Stretching across the bank of Lake Austin in Texas Hill Country, Lake Austin Spa Resort provides a charming retreat that combines luxurious relaxation and invigorating fitness. A resort of elegance, Lake Austin Spa Resort encompasses a soothing atmosphere enhanced by public reading areas and scenic grounds with gardens and nature trails. The main lodge, overlooking the lake, has the design of an elegant lake house that blends comfort with sophistication. Manicured grounds span over 19 acres of diverse topography — flat terrain hugs the lakeshore and hills slant toward the bank.
While Lake Austin Spa Resort immerses its guests in a pampered environment of delectable cuisine and calming relaxation, the resort maintains a focus on fitness and health. The main lodge extends into a fitness complex on Lake Austin’s shore where a variety of exercise classes are offered throughout the day. Lake Austin Spa Resort’s lakeside location enhances their innovative exercise program by providing activities in the lake’s placid waters. A rustic pool barn nestled in a hillside garden hosts additional water classes year-round in its heated pool. A short stroll from the pool barn, the LakeHouse Spa recedes into the hillside perched over Lake Austin. The spa provides therapeutic treatments that compliment the resort’s exercise program by coaxing each guest into a tranquil state of relaxation following a day of vigorous fitness routines.
Resort owners, Mike McAdams and William Rucks, purchased the Lake Austin Spa Resort property on Jan. 1, 1997. This pair of friends and fraternity brothers executed a large-scale renovation project that transformed the property into a refined spa and wellness resort. To create an environment that instructs guests toward a healthy lifestyle of nutritious eating and consistent exercise, Mike and William altered original activities provided by the resort and remodeled the property’s physical characteristics to coincide with the gourmet food, spa treatments and lakeside location. The 25,000 square-foot LakeHouse Spa, designed with casual elegance, opened in 2004. Extensive renovations transformed the spa into an assuaging environment of pampered relaxation.
These opulent accommodations offered by Lake Austin Spa Resort are a far cry from the lodge’s original purpose. In the late 1940s, Lake Austin Lodges, a rustic fishing camp, occupied the property. Lake Austin Lodges housed 10 guest rooms and provided guests with outdoor entertainment including boating, hiking and hunting, as well as dancing and live music during the evening. In the early 1970s, Lake Austin Lodges became Sunshine Nudist Camp; however, Texas’ winter drove the nudist colony to relocate to a warmer location. The Bermuda Inn opened in 1978 as a quick-fix weight loss facility, but the Inn discovered the danger of high calorie restricted diets and problems of maintaining rapid weight loss. Thus, in 1994, Lake Austin Spa Resort replaced The Bermuda Inn as a resort centered on healthful lifestyle choices. Mike and William purchased the resort in 1997 and proceeded to strengthen the wellness program while also transforming the lodges into the accommodations of elegance showcased today.
Upon our arrival at the Lake Austin Spa Resort, eager staff whisked away the luggage and ushered us to a lake-view room with a cozy outdoor patio. The lake-view room entails simple beauty, akin to furnishings in the resort’s main facilities. Lake Austin Spa Resort’s décor showcases an eclectic collection of art and antiques handpicked by Mike throughout his global travels. Large floor-to-ceiling windows fill each room with an abundance of natural light that compliments the soft-toned walls and accentuates the elegant furniture. The sunlit rooms, low-beam ceilings and refined décor capture the comfort of a lake house with the sophistication of a resort.
During my stay, I participated in a personalized Power of 7 program, a weeklong plan of fitness classes, personal training, nutrition instruction and spa treatments. Lake Austin Spa Resort jumpstarts this program with a phone call pre-dating each guest’s visit to inquire about the person’s exercise schedule, eating habits and personal goals. The fitness team prepares a body composition analysis upon the guest’s arrival. Sherri Fox, a fitness professional, tested my body composition to determine lean muscle, fat and excess fat percentage and weight. Sherri graphed my lean muscle, fat and excess fat in order to provide a visual reference of my body composition. She proceeded to analyze my current exercise habits and discovered my fitness rut — uniform, dense weight training workouts coupled with slow-paced, extended cardio. She proposed to diversify my lifts by implementing H.I.I.T. (high intensity interval training) weight training as well as cardio intervals throughout the week in order to facilitate higher heart rate spikes. By tweaking my exercise schedule, Sherri created a projected weight loss plan to convert my body’s excess fat into lean muscle. In conclusion, Sherri recommended specific Lake Austin Spa Resort exercise classes conducive for my fitness goals.
