La Cantera Hill Country Resort will be closed through next April for major renovations. Photo courtesy of La Cantera Hill Country Resort.
La Cantera Resort & Spa faces a class action lawsuit on behalf of former and current employees. Credit: Courtesy / La Cantera Resort & Spa

La Cantera Hill Country Resort, managed by Destination Hotels and Resorts since January, will embark on a multi-million dollar upgrade of the 250-acre facility on San Antonio’s northwest side starting next week.

A new, freestanding destination spa will be built at the resort, and the front entrance, lobby and lobby bar will be extensively restructured according to the plan. The outdoor San Saba Courtyard also will be redesigned. A new event lawn will be added.

The La Cantera Hill Country Resort lobby will undergo renovation beginning in early November. Courtesy photo
The La Cantera Hill Country Resort lobby will be renovated Nov. 3 through early next April. Courtesy photo

The project will expand meeting and convention space, redefine restaurants, bars, and lounges, and include new pools and family areas.

Both of the resort’s 18-hole golf courses – the Resort Course and the Palmer Course – will remain open and operate as usual during the process, as will their respective clubhouses and adjacent event venues, said Resort Vice President and Managing Director John Spomer.

Destination Hotels La Cantera Golf Course 2
The Palmer Course at La Cantera. Courtesy photo.

The renovation will suspend overnight accommodations and restaurant operations during the major phase of construction from Nov. 3 through early April 2015, Spomer said, “because the magnitude and impact of the project will prevent our associates from providing our guests with our customary offerings and services.”

The restaurant, Francesca’s at Sunset, one of nine dining venues located at the getaway, will close during the renovation, he said.

The project will be the most extensive renovation for La Cantera Hill Country Resort since it opened in 1999 and set a new standard for luxury resort hospitality in San Antonio.

In 2012, the Westin La Cantera Hill Country Resort dropped “the Westin” from its name to better reflect the resort’s location in the scenic Texas Hill Country, where luxury and business travelers and golfers find themselves 30 minutes from downtown, while situated among scenic rolling hills, limestone rock outcroppings, and live oak groves.

USAA Real Estate Company announced in Jan. 2 press release that Denver-based Destination Hotels and Resorts was assuming management of the resort as of Dec. 12.

USAA Real Estate Company is the master developer and owner of the 1,645-acre resort development. Built on one of the highest points in San Antonio, the resort draws leisure and business visitors from the city’s Dominion real estate area and from greater San Antonio and neighboring cities, including Boerne and New Braunfels, not to mention tourists.

The repositioning of the resort coincides with the company’s two other projects at La Cantera in various stages of development – the Residences at La Cantera, a 322-unit luxury residential project located near The Shops at La Cantera and the 42-acre WestRidge, a new office project located across from the Shops to include a four-story corporate office building and 128,700 square feet of office space to be completed in four phases.

The WestRidge project on La Cantera Parkway is in its beginning stages. Photo courtesy of WestRidge.
The WestRidge project on La Cantera Parkway is in Phase 1 of a four-stage construction. Photo courtesy of WestRidge.

Len O’Donnell, president and CEO of USAA Real Estate Company, stated in a press release the company was in the early stages of planning future developments but was considering new restaurant concepts and improvements to the pool area and other resort amenities.

Spomer said the resort would remain fully committed to employees, which the resort calls associates, during the transition, and that full-time associates not immediately involved in ongoing operations during the transformation process would be granted leave with pay.

“While our primary focus is on the guest experience, we are also very aware of the effect this decision will have on our associates,” Spomer said.

The La Cantera Hill County Resort was designed to reflect the state’s “Texas Colonial” architecture, blending the sounds and flavors of Native America, Old Mexico, Germany, the Wild West, and the Deep South. The walls of the resort are built with Texas limestone and the restaurant, bars, and rooms are named after families who owned large ranches in Texas.

The San Saba Courtyard will be redesigned, including a new event lawn. Courtesy photo
The San Saba Courtyard will be redesigned, including a new event lawn. Courtesy photo

The designers researched native textiles, artwork, and color palettes, combing through books, library materials, and files at UTSA’s Institute of Texan Cultures, looking for legendary Texas stories.

This research inspired many aspects of the resort, including the Esparza Library, named for the only Alamo defender given a Christian burial by General Antonio López de Santa Anna.

“When you walk through our resort, I want you to get the feeling of Texas history coming alive,” said John Ruiz, chef concierge at La Cantera Hill County Resort.

Francesca’s at Sunset derives its name from a moving story of lost love, and the ceiling of Steinheimer’s Lounge features a hand-painted map showing the location of legendary treasure of buried gold.

Tio’s Lobby Lounge recreates the feeling of the main entrance to King Ranch, which at one time was the largest of its kind in the U.S. and the inspiration for the resort architecture as a whole.

*Featured/top image: La Cantera Hill Country Resort will be closed through next April for major renovations. Photo courtesy of La Cantera Hill Country Resort.

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Katherine Nickas

Katherine Nickas was born in San Antonio near Fort Sam Houston but grew up in southern Indiana. In 2007, she began working for Indiana AgriNews where she covered topics ranging from corn and soybean production...