Woodlands Resort & Conference Center Review

The Woodlands ResortNestled under the tall southeast Texas Pines is one of the best resorts in Texas . located in The Woodlands which is about 30 minutes north of Houston The Woodlands Resort is perfect for a fun family weekend, golf stay and play, memorable wedding, or a corporate event or reunion.

We've stayed at The Woodlands Resort a few times - one for a four day ninety hole golf outing (read about our South East Texas Golfing Vacation) and again in 2015 shortly after the Resort underwent another expansion and renovation. And each time we have stayed at The Woodlands Resort we have been impressed with the service, accommodations, amenities, improvements, and golf - all of which contribute to The Woodlands Resort being named by Golf Digest as one of the "Top 75 Best Golf Resorts in America" and listed as one of the Best Resorts in Texas by Texas Outside.

Lazy River at the Woodlands ResortGolfing at the Woodlands ResortThe Woodlands ResortRunning at the Woodlands

Our last visit was in May 2015 which was shortly after a major $75 million expansion and renovation to The Woodlands Resort which included:

  • The Lazy River at The Woodlands Resortthe 1,005-foot lazy river and tube slide
  • a complete renovation of 222 existing guest rooms and suites including furniture, bedding, carpet, bathroom fixtures, wall coverings, artwork and more
  • a new wing of 184 guest rooms and suites, half of which have a fantastic view of the 18th island green on Panther Golf Course and the lake and water fountain
  • a new expanded arrival area and reinvention of the Conference Center’s facade.
  • a 3,306-square-foot “living room” connecting the three guest wings
  • enhanced exterior areas around the Resort property including outdoor fire pits and seating areas with extensive landscaping.
  • total revitalization of 60,000 square-feet of meeting space
  • opening of Robard’s Steakhouse - a new 156-seat high-end steakhouse restaurant and lounge adjacent to the 18th hole of the Panther golf course

An impressive list of improvements all of which contribute to making a stay at The Woodlands very enjoyable.

Accommodations at The Woodlands Resort

Fairway Pines IIILodging is now centered in the Fairway Pines complex which is across the street from the lobby entrance, the conference center, main dining area, and 1 minute walk to the Pro Shop and golf course. One side of Fairway Pines I and II face the swimming pool and the new Fairway Pines III has one side which overlooks the 18th hole of Panther Golf Course. On our last stay at The Woodlands we stayed on the ground floor of Fairway Pines II with a patio which was 50 steps away from the Forest Oasis Waterscape pool complex.

On our previous visit we could watch the golfers tee off on the first hole of Panther Trails golf course from our third floor room in Fairway Pines I. Typically, we watched them drive straight into the water in front of the tee box or into the woods or the natural waste area - it was good to know I wasn't the only one who couldn't hit the fairway. After watching several golfers lose their golf balls, I made sure to load up on some more golf balls from the pro shop and I spent some time on the driving range - however, that didn't do much good.

Room at Woodlands ResortOur recently renovated room in Fairway Pines II was a standard hotel type room with a very comfortable king bed and all the amenities you would expect - mini refrigerator, Keurig coffee maker, hair dryer, soft pillows, bathrobe, iron, work area with a fast Internet connection, small end table and overstuffed easy chair, and an iPad and a flat screen TV - neither of which we got to use because we were too busy enjoying the golf course, pool, lazy river, bike trails, spa, and tennis courts. And it was great having easy access to the two pools, hot tub, pool cafe, and water slides from our patio. The Fairway Pines rooms and Forest Oasis Waterscape are a couple minute walk to the Resort Lobby, dining room, fitness center, tennis courts, or pro shop or you can call for a golf cart shuttle.

The Woodlands Resort Amenities

Beautiful landscapingThe Woodlands Resort and Conference Center sits on 350 acres of natural forest with over 200 different species of trees and the Resort has done a fantastic job of weaving the facilities into the natural setting. And the landscaping is unbelievable - a wide variety of plants and colorful flowers, small to large ponds, water features, a cascading waterfall, and more - beautiful!

One of the reason we keep returning to The Woodlands Resort is because of the outstanding amenities we get to enjoy during our stay, some of which include:

  • over 145 miles of trails for walking, running or biking or bird watching - bike rentals are available at the resort if you didn't bring your bike
  • 21 indoor and outdoor tennis courts, including some clay courts which are a blast to play on - and if you need some coaching or lessons, 4 certified tennis professionals are available to help
  • several options for reloading with calories ranging from the dining room buffets to a burger at Coolwater Cafe at the pool
  • multiple pools, including the cool Forest Oasis Waterscape which has a huge pool with a volleyball net and basketball hoop, a three story dual water slide, water fountains, spray pad, adult pool with a 3-D underwater mural with music, and the Coolwater Cafe plus a hot tub - the pools are so good that 10Best.com (a division of USA Today Travel) named them in the "Top Hotel Pools Families Love" and Gayout.com included the slides at The Woodlands Resort in the "Top 10 Best Waterslides in Luxury Resorts"

