Golf trip to San Antonio's Westin La Cantera Resort still a fun ride
SAN ANTONIO - The PGA Tour may be gone, but the roller coaster rides around the Westin La Cantera Resort remain. Whether it's in the literal sense - as in the Six Flags theme park next door - or on the two golf courses, La Cantera still has a few thrills for its visitors.
As the PGA Tour moves across town to the new TPC San Antonio starting in 2010, the Westin La Cantera moves into a new era with $12 million in renovations and a new focus.
"We believe we have established the Westin La Cantera Resort along with our golf courses as competitive with any golf resort in the USA," said General Manager Tony Cherone. "A 15-year run with the Valero Texas Open certainly solidifies that thinking."
Indeed, the resort has updated its rooms, revamped its menu from its premier restaurant and has added new activities for kids and a 1.5-mile nature trail.
Westin La Cantera's Resort and Palmer Courses continue to thrill
The Westin La Cantera Resort Course, which opened in 1996, was a fairly easy golf course for the tour players, which makes sense since it's so much for fun for resort golfers.
Designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, the course has lots of up-and-down holes, including the signature seventh, a drivable par 4 that overlooks the Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme park.
Behind the green is the park's Rattler wooden roller coaster, close enough to hear the screams of its riders as they're hurdled around hairpin turns and down steep slopes.
Both the Resort and La Cantera Palmer Course, which opened in 2001, have similar twists and turns. The Resort is definitely the easier of the two, while the Palmer, with its blind shots and tighter fairways can present a little more challenge. Together, they make a nice 1-2 punch and give guests a reason to never the leave the resort - unless they want to ride something faster than a golf cart next door.
Better room and more local flavor at La Cantera
It wasn't as if the rooms were outdated before, but the addition of 42-inch flat-screen TVs, new headboards and carpeting certainly put them on par with any resort in the area.
One of the nicer features at the Westin La Cantera is the seventh floor Hacienda Club with great views of the resort, golf courses, city of San Antonio and rolling hills. Stay there and you get access to a terrific hospitality room, which offers complimentary breakfast as well as coffee and drinks the rest of day. Other privileges include preferred restaurant and golf bookings throughout your stay.
The rooms also feature Westin's Heavenly Bed, dual showerhead, double-basin sink, separate vanity area and plush bathrobes.
For more formal dining, try Francesca's at Sunset, which redirected its cuisine to focus on South Texas creations with a Southwestern flair. The lobster enchiladas are particularly enticing, and so are the views of the surrounding Texas Hill Country.
More than 80 percent of the restaurant's offerings - buffalo, quail, antelope, Akaushi beef, vegetables and fruits -- are from South Texas ranchers and farmers. You can also get local Jalapeno Bubbly and Rio Grande Mimosa. And the hotel also offers eight Texas vintners among its 170-plus wine list.
A few more new things at Westin La Cantera
Another new feature at the resort is the La Canter Nature Experience. The 1.5-mile nature trail allows hikers to see the flora, fauna, wildlife and unique topography of the area.
The well maintained but natural looking trail wraps around part of the resort to keep as much of the natural rock formations, trail pathways and plant habitat undisturbed.
The kids also get some improvements. In addition to a large pool area that includes two hot tubs, Discovery Junction adds a water slide tower and a slip ‘n slide and bounce house. Kids can play basketball, make ice cream sundaes or chalk up a sidewalk. They can even watch movies on an outdoor movie screen at night.
For teenagers, there's also the Rock'n T Lounge, where they can play video games such as "Guitar Hero" or "Rock Band" on Wii or X-Box systems.
Westin La Cantera Resort: The Verdict
This has always been one of my favorite resorts, and with the updates, it got that much better. My only complaint is that when you add large high-definition television monitors, they should come with high-definition programming to complete the experience.
The fact that the PGA Tour left really isn't a negative. The Resort Course will always have that history after a 15-year run, and now guests can play it in the middle of fall, which is the best time of year to come to San Antonio.
The new restaurant menu is also a big plus. It's reminiscent of going to Mexico, where the menu almost always originates locally. For more information, see www.westinlacantera.com.
October 15, 2009