Get Out Of Town
Doors and reservation books are opening up around the world as leisure travelers ponder their next destination. And if flying isn’t on your agenda just yet, driving vacations are proving to be extremely popular this summer, even inspiring an uptick in camper and recreational vehicle sales. While July and August dates are booking up quickly, we’re looking ahead to fall for a rest-and-relax getaway. Here are five escapes on our radar — from a special North Carolina golf package that includes travel by private jet to an unexpectedly luxe historic property newly open in Austin. Travel safely and enjoy. — Meda Kessler
The Sporting Life
Travel and tee off in style
If you’re ready to jet away for a long weekend but the idea of flying on a packed plane doesn’t appeal to you, Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina and private jet operator JSX have a luxe deal for you this month. The Love Field-based airline has partnered with the iconic golf destination in offering three-night packages with a nice bundle of vacation perks. You get round-trip flights on JSX’s 30-seat Embraer ERJ-135 and -145 business-class jets, airport transfers, rooms at the resort’s Carolina Hotel, most meals and three rounds of golf on any of Pinehurst’s nine 18-hole courses (including famed No. 2) for $2,499 per person. Dates for the all-inclusive packages are July 2-5 and July 9-12 (Thursday-Sunday), and flights depart from a private terminal at Love Field. JSX flights include TSA-level security, thermal passenger screening, free checked bags, all-business-class seating and complimentary in-flight cocktails. Prices are based on double occupancy, though single rates are available. Learn more at pinehurst.com/jsx-dallas-to-pinehurst. — Mike Hiller
A Fort Worth couple call Crested Butte their home away from home, and invite you to see why
With steep terrain and a small-town feel, Crested Butte has been dubbed “the last great ski town in Colorado.” But summers are pretty spectacular, too, offering a chance to escape the Texas heat, enjoy gorgeous views and outdoor activities galore, and revel in the town’s laid-back attitude.
It’s why a Fort Worth couple built a vacation home there five years ago. Because they are regular visitors year-round, they bought a second Crested Butte house last year and offer it as a rental.
Known as Alpine Vista for its unobstructed views, the house has five bedrooms, six bathrooms and sleeps 12 guests. It’s stocked to allow you to make yourself at home from top to bottom, with guests left wanting for little.
There’s plenty of parking (room for five vehicles total) and a two-car heated garage. Inside, the open-concept living area offers stellar views thanks to the abundance of floor-to-ceiling windows. Three spacious decks are outfitted with locally made pine log chairs and tables from Red Mountain Furniture.
The kitchen niceties include an espresso maker, blender, slow cooker and a waffle maker. The owners recommend that you stock up on groceries at City Market in nearby Gunnison. For dining out, try Elk Avenue Prime, a steakhouse owned by former Dallasites.
A spacious guest wing — perfect for the kids — is stocked with board games, puzzles, cards and a gaming center.
While you’ll have everything you need at the house, the great outdoors beckons and trail access is only about a mile away. Crested Butte is beloved by sporting types, especially mountain bikers, but you also can enjoy the scenery on foot. Squeeze in a trip this summer and enjoy the wildflowers. Wildlife sightings are a bonus.
The Pampered Life
Restore yourself at the newly renovated Lake Austin Spa
If you’re looking for a self-care weekend, Lake Austin Spa Resort beckons with a multimillion-dollar renovation.
The award-winning wellness resort — set on 19 acres in the Hill Country — is back with a major refresh. The updates are lovely, but we are happy to learn you can still choose to while away a good chunk of time in a hammock near the banks of the Colorado River, which feeds into Lake Austin. It’s one of our favorite nonactive activities.
One of our other favorite things about Lake Austin Spa is how casual and comfortable it feels. The rooms and public spaces are welcoming. New original art, custom furniture and English fabrics are part of the luxe update of the 40 guest rooms — courtesy of Dallas designer Brianna Wright-Guay. The accommodations have the feel of staying at someone’s well-appointed guest cottage.
The grounds — from the kitchen gardens to the expansive lakeside lawn dotted with trees — continues to offer idyllic ways to social distance. Public spaces such as the Garden Library, Lake Room and Blue Room in the LakeHouse Spa boast major improvements spearheaded by co-owner Mike McAdams, who helped turn Lake Austin Spa into an award-winning and world-class destination.
While it’s easy to social distance, the resort has ramped up its personal safety protocol due to COVID-19, especially in the spa, which incorporates roughly 25,000 square feet. More than a dozen new services are on the already expansive menu. Revitalize your mind, body and spirit with everything from acupressure massage to one of the signature facials.
