Standing in the sprawling lobby of the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, waiting to check in, I picked up a complimentary copy of USA Today and a headline immediately caught my eye: “Best hotels for taking a dip.” I flipped to the “10Best” list of top hotel pools in the country, and saw JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country at #3. Well, alright! Our weekend getaway was off to an exciting start. I could hardly wait to dip my toes in the resort’s award-winning pools.
Located on 600 acres of scenic rolling hills, JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country is the largest JW Marriott property in the world, and the water park is its crown jewel. The resort’s River Bluffs Water Experience — free for hotel guests — features a guaranteed-to-get-you-drenched 650-foot rapid river ride, three huge water slides, a children’s water park with smaller slides, a variety of pools and whirlpools, and a 1,100-foot long lazy river. So, yes, that number three spot is well deserved.
With six acres of water park fun at their disposal, my five kids had one incredible Saturday. And, with lifeguards on duty and complimentary kid-size life jackets provided, I managed to relax a bit (when not racing double tubes down the water slides with a very enthusiastic 6-year-old).
River Bluff Water Experience is the main attraction for kids, but JW Marriott Hill Country Resort offers much more for vacationing families. There are multigenerational activities for grandparents to enjoy with their grandchildren, a world class spa with a private outdoor pool, a teen lounge that hosts Casino Night, 36 holes of PGA TOUR golf, an organic culinary garden, community workouts, special acting workshops for kids with a dramatic flair, and eight on-site restaurants.
On the Saturday night of our visit, I signed my three boys up to enjoy a “vacation within a vacation” at the on-site Range Riders Kids Club, geared toward kids age 4 to 12. Upon registration I was told that the summer theme was “American Bandstand Countdown” and that my kids were invited to don their best tie-dye apparel and disco the night away. When we arrived, a John Travolta look-alike gave the boys beaded necklaces and offered us Tang and Pop Rocks. (I had forgotten how much I like Tang. It tasted like my childhood.) From there, the boys played Atari, roasted bacon s’mores over a fire pit, had dinner, made a pillow craft, and watched a movie. I had planned to pick them up after dinner, but when I arrived — mid-Limbo contest — the two youngest had no desire to leave. They ended up staying until 9:30 p.m., way past their bedtime, much to their delight.
On Sunday morning, we enjoyed a divine breakfast at the JW Marriott restaurant Cibolo Moon. Free for kids age 4 and under, the buffet offers a made-to-order omelet station, mountains of fresh fruit, a variety of homemade jams, and more. My kids gobbled it all up, but the little girl at the table next to us really loved her breakfast. She shrieked with joy when her mom said she could have pancakes. The mother smiled over at me and said, “She has Celiac Disease, so this is really exciting for her.” The chef was making her a special gluten-free pancake breakfast. Awesome.
We had such an amazing mini-vacation at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country, it was hard to believe we were less than two hours from home. And now comes the fun part. We have a stay at the JW Marriott San Antonio Resort and Spa to give away! One lucky Free Fun in Austin reader will win a one-night stay at the resort, valid August 2015 – February 2016. For your chance to win, simply fill out the form below. One winner will be selected on Sunday, June 21, 2015 and notified by email. Sweepstakes Official Rules.
If you cannot see the entry form, please visit the original post to enter.