted beach with spectacular Gulf views and beachfront living. Palmilla Beach Resort is the ideal home or vacation spot for ocean and nature lovers alike.

 

Located in the ideal Gulf coast town, this beach community easily paints a picture of luxury with modern yet traditional architecture, high-end dining, and top-notch amenities. Walking through the development is a serene and safe experience. The tumbling ocean waves add to the relaxed atmosphere that one feels. Overall, the resort is “an environment where memories can be made,” says Carr. He also made note of how the community comes together whether it’s at the pool, on the beach or just in their backyards to create a welcoming environment.

The Real Estate

 

Palmilla Beach is well-established and always expanding. There are plenty of real estate options for vacation renters and those looking to make Port A their home. “It’s a lifestyle community,” says Carr, pointing out that most of the community are in rental properties. According to Palmilla Beach’s website, more than 75,000 people visit Port A during peak season. This is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of a popular destination and generate extra income while securing your perfect vacation home. Tiffany Holmgren Zuniga, sales executive at Palmilla Beach says, “Port A has the fastest growing rental market in Texas.”

 

Real estate options include:

  • Homesites
  • Homes
  • Condominiums
  • Cottages
  • Townhomes

Black Marlin Bar & Grill

 

The on-site restaurant is elegant with a high-end menu and taste, but it is surrounded by a comfortable beach atmosphere. The relaxed feel, friendly staff, and delectable cuisine make for the perfect summer afternoon. Choose from a variety of fresh seafood, such as lobster imperial or seared scallops. Then, end your meal with a sweet treat that is made in house with top quality ingredients. The Black Marlin is a gathering place for great company and exquisite food. “It’s the perfect comfort food,” says Zuniga.

Palmilla Beach Golf Club

Previously an 18-hole course, with a high difficulty level, the course is now undergoing some major changes that are going to appeal to more than golf enthusiasts. The new additions will make the course less challenging, kid-friendly, and entertaining for the whole family. “These new improvements are going to be for the whole family,” says Carr.

 

Once completed, the course will accommodate a range of golfers, from experienced to new players. After construction, The Playground will feature “an 18-hole putting course featuring an authentic, all-grass putting play with grass greens, bunkers, dunes, music, and access to food and beverage that will appeal to avid golfers, families, and children,” according to Palmilla Beach’s website.

 

A three-hole, short course will also be offered. This will serve perfectly as a warm up or simply a relaxed, quick game. Another addition will include the events lawn, which will accommodate games, competitions and concerts. The new improvements will include music, food and beverages that will help make this area an entertaining activity for the whole family.

 

Photos courtesy of Palmilla Beach Restort & Golf Club

Sunflower Beach Resort & Residences is a beach development that has easy access to the Gulf of Mexico and makes an impression with luxury details and a friendly community.

 

Sunflower Beach Resort & Residences in Port Aransas, Texas greets you with sun, open spaces, a crisp ocean breeze, and comfort. The newly growing beach community offers a variety of luxury real estate options that will attract families and more. A permanent residence here appeals to those who crave the year-round nice weather, proximity to the beach, and the small-town feel. Equally appealing is the option to generate an income with a great rental program that is successful throughout Port Aransas.

The Beach Club

The main amenity at Sunflower — The Beach Club — is now open and the whole family will relish in the specialized perks. A luxury pool is included along with cabanas, an event pavilion, and a kid’s lounge. The separate adult pool and the Bar & Grill are what make The Beach Club ideal for everyone. Ryan Ritcher, from on-site sales at Sunflower Beach Resort & Residences, says, “The club is the perfect way for the whole community to enjoy themselves and get to know each other.”

 

Ashleigh Robertson from on-site sales also speaks to the sense of community at Sunflower Beach, “It’s a big family here. This is the kind of place where it’s safe enough to send your kid to school on their bike.”

 

Ritcher explains that at the sales center they make it a point “to really get to know each individual buyer and understand what they’re really looking for.”

Real Estate

Real estate options include custom homes with modern and approachable design. Coastal lots are available with stunning natural features and easy, driveable access to the beach.

 

The Camp is another interesting investment that is being offered. According to Sunflower Beach Resort & Residences, “The Camp is thoughtfully designed to take you from the warmth of the Texas sunset to the intimate glow of your own fireplace. Each cabin at Sunflower Beach offers attention to luxury that you won’t find anywhere else on the coast. From its seamless indoor/outdoor spaces to camp-inspired amenities, this collection of cabins offers one-of-a kind architecture, style, and floor plans. Modern poolside condos are in the works and for all these options preferred builders Keystone, Newport Custom Homes, and Conner Coastal are available.

