Chiseled into and sitting on top of some of the highest and most magnificent rolling hills of north San Antonio is one of the most luxurious resorts in Texas - La Cantera Resort. As we approached the Resort, our first view is of the beautifully architected white buildings with red tile roofs towering above all the trees and perched atop the tree covered hills of North San Antonio. Continuing up the hill to the Resort we passed one of the lush green fairways and saw some of the other holes sculptured into and on top of the surrounding hillsides. We immediately sensed we were in for something special - and we weren't disappointed! And then we were greeted by some of the friendliest and most helpful valets and bellboys we have ever met who made our unloading and check-in process painless.
This AAA Four-Diamond “Texas Colonial” landmark is reflective of the traditions, cultures and legends of Texas, with a Lone Star State upscale feel conveyed through elements taken directly from the legendary King Ranch in South Texas. This lavish hilltop retreat features 498 well appointed guestrooms, 25 spacious suites, and 38 unique and newly renovated villas in the Casita Village plus several restaurants, a spa, 4 pools, two of the best golf courses in Texas, and lots more for you to enjoy.
La Cantera Resort was recently taken over by Destination Hotels who in 2014 and 2015 completed a $100 million renovation!! La Cantera has been one of our favorite Texas resorts for several years and when we visited shortly after Destination Hotels took over we were curious to find out how they could spend $100 million to improve what we thought was already one of the best. As soon as we pulled into the entrance to the Resort we started to notice the improvements and they are very impressive. Some of what Destination has done to keep La Cantera at the top of the Resorts lists include:
And we were told there is more to come! Over the course of the next two days we noticed and enjoyed some additional very impressive changes and improvements. No question, La Cantera Resort remains at the top of our list of favorite Texas resorts. Everything throughout the Resort is first class and very well done, the staff is friendly and focused on making sure your stay is enjoyable, the amenities are outstanding, the rooms are comfortable, and the food is good.
Not only does La Cantera provide some of the best luxury amenities and services in Texas, but it also offers golfers 36 holes of outstanding golf. The Palmer Course is one of Arnold Palmer's signature courses and the Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish designed Resort Course is a masterpiece. The Palmer Course is the harder of the two courses as it plays up the hills and along a ridge line with stunning views for miles and miles, and then back down to one of the best golf holes in Texas - #18 is a blind uphill shot, then down a roller coaster fairway with two huge bunkers guarding the green plus a pond and cascading rock waterfall on the right side. The Resort Course also has some beautiful scenery, dramatic elevation changes, some challenging but very fair holes, lots of bunkers, dog legs, and uphill as well as downhill shots.
Both courses offer unparalleled scenic beauty with magnificent panoramic views, lots of unique and fun holes, lush fairways and greens in near perfect condition, and lots of opportunities to test your golf skills. Both courses made Texas Outside's list of the Best of the Best Golf Courses in Texas and our list of the Best Resort Courses in Texas. To learn more about each course click on the link for the Review of Palmer Course and Resort Course.
After two rounds of golf and traipsing up and down the rolling hills looking for my golf balls, taking lots of swings to get out of all the bunkers, and using way more shots than normal, I signed up for a spa treatment to help get rid of the kinks and golfer's blues. After sitting in the sauna for a couple minutes (which had about the same effect as playing golf when it's 100 degrees) and a cold shower I was led into one of the treatment rooms at the Castle Rock Health Club & Spa at the Resort for my 50 minute "relaxing back, neck, and shoulder massage geared toward easing stress with a focused tension-releasing massage with a therapeutic blend of essential oils .... and knead and release techniques to relax the muscles and increase circulation."
Wow - what a special treat. It started with a hot wonderful smelling towel applied to my sunburned neck, a warm cloth covering my eyes, and a damp hot towel over my feet followed by a foot rub. Then lots of lotions and oils and hands started gently massaging out the kinks.
Shortly after starting, Natalie the masseuse asked "can you play golf with those tight shoulder muscles?" The answer of course was "not well" and now I have an excuse for such high scores. Warm smelling oils, scented air, and soft comforting music while relaxing on a massage bed with no worries plus 50 minutes of a wonderful massage - it just doesn't get much better. At the end, which came all too soon, I was so relaxed my knees felt weak so I hobbled to the pool lounge chair, ordered a margarita, and took a nap. What a great day!
Mrs.Texas Outside got a facial and said "What an exceptional experience I had at the La Cantera Spa at the very capable hands of Heather, one of the skin care specialists. She chose the perfect combination of natural and organic ingredients for my particular skin. The facial was soothing and refreshing and I came away with what I felt was more hydrated and glowing skin. My only wish is that the Spa and Heather were closer to where I live and I could do a monthly treatment."
