To set up this review, you should be aware of a few things...
First, this was our first stay at this JW property. We have traveled to San Antonio for several years with our two young boys and have ALWAYS stayed at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort, which we love. However, for this trip, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to stay at this new JW by using Marriott Rewards points that allowed us to stay five nights for the cost of points for just four nights. Thought we would try something new.
I checked on line to see what the going rate was for a standard guest room, which is what you get generally speaking when staying on points. The rate was $399/nt (over July 4th weekend) and did not include a $25 resort fee (which is waived when staying on points). So, it all seemed to be set up nicely - a brand new property at no cost and no resort fees!
I wanted to write this review not to discourage anyone from going to this JW necessarily. I wanted to write it and direct it to those of you who, like us, have frequented the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and might be considering this property instead. In short, this property is nice and they pumped a ton of money into developing it, but it's NOT THE HYATT.
Hyatt ads in the past prominently tag what they call the Hyatt touch. I now understand what that means, at least with respect to the Hill Country Resort.
Obviously, we are fans of the Hyatt, but we thought the JW would give it a run for its money. I think the room product at the JW is actually a step above the Hyatt's frankly. However, the rest of the resort is simply lacking.
On the topic of customer service, it's not that the staff at the JW are mean to you or anything. They are fairly courteous. I suppose, though, that you could chalk up our issues in this regard to training or lack thereof. The property is new and it feels that way with the staff in that they don't seem to know a lot of things that you would expect them to know. There's a lot of fumbling around or the need to call somebody else for answers to what I considered to be basic guest questions.
Second, we didn't love the location of this property. It's up north, three miles off of Hwy 281. If you go to San Antonio for the things we go to San Antonio for, you'll find as we did that this place is a drive - period. Fiesta Texas and La Cantera are several miles away. Sea World is even further. If you don't mind the drive - no problem. For us, though, the Hyatt was better located to the things we enjoy.
And there are just the little things that, for us, Hyatt outright beats the JW. Rather than give you a long list of these differences, I would simply leave it at this...the JW is probably a better choice for a big meeting/convention or corporate outing. It feels very cold and corporate, which puts it at odds with the whole Texas Hill Country vibe/theme. The Hyatt on the other hand has defined the Hill Country Resort experience for us for years. The Hill Country Resort Experience is warm; it's inviting; it smells like fresh-cut wood burning in the fireplaces and firepits around the property. It's a float on the lazy river pool among the covered branches of tall trees on either side of your river pool experience. It's rustic elegance. It's a general store nestled remotely on the property that is exciting to discover. It's a walk or quick drive down the street to Rudy's General Store for BBQ. It's these things and more. In essence, the Hyatt is the Texas Hill Country Resort experience for us - to the point where we strongly considered checking out of our free JW room and checking into the Hyatt for a couple of nights. It just didn't feel like a trip to San Antonio for us. But relax...calmer heads prevailed and we ended up completing our stay at the JW anyway.
So, this is for the reader out there who has stayed at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort and is reading this as they contemplate a change in venue to the JW for similar reasons or others. My advice...stay at the Hyatt and don't second-guess yourself. You'll be glad you did!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.