Austin, Texas, resident Victoria Wykoff just returned from a Lone Star State staycation. She spent two relaxing days getting pampered at Lake Austin Spa Resort, just 45 minutes — but a world away — from the Live Music Capital of the World, and two days at Cibolo Creek Ranch, in West Texas, where family-style meals and fireside chats are the norm.
Lake Austin Spa Resort: While staying here you can jam-pack your days with spa treatments and optional activities such as Pilates, cooking demonstrations or wine tastings, or you can just sit back and relax. I recommend taking a thorough look at all the options available to you prior to arrival to ensure you don't miss out on anything. There are so many incredible opportunities at this property that it's important to decide ahead of time the experience you'd like to have.
Cibolo Creek Ranch: Always have a camera handy when exploring the property; you never know what interesting Texas critters will cross your path. Also, take a few moments to research what may be appearing in the night sky during your visit. The property is one of the best in North America to stargaze due to it's essentially nonexistent ambient light.
Cibolo Creek Ranch: I'm not sure where the lyric "home, home on the range" was penned, but I would believe it if someone told me Cibolo Creek Ranch. This property is as authentically "Old West" as one can find in 2017. The experience was like a luxury sleep-away camp, with guests dining together family-style and spending their evenings joined around the campfire. I loved the opportunity to enjoy the rugged beauty of West Texas and commune with fellow travelers.
Lake Austin Spa Resort: The property is "girls getaway" heaven. It's as if you've left the real world and entered one entirely of bliss and relaxation. Set in the Texas Hill Country, it's a world apart that is entirely dedicated to wellness and togetherness.
Cibolo Creek Ranch: Introducing my pug, Pete, to the wildlife roaming the property. The property is very welcoming to all members of the family, including pets, and most guests had their dogs with them. Pete met herds of grazing cattle and llamas on our morning hikes there. He barked at the cattle and sent them running for the hills. I think he has a future as a herding dog!
The heavenly Swedish massage and facial I had at Lake Austin Spa Resort. The spa is top-notch. They really don't miss a detail.
Dinner at Cibolo Creek Ranch was truly wonderful. It was a dining experience we don't have commonly enough. You and the members of your party are assigned to a table with another group of guests staying at the property. It's a great opportunity to connect with others.
The Chinati Foundation, Donald Judd's contemporary art museum in Marfa that presents large-scale installations such as his renowned "boxes."
While at Cibolo Creek Ranch, you can enjoy the ranch itself or adventure to Big Bend National Park. It's about two and a half hours drive from the property, so it's advisable to get an early start. The park is stunning.
If doing a Texas road trip, I'd recommend a stop at Prada Marfa, a permanent art installation about 30 miles northwest of Marfa, in Valentine. It's quite jarring to be driving along endless desert highway only to stumble across this minimalist "urban oasis."
At Cibolo Creek Ranch you'll need activewear, hiking boots and lots of layers. The evenings out in West Texas are quite chilly year-round. At Lake Austin Spa Resort, you'll want to bring activewear and very casual clothing. I was rather surprised to see most guests still in their bathrobes, even at dinner!