.Lazy River at the Woodlands ResortJogging trails at the Woodlands ResortPool at the Woodlands Resort

  • a full service Spa and two fantastic golf courses
  • a comfortable Lobby Bar with a big screen TV, baby grand player piano, fantastic outdoor deck with tables overlooking Lake Harrison, and an adjoining game room with pool tables and shuffleboard
  • a fully equipped fitness center with cardiovascular machines and Cybex strength conditioning equipment which is where I should have spent some time getting rid of the calories from the delicious buffets
  • the new 1005' lazy river and tube slide - it would be very easy to just float the river in a tube for several hours each day

Lazy River at the Woodlands ResortGame room

Golf at The Woodlands Resort

18th hole at the Woodlands ResortWhen you stay at The Woodlands resort you're able to play two fantastic private courses - Panther and Oaks, both of which have a common pro shop within the resort. In 2014, the prestigious ClubCorp purchased both courses and now actively manages them. Shortly after acquiring the courses, ClubCorp made several on-course and off-course improvements, the biggest of which is the all new perfect white sand bunkers on Panther. ClubCorp has plans to continue making improvements to both courses over the coming year..

The Oaks Course is more of a traditional style golf course - generous fairways, what you see is what you get, large greens, plenty of bunkers, and it's very challenging but fair. The course was redesigned in 1999 by Jay Morrish & Associates and named after the majestic towering oaks that line each fairway - there are also several huge beautiful homes that line the fairways that I got to visit when looking for my golf ball.

When we played the course, both the fairways and greens at The Oaks Course, were in near perfect condition - and I felt guilty taking a divot! What makes the Oaks challenging are the greens and huge green side bunkers. The large greens (averaging 4500 square feet) are rolling, undulating, and fast - some are even elevated. Most of the greens are very well guarded with large bunkers. At over 7000 yards from the tips, with a slope of 131, the Oaks Course is no slouch and you'll need to focus to score well. You'll find some fun and beautiful holes, including the finishing hole which winds its way along Lake Harrison to the green and the Resort. Read our review of The Oaks Course to learn more about this fun course.

Oaks CourseOaks Course

As good as the Oaks Course is, from our perspective Panther is even better - fun, challenging, scenic, and in excellent condition. You'll find lots of stuff on Panther to make this a memorable and demanding round - dog legs, split fairways, risk reward shots, sloping greens, water on 12 holes, over 47 bunkers, and even an island green. #15 is an example of what to expect - a par 4 whose split, multi-level fairway presents a multitude of head-scratching club choices as it doglegs sharply to the left on the way to a challenging green complex. But my favorite hole is #18 which has a beautiful island green. On this last trip I sank a 10 foot putt and got a standing ovation from some guys on the 3rd story patio of their room in Fairway Pines II. I guess they didn't see my approach shot sink to the bottom of the lake next to the water fountain and they didn't realize that putt they saw was the only putt I made all day! To learn more about this outstanding course, read our review of Panther Trail. Both courses made our list of the Best Courses in Houston.

Panther TrailPanther TrailPanther Trail Golf Course

In addition to two fantastic golf courses, The Woodlands Resort has excellent practice facilities, a 2,500 square foot full-service pro shop stocked with the latest apparel and equipment from the best-known names in golf, an outside bar and grill for a quick bite at the turn, plus the Royal Mile Grill which is a full bar and restaurant above the pro shop overlooking the putting green, lake, and 18th hole of the Oaks Course. Perfect for a very good lunch or drinks to settle the bets. We were very impressed with the service at both golf courses and the grill - friendly, helpful, and attentive.

Royal Mile BarDriving RangePro shop

And after 18 holes of golf in the Houston humidity or a few sets of tennis, it doesn't get much better than enjoying the Forest Oasis pool, a couple laps around the lazy river, and one (or two) of the Coolwater Cafe's signature frozen margaritas.

The Spa

As good as the pool is after a round of golf, the Spa is even better. On this last trip shortly after our round of golf and a dip in the pool, we walked over to the spa where I got a 50 minute Swedish Massage and Mrs Texas Outside got a Manicure and Pedicure. I'm not a good judge of her pedicure, but I must admit her nails and toes looked good when she was done and she was very pleased with the results.

