It’s an exciting time in wonderful San Antonio. Here are just a few of the city’s recent and upcoming news items. For more of what’s new and upcoming events in San Antonio, explore media.visitsanantonio.com.
SAN ANTONIO’S MISSIONS ENTER GLOBAL SPOTLIGHT AS WORLD HERITAGE SITE
San Antonio’s five Spanish colonial missions (including the Alamo) represent the largest concentration of Spanish colonial missions in North America and have been named a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The World Heritage Site List recognizes the most significant cultural and natural sites in the world such as Stonehenge and the Great Wall of China. This rare honor has been bestowed upon only 23 sites in the United States.
FAMOUS SAN ANTONIO RIVER WALK EXPANSION COMPLETE
San Antonio recently completed a $358.3 million project to lengthen the River Walk from three to 15 miles. The expansion began with the Museum Reach, connecting downtown with museums, cultural districts and the historic Pearl Brewery to the north. The Mission Reach (noted as the largest ecosystem restoration in an urban area) completed the expansion and joins the original River Walk to four of the city’s Spanish colonial missions in south San Antonio. Visitors can take in the natural beauty of the river on hike and bike trails. This latest endeavor highlights the city’s vision to preserve its natural landscape, distinguishing San Antonio as a place that invests in the generations to come.
SAN ANTONIO’S PEARL WELCOMES HOTEL EMMA
In November 2015, San Antonio introduced the newest addition to its esteemed Pearl complex, Hotel Emma. This 146-room independently operated boutique property is perfectly situated in the 119-year-old brew house. Comfortable and unconventional, the hotel’s architecture and interiors will intertwine the historic building’s industrial aesthetic with South Texas luxury – all while capitalizing on its much-coveted River Walk location. Hotel Emma is named in honor of Emma Koehler, wife of Pearl Brewery founder Otto Koehler. Emma kept the brewery afloat after Otto’s death, during Prohibition, and helped launch the brewery into its most successful period. To round out the hotel’s gastronomic focus, Hotel Emma will also boast a culinary concierge, focusing solely on helping guests realize amazing and authentic culinary experiences.
‘A TEXAS JEWEL REBORN’: THE ST. ANTHONY, A LUXURY COLLECTION HOTEL
From the time it opened as San Antonio’s first true luxury hotel in 1909, The St. Anthony has set trends, hosted celebrities and thrown celebrations that have left an indelible mark on the city. Always the place to see and be seen, The St. Anthony is the subject of legend and lore, with famed stories that make a stay here all the more intriguing. The story of The St. Anthony turned a new page in November 2015 when the hotel reopened and rebranded as “The St. Anthony, A Luxury Collection Hotel, San Antonio.” It features redesigned guestrooms, suites and public spaces, as well as Rebelle, a new restaurant concept from restaurateur Andrew Goodman with acclaimed Chef Stefan Bowers, and Haunt, a new cocktail bar offering classic cocktails inspired by the haunting legends of The St. Anthony. The renovation also includes the rebirth of historic The St. Anthony Club, and a new rooftop lounge on the hotel’s 10th floor.
NEW MUSEUMS, EXHIBITS AND CULTURAL ART INSTITUTIONS
THE DOSEUM OPENS
The 65,000-square-foot DoSeum, San Antonio’s new children’s museum, features outdoor space and learning activities to provide children up to age 10 the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills through immersive, hands-on activities. It focuses on science, technology, literacy, art, creativity and imagination on its 5.5-acre campus that is located on the Broadway Reach, which connects it to seven other cultural and educational attractions.
“BATTLE FOR TEXAS: THE EXPERIENCE” BRINGS LEGENDARY ALAMO BATTLE TO LIFE (FEBRUARY 2016)
This 22,000-square-foot attraction in downtown San Antonio’s Shops at Rivercenter will feature some of the world’s most important Alamo artifacts and heart-racing multimedia re-enactments of the 13-day battle. Visitors will be able to experience what it was like to be at the Battle of the Alamo from the perspectives of the mission’s defenders and the Mexican army with never-before-seen artifacts.
TOBIN CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS SHOWCASES CULTURAL SAN ANTONIO
San Antonio’s former Municipal Auditorium, an event venue built as a stunning WWI memorial, is now the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. This San Antonio treasure retains its historical charm and grandeur while also featuring world-class acts, exceptional sound, acoustics and seating arrangements. Plus, its location on the esteemed Museum Reach of the San Antonio River Walk makes it a gateway to the cultural heart of San Antonio.
