Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta believed that Houston lacked a “unique, first-class spa.” So he built one. And so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when I arrived at the Houston Airport and was swept away in a shiny new Bentley for the 40-minute ride to the The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston.
I already knew some of the cast: the distinguished Jorge Gonzalez, General Manager, who I had met during his Mandarin Oriental days; the charming and creative Jean-Luc Royere, Executive Chef, who also hailed from Mandarin Oriental and who I’d known from the Ritz-Carlton; Jim Carey, the affable Concierge Manager most recently from Hotel Derek, who I’d met many moons ago at the Fairmont Copley Plaza—and of course the impeccable Daisy Tepper, spa director.
I’ve known Tepper for 20-plus years through her leadership roles at Four Seasons and The Peninsula Beverly Wilshire. I never thought she would leave Los Angeles—but Fertitta’s offer proved too good to refuse.
“Tilman said he wanted to create the best spa in Texas,” Tepper told me. “How could I say no?”
A global traveler, Fertitta was inspired by some of the most luxurious hotels and spas in the world. And The Post Oak Hotel, Houston’s only Five-Diamond Hotel, reflects that.The hotel is a luxurious blend of Europe with a hint of Vegas—but all Texas.
Case in point: The two-story Rolls-Royce showroom. The helicopter pad. The Frank Stella’s, Robert Motherwell’s, and Alex Katz’s displayed throughout. The $3.5 million wine collection in The Cellar. And of course—The Spa.
But before we go there . . .
Situated on 10 acres, the 700,000-square-foot hotel rises 38 stories high into the Houston sky and has 250 elegant guest rooms and suites. It is very vertical. I spent three nights in the Post Oak Suite, a comfortable and thoughtfully designed 1,500-square-foot space with wonderful views of Downtown Houston. Though I was there specifically to experience The Spa, I found it somewhat difficult to leave my expansive and spa-like white marble bathroom with its gargantuan soaking tub.
But of course, I did make my way to The Spa on the fifth floor, which remarkably is adjacent to a perfectly manicured rooftop dog park. That’s a combination I have never seen—it’s lovely and it works.
The facilities and amenities in the 20,000 square-foot spa are topnotch. I spent a good amount of time soaking in the tranquility pool, steaming in the chic black and white (and aromatherapy-infused) marble steam room, relaxing in the perfect-size sauna, and showering under the multi-sensory thermal shower. I was pleased to find—and use—the ice fountain. (Why am I always the only one in the spa who happily slathers ice chips all over myself?)
Tepper has also created a number of gentle surprises that are not over the top, but are instead top-of-the-line touches that make a person immediately feel taken care of and at ease. Well-trained, attentive spa attendants (Rosa especially) are on hand, ensuring that spa-goers gathered around the tranquility pool or lounging on daybeds or moving between treatments are well looked after.
“I try to surprise the guest,” Tepper shares. “If it’s a birthday or a reunion, I gather them together and take a photo of them that I’ll give to them on their way out. They don’t expect it.”
There’s a co-ed Quiet Room with zero gravity chairs in which to tune out in and curtains one can close for soothing darkness. There are plush monogrammed robes for members and a lavish couple’s suite. And, in an unusual and unique move, there’s a men’s locker area that is unabashedly larger than the women’s locker area.
During my stay, I experienced two signature spa treatments. The first, exclusive to The Spa, was Cinq Mondes’ relaxing “Rituals of Five Worlds.” It involved two therapists, warm poultices, gentle stretching, cranial acupressure, and a bit of foot reflexology. The second was Jacqueline Piotaz’s lovely “Eternal Radiance” facial that included an enzyme peel, gel mask, and chilled rose-quartz stones. The facial actually kept me well-hydrated during the long flight home the next day.
Tepper has a special knack for finding unique brands that you won’t find elsewhere. She chose Cinq Mondes after learning about its history and the couple behind the brand. “I was really intrigued by it,” she tells me. “I loved the idea of products and ingredients from different parts of the world, and I felt that Houston is such a diverse city, the brand would be a perfect fit.”
She chose the Switzerland-based, luxury skincare line Jacqueline Piotaz after a Swiss friend introduced her to the brand’s namesake. “I was very impressed with Jacqueline’s passion, her product, and her vision. She’s a beautiful woman who is very selective in where she places her product.”
In another exclusive move, The Spa is the only property in Texas to feature the InSkin facial system—a two-hour treatment that includes microdermabrasion, oxygen, LED lighting, radio frequency, something called “electroporation,” and air massage.
What has been the biggest eye opener for Tepper since moving to Texas? “Just being in Texas, it’s the dynamic,” says Tepper. “Coming from LA, it’s just different. I actually feel the expectations here are higher than in LA. There’s much more of an appreciation and an attention to detail here.”
Within three months of opening, The Spa at The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston received the Forbes Five Star rating, the only spa in Texas to receive the designation.
29 North A beautifully curated boutique that features a sophisticated selection of bespoke vendors for men and women, with a focus on Texas and American designers. With that said, I loved the Karen Mabon silk scarves with the whimsical and kind of kitschy Texas-inspired print, designed especially for the hotel.
The Fitness Center is outfitted with top-of-the-line Technogym equipment, two Peloton bikes, lots of light, and great views. But the best part of all is Dose Khan—fitness trainer extraordinaire who has worked on a number of elite athletes. He specializes in functional training with an emphasis on correctives. Don’t pass up a personal-training session with him.
Bloom & Bee Plentiful floral accents and tasteful décor make this a charming dining option that features locally inspired dishes and has become the place to “see and be seen.” Situated right off the main lobby, the venue offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I recommend the Avocado & Tomato Tartine, Red Snapper Crudo, and Cast Iron Charred Okra.
Bouchée Patisserie This light, airy, and authentic patisserie is a nice time-out for a mid-day specialty coffee and gourmet pastry. Those with a serious sweet-tooth will appreciate the traditional Parisian delights, including house-made bonbons.