Just as Austin is like no other city in Texas, the new Omni Barton Creek is like no other resort.
The latest labor of love of oil billionaire and Omni Hotels Owner Robert Rowling, the property sits arguably on the most beautiful spot in Texas Hill Country, at the 18th hole of a historic and famed golf club. Its food and beverage department is headed by the best team Omni could put together, producing an eclectic and fresh experience. Its wedding pavilion, encased in retractable floor-to-ceiling glass, overlooks the rolling hills; its brand-new meeting space and athletic center let in the light and the views at every turn. Spencer Cody, director of golf operations, is a descendant of Buffalo Bill Cody.
Scuttlebutt at the grand opening purports that Rowling bought a package of six resorts in 2012 (including the historic Homestead in Virginia) in order to get his hands on this one, which he envisions as Omni’s flagship property, here in its home state. Then he closed it for two years and spent $150 million to expand and renovate it.
In his remarks at the grand opening last week, Rowling said his vision for the Omni Barton Creek was to compete with great American business and leisure resorts like The Broadmoor and Georgia’s Sea Island. (And while just a single-digit percentage of its mostly Texas-based guests came through travel agents in the past, he appreciates the fact that he will need the channel’s support to make this the international hub he expects it to be.)
And indeed, it’s a match made in heaven. For travel agents in Texas, the Omni Barton Creek is a gorgeous new venue for weekend getaways, weddings and events, and family fun. And its appeal now surely goes beyond the borders of the great state and the golfers who have always gathered here. The brand-new tower offers luxury guests the chance to be somewhere Instagrammable and exciting at opening-day prices; its luxurious spa and golf programs, and light and airy new meeting spaces, offer leisure and team-building opportunities for groups and conferences. And for destination weddings, there’s that glass 5,500-square-foot Hill Country Pavilion on a hill above the 18th hole.
The wedding pavilion is encased in retractable floor-to-ceiling glass.
Views at every turn, unmatched amenities
The design focus on “blurring the lines between the indoors and the outdoors” is considered in every detail; “the buildings were angled to capture the views,” Rowling said, and the 493 rooms and luxury suites, and 76,000 square feet of meeting space in the all-new conference center, offer “unmatched amenities.” Even the pools are tiered to give everyone a view.
For the golfers, there are four newly redesigned courses. Golf course designer Tom Fazzio’s influence can be seen in the use of limestone and water “to create dynamic experiences” like the cave on the 18th hole of the Foothills course, Cody told Travel Market Report; the PGA Professional National Championship will be nationally televised from here in April 2020. (Omni Hotels, meanwhile, are the official hotels of the PGA Tour.)
Among the seven restaurants and throughout the resort are many tips of the Stetson to the pros who have hung out here, like Crenshaw's Sports Lounge, after Ben Crenshaw, who designed one of the golf courses; and the signature Peach Palmer cocktail, Arnold’s concoction of sweet tea, vodka, lemon juice and peach puree. After finishing up at the 18th hole, players can just leave their golf carts and walk up the hill for a drink or dinner.
After golf, or instead of it, the new Mokara Spa has 17 treatment rooms, a rooftop pool and a café.
On the food and beverage side, meanwhile, the focus is on farm-to-table in partnership with the farmers within 100 miles. A touch of “Austin Weird” brings in the local food and art scene, in dishes like the Cactus Fruit Sorbet and the Tuna Bolognese and the edgy bands playing live music every weekend.
More than top-notch golf
Speaking with Travel Market Report after the ceremony, Rowling said he looks forward to “getting the travel agent community in here to look around.” General Manager Todd Raessler noted that “travel agents are going to be critical to our long-term success, and we want to reintroduce them to this property and show them we are more than just a golf resort.”
The property sits arguably on the most beautiful spot in Texas Hill Country.
Here’s a roundup of what’s new:
- A new arrival and lobby experience
- 493 freshly designed guestrooms and suites
- An all-new conference center with a 14,500-square-foot Brazos Ballroom and a redesigned 8,200-square-foot Darrell K Royal Ballroom
- A new 5,500-square-foot outdoor event pavilion
- 23,900 square feet of sweeping event lawns
- Seven new dining outlets offering a wide range of cuisines and atmospheres
- New Mokara Spa with a private adults-only rooftop pool and light cuisine from the Spa Creek Café
- An expansive, multi-tiered poolscape with an infinity edge pool featuring sweeping Texas Hill Country views
- A redesigned tennis complex featuring 10 courts with LED lighting for evening play
- Four newly renovated championship golf courses