virtuoso global July 2020 Give Yourself a Much-Needed Break in Austin This Summer

Give Yourself a Much-Needed Break in Austin This Summer

The spa’s new Nature’s Bounty facial incorporates organic chia seeds, raw honey enzymes, and a cacao- and pineapple-infused warm mask.
The spa’s new Nature’s Bounty facial incorporates organic chia seeds, raw honey enzymes, and a cacao- and pineapple-infused warm mask.
Photo by James Baigrie
This wellness retreat wants travelers to achieve bliss and balance.

Hands up if you could go for some Ayurvedic spa treatments, sun-dappled strolls through the forest, and cathartic cardio drum sessions right now. The 117-room mindfulness-focused Miraval Austin – a 30-minute drive from Austin and a two-hour drive from Dallas and Houston – reopened on June 25. The resort’s team of specialists – from registered dietitians and wellness counselors to astrologers, sound healers, and even a psychic for clairvoyant readings – fills the estate’s lineup of experiences with a depth that could occupy solace-seeking guests for weeks.
 
“I think people are surprised at how diverse the activities are,” Virtuoso agency executive Keith Waldon says. “No matter where you are on the spiritual-to-active spectrum, you’re going to find a lot of cool things to do, from hatchet tossing to touring the organic farm. For the moments you want to do nothing, the grounds are spectacular, offering great views of Lake Travis and Hill Country.”
 
The sprawling 220-acre resort – adjacent to the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve – is home to a sensory garden (a network of paths and spaces for yoga and meditation), two swimming pools, a couple of glamped-up yurts that host wellness talks and demonstrations, miles of running trails, an equine farm, and a vegetable garden. It’s easy to social distance here, and even easier to unplug – specific areas within the resort are designated as device-free. And Texas residents, take note: This summer, discounts and additional credits are available to in-state travelers.
 
Here, five more reasons to have your travel advisor book your stay ASAP.

Balance active excursions with quiet time at one of the two infinity pools (and outdoor hot tubs). 
Balance active excursions with quiet time at one of the two infinity pools (and outdoor hot tubs). 
Photo by James Baigrie

Tree-Hugging Is Encouraged, Literally

Miraval Austin is located in the Texas Hill Country northwest of Austin, where ash, mesquite, and oak trees blanket the ground. Guests can set off on nature walks or group trail runs, or dig deeper with a guided, two-hour shinrin-yoku session, aka the Japanese-inspired practice of forest bathing. “It’s a calming walk that opens up your senses and hones intuition,” says Miraval Group wellness director Simon Marxer. “You’ll even learn about the compounds released by trees that help support immune function.”

You Can Reap the Benefits of Equine Therapy

Equine specialist Paula Basden’s horse programming is one of the most requested activities at Miraval. Guests can take trail rides, learn to strengthen existing equestrian skills while focusing on nonverbal communication with the horses, or even try meditation and self-restorative work with the animals. “Horses have been known to evoke emotional response, personal awareness, and positive change,” Marxer says. “We offer healing sessions that help people work through personal issues in a supported environment with their horse and a wellness counselor. You learn tools to gain emotional regulation and balance in your life.” An Instagram-worthy moment: the two-hour Unforgettable Canvas group class, where guests paint on the side of their horse (with nontoxic, animal-friendly paint, of course).

Schedule a private equine session with Paula Basden, the resort’s on-site horse whisperer. 
Schedule a private equine session with Paula Basden, the resort’s on-site horse whisperer. 
Photo by Aubre

There’s an Empowering Physical Challenge with Your Name on It

Miraval Austin partnered with experiential wilderness organization Outward Bound to create the on-site Hill Country Challenge Course, where ropes courses, vertical climbs, and high-wire trust exercises test guests’ faith in others and themselves. “Clients of mine stayed at the hotel in April and November last year,” Virtuoso travel advisor Bonnie Dunayer says. “The couple’s favorite memory was rock climbing – they came away from the exertion feeling proud that they faced a challenge and overcame their fears.” At the course’s Quantum Leap, harnessed participants climb a 25- or 35-foot telephone pole, stand on a plate-size platform at the top, and jump. “For most people, climbing onto the disc and standing up is the toughest part,” Neil McLeod, Miraval’s director of programs, writes in the book Mindful Living: Miraval. “They often report that the actual jump is very freeing.”

Trained guides lead guests through a series of above-ground obstacles at the Hill Country Challenge Course.
Trained guides lead guests through a series of above-ground obstacles at the Hill Country Challenge Course.

Learn How to Build Your Own Chicken Coop (Finally!)

Guests interested in harvesting a biodynamic vegetable garden or trying their hand at chicken-keeping – this includes collecting eggs and setting up a coop – can schedule a day at the resort’s Cypress Creek Farm. In addition to farmer-led tours, apiculturist Ed Reed leads honey tastings and private beekeeping workshops; participants actually suit up and get close to the working hives. Cypress Creek supplies eggs, produce, and honey to the resort’s Hilltop Crossings Kitchen restaurant, but during the hotel’s recent closure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the farm pivoted to provide food for its fellow coworkers. “The farm and equine team harvested onions, collard greens, beets, carrots, chard, and lettuce, then distributed the food among the hotel staff while practicing proper social distancing,” Marxer says. “It was truly amazing to see the Miraval family band together to help each other in a time of crisis.”

At Cypress Creek Farm, guests learn about low-intervention beekeeping before sampling honey flights. 
At Cypress Creek Farm, guests learn about low-intervention beekeeping before sampling honey flights. 
Photo by James Baigrie

Hallelujah – The Spa Is Open

The Miraval Life in Balance Spa officially reopened July 15, with plenty of health and safety protocols in place. The treatment menu is textbook “treat yourself”: crystal energy healing, massages, facials, prenatal sessions, hair and nail treatments, and much more. Try an Ayurvedic massage with herb-infused heated oils to reduce muscle tension, or the ancient practice of marma-point therapy to sooth frazzled nerves. Afterward, stop by the Nest bar (next door to the spa) for a smoothie – and come back in the evening for cocktails or mocktails. The perfect healthy-ish pairing: herbed popcorn.