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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Travaasa Spa - Austin

I joined my friend, Diana, and two other ladies for a day and night at Travaasa Spa on Lake Travis last week-end.  It was a special birthday for my friend and her oh-so-thoughtful husband treated her and 3 of her friends to a very nice evening and day of pampering.
The girls are ready to hit the road - Diana had no idea
what we were doing or where we were going.  It was
a successful surprise!

I was not focused on photos so I have a mix-up of pictures from her camera, my camera, and my cell phone!  The resolution is low, but it is what it is!

We were transported to the spa by a driver in a very nice black Suburban (or some other brand - but you get the gist).  We enjoyed a bottle of champagne as we were enroute to the spa...woo hoo! 
Our driver opening the champagne

We checked in and were driven to our accommodations in a golf cart and after checking out our fabulous rooms, decided to head to the bar for a drink!
One of our extremely comfy rooms!

After being side-tracked by the view from the patio, overlooking the Cypress Creek arm of Lake Travis, we were escorted to the bar by a staff member who was recommending a special cucumber drink. 
On the restaurant porch prior to dinner.

We ended up with a concoction (not the cucumber drink) that knocked my socks off...not in an alcoholic way, but just the best drink I have ever had in my life (and let me tell you, in my younger days, I have had a LOT of drinks!).
The birthday girl and our bartender


I can't even remember what the bartender called it, but I carefully watched everything he did.  Since I don't know the name, I'll call it the Travaasa Lemon Drink...that's how we all referred to it at the table as we ooohhed and aaahhhed over the fabulous flavor.
Very entertaining bartender!  We would have enjoyed
having him join us for dinner I think!  Or maybe it was the
cocktail talking :-)

Here's what was in it:

St. Germaine Elderberry Liqueur
Fresh Lemon Juice
Gin
Sweet and Sour
Topped with Champagne and
A Lemon Twist, squeezed until the lemon essence floated on the liquid.

Served in a Martini glass... it was AWESOME!!!

We would have continued with those I imagine, but he used the last of the St. Germaine's Liqueur.  So, we moved on to the Cucumber Cocktail.  It was refreshing...and had I drank it first, I would have likely enjoyed it immensely.  Unfortunately, it was a slow second to the fabulous first drink.  Being the rare drinker that I am, I was already slightly tipsy from the champagne and the cocktails.  I was ready to focus on dinner!
I was feeling pretty darn happy by this point!

Being a spa, the menu incorporated full nutritional value of each item.  We were on an all-inclusive package so we could choose pretty much what we wanted...so we all had appetizers, main meals, and dessert.  Of course!  We started with bread and olive oil with a peach vinegar...delish!  I loved that they used so many local sourced and organic products.  Made it all the more special!

Sharon perusing the menu

We all selected the same appetizer - it sounded so delicious.  Good choice - it was just the perfect size and the flavor was pure delight.  Due to my somewhat tipsy state, I don't remember everything that was listed on the ingredients...but the gist was Butter Lettuce Cups (3 on the plate) with a morsel of filling including grilled portabella mushroom chunks, ginger, and I don't know what else.  It was just delicious and we all ate every bite.  I don't think anyone had anything to say that wasn't pure positivity!
Butter Lettuce Cups - you pick them up and eat like a taco.
Absolutely delicious!

My friend, Sharon, and I selected the grass-fed Texas Wagyu New York Strip (described by the waiter as the same style of beef as the Japanese Kobe - the cows were treated and fed the same, just here in Texas).  The sides were itty bitty Brussel Sprouts from  Oak Hill Farms, a small serving of poblano scalloped potatoes, and a sauce of ancho aioli.  I ordered my steak medium and Sharon wanted hers "pink on the inside".  Mine, in the center, veered closer to medium rare, but that was okay.

The potatoes were decadent - I would kill for that recipe!  I am not a brussel sprout fan, but these were so tiny and deliciously and lightly prepared that I ate every bite of them.  They smelled NOTHING like brussel sprouts (I hate the smell normally).  Awesome sides.  The flavor of the beef when I put it in my mouth was simply outstanding...perfectly seasoned, eye-rolling delicious.  Then I chewed and I chewed and I chewed...and my (and Sharon's) steak was so tough we could barely swallow.  She had to spit out several pieces into the bar napkins (bless her heart she was trying to hide it, but it became apparent that something was wrong).  Now, mine, on the end where I started was not THAT bad - and I was taken in by the flavor of the meat.  But, I couldn't eat the middle of the steak at all.  I stopped trying when I shook the entire table trying to slice through it - that tough.  Very sad.  Thank goodness that this $36 piece of meat was in the inclusive plan - if I'd had to pay for that out of my pocket I would have been pissed.

