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Executive Travel

On the Road: A Weekend at JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country and TPC San Antonio

The family-friendly resort, situated on 600 acres of rolling South Texas hills, boasts a waterpark, two pristine golf courses, and fare to remember.
| |Gallery images courtesy of JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa
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On the Road: A Weekend at JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country and TPC San Antonio

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The JW Marriott in San Antonio’s rolling hill country is just a five-hour drive south of Dallas, but the beautiful resort, which boasts excellent golf and a family atmosphere, feels worlds away from any bustling city.

My wife and I recently spent a prolonged weekend on the property—which has about 1,000 rooms and suites—and were met with four days of relaxation and incredible food.

The sunny weather and freshly laid sod made conditions at TPC San Antonio pristine for a couple of rounds of golf at the home of the Valero Texas Open. The property has two courses, the Oaks Course—which hosts the PGA Tour event—and the Canyons Course. If you can play just one, opt for the Oaks, a Greg Norman and Sergio Garcia-designed course that presents quite a challenge to mere mortal golfers like myself.

The par-72 stretches to 7,435 yards from the tips, and when the wind is howling—which it often is in the 7,000-acre nature preserve that surrounds—the longer par 5s are unreachable in two shots. I played the Player’s tees, which presents a length of 6624 yards, a course rating of 73.1, and a slope rating of 138.

The course’s signature hole No. 16, a 154-yard par three from the Player’s tees, has a bunker in the middle of the green. Only if the greenskeeper wakes up on the wrong side of the bed will he cut the hole directly behind the trap. I missed the green short right, a safe miss that just required a chip and a putt toward the pin placed a few yards in front of the trap.

There aren’t too many holes that you have to be overly concerned about a big number. No. 2 has a couple of sand traps protecting the fairway and several traps guarding the green, No. 3 requires a 170-yard iron shot over a pond that is about 120 yards long, No. 5 is a drivable par 4, holes 10–12 are straightforward par 4s, and No. 14 is the hardest dog leg as it takes a sharp right turn with a 100-yard bunker protecting the right side of the green.

Hole 18 is the perfect ending to the round. Walking down the fairway with the sun above, the resort resting behind the green, and a rushing creek protecting the putting surface makes for one of the best walks I’ve taken on a golf course.

If you’re looking to pamper yourself after a round of golf, or any other time while on the property, the adults-only Lantana Spa offers services inspired by traditional Latin American treatments. If you have children, opt for a couples treatment and send the kids to the nine-acre water park with a 35-foot high and 275-foot long waterslide and a 1,100-foot long lazy river. Then, after the treatment, race each other down the two adjacent tubes. The property also boasts pickleball and tennis courts.

Seasonal activities abound, too. The property turns into a winter wonderland around the holidays with gingerbread house decorating, a hill—a.k.a. the snow mountain—for snow sledding, and an ice rink.

Among the property’s seven dining options, the signature restaurant is 18 Oaks, a steakhouse adjacent to TPC San Antonio’s clubhouse. The restaurant can either be the 19th hole after a day on the course or an elegant date night. My wife and I opted for the latter and dressed up for a Saturday evening steak.

For appetizers, I recommend trying the Beeman Ranch wagyu beef tips, which are crusted in ancho chilis and served with a gremolata baguette. It’s the perfect opening act to the buttermilk-fried Texas quail or the pan-seared salmon.

The lobster ceviche with avocado, honey soy, cucumbers, tomatoes, and jalapeños should be the appetizer of choice, if you plan to take down a steak. The most expensive cut on the menu is the Beeman Ranch Texas wagyu, an 8-ounce filet from the ultra-rare breed of Akaushi Wagyu, which is sourced from the only 100 percent Akaushi verified ranch in the U.S.

Good to pair with any meal, the Honey Badger cocktail packs a punch. The drink is infused with jalapeño honey, agave nectar, and fresh lime juice with a Clyde Mays Bourbon base. Beware, it is definitely spicy.

Should you choose a brew, the Hill Country Honey Blonde has to be the go-to. The property partners with San Antonio’s Freetail Brewing to produce the beer, and the brewery uses brush honey collected from the resort’s 600-acre property. The jalapeño honey in the Honey Badger is also sourced from the property’s onsite beehives in a protected and remote location.

Cibolo Moon is another restaurant on the property. From the time my wife first tried the smoked green chile queso, she was hooked—I think we might’ve had it every day during our visit. The barbacoa tostada and the salsa macha calamari are the best appetizers on the menu. For the mains, I opted for the short rib pasta, and my wife went with the seared salmon, which features a pistachio crust and is served with pearl couscous. Cibolo Moon also serves breakfast—you can either do the buffet or order off the menu—and lunch.

The resort also boasts a sports bar, High Velocity, with a couple of Topgolf Swing Suite simulators and a giant wrap-around screen spanning almost 50 yards. My wife and I enjoyed an hour of zombie dodgeball, soccer penalty kick competitions, and football target practice before diving into some classic buffalo wings and a basket of fries while watching four sporting events.

We also indulged in the Chunky Monkey, a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie skillet topped with coconut ice cream, a chocolate-dipped macaroon, bananas, and caramel drizzle.

We took a long, moonlit walk around the property, trying to shed those calories off—it was probably unsuccessful. Still, the crisp South Texas air and sound of nothing but nature provided a terrific ending to a wonderful stay.

Author

Ben Swanger

Ben Swanger

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Ben Swanger is the managing editor for D CEO, the business title for D Magazine. Ben manages the Dallas 500, monthly…

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