Miraval’s Texas Oasis

Unplug and go Zen at brand’s first outpost

BY DON NICHOLS — Spring 2019

efore getting the fitness class started, instructor Hannah Benes offers some advice. “No one’s looking at you, so be as goofy as you like — you’ll burn more calories.”

A fitness fanatic, I have taken my share of fitness classes, but never one called “Cardio Drumming.” I’m not at all sure what I’m in for, but I’m here in this fitness studio with about 15 others ready to find out. For the next 45 minutes, to nonstop lively music, I beat drumsticks on the large red stability ball anchored in front of me. At Benes’ direction, I sometimes beat them on top of the ball, on its sides, and near the bottom. Sometimes I’m standing still, sometimes sashaying to the left and then right, and sometimes circling the ball. The high-energy class isn’t exhausting me, but I’m getting a good workout and having a good time.

I’m in Day Two of a three-day stay at the new Miraval Austin Resort & Spa in Texas, the first outpost of the 24-year-old Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa in Tucson, and I’m experiencing as much of its programming as I can. Before checking out, I take part in myriad classes and activities, including a meditation session, an interval training class, a Tibetan Bowl massage, and a ropes course on which I inched my way across a tightrope 25 feet up in the air, a test of my nerves even though a harness kept me safe. The resort wasn’t fully operational on my January visit, but guests now have access to more than 20 different fitness classes, many imported from Arizona, such as Cardio Drumming; and 100-plus programming options weekly, including lectures, workshops, private consultations, and various classes.

The Miraval Group, which Hyatt Hotels Corp. acquired in early 2017, bought the former Travaasa Austin spa resort in the Texas Hill Country in late 2016 and launched a multimillion-dollar rebranding project. The work included building a cozy arrival center and upping the room count from 70 to 117. Miraval also doubled the spa size and increased treatment rooms from 11 to 30; expanded the fitness facility with the new fitness studio; built a yoga barn with a large deck; added a second pool (Discovery Pool) with a stunning view; and enlarged the dining area to include a combination smoothie/cocktail bar and a demonstration kitchen for cooking classes and workshops.

All that plus personable staffers give the resort added appeal, other guests repeatedly tell me. “Just Cook for Me Chef,” a two-hour dinner experience, delivers a big dose of this friendliness. Executive chef Ben Baker serves up a five-course, healthful tasting menu that changes daily (perhaps Quail and Scallops Sliders), and food and beverage manager Edward Morgan pairs the dishes with wine or tea, depending on your preference. The feast unfolds at a 15-seat counter overlooking the open kitchen. The affable Baker and Morgan interact with guests throughout, making for a fun evening with spirited conversation.

Next up: Miraval plans to open a second outpost in late fall in the Berkshires.

Details: From $529. 855-234-1672; miravalaustin.com

AAH, DO TRY The Pranayama-dina spa treatment. While you hang in a silk hammock focused on your breathing, a therapist massages you from underneath. So restorative. So calming.

New at Miraval Arizona

A year ago, the Tucson property introduced the Retreat, 22 suites of varying sizes (with up to three bedrooms) with breathtaking mountain views from one of the property’s highest vistas. Picture yourself zoning out in the hot tub on your private patio taking in the view. The suites come with services not available to other guests, such as an in-room massage menu. From $900.

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