Category Archives: Recreation & Tourism

Relief is Spelled W-A-T-E-R

As South Texans look for cool freshwater relief to beat the heat, thousands travel to South Padre Island to enjoy the massive Schlitterbahn water park complex. Open since 2001, Schlitterbahn operates its summer-seasonal outdoor park with churning wave pools, water slides with varying thrill levels and calmer waters more suited for a relaxing tube float. In 2012, Schlitterbahn opened its year-round indoor water park and resort hotel. But elsewhere in…

Read More

Investment Pays Off for SPI

Hotelier Barry Patel is upping his ante in the South Padre Island tourism economy with the construction of a Courtyard by Marriott near his Hilton Garden Inn on the north end of the coastal town. He is wagering the Island’s future will deal him a full house. “I am very optimistic about the Island,” said Patel, a former mayor. “The things that the city has done in the last three…

Read More

History Echoes in Edinburg

A wedding reception in full swing at the historic Echo Hotel in Edinburg. (Courtesy)

The windows that wrap around Stephen Reynolds’ office at the Echo Hotel look out into a city that has grown around the nearly 60-year-old facility. “It’s one of the grand hotels of the (Rio Grande) Valley,” said Reynolds, the general manager and one of the owners of the iconic Edinburg hotel. “It was built by the citizens of Edinburg and it’s still a great facility with a lot of character.”…

Read More

Summer Camps Keep Kids Busy

JHK Equestrian Country Club owner Jamie Ricks instructs a student in the riding arena. (VBR)

When the final school bell rings in the summer break, many parents turn to private businesses for programs to keep their children active through new experiences. Throughout the Rio Grande Valley there are dozens upon dozens of summer camps offering just about any activity that catches a youngster’s fancy. From horseback riding to physical fitness and art to academics, these businesses offer year-round classes in their fields, but come summer…

Read More

Island Native Surfs to Success

Island Native Surf Shop owner Kerry Schwartz stands among some of the surfboards he sells. (VBR)

Kerry Schwartz discovered surfing at a young age growing up in the Rio Grande Valley. “Surfing was always my passion,” he said. “I even had a little surf shop in Brownsville in the 60s when I was just a teenager.” Today he owns and operates Island Native Surf Shop on South Padre Island, which he opened in 2003 when he retired. After college Schwartz lived in the Houston area where…

Read More

Upcoming Summit Explores Historic Preservation

Now known as the Dancy Building, the 1912 Cameron County Courthouse will be the venue for our 2018 Honor Awards presentation. (photo Preservation Texas)

Preservation Texas will hold its 2018 Preservation Summit in Brownsville Feb. 25-28. The multi-stop event will explore the Lower Rio Grande Valley’s historic resources as well as study a range of preservation issues through a local lens. Events include tours and receptions in addition to educational sessions. Tours for the summit include those of the National Historic Landmark Roma, Rio Grande City, Hidalgo, and Matamoros, Mexico. Feb. 26 field sessions are a…

Read More

Topgolf Breaks Ground in Pharr

Pharr EDC President & CEO Victor Perez, Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez and City Manager Juan Guerra at the Topgolf groundbreaking. (photo City of Pharr)

Destination to create hundreds of jobs City of Pharr officials, the Pharr Economic Development Corporation and representatives from Topgolf officially broke ground Jan. 11 at the venue’s future home. Located along the southeast corner of U.S. Highway 2 and East Frontage Road in Pharr, this will be the first location in the Valley for Topgolf as well as the 11th in Texas. According to Topgolf, the Pharr location will create…

Read More

Onion Fest Receives State Recognition

Texas Onion Fest Committee Chair Daryl Smith, Weslaco Chamber Marketing Director Laura Espinoza, Liz Gonzalez and Weslaco Chamber President/CEO Doug Croft display the festival's awards from TFEA. (photo Weslaco Chamber)

Weslaco Chamber garners multiple awards from TFEA The Weslaco Area Chamber of Commerce is the recipient of seven marketing awards from the Texas Festivals and Events Association for their promotion of Texas Onion Fest. TFEA awards the marketing efforts of events and festivals across the state. CEO/Chamber President Doug Croft attended the TFEA annual conference in Fort Worth July 27-29, where he accepted the awards. Texas Onion Fest is in…

Read More

Digital Beach Bums Promote the Island 

Jerry Wilson updates a Facebook page from his home office. (VBR)

Live web cams attract valuable audience A video of a large alligator cruising near the Laguna Madre shoreline on South Padre Island generated more than 70,000 online views in three days. That’s as good as gold for Jerry and Jackie Wilson, owners of South Padre Network, a digital business the Wilsons operate from their home. The Wilsons posted the alligator video, captured by their web cam at Sea Turtle Inc. on Facebook. The…

Read More

Vargas becomes Certified Tourism Executive

Weslaco Visitor Center director Jason Vargas recently earned Tourism Executive certification. (photo Weslaco Area Chamber of Commerce)

Weslaco Visitor Center director receives state certification Weslaco Visitor Center Director Jason Vargas recently completed the Travel & Tourism College program, earning the designation of “Certified Tourism Executive.” Each summer, travel and tourism professionals from across the West and Southwest U.S. convene in Bastrop, Texas, for a seven-day intensive curriculum. The program includes travel and tourism marketing, management, and leadership courses. The CTE designation is earned after completion of a…

Read More