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Hyatt Regency. Houston's largest hotel is located in the heart of downtown near the theater district, convention center and the Houston Astros baseball stadium. The hotel recently finished a US$18 million renovation. Each of the 977 rooms in the 30-story structure received a complete makeover in the same style, color and design as the hotel's 30 suites, which feature dark maple furniture, custom-designed closets, new carpet wall coverings and curtains. The 84 "business" rooms have high-speed Internet access and a wireless connection. Eventually, every room will have such technology. The business center features computers, Internet access, fax, copying, typing services and shipping. Enjoy lunch at Spindletop, Houston's only revolving rooftop restaurant, while taking in views of the city. Afterwards, swim in the rooftop pool or play golf at one of the three courses within a 40-minute drive. Nightly rates start at under $200. Phone: [1] (713) 654-1234.


Cavender's Boot City, Here you can buy everything from boots to belt buckles and get stone insight into Houston's unique fascination with cowboy culture. Cavender's has stores in only four southwestern states but has more outlets in Houston (seven) than any other city. Mingle with people dedicated to the cowboy lifestyle and business people seeking just a Stetson cowboy hat or a pair of jeans, which Cavender's carries in all styles and colors. You'll find everything a man, woman or child needs to be a cowboy except the horse, saddle and rope. There are western shirts, jackets and suits. There are cowboy hats made of felt, straw and palm leaf. There are three-piece belt buckles, initial buckles and buckles as big as the emblem on a boxer's championship belt. There are even cowboy earrings, chokers, watches and money clips.


The Mercury Room. Plush executive chic decor (single malt scotch and over-stuffed armchairs) meets the wide-open spaces of a live music nightclub. Hosts events from 50 to 1,500. Sidle up to the cherry wood bar and gaze upon the floor to-ceiling selection of wines, ports, cognacs and the like or hang back and hang back and watch Houston's beautiful people mingle on the dance floor. Hugh Hefner-approved. Open to 2 a.m. Wednesday to Saturday. 1008 Prairie St. Phone: (713) 225-6372.


Lupe's Tortillas. This brightly colored casa draws rave reviews from business travelers and restaurant reviewers alike. Lupe's serves some of the best chalupas, grilled chicken, soft tacos, beef fajitas and margaritas in the Southwest. The steak Lupe is a favorite. The guacamole is handmade. Eating lightly? Order tacos al carbon, a grande ensalada verde or meatless tacos. Like typical Tex-Mex restaurants, Lupe's doesn't take reservations. The waits can be long but worth it, customers say, because of the food and friendly service. And like most Tex-Mex restaurants, the atmosphere is festive, the tables are relatively small and families with children are welcomed. But even customers who see those as downsides return for the food. Phone: 713-522-4420.


Johnson Space Center. Famed for its central role in early space exploration, the control center for the U.S. space effort is steeped in history but also a working spaceport on the cutting edge of current plans, including the International Space Station. Go touch a space ship on display or take a tour of the latest scientific developments and see how engineers at Johnson develop everything from life support systems to robotics to space walking gear for U.S. astronauts. Ask about the behind-the-scenes "Level Nine" tour. Hours vary by season. 1601 NASA Road 1. Phone: [1] (281) 244-2100.


The Rotisserie for Beef & Bird. Amid early American decor, this earthy but upscale restaurant specializes in gourmet dishes featuring wild game from the Texas hill country. Where else can you find Roasted Cackle Bird, Axis deer venison and Loin of Wild Boar on the same menu? Traditional diners can select from award-winning meat-and-potatoes cuisine. The stuffed fresh Maine lobster and broiled Black Angus sirloin steak are second to none. Meals are cooked over a mesquite wood grill. In keeping with true Texas tradition, portions are ample. While awaiting your meal, nibble on complimentary salmon pate and home-fried potato chips. The wine list features more than 1,000 selections. This is one of a handful of Texas restaurants to win Wine Spectator magazine's Grand Award. There are two private dining rooms that seat 44 and 20 guests, respectively. Maybe you'll be in town during one of the restaurant's special events, such as its annual single-malt scotch tasting and dinner. Phone: [1] (713) 977-9524.


Four Seasons Day Spa. The downtown spa is open to both guests and non guests. Swedish massage, aromatherapy, facials, dry saunas and other pick-me-ups available. On the hotel's fourth floor. Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. 1300 Lamar. Phone: [1] (713) 650-1300.
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Title Annotation:Best of Latin America: Latin Trade readers' choice
Publication:Latin Trade
Geographic Code:1U7TX
Date:Feb 1, 2004
Previous Article:Dallas.
Next Article:Miami.

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