By Robin Glover
Come one, come all to Houston, TX, for the 8th United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA) National Conference!
From August 10-12, 2023, UOAA and the fourth largest city in the United States is opening its arms to welcome ostomates from all over the country for three full days of fun, learning, advocacy, and unity.
Houston is known as the Space City for its NASA connection but also more recently just H-Town for its culture and the “Big Heart” for its welcoming spirit of those affected by Hurricane Katrina.
Houston is an ultra-diverse city with something to offer everyone, from world-class dining to high-end shopping to down-to-earth BBQ joints, and believe it or not, ice skating!
The best part? You can find all of that within a very short distance from The Royal Sonesta Galleria Hotel where the conference is being held.
Leave your worries behind and imagine a learning vacation where you can be surrounded by new ostomy friends who have been in your shoes. The only thing you’ll need to do is have an open mind and have some fun.
The Luxurious Royal Sonesta Hotel
There are lots of places to go in the Uptown area but The Royal Sonesta Galleria itself offers enough that you never even need to leave its luxurious ambiance. It has four restaurants, a coffee shop, a fitness center, an accessible swimming pool, a hot tub, and, if you do want to head somewhere, a free shuttle service to points of interest within 3 miles (ADA transportation available upon request.) You can bring your pet too!
What could be better than finishing a fun-filled day at the conference by hanging out with new friends and old acquaintances without having to go anywhere? Just gather around in the lobby area, sit together at a restaurant (enjoying a meal, a special drink, or just a glass of water), or hang out at the pool and talk the night away sharing stories and experiences with ostomates from all over the country.
You’ll want to stay through Saturday night and get some dancing boots to wrap up the event with music, desserts, and country line dancing lessons.
Call to get the UOAA Room Block Rate. As conference guests staying at the hotel, we’ll be the VIPs.
Explore Houston’s Famous Galleria Mall
A half-mile away, the 400-store Houston Galleria welcomes 30 million visitors a year and is home to Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Louboutin, and Tom Ford (and basically every other designer) boutiques, as well as an Apple Store, LEGO Store, Tesla showroom, a 2,000 square ft. children’s play area, and the TFTI | Interactive Selfie Museum (they charge admission).
There’s also an escape room, an awesome candy shop, jewelry stores, shoe stores, and a lot more. Plus, incredible local dining options from sushi, Indian food, French food, and steak to national favorites like Shake Shack and The Cheesecake Factory, along with tea shops, frozen yogurt, coffee shops, and juice shops.
Oh yeah, ice skating! The Galleria offers year-round, indoor ice skating (fee) for all ages and levels.
You could easily spend a couple of evenings after the conference sipping on some coffee, tea, juice, or your favorite hydration drink while roaming around The Galleria taking in the scenery, doing an escape room, gawking at the price of a designer belt, or possibly even some shopping.
The Beautiful Gerald D. Hines Waterwall
If you’re not in the mood for the mall (or already went), you can take a quick evening stroll to Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park. This iconic Houston architectural landmark is beautifully lit at night and provides peace and serenity in the form of a 50-foot-tall sheet of cascading water. It’s really quite mesmerizing and is surrounded by a 3-acre park featuring green space and nearly 200 live oak trees.
Other Things to Do During the Weekend
Experience Global Cuisine
Houston is one of the nation’s most diverse cities and offers an authentic cultural experience from places all over the world and fusions like Viet-Cajun. Depending on your dietary restrictions, you can try traditional food and drinks (including non-alcoholic) from Ethiopia, India, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, West Africa, Vietnam, China, Japan, Afghanistan, Portugal, Nepal, Brazil, Central America, and, of course Texas all within 5 miles of the hotel.
See the World Series Champions
The Houston Astros will be playing the Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park on August 10, 11, 12 and 13. The stadium is 15 minutes from The Royal Sonesta Hotel. Even if you’re not an Astros fan, it’s still a great ballpark and a great experience.
Watch a Tony-Award Winning Musical
The Motown-inspired Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations will be making a stop on its off-Broadway tour in Houston during the weekend of the conference. There will be nightly shows at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Ain’t Too Proud won a 2019 Tony Award for Best Choreography. The theater is also 15 minutes from the hotel. (Uber is your friend.)
Be at the Center of It All at The Royal Sonesta Hotel
Houston is a wonderful and welcoming city with so much to offer. The list of things to do could go on forever. Consider bringing the entire family and add some extra days to your hotel stay to truly experience it. FYI, for those flying in the hotel is about an equal distance from either of Houston’s major airports.
But, since the 2023 UOAA National Conference is going to include incredible speakers, Q&A’s, meet and greets, social gatherings, the chance to explore all the latest ostomy products, and the opportunity to connect with more fellow ostomates, j-pouchers, and people with all types of continent diversions than you’ve probably even seen in one place, these are just a few ideas very close to The Royal Sonesta Galleria Hotel.
Because, chances are, you’ll probably end up spending almost all of your time there enjoying a huge gathering of people who have been through the same experiences you have and understand like nobody else can.
The 8th UOAA National Conference in Houston is a life-changing opportunity to make lifelong friends and you won’t want to miss a second of it.
Robin Glover is a writer based in the Houston area. He has a permanent ostomy after being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2017.