Friday, December 26, 2014

Lake Austin Spa Resort Review and Photoblog – December 2014

With cold winters up here in New York City, we’re always tempted to vacation down in the warm sunny clear water beaches of the Carribean during winter months; but this year we tried something different by going to the Lake Austin Spa Resort in Texas!  Although there is no beach in this resort, the beautiful Lake Austin SpaResort, is situated right along grand scenic views Colorado River, with picturesque scenes of the foliage during the winter months.  The weather in Austin during the winter is also very pleasant and mild, while we were there is was in the 60s. 

There is so much to do here you’ll easily forget that there is no beach; and being that it’s Austin, it’s a much safer option than the Carribean if you ever want to venture outside your resort, or if you are a female solo traveler.

Like many luxury resorts, The Lake Austin Spa Resort is an all inclusive resort that covered room, food, room service and wellness classes - but it was the finest attention paid to guest need details and the unique personalized experience that we got there that made this resort a much more memorable stay than many others.

The Lake Austin Spa resort is made up of just 40 guest rooms, so all guests can enjoy the special personalized warmth you would get from visiting a friend’s fancy lake house.  Unlike a large impersonal resort, everyone at Lake Austin will get to know your name and you get impeccable personalized services and attention during your stay.  There are no crowds, stress, and noise at this resort; it’s all about restoring your inner wellness and tranquility at Lake Austin.  There are also over 100 all natural spa treatments to choose from.  Our stay there was so perfect and enjoyable that we’re already thinking of going back!

Lake Austin is where you go to let your stress melt away; it’s not vacation that’ll leave you feeling like you need another vacation.

We have a lot to say about this special place so here, we’ll describe how the Lake Austin experience is like under various different categories.

A relaxation garden at the Lake Austin Resort Spa: a perfect place to relax with soothing sounds of water flowing over rocks for a zen meditative experience

Check In
Upon entering the Lake Austin Spa report, you check in and are introduced to the staff.   You’re given a water bottle with your name and sandals that you can use during the entire duration of your stay.  The resort provides guests with almost everything they need to ensure that all your concerns are well addressed, the only thing you need to bring would be a swimsuit, goggles, and swim cap.  The Lake Austin Spa resort is located on a huge 19 acre property, and so when you arrive to check in, the front desk attendants show you a map of where you can find everything.   There are also 15 to 20 wellness and fitness classes going on at any day and so you’re provided with a schedule of all the offerings.  If you have any questions about the classes, there is an activities desk with an attendant that can answer any questions about a class you’re interested in.

You’ll also be shown where you’re room is and if you have a lot of luggage, the attendants will bring them to your room. 

One of the many living rooms at the resort where you can lounge and relax in peace and quiet, we were there during the festive holiday seaon
One of the many landscaped paths and walls made with limestone indigenous to the southwest
The beautiful scenic lakefront views of the Colorado River

Let go and relax.  Plush chaise lounges can be found in the relaxation living rooms
Each room at the Lake Austin Spa Resort has been recently renovated by co-owner Mike McAdams and interior designer Julio Quinones, who was named one of Dallas’ Best Designers by D Home.  We stayed at one of the 10 newly renovated Luxury Garden Rooms which feature with exclusive furnishings from local craftsman.  The color palette of the rooms are in a soothing pastel blue green tone, as are the private gardens that some rooms have.  These cozy yet spacious luxurious rooms also have high ceilings, a custom made chaise lounge by the window where you can get a view of the lake, large soaking Kohler bathtubs, luxury bedding and plush down pillows, a mini fridge, plush upholstered chairs, and many lavender bath products for the perfect bath experience (bath salts if you’d like to take a bath, lavender facial soap, shower gels, shampoo, conditioner, lotion). 

All the guest rooms are in one story bungalows, and all room have outdoor lounge chairs that provide guests with the opportunity to enjoy unobstructed views of Lake Austin.  The Luxury Garden Rooms we stayed in even have a private backyard garden for more quiet meditative moments of relaxation.
The closets of each room also have two plush bathrobes; guests are free to lounge around the resort in bathrobes and you will too once you discover how comfortable they are!

Each room comes with comfortable luxury plush bedding and high ceilings
Luxury Garden Rooms come with a private backyard garden for relaxation.  Here you can listen to soothing sounds of the water trickling over rocks on the big ceramic vase you see here.
Fresh Cut Flowers - Nice attention to design details can be found throughout your room

There are 15 to 20 classes offered every day, with different selections each day.  They range in everything from wellness to fitness to cooking to arts & crafts.  The ratio of instructors to students is also much lower at the Lake Austin Spa Resort; in some of the classes we took, we were the only student and so we received personalized one on one instruction, which is hard to come by in most resorts. 

