Travaasa Austin, a new resort in the Texas Hill Country, is named from a combination of “travel” and the Sanskrit/Kannada word “pravaasa” (“journey”).
Although by most any measure India is a “fur piece” from Texas — imagine how a “sacred cow” might go over in barbeque country — Austin prides itself on being an enclave of cultural diversity.
Thus the Travaasa concept, with its emphasis on providing “innovative hospitality” at an “experiential destination” actually blends nicely with a vibrant city whose motto is “Keep Austin Weird”.
Travaasa is removed from the Austin bustle — 25 minutes from downtown on 210 acres of Balcones Canyonland Preserve. Its 70 well-appointed rooms divided among seven lodges allow guests to enjoy natural habitat in a restful setting.
The idea here is a variation on the “tune in/tune out” philosophy of the New Age: turn away from the daily grind to focus on “core pillars of experience” which include adventure, culture, culinary arts, fitness, and spa wellness.
All this sounds good to me, so I start off the adventure segment with some strenuous hikes into the surrounding canyonlands. I could have opted for “equine experiences”, which include rides into the hill country, as well as lessons in cowboy roping and archery. I could also have signed up to tackle a challenge course called “Prickly Pear” designed in partnership with Outward Bound.
“Culture” spotlights Texas. There are programs featuring local musicians, story-tellers and visual artists as well as lectures on Hill Country ecology.
Fitness classes focus on balance, posture, core work, and flexibility. They include yoga, Zumba, Barre, and simplified fitness.
Tired from hiking around the property, I go off to the spa for a sports massage and wind up much the better for it. The spa complex features an array of massages, healing rituals, and body treatments using only organic, bio-energetic products. You can sign up here for courses on meditation and breathing. The spa also incorporates a lovely infinity-edge pool overlooking the Hill Country.
The property décor features contemporary Western finishes. Accommodations all feature Eastern exposures, with unobstructed views from every room. All rooms have queen-sized beds (many with two queen beds), organic cotton comforters and linens. and complimentary Wi-Fi. Guests can choose between Hacienda rooms, which include flat-screen TVs, or spa Casita rooms, which are furnished with yoga mats and stretching ropes. All guest rooms offer a deck or patio.
Travaasa Austin provides fresh, organic, farm-to-table style cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily in Jean’s Kitchen. Menus are updated on a quarterly basis to reflect the changing seasons and rotate on a daily basis over a seven-day period. Guests can make new friends at the Community Table or dine on lighter fare including snacks, coffee, and smoothies in The Spur. The wine list mirrors Travaasa's environmental values by featuring organic, biodynamic and sustainable wines made by boutique producers, while also showcasing wines from some of Texas’s finest wine producers.
Cuisine is on display at Jean’s Kitchen, where Chef Benjamin Baker utilizes local produce, meat, fish, and dairy to create healthful meals with a Texas Fusion flare. Texas wines and craft beers are among the featured products. Culinary lessons emphasizing quality ingredients are an integral part of this program.
On the environmental side, Travaasa Austin is a winner of Treehugger’s 2010 Best of Green Award for “best resort.” The property’s green features focus on sustainable site selection, water efficiency, energy efficiency, sustainable materials, and indoor environmental quality.
This includes: 1) eco-friendly techniques implemented throughout daily operation, including waste minimization, reuse and recycling of all possible materials, composting, local and organic food sourcing, recycled paper product usage, and sustainability education; 2) preservation of land: only 34 acres are developed out of the 210 acre property; 3) utilization of recycled materials, renewable resources and energy-efficient utility systems, many of which were locally acquired during construction; 4) low-emission building materials; 5) rainwater storage for irrigation; 6) xeriscaping utilizing native drought- and pest-resistant plants; 7) low-flow water fixtures on all faucets on property.
With 6,700 square feet of indoor and 9,000 square feet of outdoor flexible space, Travaasa provides a fine venue for retreats and meetings. Planners can choose from a variety of settings ranging from ballroom spaces with audio/visual equipment to parlors with couches and wrap-around porch. Outdoor spaces like the lovely Soldago Gardens include a spacious handcrafted wood and stone structure within.
Travaasa Austin offers a variety of lodging plans. The “Your Travaasa” package includes accommodations, complementary access to a robust schedule of daily programming, a la carte meals, spa services, and private lessons.
“Total Travaasa” is for guests who would like the convenience of unlimited access to all of the resort’s amenities and programming within a single package rate. This plan includes accommodations, three meals daily, unlimited snacks, access to all of the property’s experiential activities, and a daily $125 credit good toward a spa treatment or round of golf at a nearby course.
For further information on Travaasa Austin check out their website at www.Travaasa/Austin.com. Other websites useful for exploration of the Austin area include the following: