As they say, everything is bigger in Texas. And the same holds true for La Cantera Resort & Spa, a luxury hideaway tucked into the Texas Hill Country on the outskirts of San Antonio. Whether you come to rejuvenate in the spa, relax by one of many pools or review business materials in the ample conference space, this award-winning resort has what it takes to make it happen. It is the recent winner of the Conde Nast Traveler award for best resort in Texas and the number #1 resort in the southwest. In addition, it was named in the top 50 best hotels and resorts in the world by the same publication.
When considering a domestic getaway, La Cantera is central to almost all parts of the country and just a 20-minute drive from the airport. Here are five top reasons why La Cantera should be on your radar screen this winter.
With five pools, there is plenty of choice and variety. The main pool has an infinity edge that seems to spill off into the countryside. This is the largest of the five and is ringed with lounge chairs. Another resort pool is the main spot for families with waterslides, a splash pad and shallow area. Whirlpools are dotted around the pool areas, and these get especially busy once conference groups want to relax after a day of meetings.
At the adults-only infinity pool, a bar tends to guests with drinks and light snacks while individual cabanas are available for rent. Recently, the Champagne and Sunshine cabanas have proven to be a massive hit by the adult pool where guests can tipple in a beautifully decorated space with fans, a fridge packed with chilled water, lounge chairs, and of course, plenty of bubbly.
One is reserved for villa guests and tucked away into a separate part of the resort with its own whirlpool and ringed with lounge chairs. Guests in this section have their own reception lobby with complimentary coffee and gelato plus service from a nearby bar. Many of these villas open directly from their patios to the pool making them especially popular with couples traveling for a bit of romance and privacy.
Lastly, there is the spa pool, which is only open to those reserving a treatment. For many, the quieter atmosphere is worth it, especially since they get access to the pool and spa facilities all day long.
Every taste bud can be satisfied at La Cantera Resort & Spa thanks to nearly a dozen venues for food and drink. The most celebrated is Signature, the steak house under the aegis of a four-time James Beard award nominee. As a dinner-only (and weekend brunch) venue, the restaurant has a loyal following for the incredible presentation and attention to detail.
SweetFire Kitchen serves all-day meals with an open kitchen, indoor and al fresco seating, and a mix of American and southwestern favorites. One level down is Primero Cantina with a patio that opens to the pool. The menu here is a particular favorite with everything from sizzling fajitas and tacos to housemade guacamole and ceviche. The bar’s cocktails are some of the best at the resort.
Near the golf course, players can choose from two dozen beer on draft and a menu of light meals, craft cocktails and wine at Grille 254. Other options include charcuterie and gourmet cheese at Bocado and barrel-aged cocktails at Sire Bar. Don’t miss the massive stallion photo hanging in the lobby just outside the bar. There are also poolside menus at different plunges around the resort. There’s a grab-and-go market with ice cream made by a local artisan.
The rooms, suites and villas look elegant with southwestern accents and modern comforts. Plush king or paired queen beds have soft duvets while the Hill Country-inspired sitting areas have plenty of dark wood furnishings. Rooms with a furnished balcony or patio are especially popular.
Bathrooms sport glassed-in rain showers with excellent water pressure and toiletries produced locally using Hill Country ingredients. The fragrance is so lovely, many guests ask about purchasing them. The hotel now stocks them in the gift shop.
This resort is popular with families. Still, adults looking for an escape or conferees wanting to network or work in a quiet space, there is floor SEVEN. This premium, club floor experience offers a complimentary breakfast and evening happy hour. It comes with free wine, beer and drinks plus light snacks. This is worth the upgrade for many guests for the privacy. Also included is valet parking, separate check-in area, and comped evening drinks.
Guests staying in the villa section have their own golf carts to get around the property with parking available at the spa, main building and pool areas. These are just some of the many suites on property. The largest is the Briscoe Suite with its own kitchen, dining room, living area with fireplace, patio with fire pit and master bedroom including an outdoor shower.
Loma de Vida Spa, designed by spa design firm Blu Spas Inc. and responsible for more than 400 spas in 40 countries, is a crowning feature of this resort. The relaxation begins long before any treatment begins. Calming music is piped into the pathways, and guests have lavish relaxation facilities to enjoy before and after a treatment. They include men’s and women’s saunas, herbal steam rooms, Himalayan salt rooms, indoor vitality pools and outdoor patios.
Once ready for the treatment, a panoramic lounge awaits with light snacks, herbal tea and water. Therapists collect guests from the lounge for a long roster of treatments. These include body wraps, massages, facials and beauty services like manicures, pedicures and hair styling. There are also meditation and sound bowl sessions. Couples or groups can even book the Sky Loft with its own private soaking tub and relaxation area. There’s another area with al fresco space with plunge pool and fountains for bespoke experiences (including Champagne).
Also part of the enormous health club is a gym with indoor and outdoor workout equipment. There are also fitness studios for classes like yoga and Zumba. After a workout, take a break at the health-focused café with smoothies and acai bowls. So elaborate and impressive is the spa here that it brings in a huge amount of drive traffic to the resort. Houston is only three hours away; Austin is even closer.
From almost any vantage point, you are surrounded by nature here. Many rooms peer out toward the golf course while others look toward the infinity-edge pools and distant hill country. If you’re into a round of golf or want to play a tennis match, those facilities are here. And you guessed it, in view of the beautiful scenery. In fact, the golf course here is infamous. The resort was a stop on the PGA tour for 15 years. It was designed by golf legend Arnold Palmer. There’s also a practice area and driving range.
The rolling landscape is the perfect backdrop to a cup of coffee at sunrise and that tasty sunset cocktail. S’mores by the firepit is a popular past time for guests with kids (and young-at-heart adults). This is the highest point in the San Antonio area. La Cantera proves to be the best spot from which to take in nature’s majesty.
If you have a premium credit card like The Platinum Card from American Express, you can book a reservation through the Fine Hotels & Resorts platform to earn extra benefits like a potential room upgrade, free breakfast, late checkout and resort credits. Virtuoso travel advisors can also book a reservation here for similar benefits. No matter how you reserve, the experience here is second to none.
Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist covering hotels, cruises, airlines, and loyalty programs from around the globe.