About a decade ago, I started a Mother’s Day gifting tradition with my sister and mom which has become an anticipated ritual we look forward to each year. The gift? Treating ourselves to a getaway –– just the three of us, kids and husbands not allowed.
While we aren’t in the phases of our lives where we can take off for a week-long trip to some far-flung destination, that’s not the point, nor is it necessary. With most of our May evenings and weekends spent on the sidelines of soccer fields or at graduation ceremonies, middle school band concerts and dance recitals, simply finding time to slip away from it all feels like a small victory in itself.
This year, we set our sights on a nearby destination where we could find the key ingredients we always crave but rarely get: rest, relaxation and reconnection. The week before Mother’s Day, we escaped and discovered those three R’s awaiting on San Antonio’s famed River Walk, just over an hour away. With 48 hours all to ourselves, here are some of the highlights of our recent Mother’s Day getaway.
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We checked into the Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk, which rises from the River Walk and connects directly to Alamo Plaza. It proved to be the perfect home base for soaking in all of the culture, history, entertainment and fabulous food the area is known for. Just last year, the longstanding River Walk property celebrated its 40th anniversary, completing a $38 million renovation that transformed its 630 guest rooms and suites with everything from modern furnishings and sleek décor to floor-to-ceiling windows that eyeball sweeping city views and bathrooms redesigned with contemporary finishes and luxurious features.
The Alamo and the San Antonio River Walk are the two most-visited attractions in Texas, and the renovation expertly showcases both. As soon as guests enter the lobby, expansive atrium windows bring in sights of the River Walk while we got a bird’s eye view of the Alamo from our sprawling 728-square-foot Regency suite on the eleventh floor. Both mornings we worked up our daily appetites at the Hyatt StayFit Gym just outside our door, and in the afternoons, we rested by the sparkling rooftop pool, cozied up with books in the oversized shaded daybed cabanas flanking the sundeck.
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RELAX AND REJUVENATE
Staying at the Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk also put relaxation and rejuvenation right at our fingertips thanks to not one, but two, spas located right inside the hotel.
At DASA Spa on the Riverwalk, I relished the signature massage –– a dreamy fusion of Swedish and deep tissue work infused with rosemary, lavender and eucalyptus oils. My therapist, who has been with the spa since it opened about a quarter century ago, tailored the treatment specifically to my body, using hot basalt stones to loosen my tight muscles, erase my tension and put me in a blissful state of relaxation.
My mom and sister each raved about DASA’s signature organic facials that left their skin glowing while I decided to try a new (to me) anti-aging facial treatment just steps away at La Riviere Beauty Boutique. After receiving a custom face mapping analysis and consultation, I experienced my first radio frequency facial, which uses thermal heat applied with a wand to gently produce and restore collagen. Touted as a less invasive alternative to surgical procedures and injectables, radio frequency facials are designed to tighten and brighten skin, decrease lines and wrinkles, and restore the natural contours of your chin, neck and jawline. I was a little nervous at first, having never experienced any type of anti-aging skin treatment before, but the process was painless (even a little relaxing), and I loved the way my skin felt and looked immediately afterward.
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With a rare 48 hours all to ourselves without life’s usual duties and distractions (or dishes), our River Walk stay offered ample opportunities to recharge, reconnect and refuel at some of the best restaurants in the city. From our location on the San Antonio River, we were perfectly positioned to enjoy peaceful walks and uninterrupted talks as we soaked in art along the meticulously maintained Museum Reach of the river.
Since our trip overlapped with Cinco de Mayo, margaritas and guacamole were musts, and we found some of freshest and most delicious right outside of our hotel at Domingo Restaurant –– order the chili cucumber margarita made with jalapeno-infused tequila and the crispy halibut Baja fish tacos.
If you haven’t been to the hip and historic Pearl district recently, put this vibrant culinary hub peppered with chef-driven restaurants, bars and eclectic shops at the top of your River Walk bucket list. A short Uber ride from our hotel, the 22-acre food and cultural mecca serves as home to everything from The Culinary Institute of America (one of only three in the entire country) to dozens of diverse eating and drinking establishments.
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One afternoon between browsing through various local, independent shops and vendors, we shared a bottle of French brut rose bubbles on the outdoor patio of High Street Wine Co. Dinner was just across the street at Best Quality Daughter, an equally colorful and flavorful Pearl-area hot spot where we devoured New Asian-American delights such as marinated young bamboo, local oyster mushroom larb in romaine lettuce cups, and a creamy coconut Tom Yum noodle dish swimming with poached shrimp.
The next night, we went back to the Pearl to indulge at what has become one of my favorite San Antonio restaurants: Brasserie Mon Chou Chou –– the name translates to an affectionate French term of endearment given to a person who is special to you, and many of the recipes were derived from the three French founders’ own grandmothers.
Serving up French comfort food in an elegant and delightful setting just steps away from Hotel Emma, we enjoyed a mouthwatering procession of French wine, chef-picked French fromages, the salade Mon Chou Chou, a dozen East coast oysters on the half-shell, baked bay scallops and lobster broiled in the shell with champagne beurre blanc, and a baked branzino with brown butter caper sauce, fondant potatoes and haricots vert.
It was the perfect finale meal to our Mother’s Day getaway, and we returned to Austin with full bellies and hearts, feeling more relaxed and recharged than when we left.
If You Go
It’s an hour and 15-minute drive from Austin to the San Antonio River Walk.
Situated on the River Walk and directly connected to Alamo Plaza, Hyatt Regency San Antonio features 630 guestrooms and suites boasting sweeping views of some of the city’s most iconic attractions, a heated rooftop swimming pool and sundeck, a Hyatt StayFit gym, Q Kitchen ǀ Bar, an on-site spa and beauty boutique, shops and more.
Walk, shop and dine along the famed San Antonio River Walk. From the Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk, you’re steps from the Alamo, which along with San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site (the first and only in Texas). If you’re new to San Antonio, book a narrated Go Rio cruise to familiarize yourself with the city’s culture, history, and architecture. Stroll along the Museum Reach of the River Walk to soak in public works of art or visit the San Antonio Museum of Art. Get pampering and rejuvenating treatments at DASA Spa or La Riviere. On weekends at the Pearl, check out the local Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Makers Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays.
Eat and Drink:
Get a jump start to your day with coffee and the Alamo Huevos Rancheros with smoked brisket or avocado toast with local micro greens and smoked salmon from the Hyatt’s Q Kitchen and Bar. Sip cocktails while watching river boat cruises go by on the terrace of The Esquire Tavern. Walk over to Domingo for fresh homemade margaritas and classic guacamole, or take a short Uber to the culinary delights awaiting at San Antonio’s Pearl.