I spent a weekend at Travaasa when it first opened—before it was cool to stay here, and before the rest of the world figured out how great it is. Now, whether I'm in New York or Florida, I mention Austin and someone starts raving about Travaasa. Of course, in-the-know travelers are aware Travaasa Experiential Resorts have long been a big deal in Maui, and that the über high-end brand combines the best elements of nature with a philosophy of holistic well-being to create a zen-like retreat from the world—all for a pretty penny. The Austin Travaasa sits about 20 miles outside of the city in a gorgeous natural setting, adjacent to the highland lake country and the Balcones Canyonland Preserve. The whole time I was here, I had this sense that I was at a beautiful grown-up version of summer camp. My large room was set high on a bluff with vistas of the Texas Hill Country, and I walked verdant trails through woods and brush to reach the fitness center, spa, yoga and meditation areas, dining rooms. During the day a list of interesting classes, lectures, and exercise programs filled the calendar, and I could join in or bow out of any and all activities if I wished. Perhaps I'd take a nature hike or a yoga class in the morning, followed by a horseback ride at the nearby equestrian center, then lunch, a spa treatment, cooking class, and a wine-tasting seminar in the evening. There are even mechanical bull-riding classes in the fitness center—and two-step lessons if you really want to learn how Texans do it. Or maybe I'd sit on the porch and read a book and do nothing all day. Summer camp was never this quiet and restful, I assure you. More a retreat center than a hotel, Travaasa is the perfect place to unplug from the world and quietly recharge your spirit as you reconnect with nature. Travaasa has only the finest new accommodations, with all the touches pampered travelers love (little lights on the headboard for reading, large walk-in showers). The spa is one of the best in Austin. Though the setting is assuredly rural, there's no roughing it here. The dining space, with its vaulted ceilings and big windows, always seems sunny and inviting, with healthful menu options that are tempting but never sinful. One thing to note, though: If you come to Austin and go straight to Travaasa, you may never see the city at all. Be sure to visit downtown and the SoCo area. Travaasa is a fine destination, but there's so much more to Austin than this sublime retreat in the Hill Country. Still, the buzz here is well-deserved, and Travaasa is definitely worth checking out.
Complimentary light refreshments, sundry items, robes, spa and fitness center, Wi-Fi (free)Web site Travaasa Austin
Map13500 Farm to Market Rd. 2769 Austin
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.