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LONE STAR LUXURY
 
(2011 - Winter/Spring Issue)

Writer: BY CHRISTOPHER SANDLIN



SLOW AND EASY
TEXAS HILL COUNTRY

A region that lives up to its name in every way, the Texas Hill Country was once one of America’s best-kept secrets. With its unique landscape marked by rolling hills; an abundant and diverse cast of native flora and fauna; clear rivers; spring-fed creeks minutes from wooded canyons; and thousands of acres of nature preserves, this country is no longer just the backyard playground for those living in Austin, San Antonio (the largest cities within the Hill Country’s 36,260 square kilometres) and more than 50 smaller cities.

Dubbed by The New York Times as the “No. 1 vacation spot in the nation,” the Hill Country is an inviting year-round destination that rarely feels crowded. Shopping, hiking in beautiful nature preserves, biking, tubing, boating, golfing, live music, local cuisine, spa culture, visits to fantastic wineries—the Hill Country is never lacking for activities. The real question is, “What’s your pace?”

Lake Austin Spa Resort

Nestled in the hills outside of Austin and perched on the bucolic Lake Austin, which feeds into the larger Lake Travis, Lake Austin Spa Resort is the kind of place where you can relax, pamper yourself and forget the outside world. Saying goodbye is the only difficulty you’ll find here, and it’s no surprise it was recently named “No. 1 Destination Spa in North America” for the second time by Condé Nast Traveller, 2010 Readers’ Choice Awards.

It’s the perfect blend of luxury and that laid-back feeling you might experience at your best friend’s lake house. Friendly and helpful staff will know your name by the end of your first day, and as a guest you’re encouraged to feel at home—so much so that it’s common (and encouraged) for guests to wear their plush spa robes to the dinner table!

With its own bamboo-lined private garden sanctuary and water feature in the back, this intimate resort has 40 rooms, each beautifully appointed with locally crafted furniture, organic bath products and luxury amenities. Some rooms also include gas-burning fireplaces and indoor Jacuzzi tubs, and private patios with bamboo water features. Other amenities include two lounge pools, a Junior Olympic-size swimming pool, a private dock for boating and lake activities, a full gym and a dining room featuring exquisite healthy cuisine—the watermelon gazpacho is the ultimate treat in the spring and summer.

And let’s not forget the world-class spa, housed in its own tranquil building and featuring top-notch spa attendants and a wide menu of treatments. A personal favourite is the Tour of Texas, one of the resort’s signature treatments for Texas-style rejuvenation, including a prickly pear exfoliating scrub, an aloe vera wrap and a massage with essential oils made from local products.

Many of the spa products as well as the organic food served in the restaurant are grown on site in the resort’s sprawling, beautifully crafted and carefully maintained garden. There’s even a full-time Director of Flora & Fauna who gives garden tours and lessons in organic gardening.

At this resort, you pamper not just your body, but also your mind. Other classes often led by visiting teachers and authors include yoga, meditation, dream workshops, healthy cooking classes, crafts, wine tasting, aromatherapy and more—all on a schedule that changes monthly.

Three healthy gourmet meals daily and all activities (except spa treatments) are included in your nightly rate. The resort often promotes special resort/spa package deals that are ideal for mother/daughter weekends, romantic couples’ getaways, or even singles who just want to escape into a serene, pampered and relaxing environment. Guests at Lake Austin Spa Resort must be at least 14 years old and anyone under 18 must be accompanied by parents.

Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa

Got kids? On a different spectrum of Hill Country rest and relaxation is the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa, a rustic wonderland that’s great for children of all ages and has ample opportunities for adult enjoyment as well. Roughly 20 minutes outside of Austin near the historic town of Bastrop, this expansive resort is the perfect place for families to enjoy a Hill Country vacation.

From the moment you enter the resort, you know you’re in a special place that’s in tune with the Hill Country and darn proud of it. A meandering road leads guests over rolling hills, surrounded by acres of private land, home to hundreds of species of Texas animals, birds and reptiles. Resting on the banks of the majestic Colorado River and adjacent to the 4.5-square-kilometre McKinney Roughs Nature Park, the luxurious Lost Pines Resort is a haven for adventure, outdoor fun and relaxation—as little or as much as you and your family like. The resort itself boasts 164 hectares of uniquely Texas terrain featuring riverbeds, cedar, pecan and oak trees, all surrounded by the many hills that give this region its name.

Kids and adults alike love the resort’s ample pool area, consisting of a 305-metre “Crooked River” and water slides. Other activities include canoeing, rafting and kayaking on the Colorado River; nature walks with guides who are very informative about the Hill Country; horseback riding; bird walks; golf; a world-class spa; and even a GPS nature scavenger hunt.

Head to the Hill Country for a uniquely Texan experience and you may never want to go home!

Travel Planner

For more information, visit:

Texas Tourism: traveltex.com

Texas Hill Country: texashillcountry.com

Lake Austin Spa Resort, Austin: lakeaustin.com

Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa, Bastrop: lostpines.hyatt.com

Hotel Valencia, San Antonio: hotelvalencia-riverwalk.com

Omni La Mansión del Rio, San Antonio: omnihotels.com

 
 
 
 
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