All classes are taught by knowledgeable experts and we love how we were able to try so many activities we’ve never tried before.  During our stay we had the chance to try our hand at working the Bosu Stability Ball to strengthen our core, made greeting cards using beautiful pressed flowers, and had a private beauty feng shui consultation with celebrity stylist Billy Yamaguchi.

There are some off property excursions as well, such as cruises on plush leather seating up and down the Colorado River, and hiking across the river.  We’ve heard that if you go during the spring time, you’ll see beautiful meadows of wildflowers during the hike!

Even though there are no beaches here, there are plenty of water activities available; there is kayacking and hydrobiking during winter months and paddle boarding during warmer months. 

Outdoor Yoga Deck overlooking the lake - during warmer months, enjoy outdoor yoga under the sun or stars

Food and Dining
All packages for a stay at Lake Austin include room service, beverages (non alcoholic), and three healthy nutritious gourmet meals a day.  Throughout the resort, guests have easy access to coffee, organic teas, iced teas, and a espresso/cappuccino machine.  Guests can eat either in the spa café or the main dining room.  The spa café has a more simpler (but still very gourmet) menu and the main dining room offers fancy fares for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  If you’re traveling solo, there is also a communal table offered at the dining room where you can meet other solo travelers.

Dining at the Lake Austin Spa resort is headed up by Executive Chef Stephane Beaucamp.  Everything is beautifully presented, healthy, and tasty.  The Lake Austin Spa Resort also has an herb and vegetable garden, and so much of the fresh bounty finds their way into the menu here!  Nothing you’ll eat here is too salty, oily, or greasy.  With each meal, we felt more energized, healthy, and refreshed.  There’s also a local focus on the menu as we saw from dishes that use local produce, veggies, seafood, and meats.  We’re confident to say that you’ll find the best and healthiest food here than any other all inclusive resort.

There are also many vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options as well.
Although the menu changes, some of the exquisite dishes you’ll find here include the following – all with calories and fat content listed on the menus.

Black Bass, Mushroom Duxelle, Saffron Onion Soubise, and Sauce Bouillabaisse 295 calories / 9g fat
    Cauliflower Panna Cotta and Golden Fish Caviar 85 calories / 7g fat
    Herb Crust New York Steak, Roasted Root Vegetables, Soubise in a Merlot Wine Sauce 305 Calories / 8g fat
    Bay Scallop Ceviche with Radishes and Garden Persimmon 95 calories / 7g fat

Beverage lounge in the Spa Cafe where you can help yourself to healthy snacks, coffees and organic herbal teas.
Lunch: Fresh tasty lobster salad with dill, scallions, and avocados
Dinner entree of Local jumbo gulf scallop with butternut squash puree - super light fresh and tasty!
Another delicious dinner entree with beautiful presentation - red snapper over spinash and mixed vegetables
The Spa cafe dining room is decorated with many homey touches, such as plaid chair covers and handmade artisan crafts
Delightful beautiful objects decorate the resort property. These are handmade glass ornaments

Resort Property
Aside from the beautiful luxurious bedrooms, the resort also has several living rooms where you can go to chat, lounge, and relax.  There’s a living room by the garden, a living room by the dining room, a living room upstairs in the ‘Tree House’ and a living room in the spa area.  Each living room is beautifully furnished with custom upholstered plush couches and chairs, unique pieces of artworks, artisan throws and pillows, fireplaces, high ceilings, along with beverages and snacks.  While we were there some rooms had Christmas trees set up for the holidays.  As you can see from the pictures below, the mood in each room is warm, quiet, plush, relaxing, and elegant. 

If you’re going to the Lake Austin Spa Resort with a group of friends, these rooms are perfect for afternoon teas.  Some of the craft and wellness classes are also given in these living rooms for a more communal experience.

For water activities, there are three pools at Lake Austin;  two are located outdoors and there is also an indoor Junior Olympic length lap pool called the Pool Barn, which is an experience in of itself during cooler winter months. 
The Pool Barn is a beautiful high ceiling wooden pool house design to let in the most natural lighting for an indoor pool.   

Inside the Pool Barn the temperature of the water is set at a comfortable body warm temperature and light relaxing music plays in the background as you relax in the pool.  And because there is so much sunlight that comes through the Pool Barn, you’ll feel as if you’re swimming outdoors even during winter months!  Towels, shower caps, and shower facilities are also available at the Pool Barn so you don’t need to go back to your rooms to prepare for your next activity at the resort.

