When my boys were small, we took a lot of vacations. They weren’t in school having their little free spirits crushed yet, so it was easy to get great fares and rates during off-peak travel times. Disneyworld in February? Sure. Hawaii in January? Sign us up. The two of them traipsed through a large amount of states and attractions in those early years, and I have a gazillion pictures on the memory cards shoved in my drawers to prove it.
But now that they’re older and crazy with school and activities, we can’t get away as often. Add to that my loathing of going places when it’s the busiest times of year, and you’ll know why we spent this past spring break on the couch fighting about what to watch on Netflix. (Side note: I can not WAIT until they’re old enough to handle American Horror Story. I’ve seen quite enough Dog With a Blog for one lifetime, thank you very much.)
Fortunately, the Texas Hill Country boasts a few all-inclusive resorts that make it easy for families to get away from it all without getting away too far at all. This past Easter weekend we did just that at the swanky, just five years old JW Marriott San Antonio Resort and Spa where we stayed for three nights over Easter weekend. We dropped Teddy the dog off at the kennel, paid a cat sitter, and loaded up the SUV for the quick 90-minute, backroads trip from Austin to San Antonio, passing field after field of wildflowers along the way. And longhorns. There are always longhorns. It’s like they have nothing better to do than just watch us. Get a job, cows.
The first thing you notice when you pull up to the JW Marriott San Antonio is how huge it is. Then you get distracted by how pretty it is with the Texas limestone and fountains.
We stayed in a room with two beds that overlooked the big pool, lazy river, water slides, golf course (a “TPC PGA Tour Experience that’s 36 holes of golf designed by two of golf’s most innovative architects: Pete Dye and Greg Norman. Situated on 2,800 rolling acres at the base of the San Antonio Hill Country, the course is host to the annual Valero Texas Open”) and general grounds. Here’s Jack raking what I told him was a Zen garden:
While everyone was busy and off doing what they wanted to do, I had to sit on our balcony with a book and look at this grossness the whole time. Texas is so disgusting, isn’t it?
A resort like this is really ideal for families with kids in their tweens/teens because you don’t have to be together all of the time. (Does that make me sound like a bad mom? I don’t care.) The first day we were there, the boys ran off to play in the water while I just sat and had a drink. My husband Chris brought his bike along, so he was out riding around on the hilly roads outside the property, having the time of his life. Most of the other adults seemed to keep busy playing golf or going to the gorgeous spa.
It’s a large property, but small enough that I never worried the kids would get lost or hurt. Here’s the downstairs lobby, which was usually full of people drinking, playing chess or playing cards, or just socializing. There was also live music and lots of activities for the kids here, which was nice during the rainy days:
There property also features a really great gym that I actually used (?), an arcade, a ping pong table, and this little alcove off of the lobby, where I played a few games by myself just to practice up because pool sharking is how I plan on making money for retirement:
Unfortunately, it rained most of the weekend, so the pool and lazy river were too cold to use. You know it’s bad when the employee manning the water slide is wearing a stocking cap. But my boys were still thrilled to find a basketball sport court where they spent many hours playing against other hotel guests. Again, we never worried about them because everything is fairly close together, well lit and there are employees around to help if needed. (Everyone is really, really nice, but it is Texas, after all.)
The resort has six on-site restaurants, so we never once left to eat. We mostly ate at High Velocity, the sports bar that had a ton of TVs to fixate the boys, but also had a wonderful BBQ buffet at Cibolo Moon. (Only criticism: The waiter kept referring to me as “M’lady.” Which is especially weird when you’re eating mac & cheese and dressed in yoga pants.) The resort has a 2,500 square foot organic garden on property that provides as many ingredients as possible to the restaurants – mostly the resort’s steakhouse, 18 Oaks. Here’s one of the gardens we visited–it was the first time I’ve ever seen brussel sprouts growing. Who knew?
The JW Marriott has a daily list of activities, including guided hikes, yoga, and a Kid’s Club that my boys are slightly too old to attend, and they had a full day planned for Easter, featuring a giant egg hunt. The night before, you could actually have a person in an Easter bunny suit come visit your kid in your room. Ten years ago, we would have been, “Boys! If you behave, the Easter bunny will tuck you in!” This time, we were all, “Boys! If you don’t behave, the Easter bunny will tuck you in, then we’ll put it on Vine and show your friends!” Here’s the basketball show they had Easter morning, in addition to Games 2 U and various arts and crafts:
Ahh. If you’re in Texas, or planning a trip here, take a look at the resort. It was a wonderful weekend.
Note: I received a discounted stay for my visit to the Marriott, but the opinions in this review are my own. M’lady.