One of the most unusual stops to promote Map of the Heart is the Lake Austin Spa and Resort. It’s a vintage resort, not owned by a big conglomeration, that still retains its summer-camp charm.
I get in at midnight. They made me a sandwich. There are books in every room of the beautiful complex. I am in heaven.
[image source: Austin Way Magazine]
Some spas are for whispering yoga ladies in robes, eating raw vegan rabbit food. Not this one. Sure, there’s a grilled avocado on the menu and chia seeds at the salad bar. But there’s also a top sirloin, too, and fresh gulf shrimp, and buttery scones and real cream. The kitchen is incredible, and there’s a cooking demonstration each day. A lot of the produce is sourced from the on-premise gardens, including giant squash and gourds hanging from the pergolas.
And the spa. Go. Just go. Do the clothing optional option. Get the signature facial and lavender massage.
Every hour is a different (and sometimes humiliating) adventure for your mind and body. They know me well. Each hour class is 50 minutes long. Perfect for someone with the attention span of a gnat. You can do water sports, hikes, yoga and stretch, meditation, tabata, zumba, barre…I pick the black diamond classes (“challenging”) because I’m old and I’m a beast.
HIIT. The instructor is a tall, ridiculously handsome young man. With an Aussie accent. Yep. The trifecta. Muscles, charm, accent. He takes one look at me and tries to convince me to do the hula hoop workout instead. It would not be the first time a cute guy rejects me. Nevertheless, I persist. Within four minutes, I hate him. Ball slams. Battle ropes. Bosu Burpees. And that’s just the letter B.
Pedal board. I didn’t even know this was a thing. Now that I know, I’m totally getting one. It’s a stand-up paddle board with handlebars and steering. You can go super fast. You can lose your balance and fall into the lake. You can worry about cottonmouths and weird bugs.
Wilderness hiking. The guide points out scat of all sorts–coyote, deer, way too much domestic dog–which makes me like him immediately. I’m told you can find your spirit animal in nature if you close your eyes and see what creatures come to you. Apparently, my spirit animal is the mosquito.
Tribal yoga. With two other unwitting victims patrons, I join the class. My pelvis is a bowl. My arms are wings. My mind is empty. Except I keep trying to remember how to spell savasana. I wonder how old Enya is. I keep hearing the Clorox commercial song in my head. I am instructed to lunge and look backward through my legs. Trust me, no one should have to endure this view. I hear a fart. It may, or may not be, me.
After class I’m supposed to hydrate. I keep trying to like green tea but it tastes like battery acid to me.
They give me a cute yellow souvenir bottle.
Walking on water–this is a workout on something called a Boga board which is floating in the pool. Plank. Side plank. Pushups. Someone fell overboard several times. It may, or may not have been me.
At the end of the class, I get a pair of cute flip flops.
I drag my notebook to scenic spots to get some writing done. Fact: There is no graceful way to get in or out of a hammock.
Good news: the pecan trees are as high as the sky here.
Bad news: the cockroaches are the size of Volkswagens. They call them palmetto bugs but they are frickin cockroaches.
Good news: there are cute little lizards darting around everywhere.
Bad news: there are snakes. I’m guessing scorpions and tarantulas, too, but I haven’t seen one.
There is a new sport called bare-footing. It’s basically being pulled in terror behind a waterski boat. When you fall, it’s like hitting concrete. I gave it a pass.
There’s retail therapy. I may, or may not have, bought Anatomie travel pants made in Italy.
Amenities: I can check all the boxes but one. Reading lamp. Plugs for devices. Fast wifi with no log-in. Bathrobe. Lighted magnifying mirror. Outdoor patio–bonus points for the mosquito candle. Dressing mirror. Bonus points for a light that comes on automatically in the closet. Nice soaps, conditioner, bath salts, cotton things. All-inclusive means all-inclusive except for alcohol and spa treatments. The one demerit is that the print on the daily schedule is too tiny for my old eyes, but there’s an iPad at the activities desk you can enlarge.
I have dinner with a delightful couple, Amy and Ernie, who are great storytellers and they promised to read the book. They’ve been married 21 years and they are still best friends. She is gorgeous and smart. He is loquacious and funny. They are like kids on a date.
The reward at the end of all this is a wine and cheese reception and booksigning. A roomful of nice ladies eating and talking about books? I’m in heaven.
Special thanks to ATX Black Car for safe rides through Hurricane Harvey!