Country music plays from speakers hidden along pathways. Golf carts whiz by. At night, the imposing look of the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa gives off a sci-fi vibe. And with 1,002 guest rooms, 140,000 square feet of customizable indoor space, a 26,000-square-foot spa, and two championship-level golf courses (offering “epic golf in a pristine natural setting”) atop 2,800 “rolling acres,” it truly is the mothership of all Hill Country resorts.
Fittingly, High Velocity outdoes just about any given sports bar. For starters, it’s got 24 beers on tap, 26 TVs, and a Times Square-esque LED ticker where game scores scroll along endlessly. But High Velocity’s money-shot is an undulating 128-foot-long multi-tasking mega-screen playing several games (side by side) at once.
“It looks darker over there,” my partner in work-crime pointed out. “Let’s sit on that side.” Settling into comfy barstools, we ordered drinks (Champion’s Bloody Mary: $8; glass of St. Francis Vineyards Merlot: $9) and surveyed the hard-to-define crowd. Attire ranged from post-golf casual to cowboy-chic, with “on vacation” being the most likely common denominator. As one might expect from a hotel bar, familiar faces are scarce. Imagine the comforting, voyeuristic anonymity of a tricked-out airport bar, increase the budget, add children, and you’ve reached High Velocity.
Thanks to the kitchen (chicken Caesar salad: $14; chips and homemade salsa: $6.50), children are also welcome to reach High Velocity. And not surprisingly, they love the place and all its flashing eye-candy.
Amused, we watched two energetic tots throw a plastic dinosaur across/under/around the food-covered table while their dazed-looking parents sat motionless in swivel-rockers. Another rascal delighted in repeatedly entering and exiting the dining area through a room-divider made of ball bearings.
Can you picture all this state-of-art family-friendliness? Great. Because while I intended to show you in pictures how cool the place looked on a Saturday night, you’ll have to go see for yourself: We were informed any photos taken at High Velocity must be approved by Marriott’s PR department.
Across town at Bushwood, a golf-themed “Clark’s Bar,” the marquis reads, “15 Buckets: $60.” I ordered a Dos XX draft ($4.25) and quizzed regular Andrew Manzotti about Bushwood’s appeal. “That girl right there,” he said pointing at Crystall Hibbard, a bartender at Bushwood. “Since day one.”
No one was golfing that evening (although anyone can until 9pm, 7 days a week), but golf kept popping up in conversation, including a comment about GPS systems that reduce the frustration of searching for golf balls. You won’t need one of those gadgets at Shady Oaks Golf Club. Even if you’ve got a sloppy swing from one too many at Bushwood (keep your cocktails on the back patio, please), the kind folks at Shady Oaks Golf Club will pick them up for you — we made sure of it. No, it’s nothing like the JW’s rambling TPC courses, and the bar doesn’t even have a wine list, but anyone at Bushwood will tell you, “It takes balls to party here.” •
at JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa
2308 Resort Pkwy
Well drinks: $5; drafts and bottles: $5-$5.50; flights of three 5 oz. beer tasters: $5.50; wine: $9-$12/glass; no happy hour; room packages from $319/night.
Shady Oaks Golf Club: 13800 Jones Maltsberger, (210) 497-GOLF. Buckets of balls: small: $6; medium: $9; large: $15; extra-large: $20; golf lessons: $45.
Well drinks: $3.25; beer: $3-$3.75 (bottles); $4.25 (drafts). Happy hour wells: $2.25; happy hour beer: $2.75-$3.25.