In part one of this travel story, I was saying goodbye to my nine fabulous spa pals after spending the day together at the Lake House Spa. You can read about my journey of many friends by clicking here. As the friends all departed, I began the transition into overnight guest mode at Lake Austin Spa Resort. This began with a brief drive from the day spa through the imposing gates of the private lakeside resort.
It turns out I’ve stumbled across a rare quiet week at Lake Austin. I’m almost reluctant to reveal it because I enjoyed having my pick of tables at meals, private classes with fabulous instructors and all the attention of the staff. But here it is: the week before Thanksgiving week tends to be a little slower, whereas holiday weeks tend to be packed with parents traveling with their adult children. The best times to go, if you want to experience all the activities on the lake like the hydro bikes and stand up paddleboarding, is in the heat of the summer months.
The most affordable accommodations at Lake Austin Spa Resort are the simple, comfortable and conveniently located signature rooms. Me? I stayed in a newly redesigned luxury garden room (#8) with stunning views of Lake Austin and my own private garden. As if on queue, I’m greeted by a deer as I peel back the shower curtain to reveal woods above my garden wall. Worth the splurge, the luxury garden rooms were created to “marry elements of Texas Hill Country with the details of a European dressmaker.” I’ll say this: they’ve achieved what they set out to accomplish. The spaces are soothing and dreamy.
A special place
There is no doubt the scenery and depth and breadth of programming is what draws people here, but I suspect that’s only part of what keeps guests coming back year after year. It’s hard not to notice how genuinely outgoing and friendly the staff is. I felt very well taken care of. When I came down with a cold during my visit, I was asked if there was anything they could do for me. The front desk will supply pruning shears and plastic bags so you can take fresh herbs from the garden home with you.
So how did I spend my 24 hours as an overnight guest? For starters, I ate well and often. Chef Stephane Beaucamp prepares most menu items following this tact: take fresh, healthy and wholesome ingredients and prepare using abundant produce, spices and seasonings. This method of cooking eliminates the need for added fat and calories without compromising a bit of flavor. Menus include the calories and fat content of each dish. Everything I ate was delicious but I particularly enjoyed the lemon poppyseed pancakes at breakfast and the pimento cheese sandwich at lunch. If your notion of spa cuisine is bland proteins and overcooked vegetables, you’re in the wrong place .
Feeling a bit under the weather, I spent the morning taking gentle classes: first a Feldenkrais foam class followed by a Feldenkrais stretch classes. It ended up being just me in the foam class, so it was more like a personal training session. I learned just enough about this method to stir my curiosity and a Google search revealed that there is a practitioner just 5 miles from home.
Following a hearty breakfast of daybreak delights, I toured the organic herb and vegetable garden with Trisha Shirey, Lake Austin’s Director of Flora & Fauna. When Trisha isn’t tending to the lush gardens, she can be found teaching cooking and craft classes. Missing out on Trisha’s Festive Fall Beverage class, which I missed on departure day by just a few hours, was the only disappointment of my visit.
I was also the only guest on a pontoon boat cruise with Roseanne. She greeted me with water and blankets and the warmest smile. The sun beamed down on us as we traveled up and down Lake Austin, gazing at the multi-million dollar homes along the shores.
After lunch (see, eating again!) Chef Stephane offered a cooking demo in an open demonstration kitchen with views of Lake Austin. In this kitchen Chef shares his love of food, family and friendship with a guests as he creates simple and healthful recipes. He also dispenses simple, back-to-basics advice on getting kids involved in cooking early and making cooking a family affair. The theme of the cooking demo was Holiday Salads: a Kale Waldorf Salad and Arugula Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese. He had me at the mere mention of goat cheese. Of course, sampling the prepared dishes is de rigueur.
Worth the price of admission alone was the sleep program I attended with Terry Shaw. Suffering from chronic insomnia for as long as I can remember, I’m always encouraged to get new information about treatments that go beyond sleep hygiene (dark, cool room, white noise, no caffeine). This program hit the jackpot. I walked away with pages and pages of research and suggestions that I’m systematically trying at home with support from my doctor.
The extras worth mentioning
- There are gifts! A personalized reusable water bottle and your own spa sandals are yours for taking home.
- There are beverage bars located in strategic places throughout the resort where you can grab coffee, hot and iced tea, lemonade and fresh fruit.
- The boutique offers free shipping for overnight guests and no sales tax when you ship out of state. How could I not buy that gorgeous bag and trendy luggage tags I spotted?
- The staff to guest ratio? I don’t know what it is but I can tell you it’s blissful.
- Leaving before lunch on your departure day? The dining room staff will pack a to-go lunch for you.
- The front desk won’t direct you to a sterile business center to print your own boarding pass. They’ll print it for you.
It doesn’t take long for this place to creep into your soul. I’ve already become victim to what happens to so many guests who’ve stood here before me: wanting to return to Lake Austin Spa Resort before I’d even left for home.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary overnight stay and spa treatment to research this article. The writers opinions are her own.