THE WITTE MUSEUM’S MAYA: HIDDEN WORLDS REVEALED (MAY 14 – SEPTEMBER 5, 2016)
The largest exhibition about the ancient Maya ever to be displayed in the United States, Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed uses a combination of hundreds of authentic artifacts, immersive environments, multimedia components, and hands-on activities to explore the rise and eventual decline of these fascinating ancient cities. Visitors will learn how contemporary Maya people maintain many cultural practices and beliefs that link them to their ancestors and take part in the process of discovery to learn how archaeologists use science, technology and contemporary Maya voices to interpret the past.
NORTH AMERICA’S OLDEST CATHEDRAL SANCTUARY WELCOMES MONUMENTAL VIDEO ART INSTALLATION, “SAN ANTONIO|THE SAGA”
This vibrant 7,000-square-foot projection with custom choreographed music in surround sound narrates the historical discovery, settlement and development of San Antonio. Projected on the façade of historic San Fernando Cathedral, this is renowned French Artist, Xavier de Richemont’s first outdoor video art installation in the United States. The installation will be a main feature of the destination for a 10-year period.
In the heart of downtown, the first phase of Hemisfair Park’s redevelopment, Yanaguana Garden, is 4.1 acres of active play environment designed for all ages and ability levels. The park serves a dual purpose to provide education and recreation to the community. Additionally, historic homes that line the property will be filled with new, independent and local tenants including a coffee shop, a paleteria (Mexican ice pops), a brewery and a café. Yanaguana Garden is a small part of the total 37-acre development to come featuring even more park space, new retail, residences and more to Hemisfair, a redesigned vibrant district which was home to the 1968 World’s Fair.
MORGAN’S WONDERLAND ADDS “WHIRLING WONDER” FERRIS WHEEL (FEBRUARY 26, 2016)
Known as a theme park that is all about inclusion and enabling individuals with special needs to achieve new heights, Morgan’s Wonderland’s new Ferris wheel will be more than five stories tall and clearly visible from Interstate 35 – a half-mile away. The 46-foot-in-diameter wheel will feature 12 gondolas that can accommodate children and adults, including guests in wheelchairs.
2017 will also be a big year for Morgan’s Wonderland, as it will unveil the world’s first ultra-accessible splash park, Morgan’s Inspiration Island, where guests of all ages and abilities can get wet and have fun together. The splash park, which features a River Boat Adventure ride and five water play areas, will allow kids and adults – including those in wheelchairs – to be able to have fun in the South Texas sun.
SEAWORLD SAN ANTONIO UNVEILS PLANS FOR DISCOVERY POINT (SUMMER 2016)
Discovery Point, a revolutionary and interactive area for dolphins, will be one of the largest single capital investments in SeaWorld San Antonio’s 27-year history. This addition will nearly double the size of the park’s dolphin pool, allowing guests to experience these amazing mammals in new and more powerful ways, including swimming with the dolphins in a naturalistic environment.
SIX FLAGS FIESTA TEXAS TO ADD THREE RIDES AS PART OF BOARDWALK REVITALIZATION (SUMMER 2016)
Visitors should prepare for sensory overload as three new mind-bending rides anchor an exciting new Fiesta Bay Boardwalk in 2016 at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Guests will find themselves looping, spinning and soaring as they experience the new high-adrenaline thrills on Fireball, featuring a massive 7-story looping frenzy; Hurricane Force 5, where riders take on the power of a storm and swirl round-and-round while soaring high into the air; and Spinsanity, the ultimate whirling adventure for daredevil riders.
NEW MEETING & CONVENTION SPACE
HENRY B. GONZALEZ CONVENTION CENTER TRANSFORMATION (JANUARY 2016)
San Antonio’s $325 million expansion of its Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center will debut in January 2016. This is the largest capital project in the city’s history. When completed, it will offer 514,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space; 270,000 square feet of new exhibit space; 85,000 square feet of column-free multipurpose space; a more than 54,000-square-foot ballroom; 70 meeting spaces, including divisible breakout rooms; wrap-around balcony with views of historic downtown and River Walk; enhanced circulation and way finding; and well-defined street and river entrances.
SAN ANTONIO’S ALAMODOME TO RECEIVE $43 MILLION MAKEOVER (NOVEMBER 2017)
San Antonio is investing $43 million into its 65,000-seat Alamodome. Set in historic downtown and connected to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center by a walking path, the Alamodome is designed for flexibility to accommodate football, basketball, soccer, boxing, tradeshow and both theater and stadium concert capabilities. Renovations will include: transformation of North Plaza – more contiguous event space added to outdoor plaza; 18,600-square-foot east and west concourse expansion with upgraded concessions areas; new 24,000-square-foot multi-use space;
new technology including two new LED video walls and ribbon boards; and new visiting team locker room.
