Plano is an all-American city that has preserved its past while embracing a progressive transformation, making it one of the best places to live in the U.S., according to CNNMoney.
Located an equidistant 30 minutes from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field, Plano’s idyllic downtown is brimming with charming infill developments and restored event spaces, boutiques and restaurants. It’s also home to Plano’s downtown Interurban Railway Museum, just minutes from a modern DART rail platform; one of many examples of the city’s ability to juggle both preservation and progress.
Plano’s future could have progressed quite differently. Not that long ago, downtown Plano was the sleepy center of a farming community being swept away by Dallas’ suburban expansion. Today, the 80-acre downtown district’s ongoing renaissance boasts 50,000 square feet of private development, more than 1,100 urban apartments, and restored historic commercial and civic buildings. It was, in part, the launch of Legacy Park in the 1980s that sent its population soaring.
Legacy Park, a master-planned business, retail and residential community, has created a buzz that’s drawing people to this North Texas site. It’s an area that’s certainly gained attention from a growing number of high-profile businesses, including current occupants The Frito Lay Co., Dr Pepper Snapple Group, JCPenny and HP Enterprise Services. These firms attract business travelers from around the world who often spend their down time perusing The Shops at Legacy, a collection of boutiques, sidewalk cafes and restaurants that line Legacy Park and give it an urban-chic Main Street appeal.
Situated among the offerings is the Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center, an upscale, full service property with picturesque views within walking distance of more than 80 restaurants and shops. It’s a popular spot for business and leisure travelers, and offers an array of meeting options all its own.
The Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center has 30,000 square feet of meeting space with 20 meeting rooms and a 96-seat amphitheater. Among the meeting space options is a 14,000 square-foot ballroom that divides into four sections and accommodates 1,250 for receptions and 840 for banquets. The property offers free wireless Internet throughout its meeting rooms, common areas and guest rooms.
“Planners can expect to work with a dedicated event manager assigned specifically to each group,” says Kimberly Carbone, senior catering sales executive at the Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center.
The advent of two new hotel properties in the area—Hilton Granite Park and Cambria Suites—will bring 5,100 guest rooms online by the end of 2014.
The new properties join the NYLO Plano at Legacy, known for its urban-style lodging that blends industrial design with classic Texas comfort. NYLO Plano offers five indoor meeting rooms, including the 687-square-foot Legacy room, the 253-square-foot Preston room, the 506-square foot Plano room and the 150-square-foot Bluebonnet room. In addition, the property has a spacious outdoor courtyard and a 1,500-square-foot outdoor pavilion, says Alicia Torres, NYLO Plano’s sales coordinator.
In Plano, there are a variety of meeting facilities for groups of every size operating under nearly any type of budget. The Plano Centre, honored as Texas’ best meeting and event venue by the Official Best of Texas 2013, has 122,500 square feet of flexible function space that comfortably accommodates up to 5,000 people. This includes a 21,600-square-foot carpeted, column free exhibit hall, as well as 17 breakout rooms, free high-speed wireless Internet access, a full service business center, in-house audiovisual equipment and free parking, according to Millerann Moya, Plano Centre and Visit Plano’s marketing manager.
In 2013, Plano Centre earned Green Meetings Approved certification from ConventionSouth magazine for its commitment to providing environmentally conscious choices to its customers, including recycling containers and other environmental programs.
For a special event or off-site meeting, Plano’s Heritage Farmstead offers a unique setting. This 4 acre museum near downtown Plano recreates life in the 1890s to 1920s. The property has a few animals on display, as well as antique farming and household items. It includes a large Victorian home that is open for viewing and 12 outbuildings that once were the hub of the 360-acre farm, says Kathy Strobel, director of development. Guided group tours are available upon reservation and several of the outbuildings can be rented for special events, Strobel adds.
For a truly iconic meeting or event, consider the legendary Southfork Ranch, where guests can relive memorable moments from the television series Dallas. The hit series, which drew millions of viewers across the United States and in 95 foreign countries, was originally broadcast in the United States from 1978 to 1991 before being reincarnated in 2012. Located in Parker, which is just minutes from Plano, Southfork Ranch has event options for groups up to 10,000.
With more than 63,000 square feet of indoor event space, including 10 ballrooms and more than 300 acres of sprawling ranchland, guests have room to mingle and explore the Ewing mansion, one of the famed Dallas residences in the television show. As they walk through the on-site museum, they can view the very gun that shot J.R. in one of television’s most iconic cliffhangers of the 1980s, says Sally Peavy, tourism sales manager at Southfork.
For a truly Plano experience, head to the city’s historic downtown where you’ll find Urban Rio, On The Rocks and Rooftop Event Spot—all located in the original Plano Ice House. “Urban Rio’s main dining room features colors and textures inspired by the Rio Grand Valley, the place that also inspires its cuisine. Guests can enjoy our very own ‘Rio’ with our large water wall located in the back of the dining room,” says Rachel Lee, property and event manager. “Urban Rio is ideal for large groups, both corporate and social alike, because of the expansive size of the dining room. There are two large community tables in the main dining room and, of course, the Tequila Room can easily accommodate up to 12 guests.”
The Tequila Room, Urban Rio’s private dining room, is a 370-square-foot space that seats up to 30 guests. It has a cool color palette mixed with rustic décor and tables that can be moved to accommodate various group sizes.
On the Rocks, Urban Rio’s second-floor bar, brings the original ice house to life with ice-tong light fixtures and vintage ice-house tools mounted throughout the bar. It is a hub for guests who enjoy live music, ice-cold beer and unique, handcrafted cocktails. “On the Rocks features 14 beers on tap (10 of which are from craft breweries) that are poured at 32 degrees and eight frozen liquor taps (four of which are tequila) that are poured at -5 degrees,” Lee says. “The second-floor patio attracts corporate groups of up to 50, specifically for company happy hours and dinners.”
Rooftop Event Spot is on the fourth floor of the building and offers 4,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space to accommodate up to 300 people cocktail-style. “The most attractive part of Rooftop is its massive sun-setting patio,” Lee says. “This west-facing terrace offers panoramic views from the downtown Dallas skyline to Plano’s historic district.”