No matter how impressive a hotel or resort is, or how prepared you are as a planner, a property’s employees—from sales to back-of-house—certainly play a critical role in determining whether your meeting or event ends up being a success.
During a recent press trip to two Hyatt-owned properties in Austin and San Antonio I saw this principle in action, as the employees at The Driskill and Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa, from sales to culinary to desk staff, made both experiences truly memorable.
Sure, my time at The Driskill, a historic, 189-room hotel that originally opened Dec. 20, 1886, was short-lived (I arrived on a Thursday in the early afternoon and checked out the next morning), but from the moment I arrived, I was greeted with genuine enthusiasm from the sales and marketing team. I could tell these were the type of people who were not only good at what they did—they also enjoyed it.
It doesn’t hurt that The Driskill, part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, has an intriguing history, starting with its origins as the luxe showplace of Col. Jesse Lincoln Driskill, a cattle baron who hosted a series of inaugural balls for Texas governors. This trend would continue beyond Driskill’s ownership.
Fast forward to 1948, when Lyndon B. Johnson celebrated his election to the Senate at The Driskill. In 1964, LBJ returned to the hotel to celebrate his presidential campaign victory. The hotel’s ownership changed several times over the years, but many of its historical features were retained in the process.
The hotel’s standard guest rooms are divided between vintage and more modern layouts, depending on what side of the building you’re on. Both styles of rooms have a lot of charm and are worth a look.
As for meeting space, The Driskill features more than 18,000 square feet of high-tech, functional meeting and event space across nine rooms. Its role as an official SXSW hotel requires that it keeps up with the latest AV trends, something that will please the palates of today’s demanding attendees.
Speaking of palates, the hotel’s culinary facilities—1886 Cafe & Bakery, The Driskill Grill and The Driskill Bar—are worth a stop in and of themselves. Make sure to try Executive Pastry Chef Tony Sansalone’s 1886 Chocolate Cake—oh, and don’t forget about the Texas-sized cinnamon rolls.
Moving on to Friday, I hit the road to San Antonio for my next stop, at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa, which has a much different feel than The Driskill—stay weird, Austin! Where The Driskill is a great fit for one-of-a-kind, trendy events for medium to small groups, the Hyatt Regency is a large-scale meetings retreat. We’re talking 100,000 square feet of customizable indoor and outdoor space.
I went on a property-wide tour of the 500-room resort, during which I was able to peruse its five meeting rooms and three ballrooms totaling 54,000 square feet of indoor space. I also stopped by the Hyatt Regency Hill Country’s 27-hole, Arthur Hills-designed Hill Country Golf Club. The golf sales manager mentioned the course caters to all skill levels and can even be used for other activities.
In the afternoon, after a meal at the quaint Springhouse Cafe, I was given some free time to explore the resort’s “five-acre water playground” consisting of an adult Texas-shaped pool (of course), a whirlpool, a cascading waterfall, an activity pool, a lazy river and luxury poolside cabanas. I opted for the lazy river and a Shiner Bock, and found a lull between the bevy of children.
After exploring the property a little more on my own, I met up with the marketing team for a craft beer and a cocktail at Charlie’s Long Bar, followed by an upscale meal at the meat-centric Antlers Lodge.
While both portions of my trip ended with an excellent meal, it’s the top-notch level of service that makes me believe both The Driskill and Hyatt Regency Hill Country would be truly amenable places to meet.
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa