Once a funky country cousin to luxury properties like the Golden Door and Canyon Ranch , with a quirky past as both a nudist colony and camp for bronco busters and rodeo clowns, Lake Austin Spa Resort in the Hill Country has emerged as one of the country’s premier destination spas.
The resort makes the most of its waterfront location: All 40 of its charming country-style rooms are laid out in single file along an arborlined walkway facing the lake. A yoga deck extends out over the glass-green water, and the indoor exercise studio has a picture window with views of its mirror-calm surface and densely wooded opposite shore. You can hydro-bike, kayak, scull (two-handed rowing), or even take private classes from a pro water-skier, and when you’re ready to relax, head out on a pontoon boat for bird-watching tours (in spring, hundreds of elegant herons flock to a stand of tall bald cypress trees here). There are plenty of nonaquatic activities, including Pilates-based core work, BodyPump (a fast-moving hour of high-intensity work with hand-held weights), tai chi, spinning, and kickboxing.
Don your spa sandals and fluffy robe and shuffle on over to the magnificent new 25,000-square-foot Lake House Spa, built from native yellow limestone and decorated with award-winning quilts from the Texas State Fair. You might opt for indigenous treatments like the Ruby Red Grapefruit Refresher, a stimulating body scrub, shower, and body wrap, or a River Rock Massage. Lake Austin is also known for alternative treatments like Manaka Tapping Treatment, an acupuncture treatment for the needle-phobic that uses rhythmic tapping with tiny wooden mallets to open up the body’s energy pathways.
The dining room’s food may sound fancy, with Southern specialties like stuffed quail with bourbon and blackstrap sauce, but the atmosphere is not—you can show up for dinner in your robe. The screened windows open onto the lake, and with just 65 guests at full capacity, it’s easy for people traveling alone (usually women) to mingle. Finish the day on your room’s little porch, taking in the scent of rosemary bushes, the wind rustling in the magnolia leaves, and the sparkle of the lake under the moon.