Texas’ top wellness retreat embraces the benefits of water to round out health-focused vacation packages
Story by Anne Dimon. Images courtesy of Lake Austin Spa Resort
Water. More and more we’re hearing about the scientifically-proven benefits of H20 for one’s mental health. According to the Academic Journalism Society’s online publication The Conversation, “Living near water can be beneficial to your mental health.” Now, while Texas might seem an unlikely destination to travel to for water-based wellness – allow me to introduce you to Lake Austin Spa Resort.
Located in Texas Hill Country about a 40-minute drive from the hustle and bustle of downtown Austin, AKA the Live Music Capital of the World, the lakefront resort offers all-inclusive wellness-focused vacation packages on a year-round basis. I visited as their guest in early June when the magnolia trees were in full bloom.
Sitting on 19 acres flanking the banks of Lake Austin and branding itself as “the only destination spa on a moving body of water,” Lake Austin Spa Resort highlights the regenerative and happiness-inducing effects of being on the water. In a water-focused program called The Ripple Effect: The Wellness of Water, guests can partake in a myriad of water activities, from kayaking stand-up paddleboarding and from a floating meditation to wake surfing and Hydro-biking. You can even arrive at this waterfront wellness destination via a water taxi, an experience you won’t find anywhere else in Texas.
“The science of water and wellness is untapped,” Cindy Present, Director of Wellness Strategy, and Integration of Lake Austin Spa Resort points out that “even if being ON or IN the water is not your “thing,” simply looking at it, mindfully, can help one understand how important it can be to mental health.”
And, I can personally attest that the resort offers plenty of vantage points to mindfully gaze upon the rippling swath of green. From wooden decks, to swaying hammocks, and from your own private veranda on one of the resort’s 40 lakefront bungalows, to the fully-equipped gym with its wall of windows – all afford an unobstructed view of the lake and Balcones Canyonlands Nature Preserve (on the opposite side). The combo combines to create a sense of being totally embraced by nature. Nature, in fact, abounds at this award-winning property. One evening as I set out on a quiet solo walk, a baby rabbit hops across my path. Another day, I see a fawn grazing on a grassy hillside. We stop and simply stare at each other, before it dashes off into a grove of trees.
Beyond the lake, water “features” extend to two outdoor swimming pools and outdoor hot tub, one indoor junior Olympic length lap pool, several gurgling fountains and a babbling brook that runs along the nature-lined path leading to the LakeHouse Spa, located a short stroll from the main building.
The Ripple Effect program also extends to this full-service spa with its 30 plus treatment and relaxation spaces. Water-themed treatments on the menu include the Floating Meditation and the AquaStretch Myofascial Release, both offered in an indoor swimming pool housed in the nearby Pool Barn.
Of course, there are also many all-inclusive offerings beyond the water-themed activities. Each week, resort guests have their pick of guided fitness classes, wellness-focused lectures and workshops offered from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. There’s a organic herb garden tour with a naturalist, cooking sessions with celeb guest chefs, arts and craft classes that encourage self expression such as watercolor, photography and mosaics. There are classes, here, that you won’t typically see elsewhere such as an evening yoga session with a live classical guitarist. One of my personal favorite fitness excursions was the Hill Country Nature Hike offering hikers a birds’ eye view of this long narrow lake that cuts through Texas Hill Country. The schedule changes on a weekly basis and can include invited experts on a wide range of topics. There seems to be a little something for everyone, regardless of special interest.
Of course, food is one of the cornerstones of any wellness retreat and on this front, too, Lake Austin Spa Resort lives up to expectation.
In the dining room (yes, it does overlook the lake), vintage vases holding white roses and sprigs of rosemary, both fresh from the garden, adorn the tables. As part of the all-inclusive vacation packages, the kitchen serves up three meals a day from an à la carte menu, featuring Executive Chef Stephane Beaucamp’s signature cuisine The Nurturing Table, which is a thoughtful approach to mindful eating and incorporates as much local sourcing as possible – even directly from the resort’s own gardens. Gluten free, vegan, vegetarian preferences are all covered. The menu also list calories, fats, carbs and protein counts for all dishes. And, while everything certainly has a healthy spin there is, here as well, something for everyone.
Added in tiny print at the bottom of the menu is a request to guests to help maintain the tranquility and relaxing atmosphere by refraining from using cell phone or laptops in the dining room. Digital detox, if only for the duration of each meal, can be a very good thing. Instead, one can use the time to “bathe” in the tranquility of the waterscape.
If water activities, healthy food options, a wide range of fitness classes and other wellness-focused offerings are included on your list of wellness vacations “must haves,” then Lake Austin Spa Resort just might be a perfect fit. More info on Lake Austin Spa Resort
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Anne Dimon is the founder/editor of www.traveltowellness.com