One thing we loved doing at the Pool Barn is to just float on the pool with supportive mats.  You allow your body to let go while feeling the water’s gentle rocking rhythms as you listen to the calming music playing in the background – it’s a truly deep meditative experience you can only enjoy in this type of setting. 

For more intense workouts, there is a fully equipped gym where you can find everything you need from weightlifting machines to headphones for your ipod.

Relaxation garden right outside the Pool Barn, great place to unwind after a swim
The Pool Barn - spacious and super clean. The water is set at a warm temperature so even the initial dip into the pool feels perfect!

Hydrobikes by the lakefront property, available for guest use throughout the day

Outdoor pool area with lush comfortable cabanas
Listen to water trickle around you as you wander around the resort.  This path leads to the Spa

The Spa at Lake Austin underwent a multi-million dollar expansion in just 2004.  It is a beautiful facility featuring a relaxing living room area known as the ‘Blue Room’, an outdoor Palm Pool, hot tub and cabanas, 30 treatment areas, including garden tents and suites, and beautiful terraced foliage and aquatic gardens.  The Iris Salon features a selection of luxurious hair, make-up, and nail services.

If you so fancy, you can even have your treatments done in outdoor garden cabanas, and private tandem suites for couples. 

During our trip, we booked a deep tissue massage treatment.  We started off our spa journey relaxing in the Blue Room, which is a living room with many beautiful artworks and antiques.  At the Blue Room, you can relax and sip on organic teas or herb infused waters (our favorite was the cucumber infused iced water).  Then the massage therapist led us to the treatment rooms and we were given a choice between using Arnica with wintergreen, or lavender massage oil, both in a jojoba oil base.  After the treatment is over, you can shower in the treatment room, or relax at the spa café.

We love how all the spa products used during the treatments are all natural.  Many treatments at this spa use herbs grown at the resort organic Healing Gardens, and are based on ancient principles of aromatherapy, Ayurveda, hydrotherapy, Moortherapy, and Thalassotherapy.
Iced infused water and non-caffeinated herbal teas in the wellness focused spa living room
This is the luxurious Blue Room, a place where you can relax right before your spa treatment.  This room is decorated with many unique pieces of antique and artwork
An antique lamp, fine attention to decor detail can be found throughout the resort
Beautiful spa area where you can enjoy the hot pool, steam room, and a Finish sauna
Shower areas by the hot pool and sauna.  This is where you can alternate between cold showers and hot saunas for an exhilarating and detoxifying experience.  Bring just your bathrobe to the spa! All amenities are available for your use, from lavender scented shampoos to iced cold towels.
Special Themed Activity Weeks at Lake Austin
Throughout the year, the Lake Austin Spa Resort holds different themed weeks that focus on different interests and activities.  If you’re planning your trip here, it’s a good idea to see if there are any themed weeks you’d like to attend based on your activity interests.  Below are some of their themed week offerings for 2015.  No doubt you’ll enjoy all your activities no matter what time of the year you visit Lake Austin but if the themes below appeal to you, you’ll enjoy your trip here even more during these special themed weeks.

1.       QUENCH week during the summer time features many water themed activities such as Stand Up Paddleboarding, Aqua Nia, Floating Meditation, Sculling, Kayaking, Birding Boat Cruise; all with nenowned aquatic experts.  The summer QUENCH weeks feature more than 25 water themed activities in a seven day program.  There are also many non-water activities featured during this week as well, so you’re not in the water all the time!  These exclusive QUENCH events include a Sunset Smoothie Cruise, Wine and Watercolor Workshop, Moonlight Meditation on the above water Yoga Deck, and classes on making your own herbal bath teas, bath salts, and sugar scrubs.  In 2015, QUENCH week is offered just 4 times: June 8-14, July 6-12, August 3-9, and September 7-13.

2.       Starting on the second Monday of every month year round, there is the Lake Austin Culinary Experience.  Renowned award winning chefs educate resort guests with cooking demonstrations, and many culinary classes, such as knife skills, health benefits of tea, composting 101, all about olive oil, and other seasonal specialties.  Chefs and the days they’ll be at Lake Austin include Jeffrey Saad (Jan 12-13), Angelo Sosa (February 9), cooking blogger Jessica Merchant (March 9), BBQ Queens Karen Adler and Judith Fertig (April 13-14), Joanne Weir (May 15), Corinne Trang (June 19-20), Eric Asimov (June 19-20), Sara Moulton (July 13), “Top Chef” Gail Simmons (August 15).

Lake Austin offers a variety of three-night or longer package for groups and individuals.  Although you can choose a package with or without spa treatment credits, ALL packages include accommodations, gourmet meals, room service, classes and gratuities.  For reservations, call 1-800-847-5637, or visit