Features

Community Features that you and your family will love include, a sweeping and well-kept lawn, parks and play areas, pleasant streets to stroll down, unforgettable ocean views and stunning dune preserves.

 

Sunflower’s location in Port Aransas is an added bonus for those settling in or just visiting. The delectable cuisine that is available, the friendly beaches, golf cart accessibility and local culture makes this a fun beach destination that is only continuing to grow.

“Port A is one of the last really authentic beach towns and it’s only going to grow,”

Jeffrey Hentz

President and CEO of the Port Aransas/Mustang Island Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau

Cinnamon Shore in Port Aransas, Texas withstood the unforgiving winds of hurricane Harvey and came out on top.

The strict building standards, the lock-and-leave storm procedure and more are a testament to the development’s dedication to creating a durable and safe place to live. “Residents and guests can relax because they can just lock their doors and leave if there is a storm,” says Jodi Peters, managing real estate broker at Cinnamon Shore. But once you visit you won’t want to leave.

 

Upon entering the community that is Cinnamon Shore, the modern yet cozy architecture catches your eye yet melds perfectly with the carefully incorporated natural elements. “The dunes are really special. Not every beach has this beautiful, thick greenery that separates the homes from the water,” says Peters. The undeniable Southern beach tones immediately make you feel as if you’re at a serene beach getaway.

Clean white accents are crisp against beach tones, and modern design ties the community together and sets a standard within the community that doesn’t feel stiff or forced.

 

Despite the closeness to the beach — most balconies offer spectacular views — the residences are built 11 to 13 feet above sea level and adhere to building codes and regulations that have been tested and have proven to be reliable and sturdy.

 

“It’s a safe area that is perfect for families and empty nesters,” says Jeffrey Hentz, president and CEO of the Port Aransas/Mustang Island Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau. With that distinct feeling of safety, the community seamlessly incorporates amenities that will have guests feeling as if they’re at a coveted resort. However, rather than scooting away from other guests and fighting over seats around the pool, the community encourages getting to know the other residents, without sacrificing the necessary privacy for a relaxing vacation or stay.

Areas like the fire pit — a popular gathering point with smores to accompany peaceful nights, the community pool, the social circle, and the great lawn provide endless opportunities to meet people or enjoy a serene evening by the water.  “Small things like the fire pit bring everyone out and together,” according to Hentz.

 

The balance that Cinnamon Shore has created is the perfect formula for success.

 

The sense of safety as if you’re in a neighborhood where you’ve lived your whole life doesn’t dull the excitement or variety of activities and nightlife that are available within the development or just a short trip into town away. Lisabella’s within Cinnamon Shore is the perfect evening dining venue. The rest of Port A offers a variety of cuisine ranging from authentic Italian food at Venetian Hot Plate to the “you catch it, we cook it” option that is offered at several local restaurants.

Nature is a big part of Port Aransas and Cinnamon Shore has taken special care to include  Hummingbird Park, a fishing pier, Lake Colby and Lake Gavin and, of course, easy access to the Gulf of Mexico for those looking to get away from the big cities. “The pier is a popular spot in the afternoons. It’s the perfect spot to relax and enjoy a summer night,” says Peters.

 

Cinnamon Shore might be your next permanent home, vacation spot, or rental that you’ll fall in love with.

Real estate options include homes, condos, cottages, homesites, and penthouses.

 

—Cottages nestled around sunset park range from $585,000 to $689,000.

—Condos are available with one to four beds.

—Four bedroom penthouses are also available with current prices in the range of $790,000.

—Various beach homes are available with options for up to 5 beds and 6 baths.

Cinnamon Shore has already proven its success, but there are big plans for expansion already underway. “It’s the original seaside village on the Texas coast,” says Peters. “It just keeps getting more beautiful and intricate with every detail.”

 

Cinnamon Shore South is going to be a 300-acre New Urbanist community and will include two luxury pools, views of a Texas-sized lake, and vistas of both the Gulf of Mexico and the bay.

Photos by Shannon Lafayette/ courtesy of Cinnamon Shore

Photo courtesy Jack Oughton.

