Guest Blogger: Warren Capps
I’ve been a loyal ODTUG member for many years and have attended the conference the last sixteen years in a row. I’ve been to Florida, California, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, and many places in between over the years. Typically, the conference hotel is very good, but not spectacular. Frequently, due to budget (I’m independently employed), I can’t afford to stay at the conference hotel, and I stay at an outlier hotel and drive in. Well, this year, I am staying every night at the JW Marriott Resort and Spa even though I now live only seventy miles away in Austin. Why, you ask? Well, as a twenty-one year member of the Marriott Rewards program, I knew about the new hotel and had heard wonderful things about it. Since others will tell you about the conference, let me tell you about the resort.
Last week, my wife, Lynne, and I decided to check the place out. The opportunity was Texas Independence Day, the event, a “Beer Dinner” at the High Velocity Sports Bar. Think of a wine dinner, but with a different beer (instead of wine) served with each course (well, not every course, still waiting to find out what is the right beer for dessert). St. Arnold’s Brewery supplied the beer; the hotel supplied the chef who planned a four course meal. Well, it was a fantastic evening. Good company and a great meal. If the beer dinner was any indication, you’d better plan on attending Kent Graziano’s exercise sessions in order to lose some of those pounds.
While there, we decided to stroll around the buildings and grounds. What a beautiful place! The hotel is on 30,000 acres set in the middle of what used to be a hunting camp. My usual job at the conference is conference photographer, but I had not brought anything, but my iPhone 4s to take pictures. It was sunset and I managed to get a few shots of the interior and exterior. The interior space is wonderful. Calling it a lobby doesn’t do it justice. It was built for conferences like ours. Dozens of seating areas scattered throughout two floors.
Since it was March and late in the day, the Water Park was not doing much business. But it looks like a lot of fun! There are six acres of pools, including a lazy river with tubes, slides, etc. to cavort in all day. And did I mention that the hotel is surrounded by not one, but two PGA championship courses? Bring your clubs. My wife is eagerly awaiting her chance at the Lantana Spa – 26,000 square feet, thirty treatment rooms, and you still have to get a reservation to get a treatment.
You’ll see one of the more beautiful attractions as you descend escalators into the conference center. The ceiling is filled with gorgeous glass-blown flowers. It’s called the inverted flower garden and was made by Garcia Art Glass of San Antonio. By chance, Lynne and I visited their studio a couple of years ago (and have the glass-blown chili pepper to prove it). If you or your family gets a chance, go visit the studio. They appear to enjoy having visitors and you’ll be able to see the making of their art up close.
But hurry and get your reservation. ODTUG owns the hotel for five days, but there are only (only?) 1,000 rooms. And if you miss out, it will definitely be a shuttle bus or car ride to get to the resort. For more information, go to http://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/travel/satjw-jw-marriott-san-antonio-hill-country-resort-and-spa/.
(Editor’s note: Don’t take the chance, register today! – The resort is filling up quickly!)
Warren Capps is a computer professional with over twenty-five years of experience in the management and development of integrated Oracle computer applications. He is a well-known presenter at user group conferences and has written numerous articles and book reviews for a variety of publications. He has written a regular book review column for the Oracle Development Tools Users Group (ODTUG) Technical Journal. Additionally, he has been the official conference photographer for ODTUG since 2000.