The Spa offers everything form skin care to nine different types of massages to waxing, nail, and tinting services plus body treatments including a "wild lavender and seaweed sugar glow" - given more time I would have signed up for this just for the unique experience. Located next door to the Castle Rock Spa is the Resort's fitness center loaded with the latest fitness equipment from stationary bikes to treadmills to free weights. This is where I should have spent a few hours every day to help get rid of some of the calories from the margaritas and good food.
Speaking of good food, La Cantera Resort offers lots of choices from coffee and danish in the morning to gourmet meals with wine or tequila pairings - and based on having to let a couple notches out of my belt, I sampled a lot of everything that the Resort had to offer. And I love their restaurant motto: "Nourish the Body and the Soul Will Follow." To start the day we enjoyed a unique and very good version of Eggs Benedict (10 hour slow cooked smoked pulled pork, poached eggs, and BBQ Hollandaise) and the breakfast buffet loaded with everything from custom made omelets and waffles to eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, muffins, fruit, biscuits and gravy, and lots more.
For dinner we enjoyed our meals at Sweetfire Kitchen (we sat next to a window overlooking the rolling hills and golf course and a beautiful sunset) and Primero Cantina. Sweetfire Kitchen features an open-air exhibition style kitchen with a wood fired pizza oven and is the signature restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For dinner on our first night we had to try the "Must Have" Deviled Eggs (a unique twist on deviled eggs - an egg flash fried and stuffed with creole filling and honey mustard) and the "Junk Basket" which came filled with Shiner Bock beer battered gulf shrimp, oysters, and seasonal vegetables. I should have stopped there but no, I had to have my entree of which included: grilled Wagyu Skirt Steak, Lobster Mac & Cheese (outstanding), and house made Fennel Sausage which also came with a Strawberry Shortcake (condensed milk sorbet, strawberry gelee, and shortcake crumble) - all of which was only $35 because it was during Culinary Restaurant Week in San Antonio! Of course I also had to have bites of the wife's Long-Cooked Short Ribs with Whiskey creamed corn, crispy brussel sprouts, and Ranger Creek Stout demi. Somehow they found out we were doing a review and insisted that we try the Rissotto Cake - bacon, hatch chili, corn, and crab meat fried in planto breading - absolutely delicious! And I almost forget that we also had a Texas Wedge Salad with avocado, fried green tomato, and buttermilk ranch. I loosened the belt again and wobbled back to my room, plopped in bed, and promptly started dreaming of sugar plums.
For our second night's dinner we ate at Primero Cantina which is a contemporary restaurant and bar with some outdoor seating overlooking the golf course, rolling hills, and the infinity pools or inside seating, one area of which is oval with TVs around the perimeter giving it a cozy sports bar type feeling. The food was outstanding and Chief Zach (who has developed a really creative and unique menu) said we need to try the:
The meals at Primero Cantina were as unique as the way you decide what you want to eat - the waitress brings you an iPad which has the menu with pictures of each dish and when you click on the dish you get a bigger picture and a very detailed description of that dish. And each item has a suggested pairing with Tequila. Eventually you'll be able to select and order your meal on the iPad - I love technology.
We ate both of our lunches at the golf course grills - La Cantera Grill at the Resort Clubhouse and Palmer Grill overlooking the 9th and 18th greens. The Trio (half of a turkey sandwich, tortilla soup, and a Caesar salad) was so good we had it twice plus a juicy burger and a pineapple stuffed with chicken salad. The view from the Palmer Grill is mesmerizing - as we ate I was pleased to see that I wasn't the only golfer to loose a ball in the pond, hit the bunker, and three putt!
In addition to Primero Cantina and Sweetfire Kitchen at the Resort, the main pool and the adult infinity pool both have an outside poolside bar where you can order some appetizers or a variety of food ranging from salads to burgers as well as beer, wine, and some excellent resort style drinks - the margaritas and pina coladas are excellent! Adjacent to the Lobby is Bocado which is a charcuterie featuring the finest smoked meats, gourmet cheeses and small bites.The lobby bar, Sire, is quaint and cozy and you can order charcuterie offerings and small bites from the adjacent Bocado or select items from the SweetFire menu. For coffee, sandwiches, snacks, ice cream, and more Henrietta’s Market is the place to go. Although drinks and food are a tad pricey (fairly typical resort type pricing), you're on vacation so enjoy it!
In addition to the restaurants, Spa, and two golf courses, La Cantera Resort offers visitors a wide variety of amenities some of which include:
All of that is great but it pales in comparison to the new pool complex! When Destination Hotels took over one of the first things they did was build a new and stunning pool complex that is unmatched in Texas. In fact, it is more reminiscence of what you might find on a Caribbean island or in Hawaii overlooking the ocean! They built a huge infinity pool, added a bar area, very comfy lounge chairs, cabanas, great landscaping, tall palm trees swaying in the breeze, and crystal clear water - all overlooking the golf course and rolling north San Antonio hills.
