Somewhere along the way to Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa—probably once you’ve left the main road and driven the last few miles through thick Hill Country forest—a sense of physical isolation descends. My husband and I had chosen the hotel for just this reason. Though just 26 miles southeast of Austin, the 405-acre property sits adjacent to an 1,100-acre nature park, complete with 18 miles of trails. We pulled up to the valet anticipating a Walden-esque hideaway in which to contemplate our alienation from the natural world.
That’s when we walked into the lobby and saw: children. Many, many children.
“Can I pet your dog?” a little boy asked, wrapping his arms around the neck of our startled Vizsla before we could respond. Nearby, a young girl was trying to mount a statue of a horse. High-end strollers nearly the size of said horse maneuvered around her.
We were, as it happened, 10 weeks away from starting our own family, and had gone in search of a brief babymoon, a last 48 hours of serenity before the arrival of our family’s fourth member (the dog counts). One look at the sea of writhing small bodies before me, however, and I was convinced that our weekend of pastoral tranquility was history. We would be too busy rethinking some of our major life decisions.
Had I merely glanced at the whiteboard in the lobby, I might have realized: no hotel is more prepared for an influx of well-heeled toddlers and the parents eager for some time away from them. The Hyatt’s strategy is twofold: myriad scheduled activities, and space in which to enjoy them. That weekend, for instance, activities included a kayaking trip, horseback riding, archery lessons, trap shooting, outdoor movies, bike rentals, guided trail walks, private sessions with a professional falconer, birding, and stargazing, among others. This was all in addition to the hotel’s permanent features—the pool, waterslide, lazy river, nature preserve, youth spa, tennis courts, and on and on.
The sheer vastness of the property meant we never felt overrun. Of the resort’s seven restaurants, we chose the fine-dining establishment Stories, and were treated to Chilean sea bass and prime rib on the second-floor patio. Below us, a dozen children held marshmallows over a stone fire pit, rapt; two staffed, fully-stocked s’mores carts sat nearby.
And then there is the 18,000-square-foot Django spa, named for jazz great Django Reinhardt and featuring massages set to his music, as well as sedate and aromatherapy-infused sitting rooms stocked with fresh fruit and coffee, pools, saunas, whirlpools, and showers. My one-hour custom facial included an upper body massage, and afterward I felt as comfortable as is possible at seven months pregnant. The all-day package features a scrub, scalp treatment, massage, body wrap, facial, manicure/pedicure, and lunch; any treatment gets you all-day access to the spa.
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines
The Joule Hotel
Hotel St. Germain
Lake Austin Spa Resort
On our last night, we walked the trails past the blaring outdoor movie screen, toward the nature preserve. A quarter mile out, the Hyatt was gone and the stars in full view. Listening to the river gurgle over the banks, we stared in silence at the full moon reflected in the river. The baby kicked, and a small animal shuffled in the brush. It was the end of something. We turned back to the hotel.
Every bit as restrained as Big D itself, The Joule’s $10,000-a-night two-bedroom Penthouse suite features a library, dining room for eight, oversized purple sofas, zebra-print ottoman, spa tub, telescope, pool table, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Should you choose to leave your suite, check out the hotel’s pool, which cantilevers eight feet over the structure’s edge. You’ll be literally floating above downtown. Also in Dallas: the almost comically opulent Hotel St. Germain. In Suite Six, you can laze on the 19th-century Mallard bed, admire yourself in the pier glass Cheval mirror, pen postcards from your exquisitely carved antique claw-and-ball desk, and head to the champagne bar for some, yes, caviar.… There’s a subtle quality to the luxury on offer at the Inn at Dos Brisas in Washington, which is to say that they don’t have to put a chandelier in the bathroom to make a guest feel pampered; 1,200-count Egyptian cotton sheets do the job just fine. This is a resort for active vacationers: take riding lessons at the equestrian facility, which is among the largest in Texas, bike through 300 acres of rolling farmland, pick and taste vegetables in the garden, and end each day at the state’s one-and-only Forbes five-star restaurant.… If the focus at Dos Brisas is food, at Lake Austin Spa Resort it’s the spa, one of the top destination spas in the country, says Condé Nast Traveler. The accommodations are designed to extend your feelings of repose. Stay in the Lady Bird suite and enjoy both an outdoor hot tub and private Zen garden.