About 60 financial and insurance conference planners and associates of Ritz-Carlton and Marriott hotels and resorts gathered at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country before heading to the 2011 Financial & Insurance Conference Planners Annual Conference in mid November.
Not quite two years old, the 1,002-room JW Marriott resort brims with warm and beautiful design, including subtle Texas touches (you may find a longhorn looking back at you from your guestroom wall) and comfortable spaces (the Texas Library alcove has books you can borrow or buy). The overall effect, says General Manager Arthur Coulombe, is one of “unpretentious luxury.”
Areas of the resort are given names evoking home: the entrance is the “front porch” while the outdoor area behind the lobby is the “back porch.” (Both spots have plenty of rocking chairs.) Walking from the lobby down a set of stairs, you’ll find yourself in the “living room.” This wide-open space, featuring two story windows, encompasses many seating areas with comfortable chairs and couches—there’s even a pool table. It’s also where you will find the Crooked Branch Lobby Bar and the entrance to the totally cool High Velocity Sports Bar and Restaurant, with its neverending wavelike TV screen extending the length of the bar
Outside, the JW Marriott owns 750 acres of nature preserve, ensuring no other buildings encroach on the lovely views of the live oaks, the native tree of Texas. In drought-prone San Antonio, water conservation is a hot topic. The resort’s golf courses were built with a “closed-loop” water system that reclaims all runoff for reuse. Also giving it high marks in eco-consciousness is that the resort gets 70 percent of its power from San Antonio–owned utility company CPS Energy’s “windtricity” program. Windtricity customers support the development and operation of wind farms in Texas.
And in the JW kitchens, sustainability is top of mind as well, with as much food as possible coming from within 100 miles of the resort—and some of it from the on-site herb and vegetable garden.
For groups, there is 140,000 square feet of conference space, including the 40,000-square-foot Nelson W. Wolff Exhibit Ballroom; the 21,200-square-foot Cibolo Canyons Ballroom; and 19 divisible breakout rooms of 925 square feet each. Meeting rooms feature high-tech touch screens outside their doors from which planners can send text messages to the JW’s “Red Coats” regarding any immediate needs such as temperature control, water refill, or AV issues. Attendee touch screens are available in the rotunda that leads to the conference wing of the resort. These screens offer maps and resort information, plus live feeds to flight information.
Many meeting rooms have natural light, and overall, the resort’s open architecture gives the impression of a facility lightly sited on its space, where you’re always just a few steps from fresh air. Outdoor venues total 45,000 square feet across four separate lawns.
Some 13 miles of hiking trails are available for nature walks; for guests who prefer machine-based exertions, there is a large 24-hour fitness center with floor-to-ceiling windows, plus a second fitness center inside the Lantana Spa. The 26,000-square-foot spa has 32 treatment rooms and an outdoor adults-only pool area that also can be used for small receptions.
And if kids are invited to your program, they’ll definitely put in a plug for this resort so they can try the Hill Country River Bluff Experience, a 1,100-foot lazy river that winds through six acres of native trees and flowers. There are also water slides and pools for both kids and adults.
Golf at TPC San Antonio takes place on two courses, the Pete Dye–designed Canyons Course and the Greg Norman–designed Oaks Course. The resort hosts the annual Valero Texas Open on the TPC Tour.
Find more at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Web site.