Dim lighting, the smell of your favorite essential oil, just the right amount of pressure during a massage …
For guests looking for some R&R, a spa experience in one of these six luxury resort spas around the state is a special treat. Reserve a block of appointments or buy out the spa for the day to offer a private experience. Organize a reception or lunch in the spa to encourage socializing. Along with unique massages, facials and mani/pedis, these spas offer indoor and outdoor pools, porches and patios for your guests to enjoy between treatments.
Don’t have time to send your guests to the spa? Many resorts offer mobile spa treatments or wellness and fitness classes you can incorporate into your agenda. Just make sure to give your group spa planning its proper due. “There’s a lot more planning that goes into spa experiences than most people think,” says Travis Anderson, director of the Lantana Spa at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort. “It’s a very one-to-one experience.”
Three important tips from the resorts: Give your guests enough time to truly enjoy all that the spas and resorts have to offer, contact spas for availability early (at least a month or two) and rely on the spa for creative ideas to customize your group spa experience.
The Lantana Spa
JW MARRIOTT SAN ANTONIO
The Lantana Spa at the JW Marriott San Antonio features 30 treatment rooms (with the ability to do 200-plus treatments per day) and chandeliers of raw quartz, with elements reminiscent of the city’s Spanish missions. The treatment menu incorporates the herbal healing traditions of local healers with naturalbased products and locally grown lavender.
“We strive to achieve a real atmosphere for each group,” Anderson says. The spa can bring in a wine and cheese station, or planners can book retail specials, vendor demonstrations or a fashion show for guests to enjoy between treatments. Guests are encouraged to enjoy the resort’s outdoor pool area and cabanas.
Fitness classes are one of the spa’s most popular offerings, including sunrise yoga overlooking the Texas Hill Country. “We see wellness as a big trend,” Anderson says.
The Lantana Spa has also helped groups on a tight budget use the spa in creative ways. A spa happy hour provided 25-minute massages and facials, and express manicures and pedicures, along with a selection of beverages. At a recent Shop and Spa event, Anderson worked with a time limit of an hour and a $100-per-person budget, bringing in a variety of vendors to a meeting room. Each guest received a credit to be used for merchandise or treatments, including chair massages and polish changes.
The Lantana Spa has been the No. 1 rated JW Marriott spa for guest satisfaction in North America for five years, Anderson says. He attributes the honor to southern Texas hospitality. “That’s something special about San Antonio,” he says. “People are born and bred with a warm heart, and we welcome our guests in a real, authentic way.”
HYATT REGENCY HILL COUNTRY RESORT AND SPA
Windflower Spa at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa doesn’t look like a traditional spa. Surrounded by 300 acres of wildflowers and meadows, the façade looks more like an old barn.
Twenty-three salvaged buildings were used to create the spa, including antique Texas longleaf- pine flooring and distressed ceiling decking. Inside, locally made, hand-sewn quilts are placed on the massage tables. Hammocks and oak trees line the outdoor pool and a back porch lined with rocking chairs offers views of the rolling Texas Hill Country.
The spa’s layout provides plenty of space for groups, including communal spaces like a locker room, wellness bar, lounge, back porch and outdoor pool. With its 21 treatment rooms, the Windflower Spa can accommodate about 25 people per hour with a balance of services (massage, facial, manicure) or about 50 people for events hosted at the spa.
“It truly is a space for social gatherings,” says Windflower Spa and Recreation Director Joe Herman.
Herman encourages planners to think of the entire spa experience—not just the treatment itself.
“Allot enough time to enjoy everything that we have to offer,” Herman says. Add a lunch or snack to the experience, and encourage attendees to stay longer to relax, socialize and network.
The spa can also help planners incorporate its offerings into their agendas, including a Blend Bar where guests make their own body scrub and moisturizer or take part in outdoor yoga. Other ideas include hosting a happy hour at sunset on the spa’s back porch or welcoming attendees to the event with chair massages, facial demonstrations, hand scrubs or express manicures and pedicures.
LAKE AUSTIN SPA RESORT
As the only boutique resort property directly on Lake Austin, the Lake Austin Spa Resort encourages guests to take advantage of the lake to complement their spa experience.
“Part of our mantra is ‘disconnect to connect,’” says Nanci Reilly, director of sales. “We want you in the water playing or in the spa having a fabulous treatment.”
The staff creates customized spa menus for groups from the spa’s more than 100 treatments. The LakeHouse Spa offers 25,000 square feet of space with 30 treatment rooms, men’s and women’s hot tubs and steam rooms, two pools and dining offered at the Aster Café. The spa can accommodate groups of up to 30.
Guests can enjoy treatments outdoors in a private outdoor garden suite, a screened veranda or outdoor treatment cabanas in the men’s and women’s courtyards. The Bamboo Room and outdoor garden suite includes a hot tub with a waterfall, gardens and an outdoor treatment cabana.
