A few days ago, the folks at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa asked if we'd like to come down to the Hill Country and check them out. It was an easy decision. We've had a love affair with the Texas Hill Country since the 70s when we were young and stupid newlyweds living in Aggieland (OK, Charlotte was young and I was...well, are you a frequent reader of The Brief, or just visiting?).
So, we hopped in the SUV, cranked up The Best of Robert Earl Keen and headed south on HWY 281 down past the ranch to the Marriott Resort. It's located about 20 minutes north of downtown San Antonio on 600 of the prettiest acres in the entire Hill Country.
We don't need much hand-holding. So, our hosts set us up with some dinner reservations, made Charlotte an appointment at their world-class Lantana Spa (she'll tell you about that later) and invited us to see what the resort has to offer. Sounds easy, right? Not so fast.
The San Antonio Hill Country Resort is the largest JW Marriott Resort in the world, with 1,002 guest rooms and 85 suites. This place is TEXAS BIG and has a LOT to offer...with two TPC golf courses, seven restaurant and lounge options, a six-acre water experience, nature preserve, hiking & biking trails...and more. It's been named one of Travel + Leisure's 500 Best Hotels in the World two years in a row and it's easy to see why.
Our Insider Tips are just after the jump. But, before we get to them I'm going to let the resort's Paige Singleton and Stefanie Falknor give you their recommendations.
Any Place with 85 Tequilas Gets My Vote Every Time
If you've got a Hill Country trip in your future (and seriously, why wouldn't you?), here are our tips for enjoying the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa.
The breakfast at Cibolo Moon is legendary (see Charlotte's Perfect Day post April 19,) but the dinners will take your breath away. Yeah, it's got a wine list, but this place is a tequila-lover's paradise. There are some 85 different tequilas to sample and a tequila tasting is the Top Pick on my must-do list.
I sampled three infused tequilas: Strawberry/Jalapeno, Basil/Lemon and Mojito. My fave: Strawberry/Jalapeno. It had just a hint of sweetness followed by a fireball of jalapeno and the cool smoothness of the top shelf tequila (I'll share the recipe soon in a Cinco de Mayo post).
Food? Well, yeah! The entrée's here are terrific. Chicken Fried Steak - fried twice and served on TOP of the gravy so it stays crisp -- is a standout. Ditto the Bison Meatloaf and BBQ Burger (sounds funky, but it's great). I had the Blue Plate Special -12 oz. Skillet Steak with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and a medley of turnips, carrots and asparagus. Favorite desert? Banana pudding of course! Yummmm.
Boomer Brief Says
Come hungry - you'll be served their legendary Buttermilk Biscuits as a starter and they're slap-yo-mama good! Pace yourself, because you don't want to waste a bite of your entrée or dessert that follows. And if you even THINK you like tequila, try one of the infused varieties - just don't have an early tee time.
The resort has two TPC golf courses that are the perfect match for all tastes and handicaps. The AT&T Oaks course was designed by Greg Norman & Sergio Garcia and will play host to the Valero Texas Open April 19. The other TPC course - AT&T Canyons - was designed by Pete Dye and Bruce Lietzke. It'll host the AT&T Championship (Fred Couples is the defending champion) in October.
Both courses are great, but they're long - the AT&T Oaks is 7,435 from the tips and the equally challenging Canyon's course is only 7,106 from the Big Boy tees. There's a lot to love with both of them, but a real benefit is the terrific club rental program featuring the latest models from Callaway to TaylorMade. These aren't knockoff hand-me-downs. The clubs are only used for a year then replaced with the latest and greatest models.
Boomer Brief Says
a hacker not a scratch golfer, do yourself a favor and tee 'em up at the AT&T Canyons course. You can thank me later.
The rooms are decorated in Hill Country Chic, with 37" LCD HDTVs, aromatherapy bathroom amenities and large, fluffy comforters for the beds. I loved the iHome audio system (perfect for my iPod). Charlotte was head-over-heels for the large, lighted makeup mirror - it was almost like she was back home in Colleywood.
We recommend a room on one of the higher floors (the Hill Country views are killer) and the balcony is a great place to have that first cup of coffee in the morning. The rooms come with single-serve coffee makers, but they can be difficult to locate (ours was hiding in a lower cabinet drawer). The in-room Wi-Fi also can be temperamental (Toshiba laptops have a hard time finding the network for some reason). But, the good news is that the resort's onsite tech staff is patient, crazy smart and available by phone.
Boomer Brief SaysThis place is BIG. If you don't valet your vehicle, ask one of the bellmen to call up one of the multi-passenger golf carts to take you down to your ride. The exterior parking lot is multi-level (you are in the Hill Country after all) and it can be a hike to get to and from your car. Of course, if you're still working off those Cibolo Moon Buttermilk Biscuits, you may want the exercise, but I'd ask for the cart.