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Journey of Friends to Lake Austin Spa Resort

By Michele McIntyre, GoGirlfriend contributor

Communing and relaxing in one beautiful place

Travel writer Tim Cahill said, “A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles." There is no doubt in my mind that this is true. In mid-November I traveled nearly 1,700 miles to Lake Austin Spa Resort, but mine was a journey rich in friendships. This trip to Austin grew and grew, like carefully tended seeds in the garden. What started as a small group of friends transformed into a group that included friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends. By the time we descended on Lake Austin Spa Resort, we were a group of ten new and old friends.

overview of Lake Austin Spa ResortWhat brought us to Austin is a friend's relocation from Mississippi. (We visited her there too!) I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that the plane tickets were bought before she had even crossed state lines and planted roots in Texas. Austin had been on my "list" of places to visit for some time now and this was exactly the nudge I needed to get there.

Guests come to Lake Austin Spa Resort for many reasons: The non-stop variety of fitness classes and workshops, detox and weight loss, healthy and delish food, breathtaking scenery and to jump-start a healthy lifestyle program. For our group, this is the tail end of a busy sightseeing trip. We've two-stepped, had our fill of Tex-Mex food and a margarita or two and shopped till we dropped. Now we've come to Lake Austin Spa Resort to relax.

luxury and relaxation ... Lake Austin Spa Resort is a bit more intimate but no less elaborate than some other notable destination spas. At any given time, there are no more than 60-65 overnight guests staying among the 40 guest rooms and suites, plus a few handfuls of guests who come to the Lake House Spa for the day. I had the best of both worlds: experience the day spa with my friends followed by an overnight stay once they departed for home.

Ah the spa at Lake Austin Resort

poolside in the Texas sunshineOur day spa visit began with a brief tour and then a soothing dip in the hot tub, a luxurious spa treatment and a cat nap in the stunning blue room. We noshed on a delicious lunch in the Aster Cafe, relaxed some more in the warm sunshine by the pool, soaked some more in the hot tub and ended the day with another pampering spa treatment.

Wrapped in my spa robe, I luxuriated in the bright sunshine while sitting poolside. The cloudless sky a brilliant blue, it felt much warmer than 54 degrees. I chuckled to myself as I thought about the weather back home: a sharply cold 27 degrees. More than half of the country was blanketed in snow but I sat in Austin’s warm sunshine. Perfect.

excellent pool facilities to blend with your spa experienceThe spa menu is simply to die for. I chose an 80-minute Calming Detox Wrap, which turned out to be sheer perfection. My therapist, Megan, was technically precise, yet nurturing and observant, noticing that I was dehydrated and had knots in exactly the places I always have knots. When we discovered a shared passion for nutrition, Megan made targeted and welcome suggestions about food choices. I absorbed the information like a sponge and when I left my treatment, I was armed with a list of books to read, podcasts to listen to and diet suggestions to try. It was like having my own personal wellness mentor.

How can a day go by in what seems like an instant? Before long I said goodbye to my friends new and old. This marked the end of our Austin journey together, but my journey at Lake Austin Spa Resort had only just begun. As the friends departed, I began the transition into overnight guest mode at Lake Austin Spa Resort.

My room at Lake Austin Resort

luxury lakeview roomsThe most affordable accommodations at Lake Austin Spa Resort are the simple, comfortable and conveniently located signature rooms. Me? I stayed in a newly redesigned luxury garden room (#8) with stunning views of Lake Austin and my own private garden. As if on queue on entering the room, I was greeted by a deer as I peeled back the shower curtain to reveal woods above my garden wall. Worth the splurge, the luxury garden rooms were created to "marry elements of Texas Hill Country with the details of a European dressmaker."

I'll say this: they've achieved what they set out to accomplish. The spaces are soothing and dreamy.

24 hours at Lake Austin Resort

fresh and wholesome dining optionsSo how did I spend my 24 hours as an overnight guest? For starters, I ate well and often. Chef Stephane Beaucamp prepares most menu items following this tact: take fresh, healthy and wholesome ingredients and prepare using abundant produce, spices and seasonings. This method of cooking eliminates the need for added fat and calories without compromising flavor. Menus at Lake Austin Resort include the calories and fat content of each dish. Everything I ate was delicious but I particularly enjoyed the lemon poppyseed pancakes at breakfast and the pimento cheese sandwich at lunch. If your notion of spa cuisine is bland proteins and overcooked vegetables, you're in the wrong place.

I spent the morning taking gentle classes: first a Feldenkrais foam class followed by a Feldenkrais stretch classes. It ended up being just me in the foam class, so it was more like a personal training session. I learned just enough about this method to stir my curiosity and a Google search revealed that there is a practitioner just 5 miles from home.

Lake Austin Spa Resort is located on beautiful groundsFollowing a hearty breakfast of daybreak delights the next morning, I toured the organic herb and vegetable garden with Trisha Shirey, Lake Austin's Director of Flora & Fauna. When Trisha isn't tending to the lush gardens, she can be found teaching cooking and craft classes. Missing out on Trisha's Festive Fall Beverage class, which I missed on departure day by just a few hours, was the only disappointment of my visit.

After lunch (see, eating again!) Chef Stephane offered a cooking demo in an open demonstration kitchen with views of Lake Austin. In this kitchen Chef shares his love of food, family and friendship with a guests as he creates simple and healthful recipes. He also dispenses simple, back-to-basics advice on getting kids involved in cooking early and making cooking a family affair. The theme of the cooking demo was Holiday Salads: a Kale Waldorf Salad and Arugula Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese. He had me at the mere mention of goat cheese. Of course, sampling the prepared dishes is de rigueur.

dockside at Lake Austin Spa ResortWorth the price of admission alone was the sleep program I attended with Terry Shaw. Suffering from chronic insomnia for as long as I can remember, I'm always encouraged to get new information about treatments that go beyond sleep hygiene (dark, cool room, white noise, no caffeine). This program hit the jackpot. I walked away with pages and pages of research and suggestions that I'm systematically trying at home with support from my doctor.

It doesn’t take long for this place to creep into your soul. I’ve already become victim to what happens to so many guests who’ve stood here before me: wanting to return to Lake Austin Spa Resort before I’d even left for home.

If you’d like to learn more about Lake Austin Spa Resort, visit them online at LakeAustin.com, Facebook or Twitter and read what other travelers have to say about them on TripAdvisor.com.

What’s the best resort spa experience you’ve ever had? If you’ve been to Lake Austin Spa Resort or experienced another that sounds as amazing, drop a comment below or connect with us on Twitter or Facebook!

To comply with the long list of regulating bodies, possibly even Geneva Conventions and in the interest of transparency, Michele’s trip was sponsored. Commentary and perspectives are those of Michele McIntyre.

About Michele McIntyre

Michele McIntyre ~ @cnyspagirlMichele McIntyre is a freelance writer who covers spas, travel, fitness, wellness and healthy living/eating. She is happiest when lying face up on the treatment table, writing about her spa and travel experiences or testing new products to share with her readers. She lives near Syracuse, NY with her husband and son. Michele is a regular travel contributor to LivingBetterat50+ and has written for Today’s Central New York Woman Magazine and online at Tripology, TripAtlas, and Splash Magazines Worldwide. When she isn’t writing about or visiting spas, Michele loves traveling, hiking, skiing, camping, yoga and reading. If any of these pursuits can be combined with a visit to the spa, even better! Catch up with Michele online on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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