Lake Austin Spa is legendary among American destination resorts yet I, a somewhat seasoned spa writer, had not actually visited the property until this past fall. It’s impossible to write about the spa without talking about this Texas Hill Country resort as a whole. There are 40 rooms here, which look like small lake houses set side by side, along a path that faces the lake. Each has a front patio set with chairs and a table, and variations on an outdoor space in back as well (I had a chair and table and a fountain).
Choosing a room depends on your need for view versus privacy – I was in #2, which was just at the entrance, meaning I could hear visitors pulling into the drive and speaking into the call box to gain entry. My view of the lake was semi-obstructed by the lovely garden. That said – as the second room in the row, nobody ever walked by, except a few cats that roam the property. Rooms 27to 40 have unobstructed views of the lake, but are also a more highly trafficked area, as they’re on the way to the spa. Guests in those rooms will hear people’s shoes going crunch crunch crunch on the gravel walkway on the way to and from their treatments. Depending on the person, this is either an annoyance or not a big deal.
Another factor is that the lake is public and on a weekend there can be lots of people out there boating, paddle boarding, fishing, and the like. They are not always quiet, and this is not something the resort can control.
You can (and should) get out on the lake on a paddle board, or a hydro-bike or a kayak, all available at the resort’s dock until 3 pm every day. There are plenty of fitness and yoga classes offered daily, as well as seminars on topics like “The Power of Positivity” or “Strength in Sisterhood,” and cooking demonstrations. You can swim in an outdoor unheated pool, or do laps in a junior Olympic pool in a modern barn. Or, yes, spa – with treatments that range from the expected massages and facials to the exotic (ever hear of Tok Sen or Manaka Tapping? Neither had I – you can read about them in more detail in the Treatments section on this site).
All that activity needs to be fueled and the food here is first-rate, thanks to Stephane Beaucamp, the resort’s executive chef. It may seem like an oxymoron to have a classically trained French chef cooking spa cuisine, but in fact it’s a perfect match. The food is fresh and healthy, even if it sounds like it shouldn’t be (pray the “fried” chicken is on the menu when you’re there – divine). Portions are spa-appropriate, and therefore on the small side. However, since the resort is all-inclusive, there’s nothing to stop you from ordering more than one entrée at lunch or dinner, especially if sharing with others. There’s a very impressive wine list here, as well as a couple beers offered, but no other alcohol – so if you’re a vodka or whiskey drinker, you gotta BYO.
Finally, and I rarely get to say this, the store here is really good. It has a great selection of merchandise at a variety of price points. I saw a great sweater for $60, a cool bag for about the same price, and they even had my favorite scented candle. There’s a separate shop up at the spa, which is filled with ever type of beauty product as well as the Clarisonic skin system everyone seems to be obsessed with – if you’re one of those people, check out their newest version, for your feet.
A Practical Note:
The spa is technically in the Austin city limits, but not close to downtown Austin – it’s a 30 to 45 minute drive and/or $70+ cab ride one way. Visitors who think they’ll just zip into Austin for dinner or a concert need to know this, and consider renting a car if they plan on going downtown often or, perhaps, staying somewhere else if spa isn’t top-of-the list for their visit. Those who are planning on hunkering down for a weekend of spa and relaxation can forget about the car and simply settle in.