We have made a yearly trip to this resort for the past three years with our young children (ages 6 and 4). By far the best experience that we have had was our last trip where we upgraded to the ground floor, nearest to the playground and pool. We requested the corner room with patio doors that let them run out to climb and slide to their hearts' content. The room was a tad smaller than I would have liked, but the proximity to the playground won us over. I know that it sounds silly, but for parents of young children who rarely get a moment of peace, we absolutely loved that our kids could run out to play while we could keep an eye on them in the comfort of our room.
The walk to the pools and lazy river was hardly a walk at all. I think it was a longer distance to the lobby than it was to the amenities. Little kids tend to be a little fickle, wanting to play in the sand, swim and a few minutes later wanting to rest back in the room. We were in and out of our room so frequently that we've said we will always upgrade to a ground floor.
I didn't think ahead of time to bring floaties, buckets, and that sort of thing for the kids to play on the beach area, but there are so many discarded buckets/shovels that it didn't matter. Our little one was too small at the time to use the inner tubes for floating on the river so we popped over to the gift shop by the towel hut to get him a closed-bottom dragon float. I was expecting to be gouged, but the prices were reasonable so we bought our older one a humongous dolphin float for what it would have cost us at Target.
Aside from the cost of an upgraded room, food prices can be as reasonable or as high as one would expect for a resort. Since we really just wanted to stay on property our entire trip, we kept it simple for breakfast. We went to the "mercantile" store to grab bagels, coffee, breakfast tacos. The breakfast tacos are great, huge, and for a resort -- not too expensive. In a previous trip, we had breakfast in one of the sit down restaurants, and I don't think I'll do that again with kids who are on the go first thing in the morning who have no patience to wait for pancakes. For lunch and dinner, since we were out by the pools so often, we just ate poolside or ordered room service if the kids were too tired to go back out. It was our first vacation where we didn't have to fuss at the kids to mind their manners when we were eating out so I know the kids were relaxed too.
We did participate in a few of the family activities on the main lawn and storytime in the lobby, but mostly we swam, read, relaxed, and did a whole lot of nothing and everything. :) It was wonderful. We've cruised and done Disney with the kids, and for all of our family trips, The Hill Country Resort has been the most relaxing for all of us.
The staff was absolutely fantastic, from the people who brought us room service, to housekeeping who brought us a roll-away bed when we realized that we needed one last minute. Our previous experience was on a Memorial Day weekend, and for as busy as the resort was, I don't feel we were shortchanged in any way by the staff.
One tip though if you go during a busy time -- grab a towel early from the towel hut because if you forget and go later in the day, the towel hut may be closed or out of towels.
A stay here is not cheap, to be sure, but I just think that it is worth every penny.
I'm just so glad that we have this gem so close to Austin!