Every year for the past five years or so I have gone to the Lake Austin Spa Resort, right outside of Austin Texas, to conduct a cooking demo. In exchange, they give me room and board and treat me well. At first I just did it for a lark. I thought, what the heck, take the husband and relax. I did take the husband the first time and we had fun but he was a tad lost because the place was filled with women in bathrobes wandering around talking about womenly things. I had a good time, but because the husband didn’t get the spa experience, we spent one whole day in the town of Austin proper. I wasn’t able to take advantage of the spa classes (and there are many).
So I decided to go back and bring my sister Anne, one of my best buddies. Now that I had time to take the classes and really look around the place and appreciate the flora and fauna (my sister is a gardener and a bird watcher) I fell in love. I realized what a very special place the Lake Austin Spa Resort was. I have always liked the idea of a spa and visited several throughout the years but I usually find them quite intimidating. It is like you have to be thin and gorgeous to begin with when you go there. And the atmosphere at many of them is not remotely warm and nuturing.
This spa is different. It is both elegant and cozy at the same time. It is on a lake (which is called a lake but looks like a river) and all the rooms look out on the lake. I have been there at all times of the year and the landscape is always dreamy and calming. You can go on a hike, take all sorts of yoga or exercise classes, learn how to meditate, paddle in water bikes and much more. The food, prepared by the nicest chef on the planet Terry Conlan, is not only healthy and well balanced but very very tasty and satisfying. The calorie counts are on everything so you can order as much or as little as you want. They do offer coffee in the morning and you can order wine from the menu. (I am not interested in spas that prohibit wine and coffee).
The most spectacular part of the resort is the spa itself. All of the people who work there really seem to care that you relax and enjoy your treatments. Before the treatments you wait in what they refer to as the blue room, a big barn of a room with high ceilings and wonderful couches. It reminds me a lot of the room in “Goodnight Moon.” There is iced herbal tea and lemonade everywhere. My sister and I like to drink a combo of the two with crushed mint and lemon.
Conde Nast Traveler has designated the Lake Austin Spa and Resort the #1 destination spa in the country for 2010. It is not cheap, but it is so worth it if you can find the money (or suggest someone else finds it for you). My sister and I consider it a very magical place. I always feel different after I spend a few days there. My mom has joined us once and now I am bringing my daughter Ruthie. She has promised she will drag herself out of bed in the morning at an early hour so we can take advantage of all the classes. I will be doing a demo on Monday, June 14th, from 2 to 4 for guests who are staying at the resort. I am especially looking forward to it this time after my endless (but excellent) book tour.