Austin has two wellness retreats that are 30 minutes from downtown: Lake Austin Spa and Miraval Austin. The former is set on 19 lakeside acres, while the latter is on 220 acres in Hill Country, but the differences don’t end there. I recently visited them both in quick succession to draw their contrasts into relief.
Lake Austin Spa Resort
The cozy reception area of Lake Austin Spa Resort, with its low ceilings, antique furnishings and chintz fabrics, feels homey and serves to remind guests that this renowned resort has a long history with humble beginnings: It was a fishing camp in the 1940s, then a nudist camp, a rodeo camp and a “fat farm” before becoming Lake Austin Spa in 1994. When it was taken over by the current owners in 1997, they wanted it to feel like a friend’s lake house, and in that they have succeeded.
After a brief orientation, I was given a complimentary water bottle and flip-flops but not the customary welcome bag guests used to receive. When my room was ready, the clerk enthusiastically called out, “Here’s your key!” with no mention of a room number or a location. Upon further inquiry, he ushered me outside and, as helpfully as he knew how, pointed in the general direction of my Luxury Garden room. (This was similar to the laid-back reception I received on my visit in 2019.)