SAN ANTONIO -

Eleven steps from the water, San Antonio's newest River Walk hotel, the Wyndham Garden, has opened its doors.

"What we talk about is we're on the tranquil side of the River Walk, the side with the arts, museums and everything to get away from the hub and bub of downtown, yet still accessible," said Justin Holley, the hotel's general manager.

The Wyndham Garden, with its front door on Ninth Street, has another entrance just off the river in the heart of the new Museum Reach section.

It has 131 rooms, glass chandeliers and watercolor paintings by local artists and balconies that overlook the river.

It's also the site of a Bourbon St. Seafood Kitchen, which just opened for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A Starbucks is expected to start brewing in about two weeks.

"This is such a local hangout now on the Museum Reach," Holley said. "We sit out here on the weekends and see tons of people walking up and down."

The Museum Reach construction continues to take shape. The hotel is about a 10-minute walk to the Pearl development and a quick river taxi downtown.

The expansion of the River Walk capitalizes on one of the city's top tourist attractions.

Don and Susie Shoemaker were vacationing from Washington state.

"We love it," Don Shoemaker said. "We're enjoying the sights, and we're' right on the River Walk."

"We were in Dallas a number of years ago, and my wife always wanted to go here just because of the River Walk and Alamo," said Bob Mason, visiting from Oregon.

The opening of the hotel comes as the hotel industry has rebounded from the Recession.

"After 2008, we saw a huge decline," Holley said. "We're starting to see our (hotel occupancy) tax revenues back up to the levels we saw at 2008."

The hotel occupancy dipped to 57 percent in 2009, but rebounded to 63.6 percent last year, according to a report by PKF Hospitality Research. The occupancy rate is projected to hit 66 percent this year.

The hospitality industry has long been a job-generator for San Antonio. Last year, the sector added 1,100 jobs.

With the expansion of the Convention Center beginning next fall, the industry is expected to see more growth.

"What happens with that, somebody comes here for a convention and realizes it's such a family-friendly city, they bring their families back time and time again," Holley said.

For a list of recent stories Marilyn Moritz has done, click here.