SAN ANTONIO - Woodbine Development Corporation announced details of a $35-million expansion and renovation of its Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio. The project will essentially double the resort's indoor function space, triple its pre-function space, add new outdoor function space, enhance and freshen guestrooms and landscaping, as well as expand the ever-popular water park to include a FlowRider wave machine and a tower slide. Woodbine is managing the project, with WATG and Wimberly Interiors providing interior design services; HKS Hill Glazier Studio as architect of record; Rialto Studio, Inc., managing landscape improvements; and Hardin Construction Company, L.L.C., as general contractor. The entire project will be completed by fall 2013, with portions of the project completed in the spring of 2013. The resort opened as Texas' first true destination resort in February 1993 and will celebrate 20 years of successful operation in 2013.
"We're elated that we can bring these new enhancements to this very special property," said John Field Scovell, CEO and President of Woodbine. "While much of what this resort offers is about tradition, we want to reward our loyal guests with new experiences and capture group customers who needed more function space than we were able to provide in the past."
The resort's indoor function space is being increased from approximately 35,000 square feet to approximately 70,000 square feet, including the addition of a 20,000-square-foot ballroom. Guests will access the new state-of-the-art space either through the existing function space corridors or via a new motor court and separate entrance. The grand ballroom will be divisible into eight breakout rooms, each with its own entrance. Generous pre-function space will be added and connected to the existing Hill Country Ballroom space, as well.
"The space echoes the classic Hill Country design of the hotel with tall windows, forged iron light fixtures and natural stone details. The pre-function areas recall the look of Texas' regional barns with timber trim and beadboard ceilings," said Susan Bruce, ASID, Senior Associate, WATG and Wimberly Interiors. "Guests can meet and mingle while relaxing in leather rocking chairs as they wait for their session to begin. The new carpeting reflects stylized wildflowers, and the lighting mimics country lanterns."
Exterior function space added with the expansion includes a 7,260-square-foot landscaped courtyard, complete with a Texas-sized, stacked limestone working fireplace. The courtyard design was inspired by discussions with some of the area's top wedding planners and includes iron light fixtures and casual wicker seating. Additionally, a 5,000-square-foot event lawn will be connected to the new ballroom and promises to be a spectacular venue for such events as an outdoor awards dinner, upscale reception or afternoon team-building event.
The ballroom addition includes a motor court with separate entrance where guests will have the opportunity to be dropped off curbside. The meeting space will be completed in fall 2013.
All 500 guestrooms and suites will be transformed into classic modern accommodations, with a Texas Hill Country twist. The new decor will appeal to convention, leisure and business travelers alike. Wimberly Interiors' design inspiration was the natural beauty of the Texas Hill Country, blending the charming rustic aesthetic with a tailored palette and refined details. The addition of new Hyatt Grand Bed mattresses, complete re-tiling of the tub surrounds, a decoratively framed and well-lit mirror with freestanding, oversized, granite-top vanity, are just a few of the features to be offered in every room.
The guestroom corridors will provide a journey for the guest along a trail that is inspired by natural elements, with textured wall coverings that give homage to the lasso – one of the rancher's most important tools; bronzed metal wall sconces that reflect shadows similar to sunlight streaming through the native Live Oak trees; and carpeting that is evocative of a creek that is blanketed with freshly fallen leaves.
The guestrooms will embrace the concept of a sophisticated, stylish ranch embellished with Texan motifs. The concept of the lasso will be reinterpreted from the corridors with texturized wall covering in the guestrooms, complemented by linen draperies. The carpeting will feature a modern silhouette of a rustic diamond pattern. A luxurious chenille throw, made exclusively for the resort, will replicate the pattern of "Papa Ed" Wiseman's favorite horse blanket. Papa Ed was the patriarch of the Rogers-Wiseman family that owned the resort site and thousands of acres of surrounding ranchland for more than 100 years. Guestroom art will continue to incorporate vintage family photos with hand-tinted backgrounds, as well as "ranch brand" art in suites.
An additional phase of the enhancement project will really make waves among the hotel's leisure guests. A wave machine and tower slide will be added to the resort's ever-popular water playground, which is being expanded from four acres to five acres.
Hill Country will become the first Texas hotel and only one of three hotels in the United States to have a FlowRider wave machine on its property. The exciting new attraction simulates a "barrel-less" wave; complete with a sloped wave surface with 40,000 gallons of water being driven up at a rate of about 18,000 gallons per minute. "This will become yet another core benefit of vacationing at Hyatt Regency Hill Country and will solidify our resort as the premier destination for families looking to travel within and to Texas," said Gino Caliendo, the resort's general manager. "While regional water parks may offer kneeboarding, we are thrilled to be the only location in Texas with a stand-up boarding option."
The wave machine spans an impressive length of 54 feet and is 22 feet wide, with a water depth of between 3 to 4 inches. Hotel guests can choose bodyboarding, kneeboarding or stand-up boarding. The FlowRider will be heated seasonally, meaning guests can enjoy this adrenaline-packed thrill ride all year long. Per the manufacturer's suggestions, riders need to be at least 42 inches (3 feet, 5 inches) tall to boogie board and 52 inches (4 feet, 3 inches) to stand-up ride/surf.
"Flowboarding may resemble surfing, but it is really a combination of skateboarding, wakeboarding, boogie boarding, snowboarding and surfing, a perfect blend that will appeal to all board sport enthusiasts," said Ray Lauenstein, business development manager at Aquatic Development Group, developer of FlowRider.
In addition to the wave machine, the resort is adding a much-anticipated 22-foot-tall tower slide, perfect for guests ages 5 and up. The addition of these enhancements offers more exciting options and an additional acre to the hotel's existing four-acre water park. Currently, the water park includes a 950-foot Ramblin' River, an activity pool equipped with water volleyball and basketball, an adults-only Texas-shaped pool, 2 hot tubs and a zero-entry kiddie wading pool.
The wave pool and slide area will be surrounded by an extensive deck with seating and plenty of room for spectators, and an area for guests to pick up refreshments and snacks. The complex also will include a combination restroom and changing area.
"Families have consistently returned to Hyatt Regency Hill Country for almost 20 years because of our authentic hospitality, provided by an incredible staff, exciting activities and amazing water features. Our guests will be excited with these additions as they only add to memories created here," Caliendo added. "All the water pumped through the wave pool and slide will be recirculated to align with the hotel's resource conservation pledge."
The final enhancements to the resort include extensive exterior landscaping and energy-efficient LED lighting. Lighting of the public walkways and the up-lighting of native Live Oak trees will give the resort additional illumination and a beautiful glow in the evening. Retaining walls are being added to reduce soil erosion in key areas, and throughout the resort a professional arborist is assisting with the replacement of invasive plant and tree species with native Texas plants that are heat tolerant and drought resistant.
"Returning guests will be amazed at the transformation being made in the resort's landscape. We are consciously editing the grounds to retain the beauty of native Texas Hill Country while adding subtle touches of refinement to please the most discerning guest," said Jim Gray, principal at Rialto Studio and original landscape architect for the resort. "I am honored to be involved in this renovation project that is refreshing original designs we implemented two decades ago and making them more sustainable."