Passing through the wrought iron gates at Lake Austin Spa Resort, just 25 minutes from downtown Austin, TX, guests enter a sanctuary of comfort and familiarity. "We try to go for the feeling that you are visiting your best friend's lake house," says general manager Tracy York. "It's a relaxed, casual environment, but has all the understated luxury you could want." This best friend just happens to offer beautiful accommodations, tranquil natural surroundings, a renowned chef, and plenty of activities and treatments to entice the mind and body.
The homey decor spills over to the hospitality guests can expect. With 265 employees and only 40 guest rooms, the high employee-to-guest ratio creates a personalized, intimate setting where guests are called by their first names and the staff takes the time to get to know them. "We build a connection—that's the magic of Lake Austin," says York. That connection has some guests returning to the spa repeatedly.
Guests can relax in the Blue Room before and after their treatments.
The spa's clientele primarily consists of females, and the staff often caters to pairs looking for a romantic couples' weekend or clients who come with their best friends, sisters, or daughters. Frequent seasonal specials lure guests with thoughtful packages, and with spring break approaching, the spa is currently putting together a mother-daughter offering, which will include treatments and activities to enjoy together and promote bonding.
Lake Austin's main mission is to encourage guests to stop and take time out for their own personal health. It provides guests with an opportunity to leave their stresses at home while they kick-start a fitness program, enjoy outdoor excursions, or simply relax. "We let them do as much or as little as they want," says York. "The goal is to focus on yourself, whether that means sleeping in, reading a book in a hammock, or participating in several activities and treatments."
Guests can pause to relax or read before entering the hallway that leads to the spa treatment area.
Situated on pristine Lake Austin and featuring 2,500 feet of waterfront property, the spa takes advantage of its majestic surroundings to offer an assortment of activities. Whether cruising up the lake, kayaking, hiking, or practicing yoga on the dock, nature plays an important role in the guest experience. The grounds are also dotted with organic gardens containing more than 1,000 species of plants, herbs, vegetables, spices, and wildflowers. The herbs grown in the property's Healing Gardens are then incorporated into treatments, like the Gifts of Our Gardens ($280, 100 minutes), an exfoliation, shower, massage, body wrap, and herbal elixir that takes place in an outdoor tent near the gardens themselves.
Guests are welcomed to the spa in the Breezeway.
Spa services are offered in the recently renovated and expanded LakeHouse Spa, which greets guests with beautiful art, antiques, and textiles. The 25,000-square-foot facility features men's and women's locker rooms, an outdoor Palm Pool, an indoor lap pool in the Pool Barn, a hot tub, cabanas, 30 treatment areas, garden tents and suites, and two acres of terraced foliage and aquatic gardens. The treatment menu features relaxing options like one of the more popular treatments, the Texas Starry Night ($130, 50 minutes; $180, 80 minutes). This massage and body wrap soothes guests with lulling lavender oil and involves an herbal heat pack being placed on the stomach and an herbal pillow placed over the eyes.
Outdoor yoga takes advantage of the warm Texas climate.
The herbs from the gardens are also integrated into the renowned spa cuisine. Executive chef Terry Conlan prepares menus inspired by Mexican, Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Asian styles and leads the culinary experience program. The week-long program, starting on the second Sunday of every month, features special guest chefs from around the country, cooking demonstrations, and other culinary activities, such as picnic lunches and wine talks. The menu and the program are dedicated to sharing the secrets of delicious, healthful cuisine. "Terry's philosophy is that there are no off-limit foods, it's about appropriate proportions," York says. "He really works to prepare food that people can go home and prepare themselves."
Lake Austin Spa Resort
Just as the treatment menu is constantly changing, so is the culinary menu, both in an effort to keep guests interested. "We're always trying to anticipate what the guests need and provide more than what they expect," says York. Other upcoming changes to look for are facility upgrades. In the last 10 years, every building on the property has been rebuilt, and this summer, improvements will include redecorated guest rooms. With her goal to make Lake Austin the number one destination spa in America, York doesn't plan on slowing down any time soon. According to her, "There are always new things on the horizon."