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Update: The contest has now ended, but please feel free to still enjoy the review!
San Antonio and I have had an interesting history over the past year. My husband and I had a great anniversary trip to San Antonio last fall – so much so that we decided we needed to plan a family trip to bring our toddler to experience some of the “kid friendly” things the city has to offer. So, we planned a family trip in December of 2011, but then had to cancel when we found out pretty last minute that our renters in our Austin house were moving out, and we needed to get the house ready to put on the market. Instead of seeing Shamu, we were painting, scrubbing, and meeting with a realtor that weekend. We rescheduled our trip for May 2012, but my own work travel schedule temporarily got pretty intense around that time frame, so we decided for family sanity to just stay home that weekend. However, we had not given up on wanting our daughter to have fun in San Antonio, so when Hyatt reached out to me to have us come and experience three days of “Free Time” at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio, there was no way I could say no. It was the perfect opportunity to take Little C on the River Walk, through the lazy river at the resort, and to see Sea World!
Since we were able to see and do a ton of stuff in our three nights at the resort, I am going to divide this series into three different posts. The first two will be dedicated to the resort, and the final post will be about some of the things we did a a family in San Antonio. I’m very excited to not only share my experiences at this resort and in the city of San Antonio with a toddler, but to also help one of you experience a very similar trip of your own courtesy of a giveaway sponsored by Hyatt and this site! The grand prize winner will receive three nights mid-week at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa (blackout dates do apply) and a $250 Hyatt gift card to use at the resort for food, beverages, Camp Hyatt, golf, spa treatments, etc. Two runner-up winners will receive a $50 Visa gift card. More details on the prize and on how to enter at the end this post.
The Lobby and Check-in:
The lobby reminded me some of the Hyatt Lost Pines resort. They both have large and beautiful lobbies that sort of feel like your own very large and very nice living room. Our kiddo loved the rocking chairs, the golf cart, and especially the cave in the lobby. Yes, there is a cave in the lobby! In fact, it actually took a really long time to get our C through the lobby due to her going in the cave, sitting in each rocking chair, and pretending to drive the golf cart every time we walked through the lobby. It was quite handy when we wanted to keep her occupied if we were waiting to get our car from valet though!
Check-in was very simple and efficient. We were told that we were in a suite in a quieter portion of the resort. That may have been a nice way of saying very far from the lobby! However, it was indeed a quiet part of the hotel, and we were quite grateful for that given our need for peaceful sleep for our little one. I love that the hotel even has signs up at night in the hallways reminding guests that kiddos are sleeping. For what it is worth, we also remind our daughter that people are sleeping when she is walking down the halls wide awake by 7AM!
The Hill Country Suite is a true two room suite. It is the standard upgrade if you are using a confirmed suite upgrade (though I am told there are also occasional upgrades to the VIP suite!). Again, the layout reminded me of my visit to the Lost Pines, which was a good thing. The living space had a TV, a couch, a chair, a mini fridge, and a dining table. Basically, it had enough room for us to explode with all of our stuff! I actually love having the fridge. It allows us to raid the Regency Club and have our own stock of drinks and snacks in our room. It is also nice to be able to open the curtains and look outside or eat our breakfast out on the patio.
Since we had a living room and hall closet for most of our “stuff”, we were able to keep the bedroom pretty neat and orderly. The bedroom pretty much consists of just a room for sleeping – which works for us. There isn’t much extra room in there, but you don’t need it when you have the living room. The blackout curtains did a great job at allowing us to sleep in a little, and I appreciated that the bed was king sized so that the three of us fit comfortably in the same room. I hate it when suites have small beds!
The bathroom was clean and I have no complaints. It wouldn’t hurt the bathroom shower area to be upgraded whenever the hotel does a round of renovations just to make it feel more modern, but it was also perfectly fine in its current condition. I rarely have time to linger in bathrooms; so as long as they work properly, I’m pretty happy.
The Regency Club:
By virtue of my Diamond status, we were given access to the Regency Club. If you don’t have status with Hyatt, you can still book Regency Club rooms for an additional premium and/or spend 4,000 additional Hyatt Gold Passport points per night if you are on an award stay. Only you can decide if that premium is worth if for your family, but we always get a great value out of club access. We eat breakfast, snacks, and sometimes even make a dinner out of the evening appetizers in the club. Given food prices at resorts, it is fair to say that as a family of three we often get about $50-$75 in actual value from the club each day. However, in reality the value is greater than that for us due to just having the peace of mind that there isn’t a charge every time we are thirsty or hungry. We can also get food from the club and eat it in our room without having to pay room service prices.
