Site Visit: JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country

The local aspect of the largest resort in Texas Hill Country (and the only JW Marriott in that area of the state) is a big part of the sell for meetings, says Mindy Miller, director of destination sales for JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, who opened the property five years ago.

“For many who don’t spend time in this part of Texas, they don’t quite understand what’s unique or special about it,” says Miller. “It’s part of my job to educate them and weave in the Hill Country culture to a conference.”

For example, you may not realize that the soil in Hill Country—which is very lush, hilly and green, says Miller—is comparable to that near Provence, France, so wine-making is huge, as is olive oil production. Adding to the charm are large fields of lavender. A heavy German influence in the area mingles with a dynamic Hispanic culture to create a unique hybrid of the two, a vibe much different from downtown San Antonio, 30 minutes away. “Downtown San Antonio is primarily the River Walk, the Alamo and margaritas,” notes Miller. “We’re introducing a second destination.”

The sprawling JW Marriott is well suited for very large groups, with 1,002 guest rooms and 265,000 square feet of meeting space. Buyouts are common, says Miller. For example, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts has contracted with the resort for its national conferences in 2019 and 2023, with 900 room nights on peak. Space-intensive medical meetings, like the Parenteral Drug Association conference, are also common.

While the anchor groups are the big buyouts, the hotel tries to stack midsize and small groups on top of them, says Miller, to maximize the space. Two separate wings of the resort allow flexibility to have multiple groups on-property simultaneously without running into each other. The resort recently launched its Griffin Meeting Experience, a program designed for small meetings (10 to 300 rooms on peak) that ensures top-level customer service (including on-site senior event managers) even if they’re sharing the property with an extremely large group, as well as spa and golf discounts, VIP welcome bags and other amenities.  

Insider Tip: Ask about having a tequila master attend and craft drinks at your opening reception. A must-try is the signature strawberry-jalapeno-infused margarita, says Miller. “The sweet balances the heat—it doesn’t set your mouth on fire.”

Photo credit: Barbara Kraft