May 07, 2009

What's old is new at four Texas hotels. HOUSTON A 1911 Beaux-Arts bank building is being transformed into the 135-room Hotel Icon (220 Main St., 713/224-4266; www.hotelicon.com; doubles from $295), which will have a restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten in the colonnaded lobby and Rande Gerber's first Whiskey Bar in the state. Nearby, the Magnolia Hotel (1100 Texas Ave.; 888/915-1110; www.themagnoliahotel.com; doubles from $199) has taken over a former newspaper headquarters. The 314 silver and gold rooms have access to a rooftop pool—the first in downtown Houston. SAN ANTONIO The about-to-open 99-room Watermark Hotel & Spa (212 W. Crockett St., 866/605-1212; www.watermarkhotel.com; doubles from $269) is centrally located on the city's famed River Walk. The 17,000-square-foot spa uses indigenous ingredients (mesquite wood and cornmeal body scrub) in treatments, while the seafood-centric restaurant, Pesca, offers a welcome alternative to Texas beef. LAJITAS In big, Lone Star style, Lajitas, The Ultimate Hideout (877/525-4827; www.lajitas.com; doubles from $155), sits on 25,000 high-desert acres northwest of Big Bend National Park. The luxe spread includes four rustic, Old West-themed hotels, a spa, an 18-hole golf course, an equestrian center, and its own airstrip for private jets.
—Mario R. Mercado

Mokara Hotel & Spa

Formerly the Watermark Hotel & Spa

A minute’s stroll from the Alamo; historic photographs are displayed in the guest rooms. 

Hotel Icon

The 132-room boutique hotel occupies the city's first tall building, the 12-story, neo-classical 1911 Union National Bank, and the original steel and brass vault doors hang imposingly behind the front desk. The size of the lobby is evident in dramatic 30-foot columns that rise to intricately carved ceilings, still pristine. Modern furniture surrounds a central round bar that's lively with the business travelers this downtown hotel attracts during the week. Period touches continue throughout the property, where the average size of the guest rooms is 400 square feet. A pass-through window connects the modern-furnished bedroom and subway-tiled bathroom, and original millwork is evident on the guest room floors. For big spenders, the lavish three-story penthouse suite boasts a 600-square-foot patio.

Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa

This John Wayne movie set of a resort, complete with tumbleweeds and horses tied to hitching posts, is on 27,000 acres of desert and mountains near Big Bend National Park, in far southwest Texas. Two hundred miles from the nearest town, Lajitas is nearly self-sufficient, with a general store, spa, restaurant, and saloon to go along with the 101 rooms and villas. For the full cowhide, antler, and log-beam experience, book the Cavalry Post or Officers’ Quarters rooms. The feather in the resort’s Stetson is the new championship golf course, which opened in September 2010.

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