JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa, San Antonio
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Situated on a six-hundred-acre spread thirty minutes north of downtown, this 1,002-room resort has half a dozen restaurants, a six-acre water park, a 36-hole golf course, and a 26,000-square-foot spa, as well as its own Starbucks and FedEx shipping center. It’s larger than many Texas towns, not to mention every other Marriott resort in the world. But before you run screaming for the nearest boutique hotel, let me assure you that staying here doesn’t feel like being trapped on an overcrowded cruise ship. From my tall leather seat in the Crooked Branch bar, I surveyed the scene in the spacious lobby, which is three stories high and flanked by a pair of double-sided fireplaces. I saw old friends catching up over cocktails in semi-hidden nooks; packs of slightly sunburned men in golf attire backslapping their way into the High Velocity sports bar, their gazes already fixed on the 120-foot television screen; and a grandmother and her elementary-age grandkids huddled over a coffee table (once they taught her how to use its touch-screen surface, she began teaching them how to play chess). I also spied several young couples who appeared to be on “babymoons,” their eyes widening a bit as they watched herds of kids in wet swim trunks bounding in from the pool and gangs of teenagers making a beeline to the arcade. It was easy to find quieter spots too (aside from my room, which had a small balcony overlooking the man-made “lazy river”). If I hadn’t been content to just curl up with a book in the small library or lounge near the serene (adults-only) spa pool, I would have signed up for one of the bike trail rides or the nightlife nature walks. The trick to tackling this all-inclusive behemoth is to plan ahead—or let a concierge plan ahead for you. That way, when you get to the JW, all you have to do is throw your keys to one of the valet attendants and settle in for a boredom-proof vacation.23808 Resort Parkway, 866-882-4420, jwsanantonio.com