Texas spas tend to be big and flashy. What a surprise! Texas is the second largest state in the country, both in population and size, and while it doesn't have as many spas as California, it has a wide range of excellent spas: luxury destination spas like Lake Austin, family-friendly spas like Hyatt Regency Los Pines, lovely hotel spas and even a small, super-green detox spa near Houston.
Just a half-hour northwest of Austin (depending on the notorious traffic), Lake Austin Spa Resort is a both a luxury overnight destination spa with just 40 rooms, lots of wellness programming, classes, activities and great food It's expensive, and tends to attract a well-heeled crowd of ladies who never ask, "What do you do?"
But the large, native yellow limestone spa where you get treatments is also open to locals who can make a day of it with massages, swimming and lunch. They overnight guests have their own campus --- and day guests aren't allowed there.
Lake Austin makes the most of its waterfront location with kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding, tours on pontoon boats, even waterskiing lessons. Its known for its beautiful organics gardens, which help supply the fabulous dining room. Type: Destination spa and day spa.
Travaasa Austin is a first-rate spa (aka "experiential resort") set on 210 acres next to Balcones Cayonlands Preserve just outside Austin. It has a lot of unusual programming, including an Equine Encounter where a couple of cowboys teach you how to communicate with the horses, a real working farm (with chickens and honeybees!), horses, a challenge course, even a mechanical bull.
The 70 guest rooms are located in seven Texas farmhouse style buildings throughout the property, all of which have balconies and views of Texas Hill Country. It has an intimate feel, and the views stunning. The rooms are small, a throwback to its days as a learning center, but that helps keep the prices reasonable.
The spa has 11 treatment rooms (including one the feels like you're looking at the western sky) It uses only organic, bioenergetic products, and I had some great treatments there. There is a true wellness component.
The food and wine list is great, and it's a popular place for executive gatherings. That means you might have to hear a little marketing talk at the table next to you. Tel. 855-868-7282 or 512-493-3668. Type: destination spa and day spa.
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines is a major ranch-style resort spa near Bastrop State Park, 20 minutes east of Austin -- and the most kid-friendly spa in America. For starters, it has a kids club, a lazy river and (relatively sedate) water park, and an adorable dog named Boots, the mascot who hangs out a lot at kids activities.
This is a classic 492-room resort -- and the rooms are huge! Golfers can try Wolfdancer, a par-72 course that is considered challenging but playable. Hyatt Lost Pines is set on 405-acres right next to the 1,100-acre McKinney Roughs Nature Park, where you have access to 18 miles of trails through the famous loblolly pines.
There is so much to do: get up and go for a run on the trail, ride horses, raft or kayak on the Lower Colorado River, learn archery, stargaze, hipline and birdwatch. If you want to eat healthy, check out the Firewheel Cafe, where you can get fresh-squeezed carrot juice, organic salad, and organic chicken. Tel. 512-308-1234. Type: resort spa.
Omni Barton Creek Resort is a haven for golfers --it has four courses (including two by Tom Fazio) on its 4,000 acres and 312 rooms. Three Springs Spa has a natural limestone wall as part of its decor, and makes its lavender and honey sugar scrub with locally sourced ingredients. It also offers individual sessions of personal training, yoga, Pilates and aqua personal training. It's family-friendly, with nature hikes, miniature golf and scavenger hunts. Tel. 800-336-6158 or 512-329-4000. resort spa.
The Four Seasons Resort & Club, Dallas at Las Colinas is a 431-room resort set on 400 sprawling acres just minutes from downtown Dallas. It needs all that space for the 18-hole golf course that is a draw for golfers; it hosts an annual PGA tour event. The tasteful spa has 16 treatment rooms, a full-service salon, and a massage tailored to golfers. Its 431 guest rooms (including 26 luxury suites) offer a range of views and are located in either the nine-storey Resort tower or the low-rise villas adjacent to the golf greens. Tel. 972-717-0700.resort spa.
Cooper Aerobics Health and Wellness is a wellness forerunner founded by "the father of aerobics" Dr. Kenneth Copper in 1970. It has a 30-acre wooded campus in Dallas offers preventive medical exams at Cooper Clinic, a five-day program called Cooper Healthy Living that focuses on wellness and weight loss and exercise; and a place to stay at the 61-room Cooper Hotel and Conference Center. You can enjoy relaxing day spa services at Cooper Spa in Dallas, and exercise and personal training at membership only Cooper Fitness Center. Dallas Spa: 972-392-7729. Dallas Hotel: Tel. 972-386-0306. A location in McKinney has a day spa (214-383-1010) and its own Cooper Fitness Center.
Mokara Hotel & Spa, San Antonio, Texas
Mokara Hotel & Spa is a beautiful, historic hotel set right on the River Walk, a shady canal that lazily loops through old San Antonio. The building was once a saddle factory, but now it's an urbane, sophisticated, romantic hotel operated by Omni. Tel. 866-605-1212 or 210-396-5800. Luxury hotel spa.