Houston for Business Travellers
Houston offers plenty of leisure activities that are perfect for the business traveller with limited free time. Just ask Concierge Raul Velazco.
As Lead Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel Houston, Raul Velazco has his finger on the pulse of the city, and it’s clear he enjoys every minute of it. “My job is fun. It’s different. There’s a lot to learn,” he says. “It’s fast-paced and never boring.”
As part of his work, Velazco has developed a detailed knowledge of Houston, the fourth-largest city in the United States. Here he shares what Houston has to offer the discerning business traveller with a few hours of free time.
La Carafe Wine Bar
Built in 1861 and owned by Irish immigrant John Kennedy, the structure that houses La Carafe is known as the oldest commercial building in Houston. It has served a variety of purposes over the years, including Indian trading post, apothecary, loan office and confederate arsenal. Now it is a neighbourhood bar, rich in history with a wide variety of wines and one of the best jukeboxes in Houston.
With a bit of notice, the Concierge can get Four Seasons guests into this members-only club at the House of Blues across the street from the Hotel. The Foundation Room offers plush velvet couches, an extensive wine list, premium drinks, tantalising appetisers and live entertainment. Also indulge in excellent cuisine in a private 50-seat dining room.
Absinthe at Morton’s Steakhouse
Enjoyed by artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Toulouse Lautrec and writers like Edgar Allan Poe and Ernest Hemingway, absinthe is a unique drink experience, steeped in legend. Bartender Chris Whitney at Morton’s prepares absinthe rituals for patrons.
Reef and Other Top Dining
Houston is full of top-notch restaurants like Quattro, Ibiza, Pesce and Benjy’s. Velazco mentions Reef in particular, though. Named the No. 1 seafood restaurant in America by Bon Apetit magazine in 2008, Reef flies in seafood daily so the menu changes just as often. The interior features mother-of-pearl tabletops, hanging lamps and a climate-controlled wine rack.
Level 9 Tour: Houston Space Center
With 24-hours notice, the Concierge team can book a Level 9 Tour at the Houston Space Center. Only people 14 and older are allowed on this tour that visits areas where astronauts go about their daily business. Tickets are limited to 12 a day. The tour, scheduled only during weekdays, includes the astronaut cafeteria, the historic and new mission control centres, vacuum chamber and more.
The Menil Collection houses the art of philanthropists John and Dominique de Menil. Experts consider it one of the best art collections in the United States with pieces from prehistoric to modern times, including tribal art. The collection, renowned for its depth and eclecticism, holds more than 15,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs and rare books.