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March 30, 2010

Jolly Green Giant

JW Marriott weighs in with its biggest hotel to date. But the size of its footprint might surprise you.

Given that old chestnut about everything being bigger in Texas, it should come as no surprise that the new JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa — which celebrated its grand opening on March 20 — is Marriott’s largest JW in the world. Set just outside of town, the resort features 1,002 rooms kitted with iHome players and HDTVs, plus a six-acre River Bluff Water Experience with waterfalls, interconnecting pools and a “lazy river.” There are also two PGA-approved TPC golf courses (designed by Pete Dye and Greg Norman), and a beautiful 30-room spa peddling Naturopathica and Kerstin Florian treatments.

The lobby has been equipped with interactive electronic kiosks that allow you to search for local restaurants, get flight updates, or print driving maps. But one of the most impressive touches is something you can’t readily see: despite its grand scale, the hotel is actually LEED-certified eco-friendly. One hundred acres of the resort’s land will remain an undeveloped bird sanctuary, while the whole property gets 70 percent of its power through “windtricity.” Even the jackets worn by managers are made from recycled plastic, and the hotel’s interiors were built with local limestone (the same as The Alamo).

The chefs are also committed to sourcing as many of their ingredients as possible from within 150 miles. Thanks to the resort’s location on the edge of Texas’ verdant Hill Country, that’s hardly a problem. Cattle ranches and fruit, veggie, dairy and lavender farms sprinkle the area, as do some of the state’s top vineyards. Becker Vineyards’ vintages have been lauded by Wine Spectator, while Fall Creek Vineyards‘ blends have won the gold at numerous international competitions. Many of these estates — as well as some of the region’s top chefs — are featured at the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival (one of the five most visited wine fests in the country), which celebrates its 25th anniversary April 15-18.

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read more: 02. Sleep | family | resort | 04. Eco | 06. Drink | 09. Active | golf | watersport

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