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If anyone deserved, needed, wanted, desired, and yearned for a vacation…it would have been me. After a long year of work, work, and more work, I was at my wits’ end and due to the fact that I hardly took any time off during the year, I was very much looking forward to my three weeks off! Although I wanted to be a lazy, belly-rubbing, couch potato, I wasn’t going to end my vacation without investing in a little “me” time; and not the “me” time as in “I want to be left alone”. I wanted to be pampered, enjoy some fresh air, and spend some time doing the things that I love with the people that I love. The simple choice was an extended weekend getaway to Travaasa, which is located right outside of Austin (approx. 3 hours from Houston).

Travaasa is termed an “experiential” resort and has two locations – the one in Austin and the other in Hawaii. These green resorts are “tailored to the intellectually active and culturally curious, offering a resort experience that is defined by guided adventures, culinary classes, cultural encounters, healing spa treatments, as well as fitness and wellness workshops.” Geared around the experience, the resort focuses all activities around five pillars — Adventure, Culinary, Culture, Fitness, and Spa & Wellness. In addition to the above, they offered everything from challenge courses, to couple’s sessions, archery, journal writing, sketching, and so much more.

The resort is surrounded by nature and both the facilities and the accommodations are constant reminders of that very fact. I found the rooms to be simple; yet inviting, and the tall windows seemed to embrace the sun and warm rays even in the midst of winter. We got a chance to stay in both room types; the Trail rooms and the Canyon rooms. The Trail rooms are located on the lower levels and really just provide views of the trees and the beautiful premises. The Canyon view is where it is at! We were in heaven and wished we had stayed in the Canyon rooms the entire time. The view pierced out into the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and I swear we sat and stared from our balcony for hours. But that was not the only thing that stood out during my stay…

From the staff, who were so accommodating (thanks Amy) and generally happy people, to the food that was out of this word, to the classes that not only allowed me to “learn” myself, but they allowed me to “find” myself…I couldn’t have asked for a better “break”. My time at the spa was great as well. The facial was wonderful, but I found the massage to be just okay and nothing spectacular. The facilities themselves are definitely on the fab side. I am looking forward to visiting in the spring so we can enjoy the infinity pool, which is located to the right of the spa. From a dining perspective, Travaasa is five star all of the way. We opted for the community table both times we ate on site for dinner. These seats, and there are only 6 per night, are located right at the chefs station. We got the chance to see Executive Chef Benjamin Baker do his thing and I will say that he is the bomb.com. He liked the stage and I loved the show!

We are not huge eaters so we did not choose to go with the all-inclusive Total Travaasa package; I couldn’t eat that much if I was paid to. We had not intended to drive into the city limits of Austin as the goal was to stay as far away as we could, so we ate fairly close to Travaasa the entire time. However, being the big food-meister that I so claim to be, we did get the opportunity to check out two great establishments: Hudson’s on the Bend and Soleil at the Oasis. Dinner at Hudson’s on the Bend was something to write home about. Their menu offering included wild game and other interesting items like alligator, frog legs and antelope. We visited Soleil for brunch on Sunday. Not only did they come highly recommended but the view from our table was amazing.

Travaasa wants to be a “place that would reawaken us; intellectually, culturally, experientially.” I think they have done an awesome job at doing just that. I left Travaasa feeling refreshed, renewed and most importantly…rested – in my mind, body, and soul. That is a lot to ask for given my short four day trip, but clearly Travaasa is aligned with the “ask and you shall receive” approach. I already have plans to visit Travaasa again in the next few months. There are so many things that I didn’t get to do…so many more experiences that I want to capture as memories. As hard as we work, we have to know when to take break and I was glad to have found my break in a place that would have it no other way.

Trip Highlights: The Canyon view rooms, dinner at the community table, the staff
Things to note: It is completely dark at night so you must do everything in the day time
FYI…you must be 16 years or older to stay at Travaasa.

Shanna Jones

Shanna is the co-founder and editor of Urban Swank. She focuses on food and travel.

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