Travel Thursday: Recharge at these 4 super-healthy Hill Country getaways

Sometimes you just need a vacation from your vacation. Maybe you’ve spent the summer organizing kids’ complicated schedules and managed to eke out a week or two when the family can take time off together. Or perhaps you took advantage of a quieter time of the business year and took a big trip that took months of planning.

As wonderful as those memory-making trips are, they can be exhausting. So why not think about a recharge weekend closer to home? These four Austin-San Antonio destinations put wellness, fitness and relaxation on the itinerary.

“Summer is crazy, the holidays are crazy. It’s a good time to recharge so you can go give to others,” says Cindy Present, fitness and activities director of Lake Austin Spa Resort.

Charcuterie at La Cantera Resort(Sammy Todd Dyess Photography    )

Relaxation redefined

La Cantera Resort and Spa is recently transformed on 550 acres of gorgeous hillside. The reimagined resort, formerly a Westin and now part of the Destination Hotels collection, is poised to take wellness and relaxation to a new level, with the Sept. 30 opening of Loma de Vida, a 25,000-square-foot spa with a menu of traditional treatments as well as wellness, education and community events. The new spa has 15 treatment rooms, including two couples’ suites and two Sky Lofts, VIP suites perfect for small groups such as girls’ getaways or wedding parties. Other offerings include garden cabanas, a revolving art gallery and Quenche café with juices, elixirs and a healthy cuisine.

If you haven’t been to La Cantera lately, (or even if you have!), it’s worth another look. The hotel has revamped its pool area, with a separate kids’ area and a large adult pool with 10 well-stocked cabanas, perfect for secluded sunning. With nine dining options under the direction of Chef John Zaner, formerly of The Ritz Carlton-Kapalua in Hawaii, the resort has also made culinary offerings a focus. Sweetfire Kitchen, the main dining room with three meals a day, elevated a late Sunday night just-arrived dinner from a simple meal to an fine dining experience. Primero Cantina, offering “Tex-Flex” fare, is the go-to for casual fare and the perfect spot for catching the sunset. And be sure to check the nearby Fiesta Texas fireworks schedule, as the Cityview Terrace offers unmatched views. In the works: a new restaurant, Signature, by Chef Andrew Weissman, with French and South Texas influences.

Info: 16641 La Cantera Parkway, San Antonio

Paddle boarding at Lake Austin Spa and Resort
(Lake Austin Spa and Resort)

Going with the flow

Lake Austin Spa Resort has long touted its peaceful waterfront location at a picturesque bend in the Colorado River about 22 miles from Downtown Austin. The nationally acclaimed 40-room fitness resort this year launched Ripple Effect, a comprehensive program to celebrate and maximize the benefits of water.

“One thing I love about Ripple Effect is that when our guests leave, they can take it home with them,” says Present, the fitness and activities director. “Water can calm people just like a massage can. Even just being in a park with a fountain is beneficial.”

She knows firsthand. She grew up on the river and paddle boards to work every day from her waterfront home. The Ripple Effect is offered year round and includes 30 different activities ranging from aqua Zumba, sunset paddle boarding, floating meditation and myofascial release treatment in the pool. Round out the experience with gloriously healthy cuisine and a full range of treatments in the Lakehouse Spa.

Also trending at the resort, which next year celebrates its 20th anniversary under co-owners Michael McAdams and William Rucks: a focus on fitness for millennials. “We know that millennials are attracted to high-intensity workouts at Orange Theory and CrossFit,” Present says. “We’re incorporating high intensity interval workouts so that they can keep up their fitness while they’re here.”

Info: 1705 S. Quinlan Park Road, Austin

Arial yoga at JW Marriott in San Antonio
(JW Marriott in San Antonio)

Fun for the family, time for yourself

Ever since its arrival in 2010, San Antonio’s J.W. Marriott Hill Country Resort and Spa has made the family vacation an art form. This summer is no exception, with an expanded River Bluff Water Experience featuring two 47-foot body slides and “yogi bugs,” kid-centered yoga with a bug theme. So if you arrive for a summer-sendoff mini holiday with family in tow, know that they and you will be taken care of.

Head over to Lantana Spa, which has recently introduced four new treatments, including a hot stone massage using wonderfully hydrating Moroccan Oil products (and pampering treatment for hands, feet and scalp too!). The best-kept secret at the resort: the secluded, quiet adults-only pool at the spa, with bistro service and plenty of lounge chairs. As you arrive, participate in the seven knots ritual, where you are given a red ribbon and asked to tie seven knots, one for each worry. Trust us, you’ll forget about the family. Almost.

Info: 23808 Resort Parkway, San Antonio

Rooftop pool at Westin Austin Downtown
(Westin Austin Downtown)

Urban escape

If a hotel located smack dab in the middle of Austin’s downtown music and nightlife scene seems like an ill fit for wellness, think again. The Westin Austin Downtown, which opened in July 2015, takes health seriously. Those who opt for the Westin Wellness package have a variety of healthy and delicious experiences available. Sign up for a private run (or walk) with Run Concierge Nick Allen, and choose an afternoon wellness session of cooking with super foods or juicing. We opted for juicing on a recent visit and were won over by the fresh tastes and delicious combinations of fruits and veggies. In-room massages, daily juice deliveries and rooftop yoga are all available by request, as are exercise clothing and shoes through the brand’s overall wellness focus. The hotel itself has an energetic vibe, with homage everywhere to Austin’s music presence, including a 12-foot art installation of wood pieces in the shape of a guitar. You’ll need all that wellness mojo because you won’t want to miss the #16 biscuits at in-house restaurant Stella San Jac, so named because it took 16 tries before they were perfect.

Info: 310 E. 5th St., Austin

Courtesy of Connie Dufner / Dallas News

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