And just below that infinity pool is the adult only infinity pool with it's own bar, cabanas (with a cabana refrigerator, HDTV, safe, ceiling fan, suntan lotion, Evian spray mist, complimentary chips and salsa and a personal cabana attendant), lounge chairs and an equally impressive view. We spent several hours in the water on the edge of the infinity pools with some of the best margaritas I've ever had - it just doesn't get any better.
La Cantera Resort caters to adults but it is very kid friendly and there are plenty of things for the kids to enjoy, some of which include:
When you stay at La Cantera Resort, you can choose from a variety of accommodations. The regular "Deluxe Rooms" are 395 square feet with plush pillow top beds, a flat screen TV, a bathroom with double sinks and a fully adjustable dual shower head plus ultra-soft bathrobes, a separate vanity just outside of the bathroom, and a thoughtfully stocked mini-bar. The vast majority of the rooms have a small standing room only balcony with majestic views of the surrounding hillside, the lush fairways going up and down the hills, the pools, and Fiesta Texas. You'll also enjoy the sunrise or sunset on your balcony as the perfect start or finish to a fun filled day.
If you need something a little more spacious, there are a variety of suites within the main building which can include up to three adjoining rooms. On our last visit to La Cantera, we stayed in one of the Junior Suites which is over 550 square feet and included:
If you're over 21, look into the exclusive Club Level located on the top floor of the resort. A room on that level includes complimentary valet parking, VIP check in, breakfast, happy hour, and other exclusive amenities.
Exclusivity and privacy characterize the 38 Casitas in Casita Village with whitewashed stucco exteriors, tiled roofs, and wooden plank doors. The Casitas are secluded on a tree-shaded hillside a few hundred yards south of the main hotel (each Casita is given a golf cart to use during your stay) and they are arranged around a beautifully landscaped courtyard housing a pool and hot tub exclusive to Casita guests. The newly renovated decor reflects the refined Texas Colonial style which includes liberal use of beautiful walnut and mahogany woods, gracefully curved wrought iron, polished tiles, crown molding and soft, rich colors. The Casitas have large walk out patios furnished with teak outdoor furniture and fabulous views of the rolling countryside. The room configurations vary from a traditional guest room to the luxury suite which has a connecting living and dining area, wet bar, and additional adjoining bedroom.
For a large family or a group the Luxury and Executive Suites are perfect. They range from 1006 to 1698 square feet and can include one or two bedrooms with a king or double bed, a huge parlor with a flat screen, couch that makes into a bed, dining table, overstuffed chairs, and 180 degree wrap around windows with views of the pool, golf course, and the hill country. On a previous trip to La Cantera we stayed in a Luxury Suite with our immediate family and it was very well appointed and perfect for all 9 of us!
If you are a social or business planner or looking for a special place to get married, then you need to book La Cantera Resort as your venue. For meetings and special events, there is more than 39,000 square feet of function space, including a 17,000 square foot ballroom, eight separate meeting rooms and three board rooms. And they are building an additional 10,000 square foot event center.
For a wedding, there are several choices with over 53,000 square feet outdoors, including terraces, courtyards, and poolside venues. It would be hard to beat having the wedding outdoors adjacent to the infinity pools and overlooking the hills and lush green golf courses. La Cantera offers several choices for banquet and catering.
One of the other great things about La Cantera Resort is that you are very close to tons of fun things to see and do in and around the San Antonio area. The kids will love (a two minute drive) or Sea World and Sea World's Aquatica Waterpark which are about 15 minutes away.
If you like shopping, you're in shopper's heaven at San Antonio's newest upscale retail center, The Shops at La Cantera which is just outside the Resort entrance. Downtown San Antonio is only 20 minutes south and has plenty to keep you entertained - check Texas Outside's Guide to San Antonio to find fun things to see and do ranging from the Riverwalk to the Alamo.
Some of our favorite things to do while in San Antonio include: listen to some good country music in the infamous John T. Floore Country Store; stroll along the world famous River Walk and sip a margarita at one of the many outdoor patios along the River Walk; ride mountain bikes at any of the great trails in San Antonio; take the grand kids to or Sea World; and head over to for some good Mexican food, an excellent deck, outstanding margaritas, and lively music on the deck. And if you need to play another golf course, there are several excellent courses within 20 minutes of La Cantera Resort - check out this San Antonio Golf Map to find a nearby golf course and here is a link to what we consider the Best Golf Courses in the San Antonio Area.
La Cantera Resort, thanks to Destination Hotels has been transformed into one of the best resorts in Texas and Destination has plans to add even more improvements and amenities, including the new 17,000 square foot spa and fitness center pictured below. You just can't beat two outstanding golf courses, good food, great service, the best resort pool complex in Texas, and more! We can't wait to go back.