As you descend upon the rows of live oaks at Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, it feels as though you’re coming home to a Texas ranch homestead. Local wildlife scurries about on meandering nature trails. Guests are greeted with cordiality by the bellmen in the porte cochere, and that warmth continues into the central lobby with the fireplaces marked by century-old limestone mined in the Lonestar State. Country music plays in the background where couples and families, or even conference attendees, gather on cozy couches and cowhide chairs.
This first impression of a homey ranch isn’t far from the truth, as Hyatt Hill Country is originally built on 300 acres of historic land formally known as the Rogers-Wiseman family ranch, established in 1887 by Wisconsin businessman D.G. Rogers. From humble beginnings under his son Henry’s management, the ranch eventually prospered, making it through the Great Depression under leadership of Mary Rogers, her daughter Blanche and a young ranch hand whom Blanche eventually married named Ed Wiseman. The Wiseman couple gave birth to several grandchildren who would venture back to the ranch years later as a place to relax, rejuvenate and enjoy time with friends and family – much like the land’s purpose today.
In 1990, the Rogers-Wiseman Ranch sold some of that land to Woodbine Development Corporation in Dallas, who would build and operate the first golf resort in Texas, Hyatt Hill Country, in 1993. All that’s left of the original ranch homestead is the foundation of the old fireplace that can be found on the Hill Country Golf Club course – be sure to ask the pro shop how to get there to view the memorial plaque when you visit. The buildings have certainly changed while transitioning from a ranch to a resort, but the gorgeous landscape remains the same.
To pay homage to the Rogers-Wiseman family and their land, Hyatt Hill Country and its owners (Woodbine) named many areas of the property after family members, from Henry’s Hollow, an oak-lined event space to gather around a firepit where nightly s’mores are roasted, to Charlie’s Long Bar, a saloon with craft cocktails, Southern comfort food and the longest coppertop bar in Texas.
Hyatt Hill Country is conveniently located just 20 minutes from San Antonio near SeaWorld, but when you check into your commodious room, it feels like worlds away from any city. In the heart of Texas Hill Country, the resort has 500 guest rooms, with 58 of those being suites and parlors for families needing a bit more privacy and space – or to accommodate small groups such as an executive board retreat. Many rooms have European-inspired balconies that overlook the golf course, the waterpark or off into the countryside. The casually elegant décor weaves throughout the guest rooms and complements the common areas, dining establishments and meeting spaces.
At press time, the mood is unapologetically jovial in preparation for the holidays. Wreaths, Christmas trees and festive lights are strewn throughout the lobby and hallways. Holiday events will look a bit different this year with the pandemic, but “Santa Claus” will still pay a visit to Hyatt Hill Country to continue the annual tradition. Check the website before booking your stay to view dates and times of holiday activities.
The spacious resort has much more to offer than peaceful accommodations. This is an authentic Texas destination with a myriad of activities to please couples, families and professionals. The atmosphere is no doubt different depending on the season. From spring break week through Labor Day weekend, families flock to Hyatt Hill Country to get their fix of pool time in the five-acre waterpark, which continues to rank in the Top 10 lists of national magazines such as USA Today.
The resort has several pools to choose from including the Texas-shaped adult pool, two jacuzzi tubs and an activity pool with a cascading waterfall that connects to a 950-foot Ramblin’ River. As one of the longest lazy rivers in the state, the Ramblin’ River was designed to emulate the sensation of floating down the nearby Guadalupe River – a favorite past time of Texas Hill Country residents. And let’s not forget the float-up bar, Eddie’s on the River, named after the Wiseman family patriarch.
The waterpark additionally features a water slide, a man-made beach, volleyball court, rentable luxury poolside cabanas equipped with flat-screen TV’s, WIFI and electrical outlet access – why work from home when you can work from the pool deck? In fact, Hyatt Hill Country is offering a #workfromhyatt package this winter with a minimum seven-night stay for $219 per night to provide travelers with luxury reprieve from the confining pandemic and arduous daily routines.