NORTH STAR MALL COWBOY BOOT SCULPTURE A GUINNESS WORLD RECORD
Created by artist Bob Wade, two 35-foot, 3-inches-tall cowboy boots welcome visitors to San Antonio’s North Star Mall and now hold a Guinness World Record as the largest cowboy boot sculpture in the world.
BOTIKA (“boh-TEE-kah”) (June 2016)
Led by executive chef Geronimo Lopez, Botika’s menu will feature “Chifa” (Chinese-Peruvian) and “Nikkei” (Japanese-Peruvian) cuisines, as well as inventive takes on traditional dishes from across Asia and Latin America. Botika’s bar will offer classic cocktails and a wide variety of rums, piscos and cachaças. The restaurant will feature a sushi-ceviche bar, a cocktail lounge, and late-night dining options. Ample outdoor gathering space is also available, with indoor seating for more than 100 guests. Lopez was most recently the Executive Chef and Instructor of Culinary Arts at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in San Antonio. He was the opening executive chef in the college’s NAO: New World Flavors restaurant.
NEW RESTAURANTS AND COCKTAIL ESTABLISHMENTS
HOTEL EMMA BOASTS THREE EPICURIAN PROPERTIES
Hotel Emma will be the home of three new restaurants: Supper, Sternewirth and Larder. Supper, the restaurant led by Chef John Brand, will focus on comforting and seasonally fresh greenmarket
cuisine. The eatery will embody the sensibilities of both the farm table and bistro table. The menu will represent Brand’s elemental Midwestern approach in the kitchen peppered with South Texas’ multicultural food ways and the unique bounty of San Antonio’s year-round producers.
Steeped in the history of one of the brewery’s grandest spaces, Sternewirth, the hotel bar and clubroom, will showcase 20-foot-tall cast-iron tanks redesigned as banquettes and will serve a menu of classic cocktails, a refined and innovative selection of wines, craft beers and a selection of small gourmet bites and plates.
Larder, a gourmet market, will offer a well-curated selection of locally sourced goods, groceries, house-butchered meats, and fine provisions, as well as freshly prepared foods, wine, beer and Merit Coffee. It is a South Texas food store with a soupçon of Euro-sophistication, where hotel guests and locals alike can stock up on culinary luxuries or simply enjoy a glass of wine.
One of the most flavorful aspects of the St. Anthony hotel renovation in November is the opening of Rebelle, from noted restaurateur Andrew Goodman and chef Stefan Bowers, both of the successful Feast restaurant in San Antonio. Cocktails are named for the seven deadly sins, and there are steaks, cassoulets and surprises like lobster in green curry and char-grilled octopus.
Chef Jeff Balfour, former executive chef at Hotel Valencia, opened his first restaurant located at the Pearl, in what is the 10th largest gastropub in the country. With 10 Southerleigh beers to be brewed on site, seafood boils with Gulf Coast catches, a patio overlooking the farmers market for Saturday brunch and more, there’s much to embrace about this new concept. Beer aficionados will be captivated by the brews; Balfour has brought on Les Locke, former head brewer of San Antonio-based Branchline Brewing Co. Expect a wide range of rotating options including barrel-aged beers, IPAs and Helles. Southerleigh is named for the Texas Gulf Coast breeze.
THE OLD MAIN ASSOCIATION
Jeret Pena, one the leaders of San Antonio’s cocktail movement and owner of several acclaimed bars, has opened his newest venture. Alongside expertly crafted cocktails, Chef Lorenzo Morales offers food that’s a nod to the multicultural city. Some items are puro San Antonio, such as the “concha burger,” with a traditional Mexican sweet egg bread bun.
PARAMOUR JOINS SAN ANTONIO’S COCKTAIL SCENE
Planning his dream bar, Chris Ware, barman of the acclaimed cocktail program at the former Arcade Midtown Kitchen, recently opened Paramour, a new downtown bar with a rooftop patio overlooking the San Antonio skyline and River Walk from the top of the new Phipps building. Some highlights include two separate rooftop bars, an extensive champagne program and cocktails on tap.
Chef Elizabeth Johnson, a former Latin Cuisines chef instructor at the Culinary Institute of America San Antonio campus, has launched Pharm Table, an approach to anti-inflammatory foods through a series of pop-ups, meal delivery programs and Cooking For Your Body Type interactive classes. Johnson has also turned Pharm Table into a brick-and-mortar restaurant, all about bringing the body back into balance and nourishing it. Pharm Table is all about real food that is fresh and local, customized to the season, a person’s goals, and his or her body map.