DUE TO THE EVER-CHANGING MOOD OF HIGH-END DINERS, HOTEL MANAGEMENT CONTINUES TO ADAPT TO NEW AND EXCITING CHALLENGES WITHIN THE FOOD AND BEVERAGE SECTOR OF LUXURY TRAVEL. IN A RECENT POST BY TEXAS MEETINGS + EVENTS, EXECUTIVE CHEFS AND MANAGEMENT MEMBERS DISCUSS TRENDS WITHIN THE WESTERN REGION OF US THAT ARE BECOMING UNIVERSALLY SEEN IN HOTELS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

LOCAL SOURCING & AUTHENTICITY

 

“Traveling is all about experiencing a new culture, and that includes fare from the region guests are visiting,” says James Morin, executive chef at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa located in San Antonio.

 

“We see a lot of guests enthralled by the culture of our Lone Star State, and they want to experience that unique Texas flavor in authentic cuisine.”

 

Showcasing the sourcing of ingredients and partnerships with local suppliers is a shift from previous priorities. The George R. Brown Convention Center also works to showcase its local partners by prominently featuring their branding in restaurant and café experiences, according to Chris Bupp, general manager of Levy, the exclusive food and beverage provider for the convention center.

Photo by Jack Oughton.

One example of this is the convention center’s relationship with local company Java Pura as a coffee vendor. “In telling people about it, it’s roasted down the street and it’s available across Texas,” Bupp says. “What a great story to tell, and consumers love hearing about it.”

Photo by Vishnuvardan.

HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES & DIETARY RESTRICTIONS

 

Chefs at multiple hotels and resorts spoke about an increased desire to develop menus with healthy options for attendees. For breakfast, often groups are looking for healthy options and “light action stations,” as they “want to see how the food is prepared,” says Christof Syré, executive chef at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas.

 

In regards to particular ingredients, grains such as quinoa, farro and sorghum have gained a new spotlight, as well as cold oatmeal and avocado toast topped with smoked salmon or a poached egg. Salmon has been a strong ingredient for Ruffy Sulaiman, executive chef at Hilton Americas-Houston.

“When we do a lot of tastings, each time we have salmon in the tasting, salmon always wins,” Sulaiman says. He credits the interest in salmon because it’s loaded with Omega 3 and appeals to most health-conscious eaters.

 

Coinciding healthy options are dietary restrictions, a complicated but rewarding challenge that the hotel industry finds itself constantly working toward accommodating, says Sulaiman. “It allows us to be as creative as possible to make sure that we take care of those folks.”

GOODBYE BUFFETS, HELLO POP-UP EXPERIENCES

 

Long buffet lines are going by the wayside, according to Sulaiman, as event planners are now sticking with smaller plates to continue the “less is more” trend. Sulaiman has developed different pop-up food experiences that highlight various cultures represented in Houston, including an Indian station with chicken Marsala and lamb shashlik and a pho station to represent Vietnamese culture.

 

To learn more from these inspired experts from the Lone Star state, visit Texas Meeting + Events’ post!

Photo courtesy Swastiverma.

The Lone Star State’s forward-thinking, artsy capital has its own distinct personality, one that fuels imaginative residential architecture.

By Roger Grody

Photo courtesy of Patrick Wong/Atelierwong.com

Austin is unlike any other city in Texas, and its residents proudly embrace an eccentric, defiant attitude. A vibrant music scene, progressive politics, trendsetting cuisine, and a technology-driven economy make this metro area of two million one of America’s most dynamic. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Austin has developed its own exciting architectural traditions.

Kevin Alter, founding partner of Alterstudio Architecture and the Sid W. Richardson Centennial Professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Texas (UT) in Austin, suggests the city is developing a strong tradition of modernism. He reports that 20 years ago there was little interest in the movement, but modern architecture’s ability to connect to the outdoors — it suits the region’s scenic Hill Country nearly year round — has endeared it to Austinites. He also cites attitudes of new residents from other regions of the country (Alter himself is a transplanted New Yorker), the draw of UT and a growing technology industry presence as fueling modern design.

“There are a lot of very good architects in the city, given its relatively small size,” says Alter, asserting there is more interesting residential architecture in Austin than in the giant metropolises of Houston and Dallas. “There’s also a youthful optimism in Austin, so people aren’t looking back in history for inspiration.” Contrasting Austin to more traditional, less architecturally tolerant cities, Alter suggests, “Because of that optimism, there’s not a ‘looking-over-your-shoulder’ mentality here for property owners interested in building modern residences.”   

Photo courtesy of Paul Finkel

Real estate broker Brian Linder is a licensed architect and founder of The Value of Architecture, a multi-city network of real estate professionals specializing in architecturally significant homes.