Lake Austin Spa Resort creates a weekly fitness and activities schedule comprised of diverse indoor classes and outdoor activities offered each hour of the day. The lakeshore location provides hiking as well as water activities that range from kayaks to paddle bikes. An assortment of indoor exercise classes target different fitness levels, while a variety of craft and cooking classes entertain guests as well. We dove into the fitness regimen with a BOSU and Stability Ball Circuit class structured in intervals that focused on stability and strength through different BOSU ball circuits. Seeking a low-intensity class to follow the BOSU intervals, we next partook in Fitness Hoop Dance, a hula hoop core workout. Swinging our hips to different tempos of music while balancing a spinning hoop elicited peals of laughter as we each released our inner kid. This carefree workout method incorporated cardio and core while maintaining a casual atmosphere of fun.
Trading our sweaty workout clothes for plush robes, we strolled through a hillside garden toward the spa. Stone walls with fountains and flora border the garden entrance, and large stone slabs snake through a plethora of native Texas plants. The slabs cross a waterfall as they wind up the hill, leading us by the pool barn and next to LakeHouse Spa. An old Texas well serves as a fountain centerpiece amidst colorful flowers in the spa entrance garden, and additional fountains spout from a stone wall lining the pathway.
Entering the LakeHouse Spa, we stepped into a haven of serenity. The spa décor features striking art, antiques, oriental rugs and textiles, and a state-of-the-art sound system hums soothing melodies throughout the building. The LakeHouse Spa offers more than 100 specialized treatments held in 20 indoor suites, as well as outdoor massage spaces such as the Bamboo Room, the Treatment Porch and Treatment Cabanas. Downstairs, men’s and women’s wet areas contain hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms that overlook secluded stone wall gardens.
In the Blue Room, an upstairs communal relaxation room, guests unwind and munch on nutritious snacks while waiting for spa treatments. The Blue Room contains exposed hardwood boards that structure the walls and floors, and the pyramidal wooden ceiling features a “haint” blue sheen, a color associated with southern porches. Plush furniture surrounds a large Texas limestone fireplace and occupies various reading nooks within the room, and a screened porch extends from the Blue Room to overlook the Palm Pool, an outdoor pool surrounded by thick palm trees and handmade, ornamented pots. Between resting and treatments, guests can peruse the boutique or savor Lake Austin Spa Resort cuisine at the Aster Café.
After lounging in the wet area and Blue Room, we enjoyed dinner in the Lake Austin Spa Resort dining room. Lake Austin Spa Resort maintains a casual atmosphere throughout the entire resort, the dining room included. The resort fosters comfortable attire and even encourages guests to wear spa robes in the formal dining area. Stephane Beaucamp, executive chef, uses fresh ingredients grown in the resort garden and encourages moderation and portion control through his recipes.
Meals are health focused, and the menu provides fat grams and calories for each dish. I selected the Roasted Turnip Appetizer — a pre-meal morsel of roasted and glazed turnip, goat cheese, Poblano vinaigrette and garden greens — followed by butternut squash soup, a hot dish with almond cream and spiced pumpkin seeds. I concluded my meal with the Chili Crusted Amberjack entrée, a light meal with garden baby carrots, sweetened fennel and espelette pepper crusted gulf amberjack with a roasted chipotle and beet sauce.
Following dinner I sipped on herbal tea served with agave nectar in the resort living room while reading The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The relaxing atmosphere lulled me to sleep, and I retired early for bed.
We rose early the following morning to attend a H.I.I.T. Cycling class. The instructor guided the class at a clipped pace through sprints and hill climbing intervals, leaving my body limp with exhaustion. For a post-workout meal, I ordered a tomato basil and goat cheese egg white omelet with a fresh fruit cup. I continued my Power of 7 program with a personal training session instructed by David Robbins. He combined high cardio with weights through a variety of jump intervals, jumping rope and bodyweight exercises. The workout spiked my appetite, and I devoured a Lobster Tartine BLT for lunch. Chunked lobster salad, aioli, radicchio, tomato, avocado, crispy bacon and a toasted slice of “seeduction” bread combined to create a savory open-faced sandwich.
