I'm back from my little two-day getaway from my "undisclosed location" -- Lake Austin Spa (a warning: before you click on that link, please sit down. Because chances are at some point you're probably going to click on "room and rates," and when that page loads, you are going to faint dead away. I really don't want to be responsible for you collapsing and hitting your head on some sharp edge of nearby furniture, so again, please, sit somewhere comfortable before looking).
My friend Beth and I set out early on Sunday morning on the 3-hour trek to the spa, which is located about 25 minutes outside of Austin to the west. We arrived about midday, just in time for lunch. Beth's talk wasn't until Monday, so after lunch, we took a quick walk on the grounds, and then I got very comfortable on the patio with my laptop and all of my notes, and she partook of some of the activities around the facility.
I'm thrilled to say that I got a ton of work done in the two days that I was there -- I wrote several sections for The Beauty of Different, and did some editing as well (And by the way, thank you SO much for all of your amazing quotation suggestions that you left for me on my post on Monday. They were so inspiring, and they helped me immensely. Seriously, thank you).
And, of course, since there was eye candy everywhere, anytime I needed a break, I simply grabbed my camera and walked around looking for images to capture on "film."
The only exceptions I made from working were to attend Beth's excellent talk/guided relaxation exercise, and I did actually reward myself with a manicure on Monday evening.*
It was really lovely to get away from my everyday life, and by not having to worry about cooking or cleaning or doing the sort of things that make up my daily routine, I was able to really churn out a ton of work. I really owe a debt of gratitude to Beth, since if it hadn't been for the fact that the spa had given her free room and board and allowed her to bring a friend, there's no way I would've ever been able to afford to come to a lovely setting like this to work. I also am so grateful to Marcus and Alex for allowing me to get away to work. As you can see, it is a beautiful place.
One thing, however: if any of you are actually considering booking some time at Lake Austin Spa, I feel it incumbent upon me to say that unless you really have always dreamed of being there (or you've negotiated a really, really good deal), you might want to consider your decision closely. While the place is seriously beautiful, and the staff are friendly enough, the service is ... adequate. Things like consistently long waits for our orders, not always getting them right and some exorbitant costs for the things we were required to purchase* left me thinking that the facilities were very overpriced (of course, I admit that it's entirely possible that since Beth and I didn't pay for our room, they didn't roll out the red carpet). In any event, I can't help but believe that if they were to tighten up their service quality, coupled with the beautiful setting, the spa might get a lot closer to being worth their prices.
*My manicure was great, but it cost an astonishing $65. By the time it really dawned on me that I was actually planning on spending $65 for someone to put nail polish on my fingers, it was too late for me to cancel without incurring a -- you guessed it -- $65 cancellation fee. And so, a manicure I received. The nail technician did a very good job (and she was positively charming), but honestly, the treatment I received was identical to the service I can get in my neighbourhood for $15. For this reason, I'm still looking for the Pleasure Button that surely accompanies a $65 manicure.
Update: Just to be absolutely clear, the opinions in this post are mine and mine alone.
Images: All are outtakes from The Beauty of Different. Photographed using Nikon D300, various lenses.