Arboretum’s first anchor tenant turns 30

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Roy Spann said he remembers how empty the Arboretum was 30 years ago when he first started working at Renaissance Austin Hotel.

Spann, the hotel’s director of engineering and loss prevention, said as the hotel prepared to open on Sept. 10, 1986, the retail and office development at the Arboretum was just a fraction of what it would eventually become.

“Everything else was just oak trees and cedar,” Spann said.

The Renaissance, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, has seen several ownership changes and remodels in the past three decades. Today as part of Marriott International’s Renaissance Hotels brand, Director of Sales Mike Reeber said the hotel’s updated decor evokes a Central Texas feel and models itself to guests as an “urban resort.”

That includes an installation in the hotel’s nine-story atrium called the “Guitar Bar,” which features acoustic guitars that serve as planters for succulent plants and a local art display.

“It’s about being indigenous to the area,” Reeber said. “It’s about pulling through that Austin vibe from your very first interaction with the property until you leave.”

The theme also carries over to the seasonal menu of Texas-inspired American cuisine at the Knotty Deck & Bar, the hotel’s in-house restaurant and bar, Reeber said.

The hotel has 492 rooms and suites, 65,000 square feet of meeting and event space, a fitness center and a pool.

The hotel was one of the first anchor tenants at the Arboretum and also served as the former home of Tangerines, a dance club that for more than a decade was a hot spot in Austin’s late-night scene. The Glass Oaks Ballroom replaced the club in 2008.

Reeber said the Renaissance prides itself on retaining longtime employees and has been recognized by local business groups as one of the city’s top workplaces.

Juanita Alvarado is one of the hotel’s many longtime employees. She started working in the deli March 4, 1992, she said. By the early ’90s, business was expanding at the hotel, said Alvarado, who is now the administrative assistant for banquets and engineering. Alvarado said at the time only few hotels existed outside of Central Austin.

“This place was booming because there was nothing else,” she said.

Alvarado said she enjoys the close-knit staff.

“It’s very family-oriented,” she said. “Everybody helps everybody out.”

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The “Urban Resort”

Marriott International’s Renaissance Hotels brand includes more than 160 properties worldwide. There are five Renaissance hotels in Texas, including in the Arboretum.

Mike Reeber, director of sales at Renaissance Austin Hotel, said the brand matches it hotels’ decor with the hotels’ surrounding culture and history. In Austin, that includes live music, art and Texas cuisine, he said.

“It’s all about delivering a unique experience,” Reeber said.

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Evan Marczynski
Evan Marczynski is editor of the Georgetown edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He joined Community Impact in 2016 as a reporter in Northwest Austin and previously covered Austin-area health care and Round Rock ISD. Evan is a native of the Pacific Northwest, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Western Washington University in 2012 and worked as a newspaper reporter until he moved to Texas.
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