Normally, I would have complained - but it was my friend's birthday and I didn't want to do anything to rock the happy boat we were riding on thanks to those great cocktails, the awesome environment, and the bonhomie of good conversation with good friends.


Diana and Melinda had a preparation of Pan Seared Gulf-caught Black Drum served over kale and topped with roast oyster mushrooms with an herb beurre blanc.  Both agreed the kale was not tasty at all (not bad tasting, just not flavorful) and was tough to chew.  I tried a bite of Diana's and I had to agree. The black drum and the oyster mushrooms were outstanding and perfectly prepared.  One would hope that everything would be awesome in a destination resort restaurant of this calibre.  Pity.

We all selected the same dessert - which was declared 100% fabulous by all four of us!  It was listed as pound cake with almond paste, fresh strawberries, and a ganache topping.  The portion size was perfect and it was not highly caloric.  Very, very tasty.  A perfect ending to the meal.  We sat there for two hours eating and talking.  Absolutely wonderful dining experience (sans the meat and kale issues)!
This was delicious - just the right size.
White plates in a dark restaurant...
just don't photograph well and
no matter what I did, I couldn't make
it look better.  BUT, it was good!!!

We sat on our patio and drank another bottle of champagne until nearly midnight, listening to the cicadas in the trees and enjoying a peaceful and star-lit Texas Hill Country night.  We retired to our two rooms and climbed into supremely comfortable beds with exquisite sheets and a glorious down comforter.  We slept peacefully under a whirring ceiling fan with a chilly air conditioner.  Heaven!
The front porch - one room on the right and the other on the left
made it feel like it was all ours.

The next morning, after showers in the gorgeous bathroom, and coffee on the patio (they provided Texas Coffee Traders Breakfast Blend in the rooms) we walked up the hill to the restaurant for brunch.  We sat on the patio overlooking a gorgeous valley and the lake.  It was cool and lovely...so spa-like!
The balconies were lovely in the morning - overlooking
hiking trails and nestled in the tree tops

We all selected omelets for breakfast.  Diana and I had more coffee and Melinda and Sharon had freshly squeezed orange juice (they said it tasted freshly squeezed, so I assume it was). 
Sun in our eyes as the sun rose...but still a lovely cool morning
for breakfast on their patio

Diana had a spinach and cheese omelet and the rest of us had ham and cheese. With a side of chunky breakfast potatoes (perfectly prepared) and a side of delicious whole grain toast for me and apricot and pecan scones for the rest of the girls - we had an enjoyable hour preparing for our day and ridding ourselves of any lingering hangover effect!
My usual - I dug in before realizing I hadn't taken a photo...
oh well...

The girls said this scone (Apricot and Pecan) was outstanding.
There was apricot jam on the side as well.
View from the breakfast table

We walked over to the spa and got the tour of the pool area, locker rooms, and boutique before Sharon and I were in line first for our awesome facials.  O*M*G - that was an incredible experience.  I have had many a spa massage, manicures, pedicures...but never EVER have I had quite that luxurious of an experience.  I felt like a limp piece of linguine after that!  My aesthetician, Cat Cat, had the hands of an angel...with just the right pressure for the arm and hand massage I enjoyed while my white clay mask was doing its thing...whatever kind of pack she put on my eyes completely obliterated the puffiness...I was so renewed!  Sometimes people come out of facials looking like someone has beat them up.  I felt like I glowed!
View from the pool area

At infinity edge of the pool

We met up with the girls and enjoyed a sample of all the appetizers pool-side (no photos - my brain was mush and I didn't even consider it) since we'd had a late breakfast.  The beautiful infinity pool overlooked that same fabulous view of Lake Travis and the canyon leading down - you felt like you were in the middle of no-where...when you were, in fact, not far from the intersection of Volente Road/Anderson Mill Road and RR 620!  Wonderful location.

Sharon and I nibbled, drank sodas, cucumber water, and were lazy as we waited for Diana and Melinda to complete their treatments.  We nixed the pool as we didn't want chemicals to touch our beautifully treated faces!

Then, we slowly made our way to the Welcome Center where Diana's husband was waiting to pick us up.  What a fabulous experience!  Thank you Gerald for including me in your wife's birthday celebration.  It was a memorable experience!




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