After establishing that niche in Los Angeles, Linder expanded his practice to Austin, appreciating both its family-friendly lifestyle and wealth of exceptional architecture. “Buyers here are willing to pay a significant premium for homes designed by signature architects,” says Linder.

The specialty broker reports one the most desirable neighborhoods in Austin is the trendy South Congress (SoCo) district, where the original housing stock is being replaced with exciting modern architecture. “The area is popular with urban expats from cities like New York, San Francisco and L.A., and buyers are taking their accrued appreciation from those places and investing in good design,” says Linder.

Representative of the top architectural firms in town are Bercy Chen Studio, Jay Hargrave Architecture, Chioco Design, and Minguell-McQuary Architecture.

Austin architects, according to Linder, soften the sometimes austere modernism found in L.A., noting their work emphasizes texture through incorporation of native materials. “Elements like site-gathered stone and reclaimed lumber or brick add a more human scale defined by those materials,” he says. While modernism is becoming the city’s preferred style, there is also ample demand for contemporary farmhouses, a theme promoted by local developers.

One of the priciest current listings in Austin is a striking modern home encompassing 5,400 square feet of living space, offered at $8.5 million. The design, from prominent local firm Dick Clark + Associates, features panoramic views of the city skyline through 60 feet of retractable floor-to-ceiling glass in a living area that opens onto an infinity-edge pool.

Offering a distinctly different lifestyle is a 558-square-foot penthouse-level condominium at the Seaholm Residences in downtown Austin, listed at $399,000. Built on the site of a former power plant, this project helped energize demand for high-rise living in Austin and The Independent, designed locally by Rhode: Partners, will be the tallest residential tower west of the Mississippi when completed. Professor Alter reports that as recently as 2005, investment in downtown condominiums was anemic, but young professionals now arriving in town relish the city center.

“We want to make sure we create spaces that fit our clients, beyond aesthetic or stylistic preferences, beyond basic function,” says Sean Guess, founding principal of the Austin firm Faye and Walker. While he does not view his work as reflecting a particular signature, Guess is among those talented young architects contributing to Austin’s evolution as a city increasingly identified with modern design.

“I tend to focus on the essence of a form, stripping away extraneous information, and carve out spaces from those fundamental forms,” says Guess. Raised in nearby Temple, Texas, Guess suggests that despite Austin’s reputation as the Lone Star State’s least-Texas place, the city’s spirit of risk-taking and independence — certainly reflected in its architecture — is very much the product of the Texas ethos.

“This is a very eclectic community that attracts a great variety of people and backgrounds, which results in creativity and diversity in its architecture,” says Guess of Austin. Among the architect’s acclaimed projects is the home he designed for his own family, dubbed the “Elephant House” because its wrinkled grey corrugated fiber-cement facade is evocative of elephant hide. Some interior walls are clad in clear-coated plywood, making Guess’ novel use of everyday materials reminiscent of Frank Gehry’s early work.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Wong/Atelierwong.com

“I appreciate modern architecture that reflects tasteful, principled design,” says Linder, who is less inspired by facsimiles of Tuscan villas. He is kept increasingly busy in the Texas capital, as Austin’s exceptional architects work overtime to meet demand from buyers with a passion for innovative residential environments.

Judi Wright

Ebby Halliday Realtors

1415 Legacy Drive, Suite 100, Frisco, TX 75034
214.597.2985 | judiwright@ebby.com | www.judiwright.com

Judi Wright and The Judi Wright Team have been named “Best Realtor in Dallas,” by D Magazine for 11 years. Experience and responsiveness matter when buying or selling a home and Judi and her team handle all the details so buyers and sellers can relax. Whether you own an estate property or a first time home buyer property, the team’s focus and attention to your property and needs is the same.  You will never be just a number to The Judi Wright Team. The team utilizes both print and digital marketing extensively to promote listings. Judi is an inaugural member of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing and was one of the first Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialists in Dallas. Make the “Wright” choice for all the right reasons!

Featured Listing by Judi Wright

PLANO, TEXAS

5716 Seville Court

Magnificent country estate home on 1.14 acres with grounds, a pool/spa and tennis! This home offers 11,262 square feet, 7 bedrooms, 6 full and 3 half baths, a study, outdoor living center and more!

$2,399,900

Judi Wright originally appeared as an Elite agent in the Unique Homes Spring ’18: Elite edition. See her page here.

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