Lone Star Serenade

Billing itself an experiential resort, Travaasa Austin (TX) entices guests with a variety of offerings, such as inclusive guided adventures, culinary classes, cultural encounters, spa treatments, fitness and wellness workshops, a working farm, and more. So extensive are the wellness options that it may, in fact, be difficult for some to distinguish the property from a destination spa. However, Maggie Wagner, senior director of spa and retail, notes that it was a conscious decision, as management didn’t want to limit its exposure to those interested in only a destination spa experience. Instead, the idea was to create a resort that would attract people interested in a selection of custom, personalized, and authentic experiences. Of course, that includes spa enthusiasts, as well. Not surprisingly, The Spa at Travaasa Austin is a highlight of the resort.

According to Wagner, guests are looking for a sense of place, authentic spa treatments, and a setting that lets them truly unwind. Fortunately, that’s exactly what they find when they visit the spa. Situated near the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, the property and its offerings are inspired by its locale in Texas Hill Country. It’s just one of the things that helps set the 12-treatment-room spa apart from others. “It’s a comfort with our sense of place,” says Wagner. “We incorporate our surroundings into our treatments as best we can and still remain true to our vision, which is organic, pure, and centers on the wellbeing of our guests at all times.”

In designing the menu, Wagner began by choosing product lines that were pure, mostly organic, synthetic-free, and without any harmful additives. Her goal was to keep the treatments genuine and to deliver on what she and her spa staff promised. The result is a menu of tempting services, such as the Hill Country Honey Bee Massage and Body Treatment ($195, 80 minutes), of which a portion of the proceeds is donated to the Texas Beekeepers Association. According to Wagner, it’s on top of everyone’s list these days. Some other favorites include the spa’s signature massages that revolve around Austin’s music scene, including the On the Road Again Massage ($135, 50 minutes), a custom treatment inspired by Willie Nelson that uses hemp oil with essential oils of orange and patchouli, and The Rose Massage ($135, 50 minutes), a Janis Joplin-motivated rubdown with organic rose oil on tie-dyed sheets. There is even a Couples “Double Trouble” Massage ($270, 50 minutes), a blues-influenced experience inspired by Stevie Ray Vaughan. It incorporates agave, blue cypress, and sandalwood massage oil.

Wanting male guests to feel at ease, the spa offers a men’s menu with services like the Men’s “What Ales You” Package ($265, 2 hours), which includes an 80-minute massage followed by a Peppermint Zenergy Foot Treatment. The package concludes with a glass of organic Texas ale. Going a step further to make men feel at home, the spa features a special treatment room designed with them in mind. Called the Western Sky, the room has walls lined with reclaimed Douglas fir wood that was previously used in an old elementary school in Texas. Other highlights include an electric massage table with built-in Bose speakers, a rawhide chair, a faux suede duvet, a western flannel throw, carpeting that resembles a cowhide, and a bar stocked with lemon water. The room is named for its fiber-optic ceiling, which represents a Texas sky, complete with a variety of constellations.

For guests who prefer to see the actual sky, the spa is home to the only outdoor Watsu pool in Texas. Although it is outside, it has the advantage of being enclosed in an open-air structure, which provides an added level of privacy. The pool is used for both Watsu ($140, 50 minutes) and Integrated Aquatic Bodywork ($140, 50 minutes). “Integrated Aquatic Bodywork is a collection of various forms of aquatic bodywork,” says Wagner.

Outside of the spa, adventure-seeking guests can take part in the Equine Experience, which helps them to improve their communication skills by interacting with a horse. They can also test their mettle on the Prickly Pear Challenge Course. Designed in partnership with Outward Bound Professional, it incorporates vertical climbing elements and a zip line. Other active pursuits include Pilates, yoga, and a host of other fitness classes, including, in true Texas-fashion, Bull Fitness, a core workout utilizing a mechanical bull. Those interested in improving their culinary skills, can opt for a group cooking demo, participate in a wine tasting, or take a class on juicing.

Guests can find similar offerings at the resort’s sister property in Hawaii, Travaasa Hana. There, however, the experiences are geared to fit the island setting. Instead of learning the Texas two-step, guests learn the hula. Although neither property is considered a destination spa, Travaasa is certainly prepared to compete with the best of them.

Owner: Green Tea, LLC

Senior Director of Spa and Retail: Maggie Wagner

Opened: May 2011


70% female

30% male


10,523 square feet; 12 treatment rooms


80 Acres, Anakiri, Eva’s Esthetics, Innersense Organic Beauty, Kypris, Organic Male OM4, Pino Natural Spa Therapy, Primavera, SpaRitual


Living Earth Crafts, Oakworks, SMS, Technogym,  Telegraph Hill


Oz Architecture (Denver)


Maggie Wagner