The spa’s experienced staff has received extensive training to perform the spa’s lengthy treatment menu.
“A lot of staff have been here for eight or 10 years,” says Deborah Evans Parker, director of wellness. “So much pride goes into what they do.”
One of the highlights of the resort is its garden, which has been nurtured by the resort’s director of flora and fauna, Tricia Shirey, for more than 30 years. Guests can choose among the garden’s herbs, spices and vegetables to create entrees and cocktails. Some of the garden’s spices, including lavender, are also used in the spa’s treatments, including the Gifts of the Garden treatment.
The Trellis Spa
HOUSTONIAN HOTEL, CLUB & SPA
The Trellis Spa at the Houstonian offers a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city. The spa boasts 17,000 square feet of space and has 20 treatment rooms, including 11 rooms for body treatments, eight facial rooms, a tanning room and a couple’s room, as well as hair styling stations, and manicure and pedicure stations.
The spa’s locker rooms include a jetted tub, rainfall shower and steam room. Guests can relax or take a nap in the spa’s tranquility room, which offers a fireplace and chaise lounges. Hot tea, fruit, shortbread cookies and flavor-infused water are available for guests.
The Mediterranean-style spa surrounds a courtyard that can be seen through the spa’s large windows. The pool and outdoor areas provide a semiprivate area for guests to network. Between treatments, guests can socialize at the fire pit or sip champagne on the outdoor patio or near the float pool.
“The patio looks out over a gazebo with a lot of green and lush scenery,” says Christine Whitnel, spa training manager. “A lot of groups want to be outside or gravitate to the float pool.”
Guests do not need to be a member of the Houstonian Club to use the spa, though members will receive discounts on all spa services.
When building a spa menu, Whitnel suggests the spa’s aromatherapy massages, during which guests can choose from four essential oils to be used during the service. Essential oils are also available for purchase for guests to take home.
The Trellis Spa can accommodate groups of up to 100.
The Bayside Spa
HORSESHOE BAY RESORT
Located on the shores of Lake LBJ north of San Antonio, the Bayside Spa at Horseshoe Bay features 10,000 square feet of spa space, including saunas, eucalyptus-infused steam rooms, outdoor and indoor relaxation spaces and a pool area with a resistance pool and whirlpool.
Groups can unwind in the pool area, outdoor relaxation areas or off the deck in the salon between treatments. Planners can book catering for guests to include at the pool or in a relaxation area. Popular options have included wine and cheese or chocolate pairings.
The Bayside Spa can accommodate groups of 100 people. Tracy Harper, director of spa and fitness for the Bayside Spa, recommends booking the spa’s signature treatments, which feature tea aromatherapy incorporated into the massage, facial, manicure and pedicure.
The spa also offers lakeside massages on the beach or in a reserved cabana with a view of Lake LBJ. The spa offers private fitness and wellness classes through the resort’s health club, including 5Ks. The health club holds a clean eating class for tips to eat cleaner on the go. Some groups have incorporated lakeside fitness classes, such as boot camps or sunrise yoga.
Harper also advises planners to trust spa staff during the planning process. “We’re the experts in making people feel good and relaxed,” Harper says. “We can ease the meeting planner.”
Relâche Spa and Salon
GAYLORD TEXAN RESORT AND CONVENTION CENTER
At the Relâche Spa and Salon at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, groups can look forward to a custom experience, says Misty Day, director of the spa.
“We very much customize the experience for each group, so no group is having the same exact experience,” Day says.
The Relâche Spa offers a mix of wellness opportunities, spa services and mobile spa options. The spa has accommodated as many as 150 people in a group, but Day says depending on the time the group is willing to spend, they could possibly accommodate more.
The spa includes 12 treatment rooms, three hair salon chairs and four mani/pedi chairs. A renovation in the spa this year will add two more treatment rooms and refresh the furniture and carpeting. Between treatments, guests can utilize the resort’s courtyards, gym and indoor and outdoor pool areas.
When building a spa menu, Day suggests groups include three or more 50-minute basics services for guests to choose from with options to upgrade, such as hot stones, aromatherapy or deeper pressure.
Day encourages planners to look for value adds for their guests, such as choosing a signature scent like lavender or eucalyptus for the spa, ordering a champagne toast or placing small gifts in guests’ spa lockers.
Through the resort’s mobile spa program, a meeting room can be transformed with dim lighting, aromatherapy and music while guests enjoy massages and reflexology treatment. “This allows guests to be in their clothes, walk in and have a mini spa experience,” Day says.
The spa’s wellness program offers classes such as meditation and stretching. An OSHAcertified trainer can offer a class on joint pain or exercises you can do in the office.