We expected to drive through San Antonio on our anniversary, so we booked three days at the Mokara for early December. The booking had to be made through Omni's central facility, not the hotel, so it was impossible to get solid answers to various questions from the corporate-polite drone at the other end. Still, we arrived to find that we'd gotten what we'd hoped for: a room facing the river on the highly desirable spa floor.
We were greeted warmly by a helpful and hugely friendly door/bell staff which took perfect care of the mountains of stuff from our SUV. The front desk manager was equally helpful, so in all we felt thoroughly spoiled from the get-go -- and for the most part this good vibe remained throughout our stay.
Although valet parking is offered, we sequestered our vehicle at a high-rise garage a block or so away where Mokara has an abundance of reserved spaces. With so much within walking distance, we never needed anything but shoe leather during our stay.
The facilities were excellent. The room itself, with high ceilings, was very nicely appointed, even if the color scheme and tapestry patterns were bland. The ample marble bathroom included a Jacuzzi tub, luxurious shower and, a la France, a private stall for the toilet. There was a small balcony overlooking the river and front entrance which we made use of even though the weather was unusually cold even by seasonal standards.
We ate at their Ostra restaurant two nights, and once at the Las Canarias sister restaurant across the river. Both get high marks, but Ostra's food was too much of a triumph for the other to equal.
However, Ostra consists of one very large room which can get decidedly noisy and unromantic when convention-goers swarm, cellphones and all. Las Canarias' room across the river better retains its charm during these busy periods.
Withal, Ostra's meals were nothing short of outstanding, as good as we've had anywhere in Texas in our many years of visiting there. Flawless service, as well, which came as a pleasant surprise given comments to the contrary from some other reviewers.
We also partook of two breakfasts there, both excellent, and one room service -- ditto. Spring for the Tex-Mex "Migas" if you're a demanding two-fisted eater.
The Riverfront area appears to cater primarily to conventioneers, as well as youthful adults barhopping and otherwise looking for a lively evening. (Order is maintained by city police on bicycle.) Summer also reportedly brings families with youngsters in tow. Solo romantic couples like us exist, but stand out mainly on slow days. As a result much of what the Riverfront and adjacent facilities have to offer is touristy and occasionally tacky, but not where the Mokara is located.
On the lower floors you look out over not only the expected river, but also at architecture that is virtually all period or reproduction period. The boxy eyesores that pass for hotels and such not far away are all but unseen when you're on a lower floor facing the river, so try to secure one of these. You'll marvel at the serene and charming view.
Notwithstanding all this, we had a few disappointments. One day the maid left the place half done -- some bedding on the floor, trash unemptied, some consumables not replaced -- although the evening maid later resolved these things at our request. Too, there were brown spots on the floor by the toilet when we arrived; these were never cleaned until we wiped them up ourselves just before leaving.
The yesteryear Internet connection was a major disappointment. Although its WiFi signal was powerful, throughput usually measured 1-2 MB downlink, although that was erratic to the point of nothing at times. Far worse was the uplink, which ran only 0-100 kB. God only knows how much time we wasted waiting for this 1990s connection to produce even minimal results when we were trying to get going to enjoy the Riverfront, spa and other temptations. This apparently is an Omni problem, rather than dimwitted local management, as a central contract provider for hotels is used. But we consistently get vastly better performance at $80-100 motels along Interstates than we found at Mokara. Indeed, later in our trip we stayed at the similar-quality Inn at Biltmore Estate, where downlink typically measured 17 MB, uplink 16 MB.
Not enough? One day we were disconnected and had to sign in anew a number of times, including once during a download. The soup nazi has nothing on these folks.
Back to the good stuff. My wife fell in love with their spa. She's done any number of spas here and abroad, but this was as good as she's experienced.
In all, a superb and memorable experience.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to Mokara Hotel & Spa, a relaxing retreat on San Antonio’s world-famous River Walk. Just steps from all the action yet worlds away, this inviting oasis has all the best creature comforts easily at hand, including luxurious accommodations, first-class amenities, fine dining and a full-service spa. Plus, our attentive staff is always available to make your stay in San Antonio a truly memorable one. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mokara Hotel San Antonio
- Watermark Hotel San Antonio
- Mokara Hotel And Spa San Antonio, Texas