This club did a good job of having multiple food and snack options at a time. There were some things that tasted better than others, but I was always able to find something that we all enjoyed. A tip if you stay here: the staff in the club are very attentive to keeping the mini fridges full of drinks, which is great. However, that often means that the drinks in the front are not yet chilled. Pull from the back. 😉 We never saw dirty dishes in the club, and there were always 2-3 employees in the club making sure everything was in order and everyone was taken care of. I never saw them say no to any request in the club – they were super friendly and very helpful. Like at many resorts, the club is open seasonally (typically Memorial Day through Labor Day plus busy times during the winter holidays), so make sure to inquire as to whether or not it is available during your stay.
Prices and Award Stays:
Resorts like this one during peak travel times are often not cheap. While much of my trip was graciously covered by Hyatt, that is not how we normally travel (first time, in fact), so I am very interested in finding ways to afford returning to this resort in the future. On weekends in the summer, this resort seemed to often be price at $250 per night and up for a basic room – sometimes a bit higher than that. Weekdays seem to run a bit less, and once the kiddos go back to school in late August, the rates do seem to drop some. If you have some flexibility in your plans, really look at the rates for different days and weeks as they do vary. If you happen to be a government employee (and I know there are many in the San Antonio region), I have seen the government rate for $106 per night. That is a steal! Also, remember to check for promos like the current “Free Time promo” to really save some cash (and get free breakfast!).
There is a $22 per night resort charge that covers internet, full use of golf practice facilities and chipping green, golf bag storage, preferred golf tee times, complimentary personalized golf bag tag (please claim at the golf shop), tennis, bike rental, 800/888 access charges and local phone calls. I hate resort fees, but they are the nature of the beast at many resorts, so be sure to factor that into the total price.
This hotel is a Category 5 hotel meaning that it costs 18,000 points per night for a basic room, or 22,000 points for a Regency Club room. I would say that is a pretty fair Category for this hotel. If you are going on a peak travel time, then spending 18,000 points per night is probably a pretty good deal as you would be getting close to two cents per point value. If you qualify for a promo/discounted rate, or travel on the less expensive off-season, then it may make sense to save your points and spend cash (if that is an option for your budget).
You could also choose to use your two free nights from getting a Hyatt Credit Card at this resort. This is by no means the most expensive Hyatt in the world at which you could redeem your free nights, but not everyone has Tokyo, Paris, etc., on their travel agenda, so this might be a good use for a “closer to home” resort. Another route would be to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. The 40,000 point sign-on bonus your receive after spending $3,000 in three months is more than enough for two nights at this hotel if you transfer your Ultimate Reward points 1:1 to Hyatt. In fact, with the points you would earn from meeting the spending required for your sign-up bonus, you would almost have enough points for two nights in a club room. A third option is the Ink Bold Business Card. If you can meet the $5,000 spending required for the full 50,000 point bonus then you would end up with more than enough points for three free nights at this hotel. Depending on the going room rate, that is more than $750 in value out of one credit card sign-up. All of these are good options if your goal is to get some reward nights at this hotel.
Of course, the cheapest way to visit this resort is to just win this contest and go for free! As I mentioned earlier in the post, the Grand Prize will be three nights mid-week at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa (blackout dates such as holiday weeks and Texas Spring Break week do apply. The prize has no cash value). Additionally, all three nights must be used on one trip. The winner will also receive a $250 Hyatt gift card to use at this resort for food, beverages, Camp Hyatt, golf, spa treatments, etc. (yes, it must be used at this Hyatt). Two runner-up winners will receive a $50 Visa gift card.
To enter to win, just leave a comment on this post stating why you want to visit the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa. You are limited to one entry per post in this three part series. However, you are encouraged to enter three times by commenting once on each post in the series. I will randomly select one winner from each post once the series is complete. Of those three winners, I will then randomly select the Grand Prize winner. The other two runner’s up will each receive $50 Visa gift cards. (I bet you can guess which card I will be using to purchase those cards for 5x points!) The Grand Prize winner will be put in touch with Hyatt to arrange their free three night stay and $250 Hyatt gift card. I will send the $50 Visa gift cards to the other two winners. Sound good?
Check back in a few days for the next installment of my review of the Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa. In that post I will talk about many of the awesome activities and amenities that are available at the resort. As a teaser, it will include horse drawn carriage rides, a couples massage, an outdoor movie, and more!
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