Our muscles sore and tired, we retreated to the pool barn and spa. The pool barn, a quaint rustic structure nestled in the hillside garden, shelters a heated pool accessible year round. After a rejuvenating dip, we withdrew into the spa’s luxurious oasis. The staff ushered me into an immaculate treatment suite where a masseuse lulled my body into a hypnotic state of deep relaxation. I received the Tour of Texas body treatment — a signature, 110-minute, treatment developed by the spa’s in-house experts. Each LakeHouse Spa treatment is inspired by the resort’s undisturbed, natural setting and drawn from ancient and modern therapeutic techniques. The Tour of Texas begins with an exfoliating scrub featuring prickly pear, a native Texas plant rich in skin-replenishing benefits. Next the masseuse wrapped me in an agave nectar wrap that moisturized, remineralized, nourished and softened my skin. While I was swathed in soft linens, she massaged my face and scalp. In the remaining 50 minutes, she rubbed my body with a blend of warm essential oils and massage cream. Her assuaging strokes relieved tension in my sore muscles and coaxed me into a soothing state of half-consciousness, slipping in and out of cognitive thoughts.
We walked from LakeHouse Spa to the resort dining room and ate dinner still dressed in fluffy spa robes. I settled on the Spicy Tuna Poke appetizer, a tantalizing combination of Ahi tuna, green and red onion, fresh ginger, cilantro dressed with chili oil, sesame oil and tamari soy sauce in a cucumber cup. The delicious herbs accentuated the fresh flavor of the tuna. I ordered the Lamb Rack entrée with a side of Roasted Wild Mushrooms. My palate was soon savoring tender lamb with garden Swiss chard, caramelized turnip, zesty almond paste and cilantro-mint emulsion. The light taste of mushrooms — roasted with garlic, shallot and garden herbs — complimented the rich meat. An ideal portion, the lamb rack satisfied my ravenous appetite yet left me wanting more of its perfection.
We decided to forgo early morning fitness classes the following day and rose for a late breakfast. Seated at a table overlooking the rippling lake, I ate the Breakfast Tartine, a delectable combination of toasted country bread, soft goat cheese, sautéed spinach, oven roasted tomatoes, poached egg, extra virgin olive oil and garden oregano. Selecting a total of five exercise classes, we began our fitness schedule with a loft yoga class that stretched my sore muscles and targeted isolated muscle groups. Next we partook in a Zumba class inspired by Latino themed music that incorporated the Salsa and Mumbo. Grinning the entire time, we bounced around the studio trying to emulate the instructors moves.
Sectioning off a leisurely siesta midday, I enjoyed Stephane’s gourmet Steak Street Tacos. Stephane paired warm corn tortillas with slices of spice rubbed flat iron steak, crunchy cabbage and creamy avocado salsa. We proceeded to recline in the Garden Library and then cycle on Hydro-bikes out on the lake. My afternoon consisted of a personal weight training session, a Pilates Core class and a Stretch and Relax class. Enthused from an invigorating day of fitness, I selected a high protein dinner of Cornish Game Hen and a Garden Greens Salad. The entrée combined chamomile-hazelnut flavored game hen with garden kale, asparagus, fingerling potatoes and wild mushrooms. The salad consisted of garden greens with goat cheese, walnut, shaved Parmesan and a local honey vinaigrette.
I concluded the Power of 7 program with an informative nutritionist meeting that implemented dietary strategies to complement my exercise program and reach the fitness goals outlined in my body composition analysis. Andrea helped me recognize elements that trigger my indulgences and familiarize myself with personal eating patterns. She developed strategies to equip me with techniques needed to power through a weight-loss plateau and counter food cravings. Through Andrea’s dietary guidance and Sherri’s fitness analysis, Lake Austin Spa Resort provided me with the necessary tools to build a consistent healthy lifestyle to develop my body’s maximum fitness potential. While immersed in the resort’s secluded paradise, I experienced not only fitness rejuvenation and spa alleviation, but I also developed beneficial health patterns to implement in my home environment.
Fitness tips I learned at Lake Austin Spa Resort
• Diversify workouts by combining H.I.I.T. cardio with H.I.I.T. weight lifting
• Spike heart rate through weight and cardio intervals
• Weekly goal — three sessions weight lifting and five to six sessions cardio
Nutrition tips I learned at Lake Austin Spa Resort
• To counter a food craving, eat a small portion of the fatty food item immediately followed by a healthy snack to satisfy hunger and prevent further binging.
• Drink a lot of water! Shoot for eight 8-ounce glasses per day.
• Restrict (but don’t eliminate) healthy fat — 1 tablespoon of fat per meal.
• Be cognizant of portion control.
• Recognize your food triggers and patterns — e.g. mindless overeating, social eating, alcohol, etc.
For reservations or information, visit LakeAustin.com or (800) 847-5637.