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If the Miraval in Tucson, Arizona is the grande dame of adult-only luxury wellness resorts, the newer location outside of Austin, Texas is its spunky younger sibling. I recently spent four days there and this is my unbiased un-sponsored review, as well as a comparison of the two properties.
First of all, you should know that I’m a Miraval super fan. I discovered the Arizona property in 2004 after hearing Oprah talk about it on one of her shows. My first visit was over a decade ago and I’ve gone back around a dozen times; with girlfriends, twice by myself, and with a partner. It’s truly one of my favorite places in the world; so much so, that when I got married in January 2019, we had our wedding in one of the private villas.
If you’re someone who likes to try new things and also do absolutely nothing, Miraval might be the perfect spot for you. I describe the Miraval experience as “camp for grownups” because there are sooooo many activities to choose from. Whether you’re into cooking classes, spa treatments, fitness, meditation, photography, outdoor adventures, or horses, there will be a class or an activity to meet your needs. You can fill up your schedule with back-to-back activities, chill and hang out at one of the gorgeous pools, take a nature walk or pamper yourself in their award-winning spa.
Miraval Austin is set in a beautiful spot just northwest of Austin in the Texas Hill Country. The resort sits on 220 shady rolling acres that overlook the blue waters of Lake Travis. The property is about a 45-minute drive from the airport (30 minutes from downtown).
Miraval Austin has 13 three-story lodges spread across the property that each house eight to ten rooms or suites. I’d describe the architecture as “contemporary farmhouse” and the buildings are multi story vs the single-level casitas in Arizona. Walking around the campus definitely gave me a summer camp vibe, although it’s much swankier than even the most posh camp. The views from the Yoga Barn and the restaurant are stunning.
It’s an all-inclusive resort — mostly. You pay a base daily fee that covers your transportation to/from the airport, room, all meals, snacks (there’s a coffee and smoothie bar) and most of the activities. Spa services, alcohol (yup, there’s a bar) and some activities have an additional fee. When you purchase a “package” it usually includes a daily resort credit ($100 – $150) that will be applied to spa services or activities that require an additional fee. There’s NO tipping and no charge for parking if you drive yourself instead of taking the complimentary shuttle from the airport.
In 2017 Miraval was purchased by Hyatt. At the time, I was concerned that being owned by a corporation might ruin some of the “special-ness” but that hasn’t been the case. It still has a unique vibe, and the service and experience has remained consistent. In addition to the Austin and Tucson properties, there’s a third location in the Berkshires.
It’s expensive. Prices vary based on the time of year, room type, and what type of package you purchase but a “basic” stay averages out to around $1,000 per person per day. And, now that they’re owned by Hyatt you can earn and redeem points for your visit.
It’s luxurious but also very casual. You won’t need any fancy clothes, and you’ll spend your days in athleisure ware. Going to dinner or walking around the property in your bathrobe is encouraged.
It’s a device-free property. And they mean it. When you check in, you’ll be asked to agree to not use your cell phone anywhere except in designated areas and your room. The goal is to truly allow guests to unplug and relax. The property is dotted with mindfulness reminders and beautiful spots to sit and unwind.
Because I’d been to the Tucson property so many times, I made sure to try some of the activities and unique experiences that are ONLY available at Miraval Austin.
Stand up paddleboard – You guys, I learned to paddleboard and it was so much fun! The proximity to both Lake Travis and Lake Austin make doing some kind of water activity a must. If you’re not into paddle boarding, you can also go kayaking.
Hatchet throwing – This activity was at the top of my priority list, both to burn off some post-COVID frustration and to see if I could do it. I was a little nervous. I’d never even held an axe or a hatchet before – much less thrown one. But, what I learned, is that just like everything else in life, it’s all about taking a deep breath, focusing your energy, and committing.
Belly Dancing – My girlfriend and I took a one-hour belly dancing class and we had a blast. The instructor was so lovely and really made the class so enjoyable and accessible.
Floating Meditation – This must-do class is offered at both Miraval Tucson and Austin. You lay suspended in a silk hammock while being gently rocked and guided through a meditation while listening to the sounds of crystal bowls. It’s unbelievably relaxing.
Naga Massage – This is Miraval’s special twist on Thai massage where you get stretched and manipulated while lying on a large floor cushion. The therapist controls the pressure of their body weight by holding silk “ropes” that are hung from the ceiling. It’s a deep tissue massage unlike any other I’ve tried and I always book an appointment if I can get one.