I have a confession to make.

Even though I grew up in an ocean town in the suburbs of New York City, close to the beautiful, white-sand, powdery beaches and ocean of Long Island, I’m deathly afraid of the water.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the water. I just don’t love being in it.

I was never a strong swimmer and abandoned all hopes of becoming one when, as a teenager, I was knocked over and dragged out by a powerful wave. After that, I was happiest viewing the water from afar, with an equal measure of yearning and fear.

A resort set on a moving body of water

Ironically, the water was one of the many things that drew me to Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas. This former fishing camp turned nudist camp, then ranch and resort, was purchased in 1997; its outdated facilities lovingly renovated by two friends and fraternity brothers.

This destination spa—set on a luminous moving body of water—has been consistently praised as one of the best in the country and in the world by many top travel outlets including Conde Nast, Travel & Leisure, Town & Country Magazine and Southern Living.

I’ve visited many highly-rated spas and while I’ve enjoyed each one in its own way, this one, tucked away in Texas Hill Country, instantly wowed me from the moment I made eye contact with the brilliantly blue, calm and transparent water (which despite its name, is not a lake, but rather, the Colorado River).

Relaxing beside the water

Relaxing beside the water

The resort is set back from the water on a lush landscape that hugs it like a jeweled necklace. It’s no wonder that the resort recognizes, and utilizes, this invaluable natural resource as a powerful tool in its program designed to enhance happiness and well-being.

Kayaking and water activities on Lake Austin

Kayaking and water activities on Lake Austin

Cozy and intimate

I reached the resort, about a 30-minute ride from the city of Austin, by Uber, but you also can take a water taxi. The 40 guest rooms wowed me with their cleanliness, comfort and attention to detail, and shortly after arrival, my body relaxed.

A luxury garden room at the resort (Credit: Lake Austin Resort)

A luxury garden room at the resort

Beds were luxuriously outfitted in Egyptian cotton sheets and fluffy down comforters; the bathroom complete with Kohler steeping/soaking tubs and showers in which to lather on the signature lavender spa amenities, before wrapping yourself in the comfy robe provided to prolong the relaxation. I dared not turn on the high-definition digital LCD TV, lest a whiff of the real world would interrupt my bliss.

The public areas including, but not limited to, the cozy Garden Library, the Lake Room, Living Room and the 25,000 square-foot LakeHouse Spa, take on all the charm and comfort of your wealthy aunt’s chic country house. They offer an instant at-home vibe, all filled with one-of-a-kind pieces and a dazzling collection of art and antiques.

Everything is bigger in Texas

The resort feels cozy, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s small: The menu, spa, fitness and aquatic offerings are anything but. It was hard to choose from the extensive menu of spa offerings (in my world, I would have done them all!).

In order to safely indulge my new and unexpected water-lust, I chose the Aqua Stretch, a myofascial release treatment performed in the shallow end of the soothing 25-meter heated lap pool, located in the Pool Barn. This one-on-one assisted stretching session was as unique as it was restorative. It whetted my appetite for more water, and I took advantage of that urge each day with a Hydrobike, a bicycle-like watercraft that allowed for smooth sailing and exploration around the river without fear (of course, I did don a life preserver!)

The author on a hydrobike

The author on a Hydrobike (wearing a life jacket)

Conscientious cuisine

Although I do not fit the definition of a foodie, (I’m of the eat-to-live rather than live-to-eat variety), mealtimes made me feel like one. I oohed and ahhed, and shot photos of my perfectly-prepared, tasty and flavorful meals, and I joined the ranks of the clean plate club to boot.

The mystery of why the food was so delicious was uncovered the moment I learned that the chef, Stephane Beaucamp, hails from France and that most of the ingredients she uses are locally grown and sourced.

Dining room with a view

Dining room with a view

Breakfast includes fresh fruits, eggs, smoothies and more; lunch, a wide selection of salads, flatbreads, healthy bowls and sandwiches. At dinner one night, I ordered the cauliflower “carbonara” pasta and was delighted by its originality and taste. My sweet tooth was aptly satisfied with both lunch and dinner desserts; the chia pudding and frozen yogurt came in sensible-yet-satisfying portions. And it didn’t hurt that the pleasant and well-trained servers quickly learned my name and preferences to make the entire dining experience that much more personal.

Lake Austin Spa Resort, I will be back.

Maybe next time I’ll even try out one of your swimming classes.

Wall in the Lake Room

Wall in the Lake Room

What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?

  • The resort has just 40 rooms, so it’s easy to navigate without getting lost or going too far.
  • You can do as much or as little as you like.
  • The fitness offerings, including a well-equipped modern gym, are geared for every level from beginner to advanced.
  • The resort caters to adults (although children over age 14 are allowed, there were not many).
  • If you have an adored pooch that you simply cannot leave at home, the resort is dog-friendly.

Take note

  • There are stairs, ramps and low-grade inclines, but they’re easy to navigate unless you have special mobility requirements. If you do, contact the property in advance of your stay.
  • Winters are typically mild, but the temperatures can get cold, so bring a light sweater and jacket.
  • The resort offers wine, beer and select spirits, which you can sip while sitting by the lake.
  • Light hors d’oeuvres are served in the living room each afternoon at 3:00 pm; room service, snacks and beverages are available throughout the day.
  • There’s a 24-hour complimentary laundry room on the premises.
  • Cell phone use is discouraged in all public areas.


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Lake Austin Spa Resort