Review of Three Texas Resorts

by on November 8th, 2010
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Texas is not usually where I think of when I think of fancy resorts. I think of a ski lodge in Colorado, a spa in Arizona, or a beach front property in Florida. However, Texas is home to several large resorts, all with entertainment options for singles, couples, children, old, and young. Spread out along the I-35 corridor that runs through the heart of Texas, these resorts are easily accessed by car and are all also located very close to large airports, making them great weekend getaways as well as a great location for a longer resort escape.

The Gaylord Texan

Last year at Christmas, my husband surprised me with an overnight stay at the Gaylord Texan. It is located in Grapevine, Texas, just north of the Dallas/ Ft Worth Airport. As we live in Fort Worth, this was a quick, easy drive for us. I had mentioned repeatedly wanting to go see all the Christmas decorations at the Gaylord Texan, so we headed up one Saturday after lunch to take it all in.

Once we arrived at the hotel, it took us over twenty minutes to just get to the valet stand to park the car and go check in. We wandered through the beautiful decorations set out in the main atrium and enjoyed the reactions of the children visiting with their parents. After depositing our bags in our room, we went to try to see Ice! Downstairs (a series of ice sculptures, that year modeled after Charlie Brown, set up for visitors to wander through). We found out that we had to purchase tickets in advance and there were none left for the day. We opted to head into Grapevine, which was also decorated up for Christmas, to shop a little. We took the hotel shuttle into town and set out shopping.

We waited for the shuttle to return for us, and once back at the hotel we decided to enjoy a nice dinner at one of the Gaylord Texan’s many restaurants. However, due to holiday parties and wedding receptions, we could not get in to any of the restaurants at the hotel. We were finally able to find a table in the bar at one restaurant, ate our dinner, and returned to our room.

Sunday morning, so disappointed in the service we’d received thus far, we made one last attempt by heading down to the breakfast buffet that had been pre-purchased as part of our reservation. However, we were once again told that there were no tables available and that we would not be able to eat breakfast for an hour and a half. The one good mark the Gaylord Texan got for their service was when the attendant at the front desk reimbursed us for the breakfast buffets we had already paid for.

To be fair, I understand that the holidays are a hectic time at hotels and restaurants, particularly ones that decorate and draw crowds based on their decorations. While the Gaylord Texan is very lovely, I would not recommend it during the holidays. The atrium magnified the noise of all the people milling around and the entire place feels too crowded and pushy. It is not a place I plan to return to.

The Hyatt Lost Pines

The Hyatt Lost Pines is located in Bastrop, Texas, just east of Austin. Secluded back in the pine trees, the Hyatt Lost Pines provides guests with the feeling of being out in the wilderness while still enjoying all the comforts of a large city. We visited over the Fourth of July weekend, and while it was also crowded, the open floor plan in many of the main areas and the larger dining areas accommodated the extra traffic reasonably well. Both days my husband, father, and brothers enjoyed a round of golf on the gorgeous golf course that is part of the Hyatt property while my mom and I relaxed with massages and swimming in the adults only pool.

After lunch each day, we all would meet back up to spend time together. The first day we spent time out by the pool drinking fruity cocktails and lazing in the winding river (part of the Hyatt’s large pool). The second day was very hot, so we spent a lot more time up on the porch in rocking chairs eating ice cream and reading books.

We were unable to get reservations in the Hyatt Lost Pines’s only nice dining room, so one night we drove into Austin for a nice meal while the rest of the time we enjoyed casual dining in the hotel’s other restaurants. The food was good, the service was always good, particularly in the bar areas, and overall we really enjoyed our stay.

The main drawback to the Hyatt Lost Pines is that, like many of Hyatt’s resort properties, this hotel seems to be more focused on the children. There are activities all day long geared towards entertaining young ones, which is great if you have them. As nobody in our group was under twenty-one, the activities were of no interest to us. While I love kids, there seemed to be a lot of children whose parents let them run wild all weekend, running up and down the halls, screaming at the top of their lungs, and leaving toys and games all over the hotel. On a non-holiday weekend, I’m sure there would have been fewer children. Just be aware that this hotel is very kid friendly, so if you’re looking for a quiet weekend, this might not be the best place to stay.

JW Marriott San Antonio

We stayed at the JW Marriott in San Antonio for Labor Day weekend with my family. It’s located on the north side of San Antonio. The rooms were large and comfortable with large bathrooms and showers. While I’m sure the hotel itself was very crowded during the holiday weekend, it is so open that we hardly noticed the crowds. JW Marriott is home to TPC San Antonio, where the Valero Open is played, and the men once again enjoyed several rounds of golf during our stay. Mom and I once again relaxed at the spa, this time with 90 minute hot stone massages and pedicures. Like the Hyatt Lost Pines, the JW Marriott also had an adults only pool, where Mom and I spent time after our spa appointments each day.

Much like other Texas resorts, the JW Marriott has a large pool with a winding river to float through. In addition to the river, the pool also has several large slides, which provided endless enjoyment for my brother, husband, and mother! We spent one afternoon by the pool floating the river, riding the slides, and sipping drinks in the bar. This was the place I noticed the number of guests the most, as you could see them all floating by! However, the pool area was large enough to accommodate all the guests without feeling overcrowded.

After our experience at the Hyatt Lost Pines, we planned ahead and got dinner reservations for one night in the upscale restaurant on site. It overlooks the golf course at TPC San Antonio, providing wonderful views of the golf course and the hill country. The food itself was superb, with steak and seafood being the main fare, sides served family style, and a wonderful wine list. Our service was also phenomenal, and our waitress always allowed us plenty of time to enjoy whatever was on the table before bringing out the next course.

In addition to the upscale dining, the JW Marriott also offers several casual dining options. The sports bar in the downstairs lobby has a giant television that looks like the stock ticker in Times Square constantly showing games as well as many other, smaller televisions scattered throughout the bar. They serve typical bar food, but they execute it well and we were very happy with the food there. Cibolo Moon is the restaurant where we had breakfast each morning. They offer a massive buffet style breakfast that has everything from fruit and yogurt to oatmeal and cold cereals and waffles, pancakes, and made to order eggs. If you just want fruit and cereal, you can pay a reduced price for the buffet. Again, the food was fantastic.

Overall, I would highly recommend any of these wonderful Texas resorts. Each offers something unique to its guests and would provide a lovely getaway. Just be careful around any holiday, as they are sure to be crowded!

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