I want a “full force” summer this year. Snow cones, inner tubes, bug spray, camp weeks, s’mores, all of it. I had quite the schedule lined up, including a night camping under the stars to spot falling stars and a dinner party right on the beach with a bonfire to boot. So far, I kicked off this “full force” summer right with a stay at Lake Austin Spa, a proper spa but camp-vibes resort right on the waterfront of Austin’s lazy water reservoir beloved by boaters and proud Texans. It’s the summer resort for what I call “spa camp,” an indulgent adult way to savor excellent spa treatments while taking in the no-fuss hospitality of Texas from a hammock or boat dock.
It’s a long, sleepy road to Lake Austin Spa Resort, just what you’d want at a camp tucked in nature. Many groups also make their way to the resort via boat, passing the bushy hillsides of the 24 mile long reservoir dotted with speed boats and paddle boarders. Pulling into the driveway, I spotted Monarch butterflies floating around giant crepe myrtle trees that line the front entrance, a clear sign I wasn’t in California anymore. Inside and just past the reception desk, carafes of ice tea and lemonade along with trays of cookies waited for guests as well as classic board games like Scrabble in the sunroom. A group of girls fluttered by, still in their flotation boat gear, and grabbed a few cookies. A couple strolled by in flip-flops, thick books in hand. This was the vibe of spa camp, casual and perfectly lazy.
In fact, I was at camp. Lake Austin Spa Resort is in the midst of its Adult Summer Camp offering which goes till the end of September. It includes daily sightseeing boat cruises, “throwback” fitness classes, fresh smoothies, group hikes and boat deck yoga, and, of course, a camp t-shirt. It works exceptionally well for Lake Austin Spa Resort, a property that used to be a rodeo camp ground, fishing campsite, and even a nudist base for decades since the 1940s. Adult Summer Camp promises all the fun activities that make memories along with serious spa services only offered at Lake Austin Spa Resort.
One such service is the two and half hour Regal facial by Valmont, the legendary Swiss brand which approaches skincare from a cellular level. So far, Lake Austin Spa Resort has the exclusive on this powerhouse offering which includes three massages, five masks, and dozens of serums and moisturizers. I asked my esthetician, Lin, if I needed to “pre-game” in any way to get ready for this experience, like I did for this life-changing pedicure in Oman, but she assured me all I needed was a fresh face. She also mentioned the time would fly by, and it surely did. Lin masterfully maneuvered one technique after another over my whole face and neck. It felt like she was conducting a skincare symphony, every move delicate but deliberate. One part included Hydrafacial, the oddly satisfying device only in the US and Canada that suctions out pores and injects them with doses of water and nourishing minerals. My favorite massage and the crescendo of the service is modeled off of a Japanese process created in 1472, the “Kobido technic.” The massage involves quick strokes and sliding movements over the face’s various meridians lines and is divine. There wasn’t a line on my face to be found after this incredible facial; I looked. I clapped for Lin afterwards, and she bowed.
The Alpine Essential Facial is another exclusive offered only at Lake Austin Spa, designed for men and also by Valmont. I’m spotting more men in nail salons, spas, and wellness centers when I travel, and I love noting spas catering their care to guys who tend to be spa shy, at least still today. This facial includes a collagen eye mask treatment and some deep cleansing like the Regal facial and only requires 60 minutes.
After another day of massages and facials, I had a dinner on the deck and watched jet skiers and boats bob along the water. Cookies and cream yogurt was my dessert of choice, a great end to the spa camp day. The mug holding my yogurt said, “Texas is best,” and for adult summer camp, it is.