Austin is synonymous with wellness; blessed with sunny tropical climates, lush green landscapes, and a city of professionals who, on the whole, favour holistic recreation and healthy eating over hard raving and fast food.
It is no wonder that the US’s leading wellness destination, Lake Austin Spa Resort, is here, perched on the magnificent lake. Awarded year on year as the best destination spa, LLM-Luxury Lifestyle Magazine spends 24 hours at the famous all-inclusive retreat, filled with a host of indoor and outdoor activities, lectures, treatment options and more.
Set on 19 lakeside acres, Lake Austin Spa Resort feels like a sanctuary through and through. All corners interlock in harmony, and with near year-round sunshine, the warm climate makes it possible to enjoy the resort’s fabulous outdoors throughout the year. Just my luck then that I turned up during a very rare storm, preventing me from taking part in outdoor activity but nonetheless, resulting in more appreciation for the charming indoors and wine by the fireplace. Think chic Soho Farmhouse on a chilly weekend.
The all-inclusive package includes accommodation in one of 40 lakeside guest rooms, three gourmet meals daily, fitness activities and classes, and a selection of spa and body treatments.
All guest rooms are beautifully decorated with furnishings sourced from around the world by co-owner Mike McAdams and his team. I checked into a luxury lakeview, which had a clean, bright, cottage feel, similar to that of properties in The Hamptons.
The highlight for me was the softness of two things. First, the bed thanks to Egyptian cotton sheets, down comforters and massive Euro pillows and the other was the cotton spa bathrobe – the lining was a massage to the skin. Pure bliss. When I stayed at a friend’s house recently, I was so obsessed with the Resident Home sheets in their guestroom, that I’d dreamt of lying in them ever since. The Lake Austin Resort bed evoked that same feeling, like sleeping on a very expensive cloud.
The room also had a high-definition digital LCD TV (with Netflix and Hulu capability – because who isn’t addicted to Hulu right now?), writing desk and usually there are fresh flowers from the resort’s garden. Coffee addicts will be pleased to find a Keurig machine, however I didn’t make use of mine as drinks stations were dotted throughout the property, all with a variety of teas, coffees and cold beverages. The teas were especially great, Mariage Frères-level great. Coffee too was good, but I recommend asking for speciality coffees at the table.
The sunlit bathroom came with a wonderful Kohler soaking tub and shower, complete with signature lavender spa amenities. Try the lavender bath salts (I used a whole bag per bath), the smell is incredible, and paired with Olverum pillow mist, knocked me off into a restful sleep.
In addition, there was a private front porch with unobstructed views of the lake, which I was able to use when the storm had calmed down. Although the resort is fully equipped with yoga gear, I usually bring a grippy PU leather GuruPad when travelling by car. I was able to roll it out on the porch for a vinyasa flow sequence before bedtime. There are also ‘cell phone’ pillows too – cute little bags to tuck your phones into if you want to avoid blue light.
Food and drink
The resident chef serves three healthy ‘conscientious cuisine’ meals daily which are centred on nutrition, flavour and balance. Ingredients are thoughtfully sourced locally and from the resort’s own organic gardens, and you’re eating seasonal here, so dishes will vary depending on the time of year you visit.
I particularly enjoyed the ramen for lunch and the porcini crusted cauliflower steak for dinner. The meals are light, yet filling, and if you’re still hungry, you can order another plate at no extra cost. If you’d like to try two mains but don’t have the space, they offer ‘half portions’ meaning you get to sample more on a limited stomach.
A wine cruise was booked ahead of my stay, however this was modified due to the torrential rain. Instead, I enjoyed ‘Texas Pour’ glasses of wine and healthy appetisers in the gorgeous conservatory style room in the gardens, which had a fireplace and delightful views of the lake. At the end there’s a sweet little surprise too. I was told by other guests that the wine cruise is definitely worth doing, and you’ll see a lot of wild deer along the lake, it’s something I’m planning on returning for in the summer.
This is what the resort does best. There is a plethora of activities for all fitness levels offered daily, including yoga, canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, pilates, Tai Chi, meditation and dance. Aquatic aerobics and swimming classes in the pool barn, a 24-hour fitness facility, and private sessions with certified fitness professionals are also available.
I did a yoga for hips class in the morning, and after that tried water Zumba in the Pool Barn, which was a lot more difficult than expected – apparently you can burn 700 calories in just one session.
In addition to physical activity, there are a number of ‘discovery classes’ which guests can sign up for including nutrition, body image, relationships and sexuality, crafts and gardening, with others offered regularly. See the events calendar for regular and special listings from guest speakers, artists, musicians, and celebrity chefs.
Finally, in terms of spa treatments, the 25,000 square-foot Lake House Spa offers more than 100 spa and salon treatments for men, women and teens over 16. The ‘from Sweden to Tibet and back’ is an 80-minute full body reboot, and afterwards you’re able to access the steam rooms, saunas, whirlpools and adorable private gardens.
The resort is designed as a complete getaway to rejuvenate body and mind, so there isn’t a whole lot of need to leave the premises, though on longer, sunny days, you might fancy a drive to Texas Hill Country to find out more about the region’s wine. It is covered in picturesque vineyards, and Hye’s William Chris Vineyards, founded by Bill Blackmon and Chris Brundrett, is my personal favourite. They specialise in low impact, 100% Texas-grown wine and the tours are informative and delicious. Tasting experiences include food and wine pairings, picnic lunches and a library wine experience which takes guests through their most impactful wines, vineyards and vintages. The estate is just stunning, so you’ll want to bring a camera and sport your Sunday best.
Getting there: The resort is a 30-minute water taxi ride from downtown Austin. For those renting a car, there is free parking on the premises (buzz at the gate, enter, and a member of the team can park for you).
Address: 1705 S. Quinlan Park Road, Austin, TX 78732, USA
Phone: +1 512 372 7300
Images courtesy of Lake Austin Spa Resort unless otherwise stated.