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4 weeks agoupdated Mar 25, 2024

Channel Your Inner Ranch Hand at La Cantera Resort and Spa

A modern, swanky twist on south Texas’s dominant ranch culture.

By Becca Hensley

Everybody’s heard of Austin — not to mention Houston or Dallas. But when my friends from far-flung places visit the United States (or even Texas) for the first time, I direct them to San Antonio. 

A city that encapsulates so much of the US’s eclectic, eccentric, multi-varied and ponderously rich pioneer spirit, the Alamo City has a heritage as intricate and varied as the handmade embroidery work on the colorful Mexican dresses that locals wear for celebratory fetes. 

Dabble in its Mexico-meets-the-American-West melting pot at posh La Cantera Resort and Spa, a sprawling, luxury retreat that sits on the city’s highest point, sporting jaw-dropping views of the bordering Texas Hill Country. A favorite staycation for Texans, a local social hub, an ideal place for tourists to base for seeing the city’s sights and wandering the world-famous meandering River Walk, La Cantera reigns as a wellness, culinary and overall pampering place to hang your hat and store your boots. 

[See also: The Best Luxury Hotels in Tampa]


A modern, swanky twist on south Texas’s dominant ranch culture, La Cantera Resort and Spa stretches across a hilltop, near downtown and minutes from Six Flags Fiesta Texas.

Boldly Texan, chic and buzzy, it has 496 rooms, 34 boutique-style Villas and a much-requested adults-only floor—SEVEN—which features special amenities. A panoply of eateries, five pools tennis courts, a world-class spa and a golf course complete the picture.

 Its design takes cues from Texas’s iconic King Ranch (the epitome of the Lone Star State’s big ranch empires) without overplaying the stereotype. Local wood, rustic-looking new furniture, regional stone such as limestone, warm colors, big fireplaces, oversized everything and art with Old West inflections set a mood in common rooms. Guest rooms and suites are classically opulent. 

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Just a golf cart ride away from the main resort, La Cantera’s villas take the resort’s first-level opulence up a notch. Private and self-contained, they’re ideal for honeymooners, families, solo travelers hoping to get some work done, hen parties and celebrities intent on hiding out for a few days. The finest, Villa Briscoe Suite, encompasses a parlor with dining table for eight, a large kitchenette, a living area with fireplace, a huge private patio with fire pit and outdoor shower and Villa King room within 1,700 sq ft.

la cantera resort and spa
The Briscoe Suite / ©La Cantera Resort and Spa


As befits a behemoth like La Cantera, the resort brandishes ten varied restaurants and bars, ranging from Sweetfire Kitchen with its woodfire oven to casual Primero Cantina for Tex Mex fare. 

But it’s inarguable creme-de-la-creme is Signature, an Andrew Weissman-founded restaurant now helmed and directed by creative local superstar and executive chef John Carpenter. 

With Texan-driven American food (think gluttonous dishes such as buttermilk fried Texas quail served with house-made venison sausage and super rich, white, buttermilk gravy for brunch), seasonal specials, and farm-to-plate delights (some hailing from the chef’s own garden), this date night-level restaurant is worth the trip to San Antonio alone.

[See also: Inside The Vanderbilt’s New Whisky Tasting Room]


World-class Loma de Vida Spa, gorgeously kitted out and configured to frame Hill Country vistas, spans some 25,000 sq ft. With an outdoor pool, indoor terme facilities, including a Himalayan salt sauna, the spa offers a wide range of treatments and wellness classes, as well as a juice and snack bar. 

Meld with the outdoors with a treatment in the standalone Sky Lofts, en plein air standalone cabins atop a hill with tree house sensibilities. Indoor/outdoor treatment rooms feature a porch for rumination, hedonistic soaking tubs and massage tables. 

[See also: Fontainebleau Las Vegas: Inside Nevada’s New $3.7bn Mega Resort]


In south-central Texas, San Antonio is about 90 minutes from Austin. Though the US’s seventh largest city, it sports an intimate — even clubby — feel. Unique, and historic, it was part of the Spanish colonial empire and later flourished under Mexico’s flag. Today, its UNESCO-listed Mission Historic District, dating from the 1700s, manifests the past via five colonial missions, including the famed Alamo. 

On the San Antonio River, the wildly popular Paseo del Rio (River Walk), a cultural and entertainment district, snakes through downtown, Restaurants, shops, galleries, bars and hotels — even museums in its farthest reaches — occupy its banks. With James Beard-noted eateries, a proud fusion of heritages, first-class museums and peerless examples of period architecture, San Antonio famously edges the Texas Hill Country, home to the US’s third-rated wine region. 

Local Tip: Need some cowboy boots and a hat during your stay? Heehaw: Tecovas, a Texas boot brand, has an outpost at The Shops at La Cantera. You can’t go wrong with their stylish, high-end boots, hats, belts and beyond.

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