All Is Merry and Bright: Enjoying the Holidays at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort

Alamo City Moms Blog is excited to have partnered with the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort to share information with San Antonio families about a stay at this hotel during the holidays.

Be honest: how much time do you spend intentionally slowing down and soaking up all the excitement and joy that the month of December has to offer? If you’re like me, the answer is not enough. I get so caught up in the never-ending events and parties and shopping lists and decorating and baking that I feel like I’m a whirling top gone wild. So when the opportunity presented itself to stay at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa and enjoy their holiday activities during a weekend in December, my initial impulse was to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” After all, who has time to leave the house for a “just for fun” family event lasting longer than a couple of hours merely a few weekends before Christmas? But in the end, the resistance in head was no match for the longing in my heart. My heart wanted a few fun, quiet moments alone with my family. And what the heart wants, the heart gets.

IMG_2688When we pulled up to the Hill Country Hyatt, I was immediately struck by the incredible Christmas tree located in the lobby. You can see it from the entrance to the hotel—you can’t miss it, actually. It’s ginormous, impeccably decorated, and flanked on either side by some of the grandest fireplaces I’ve ever seen. They must be over five feet tall and at least as wide. In front of each fireplace is a cozy seating area with armchairs and couches, and I immediately had pangs of regret that I hadn’t known about this space earlier. It would make a PERFECT setting for a little holiday card photo shoot! Oh, you didn’t know? Why yes, we’ve moved! This picture was taken in our new family room. Quaint, isn’t it?!

As I got lost in my daydream, my kids found their own version of heaven in the huge aquarium located by the reception desk. Once their gleeful eyes turned away from the fish, they were delighted to find a little table set up with coloring pages and crayons. I’m pretty sure they could’ve stayed there all afternoon and been perfectly content, but Mommy was anxious to go check out the room! It wasn’t but two minutes after we opened the door to our bright and spacious suite that my children started complaining about how hungry they were. Luckily, the Hyatt Hill Country features a huge and very family-friendly restaurant, the Springhouse Cafe, conveniently located on the first floor of the South Atrium. We enjoyed a lovely meal there, and my children were eager to move on to the main event: story time and s’mores!

IMG_2584Held the next couple of Friday nights (December 11 & 18) in the beautiful hotel lobby from 6:30–7:30 P.M., this story time was actually so much more than stories. I was delighted and surprised to find Ms. Anastasia perched on a chair by the fire holding up a book in front of a sizable crowd of captivated young faces. If you have never had a chance to attend a reading by Ms. Anastasia, you are really missing out. She doesn’t just read the books; she becomes the characters and truly brings the story to life for the children. To watch your children’s faces light up with delight while relaxing by the warm glow of a fire, is sheer bliss. It doesn’t hurt that you can quite literally put your feet up—perhaps with a beverage of choice from the lobby bar—and let someone else handle story time for a change!

After she finished a few stories and even led her admirers in song, Ms. Anastasia launched right into craft time. She passed out several craft kits for small groups of children to share—including glue, tissue paper, crayons, and assorted embellishments—and encouraged the children to get creative while decorating their candy cane coloring pages. Once each child was satisfied with his/her masterpiece, he/she brought it to Ms. Anastasia, who affixed the finishing touch—a perfectly tied bow—to the art. My daughter was quite pleased with her creation but wasted no time expressing interest in heading over to the other side of the lobby, where a make-your-own s’mores station was attracting quite a crowd.

IMG_2626My children weren’t the only ones eager to get in on the s’mores action, so I was grateful for the assistance of the staff members manning the station. In front of them sat a pile of jumbo marshmallows speared with sticks. After we charred the marshmallows to our desired specifications in front of the fireplace, we brought them back to the staff members who seamlessly helped us assemble the s’mores sandwich. I’m not going to tell you how many we enjoyed during our time in the lobby, but I will tell you that if they have a limit on the s’mores allotted per participant, it must be sky high! The best part is that you don’t even have to be a hotel guest to enjoy this delicious treat. Both story time (on the Friday nights mentioned previously) and s’mores (on Friday nights, December 11 and 18, as well as the subsequent Saturday nights, December 12 and 19, from 6:00–8:00 P.M.) are open to the public.

Here’s another amazing thing about going to stay with your family in a hotel: there is no kitchen to be cleaned, no laundry to be done, no family room to be straightened after the kids go down. Most nights at home, I’m rushing to get my kids to go to sleep just so I can get started on my chores. When we stayed at the Hyatt Hill Country, I wasn’t in a hurry to put the kids to sleep because I had nothing pressing to do once they went down. So once we got up to our room, with our bellies full of great food and s’mores and our hearts full of Christmas joy, we played and laughed and read books until the ordinarily unthinkable hour of 10:00 P.M. Once the kids finally tuckered out, we parents were not far behind.

IMG_2672We woke the next morning refreshed and ready to head back down to the Springhouse Cafe for breakfast with Santa. My children were delighted to find the restaurant teeming with other little children, all dressed adorably and eager for their turn to meet the jolly old elf. Mom and Dad were enamored, on the other hand, with the amazing buffet set forth before our eyes. There was an omelet station alongside a pancake and waffle bar, complete with every delicious topping your heart could desire. Breakfast favorites such as scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, and of course fresh fruit, abound at the Springhouse Cafe buffet. You can also select from a menu of a la carte options should you desire something not featured in the buffet. We all ate to our hearts’ content, and just when we thought the meal couldn’t get any better, we learned that kids ages five and under eat free! Bonus!

I would say the highlight of our stay for the children—and perhaps even for me—was the opportunity to meet Santa. Everything about this experience was amazing—and seriously, how often can you say that about a picture with Santa photo opp?! First of all, the setting is gorgeous. The back porch of the restaurant has been truly transformed into Santa’s workshop/every child’s dream, with a huge, beautifully decorated tree complete with presents underneath and surrounded by oversized toys. I was beyond impressed when we walked in.

FullSizeRender-12The Hyatt’s Santa is also probably the best, most realistic-looking Santa I’ve ever seen. He has twinkling blue eyes, and a calm and kind demeanor to match. He immediately put my suddenly shy daughter at ease and very quickly coaxed her to sit on his lap. She was captivated, and they engaged in a pretty lengthy conversation, which afforded me the opportunity to take more than my fair share of pictures.

Another notable advantage of the pictures with Santa opportunity at the Hyatt Hill Country is that the line was very manageable. We were there at the beginning of the breakfast, which seemed to be the height of the family time, and I still never saw the line get longer than four or five families deep. This is a huge and welcome change from most Santa pictures, where you can wait up to an hour (or more!) for your chance to sit with the big guy. If you haven’t taken family pictures with Santa yet, or even if you have, I highly recommend heading over the Hyatt Hill Country to enjoy a morning where you don’t have to cook and your children can tell Santa the deepest, darkest longings of their souls.

IMG_2571It wasn’t an easy decision to leave all my to-do lists and projects behind for a night to spend some quality time with my family, but it was definitely a good one! We left the resort with awesome, stress-free holiday memories and quite a few adorable pictures to add to the scrapbook. I know embarking on a staycation might be the furthest thing from your mind right now, but if you can find time during the busy holiday season, I highly recommend sneaking away to the the Hyatt Hill Country, even if only for a few hours, to enjoy some of the holiday merriment the resort has to offer!

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