Love the water? The midweek Summer Surf Camp runs through Sept. 30. Enjoy skiing, tubing and wakeboarding, or learn to wake surf for a great core workout. There also are paddleboard yoga and fitness classes. Leisure activities include a floating lake lounge and “docktails,” a happy hour on the dock. Remember that your visit to Lake Austin Spa can start with a water taxi pickup at select locations — public and private. The scenery is nice, and you avoid the hassle of Austin traffic.
Healthy eating that doesn’t leave you feeling deprived has been a hallmark of Lake Austin Spa. The new dining menu from executive chef Stéphane Beaucamp is tinged with French influences. Veggies and herbs come straight from the spa’s organic garden, which offers more than 1,000 species. Dinner choices range from large salads to steak and fish. If you’re on a plant-based eating regimen, you’ll also find a lot to like on the spa’s Conscientious Cuisine menu.
Head home reinvigorated. As a reminder of your visit, shop the LakeHouse boutique for the Lavender Fields products, including the body wash and lotion. They’ll transport you back to Austin every time you use them.
Austin Old and New
An urban landmark transitions stylishly into a boutique hotel
While we struggle with Austin’s growth — too much traffic, too many people — we’re still drawn to the capital city of Texas.
And we’re always looking for some place new to stay.
Auberge Resorts Collection has reimagined an Austin landmark for one of its newest hospitality projects, the Commodore Perry Estate. This architectural gem, built in 1928, is set on 10 acres with formal gardens in the central city’s Hancock Park, and was once the country estate of Edgar “Commodore” Perry, a longtime Austin real estate developer. Perry got his nickname after his boat washed away during a Lake Austin flood.
The property also has served as a Catholic girls school and a learning center for an Indian guru. The Auberge group purchased it in 2017 with plans to turn it into a luxury boutique hotel.
The mansion itself has been restored and includes five luxury suites that give a nod to the Perry family. Lutie’s Garden Restaurant, named for Commodore’s wife, will serve dinner and weekend brunch indoors and out. Chef Bradley Nicholson is manning the kitchen and plans to showcase local vendors and produce, including what’s grown on the property, in his Southern cuisine. There’s also a bar in what was the living room, and books can be checked out from the mansion library. A summer program of activities is extensive: candlelight lounging poolside with specialty cocktail service, housemade ice cream for the kids, picnic baskets for a leisurely lunch in the gardens or at a nearby Austin park.
The solarium features the original bold tile floors; much of the original architecture remains, too.
A new building with a stucco exterior and terra-cotta tile roof is designed to match the original house and is home to 42 rooms and seven terrace suites. An existing chapel is available for weddings; the carriage house is now the fitness center.
San Francisco-based designer Ken Fulk oversaw the interiors, mixing vintage and custom pieces. Fulk shopped Texas antiques shows — including those at Round Top — and estate sales to achieve a refined mix of pieces from midcentury Italy and 1920s Spain.
It sounds like enough to make us forget about that Austin traffic.
Perini Ranch: Go for the food, stay for the porch sittin’
Perini Ranch Steakhouse is known around the world for its stellar beef dinners and the West Texas hospitality of owners Tom and Lisa Perini. Tom began his restaurant career catering ranch events, eventually winning a James Beard Foundation Award for being one of “America’s Classics.”
But instead of making the long trip home from Buffalo Gap or heading on to Abilene, you can stay awhile longer, put your feet up and relax by booking a night or two in one of a pair of charming farmhouses on the ranch.
The Main House, originally built in 1885, has been restored and updated to accommodate five people. While its rustic charm is intact, expect modern amenities including a full kitchen and private bathrooms stocked with linens and bathrobes. The porch includes a tree-shaded dining area. While its rustic charm is intact, expect modern amenities including a full kitchen and private bathrooms stocked with linens and bathrobes. The porch includes a tree-shaded dining area.
The nearby Camp House is a new build that still offers all the warmth — and look — of a ranch cabin, with its screen doors, metal roof and bead-board paneling. It sleeps three, including the use of a daybed on the sleeping porch. A large bathroom with shower connects the two sleeping areas. A wraparound porch offers a view of the property and a quiet place for after-dinner conversation or your morning coffee.
Continental breakfast and beverages are part of the services; you also can check out The Gap Café for breakfast, including housemade pastries, and lunch. Check out the nearby Perini Ranch Country Market for souvenirs.