And I was in bliss for 50 minutes enjoying one of the best massages I have ever had - no that is not me on the right. Some of the highlights of my treatment included:

  • Spa at the Woodlands Resorta warm and somewhat comfy massage table
  • very soothing music with a harp, flute, guitar, and waves splashing on a remote white sandy beach with palm trees swaying in the background - at least that's what I envisioned
  • a soothing application of warm oils, warm scented towels, tea scented warm eye pads (no, not electronic iPads), and several different wonderful smelling scents
  • and of course 50 minutes of one of the best massages I've ever had

The massage felt so good and was so relaxing that several times I was on the verge of falling asleep but forced myself to stay awake so I could enjoy it. I also thought I was about to die and go to another place (heaven I was hoping) - the massage was that good. The Spa literature states: "Our calm surroundings and nature-inspired services will transport you into a realm of peace and tranquility" - no kidding! I hated to see it end and would have signed up for another one the next day after tennis but we didn't have any free time - darn!

The Spa offers a variety of treatments ranging from body nurturing to facials to nails and there are separate facilities for men and women with private treatment rooms, changing areas, saunas, eucalyptus steam rooms and whirlpool hot tubs. A luxurious couple’s treatment room is available for a selection of duel body treatments. Make this a must during your stay at The Woodlands Resort - the stress and kinks will disappear!

Dining at The Woodlands Resort

Salad bar at the Woodlands dining roomAfter golf, tennis, biking, swimming, and some time in the fitness center, you're going to need some calories so you can do it again the next day - and you won't be disappointed. The Woodland's dining room serves some very tasty dishes plus has a huge buffet loaded with lots of choices for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For example, on our last visit, the dinner buffet had a beef and lamb carving station (I'm too embarrassed to mention how many trips I made to enjoy the juicy and perfectly cooked meats); a salad bar loaded with veggies, pastas, and more; cheeses, breads, fruit, and crackers; plus a fish dish as well as a chicken dish, potatoes, and some other very good stuff! Dining on the patio overSurf and Turf at Robards Steakhouse looking the golf course and lake with the cascading water fall and fountain can't get much better.

You can enjoy drinks, appetizers, and several lunch items at the Coolwater Cafe at the pool - I can attest to how good the Margaritas and the Pina Coladas are!!! We have enjoyed a couple outstanding lunches and drinks at the Royal Mile Grill above the pro shop and it was fun watching fellow golfers miss approach shots to the green and several putts as we enjoyed a good meal and cold drinks..

One of the highlights of our last stay was a great time and a fabulous dinner at the new upscale Robard's Steakhouse - excellent food, live music, flawless service, great drinks, and a fantastic view of the lake and island green of Panther. Read our article on Dinner at Robard's Steakhouse.

Nearby Activities

Part of what makes staying at The Woodlands Resort enjoyable is that if you need to escape or have the time to explore, The Woodlands Resort is located close to a lot of fun things to see and do, some of which include:

  • check out the The Woodlands Mall which is within 5 minutes and has over 460 upscale shops, plenty of restaurants, and fun nightlife. The water taxi provides a short scenic ride around the mall and is a good way to get to some of the restaurants
  • Water taxi at the Woodlands Mall go visit Old Town Spring, a historic 1900's railroad town with lots of history, quaint antique shops, restaurants, and more
  • rent one of the bikes at the Resort and bike the over 145 miles of easy trails through the mall, pines, and around the parks and Lake Woodlands - we enjoy biking along The Woodlands canal and bar and restaurant hopping
  • head northwest a few miles and enjoy Lake Conroe for fishing, skiing/boarding, dinner and dancing on the water, or just cruising around the lake - read our review of Lake Conroe to learn more or to find a fishing guide or boat to rent
  • zip on down to Houston or even Galveston - they've got something for everyone
  • spend an evening or afternoon enjoying one of the fabulous events that are typically playing at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion - Jimmy Buffet was there on our last visit and a lot of Parrot Heads were staying at the Resort
  • play golf at any of the fabulous nearby golf courses

As mentioned earlier, The Woodlands Resort is very kid friendly and perfect for a family weekend or stay-cation. The kids will love the pools, slides, lazy river, splash pad, water volleyball ball, s'mores, outdoor movie at the pool, and more.

Biking at the Woodlands ResortMovies at the pool at the Woodlands ResortSmoores at the Woodlands Resort

Weddings at the Woodlands ResortGreat venue for corporate retreatsIf you are planning a corporate retreat, reunion, or wedding (congratulations!), The Woodlands Resort and Conference Center has everything you need for a fun and memorable event. You'll find full catering services, multiple wedding venue sites (the huge deck overlooking Lake Harrison and the water fountain is perfect), banquet rooms, 60,000 square feet of meeting space, all the latest audio/video/electronic gear you'll need, and the services needed to make everything go smoothly.

Have fun.

About Texas Outside

Texas Outside has been alive & well since 1996 - that's ancient by today's internet standards! Texas Outside was originally developed by Lone Star Internet which is an Austin based web development company with an excellent reputation & client base. In March of 2006, we purchased Texas Outside & made a commitment to add new, exciting, & informative content on Texas outdoor activities & fun things to see & do.

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