During the winter months, family travel subsides as children go back to school. The pools are still heated through the winter months, but it’s more likely you’ll find couples visiting for a romantic weekend getaway or professionals meeting for conferences and other events. However, even adults can enjoy a vintage-style bike ride on the nature trails with plenty to explore. For those who prefer an indoor workout experience, there is also a well-equipped and sanitized fitness center.
As you walk through the expansive resort, you’ll find a rustic barn that houses the Windflower Spa, which incorporates repurposed materials such as wood, its roof and more from historic structures around Texas Hill Country including an old peanut mill and whiskey distillery. Seasonal aromas fill the air, and its 21 treatment rooms exude serenity with soft, patterned quilts you’d surely find on a ranch. Windflower uses “farm to spa” ingredients in its body scrubs, pedicures, massages and other treatments and sells offers the same fresh, regionally made products in its retail space. While waiting for their treatment, spa guests are welcome to observe the natural beauty of the back porch and reflecting pool or enjoy the private outdoor pool and jacuzzi tub in luxurious Windflower robes while sipping tea or their beverage of choice.
Another year-round activity at the resort is its golf program at Hill Country Golf Club, complete with a pro shop with friendly, certified golf pros and all the gear and attire for a day on the greens. This quiet yet confident Arthur Hills-designed 200-acre layout features three wonderful nine-hole courses that amount to 27 holes of challenging but fair golf for players of all levels.
Whether you choose to play the Oaks, Lakes, or Creeks courses, you will be welcomed with beautiful scenery, challenging shots, and a tranquility that makes the day less about the score and more about the ambiance. Hill Country golf in Texas is known for rolling landscapes, classic Texas trees, and bends and turns that reward quality shots without punishing misses too much.
An early morning round is just as rewarding as nine or 18 holes completed just before a well-earned refreshment at dusk at the Cactus Oak Grill on the property. Hyatt Hill Country Golf Club – it’s the perfect drive with a nice draw that nestles softly onto the manicured fairway. Here’s to a few birdies being the olives in your martini.
Dining and Events
Hyatt Hill Country guests are sure to work up an appetite during their stay. The resort has an assortment of restaurants to please any palate, from casual fare to fine dining. The main breakfast spot is Springhouse Café (which typically serves lunch and dinner as well) and has indoor and outdoor veranda seating as weather permits. The breakfast buffet offers fresh ingredients, locally sourced whenever possible from surrounding farms or the on-property herb and fruit gardens. Frequent guests recommend the omelets, made fresh-to-order by the culinary team. There are two poolside restaurants open seasonally, Papa Ed’s and Vince’s, serving American and Italian-inspired cuisine, respectively. Hyatt Hill Country has recently revamped its culinary program to ensure each of its restaurants has a distinct character and menu to appeal to different tastes.
For those seeking a sophisticated fine dining experience, dinner at Antlers Lodge is a must. At press time, Antlers is still closed due to limited resources during the pandemic, but plans to reopen in 2021. The setting in Antlers begins with dim, romantic lighting as the sun sets over the golf course. A stunning chandelier composed of hundreds of deer antlers floats over the large dining area, and knowledgeable servers offer their recommendations on aged regional game, fresh vegetable dishes and wine pairings. The craft cocktails, including the Antlers Old Fashioned made with Texas-based Devils River Whiskey, are on point.
With the authentic Texas hospitality Hyatt Hill Country encapsulates, it’s a natural venue for people to convene. And, it has the spacious outdoor and indoor meeting space with detail-oriented meeting planners to make attendees feel safe, even during these unprecedented times. The resort’s catering and events team has adapted seamlessly to the pandemic and offers virtual tours for meeting planners, as well as in-person meetings in advance of events. From holiday parties and weddings to association and corporate meetings, Hyatt Hill Country has hundreds of thousands of square footage – and the creativity – to execute unforgettable occasions. For more information, visit www.hillcountry.regency.hyatt.com.
Story by Katie Soltas
with golf section contributed by J. Frank Hernandez