About 6 weeks ago, Marcus, Alex and I wanted to go on a vacation. Because we didn't want to spend the money on a flight anywhere, we decided to take a small family vacation to central Texas, about 2 hours out of town. It was great, and we wondered why we hadn't done it before.
Coincidentally and completely unrelated to our travel plans, around the same time and out of the blue I received an email from The Woodlands Resort. The email explained that their facility has recently undergone an extensive renovation, and invited Alex, Marcus and me to come spend a weekend to see it first hand, at our convenience. Would this be something we'd be interested in?
Needless to say, having enjoyed our "local" vacation 6 weeks ago, we were. And after a quick exchange, we set the dates for the weekend before school began for Alex -- this weekend -- to celebrate the end of the summer.
The Woodlands is a community about 30 miles north of Houston, nestled in a 44 square mile forest. It was developed as a bedroom community within commuting distance to downtown Houston in the 1970s, so to be honest, I'd never really thought much about The Woodlands as a place to go visit -- in my mind, it was simply a surburban neighbourhood. I knew that there were several companies who had relocated their headquarters in The Woodlands, and of course, the Cynthia Wood Mitchell Pavilion -- an open-air amphitheatre that hosts huge concerts -- was a Woodlands' fixture, so I supposed if I'd thought about it, I could've guessed there were nearby hotels. But it never would have occurred to me to "staycation" in The Woodlands.
We were in for a happy surprise. An easy 45-minute drive from our house, The Woodlands is far enough away from Houston that it feels like a getaway, but close enough that we don't feel like we're going too far. And The Woodlands Resort is seriously stunning: they put us up in a room in the new building of the resort, which was far away from the pool -- a location we appreciated, because while the resort wasn't crowded, it was nice that we could retire to the quiet part of the campus while folks were still having a great time at the pool. The room (as you can see above), was spacious and modern, and ... well ... permit me to geek out a bit.
One of my biggest pet peeves -- and I mean huge -- is the way hotels never seem to have enough outlets next to the bed. What is that about? I mean, does anyone ever actually even use the desk in hotel rooms? Also, I use my phone or iPad as my alarm clock -- and so I like to have it next to me at night, but also close to an outlet so it can charge when I sleep. There's nothing that makes me more crazy than having to wake up to an alarm that I have to get out of bed and walk all the way across the room to the desk to turn off.
So when, after we checked in, Marcus pointed out that not only were the outlets a part of both side tables on either side of the bed, and not only that ...
... there was even a little sign on each table with an arrow pointing to their location? Dude. I'm not kidding, I was sold on the hotel in that very moment, straight-up. I didn't even need to see the rest of the joint.
Look: some people need high-thread-count sheets, some people need an extensive minibar, but me? Just give me easy-to-find power outlets next to my bed, and I am good to go. I'm a woman of simple needs, I am.
Anyway, even though I was sold on the outlets, I'll share the rest of the hotel with you, because it really is lovely. For example, the pool area is huge:
And that's only one small part of it. There were several pools, including a lazy river, which Marcus and Alex immediately waded into, and I didn't see them for the rest of our first evening there.
I'm kidding. Alex came galloping back as soon as the hotel busted out the s'mores:
And once the dive-in movie began, we were all together again. (The movie was Wall-E, in case you were wondering.)
Saturday morning, we got up early to have breakfast, and then I headed off the spa for a massage. Let me admit up front: I'm not actually fan of massage. I'm not sure why, exactly -- maybe it feels to intimate, or something? -- but I can count the number of times I've actually spent money on a massage in my life on two fingers. But over the last 3 months, I've actually been in a bit of discomfort: I don't know if it's all the traveling, and the heavy-bag-carrying that it entails, or just the sleeping in strange beds every other weekend, but my shoulder and back have been bothering me all summer. So when the Woodlands Resort offered me a massage, I gratefully accepted, even though under different circumstances, I'd more likely politely decline.
After I checked into the spa, a therapist named Roxanna met me. She was amazing and professional, with over 15 years experience, and after reading my intake form, she said, "Okay, so you have some shoulder and back pain, yes? We'll go easy, and see what we can do."
About 30 seconds after I lay down on her table she found the first knot. "Oh my God," she said. "You're in some discomfort, aren't you?!" I laughed. "Yes," I said. "You know, I've been trying to show my husband exactly where hurts, and I haven't been able to. You found it right away."
She grinned. "Well, that's my job," she said gently. And she went to work, gently kneading the knot and tension out of my back. At the end of the 50 minute session, while I certainly didn't feel perfect, I felt worlds better. I was incredibly grateful.
After the session, I joined Alex and Marcus back at the pool for the day. Not really anything else to report, except that at one point, the servers passed around frozen grapes:
... which, in 95°F+ heat, pretty much feels like heaven.
Our last night, we had dinner at Robard's, the resort's steakhouse. It was delicious, but the best part was when the waiter let Alex caramelize the sugar on our crème brûlée:
All in all, a great weekend. So, huge thanks to The Woodlands Resort for inviting us, and for picking up the tab for our room, the resort fee and my massage. We had an amazing time, and it was the perfect way to end our summer!