Things to do / Travel Guide
It isn't that southeast Texas is so densely packed - it isn't, with the Hill Country taking up so much space and the vast swathes of the coastal area. But for the pampered traveler, the lover of luxury, for whom the best is just a good place to start - southeast Texas has quite a lot to offer. San Antonio, Austin, and Houston all offer fantastic accommodations, spas, restaurants, and activities. Take a trip to southeast Texas - it's an adventure in luxury quite unlike any in the rest of the U.S. Part Southern, part Western, part Mexican, part German, part Cajun - be prepared to be overwhelmed. That's standard fare for the pampered traveler, of course.
Luxurious Accommodations and Activities in Southeast Texas
Everything is done big in Texas, and luxury is no exception. Houston's Hilton Americas boasts 1,200 rooms, while the Hilton Austin boasts 800. These hotels won't disappoint, as service, rooms, and amenities are top-rate. Houston's best luxury hotel, though, is probably its St. Regis. This five-star offering earns every bit of the said five stars, with roomy rooms bearing fantastic amenities. The Master Suite, the hotel's best, contains a 48-inch flat-screen television, fireplace, Jacuzzi, full-size kitchen, and jumbo bathroom. The floor-to-ceiling windows will keep you occupied, surveying Houston's proud downtown. Need to unwind? Take the elevator down to the hotel's spa, and let the pampering begin. Undergo a signature Organic Body Ritual: start with an herbal foot soak, continue with an exotic scrub made of herbs and oils, graduate with an Ayurvedic Abhyanga massage.
Austin also is awash in high-class hotels. The Four Seasons is a good bet, performing consistently whether you're looking at rooms, service, or amenities. The river-view suites embody an ethos of casual elegance. The bedroom is centered by a four-post king-sized bed, while the living room includes a spacious sofa and couches with a 42-inch plasma television. Naturally, this luxury hotel is graced by a fine, state-of-the art spa.
While in Austin, be sure to take a trip to Sixth Street, the headquarters of Austin's music scene and one of the reasons the city calls itself live music capital of the world. There are a number of trendy bars and clubs on this row, such as the Iron Cactus and Spill. The latter offers almost 100 different cocktails, with plenty of martinis.
Possibly the region's best resort is located, as is the Four Seasons, on Lake Austin. This is Lake Austin Resort Spa, which, despite its huge campus, contains only 41 lodgings. That means lots of breathing space, and lots of individual attention by the attentive staff. The suites, including the nine cottages, are all well-appointed. Enjoy golf? Then you'll love the 36-hole golf course. Want to improve on your cooking skills? Then enroll in the week-long cooking classes, where you'll learn all about herbs and their uses, spring rolls and sushi, cookouts, and more.
Immerse yourself in one of the country's best spas, pamper both mind and body. Lake Austin Resort Spa offers the LakeHouse Spa, a 25,000-square-foot edifice that combines the features of the world's best spas with the personal affectations of a friend's lakefront guesthouse. Typical of the spa's fare are the traditional east Asian therapies, which include acupuncture, Tajii Moxa, and the Manaka Tapping Treatment. This last is where they tap your accupoints with a special wooden hammer, achieving similar results to the traditional acupuncture techniques.
Moving on to San Antonio, consider Westin La Cantera. This palatial resort sits like a sentinel at the entrance to the Texas Hill Country. It boasts half a dozen pools, a huge fitness center, and another larger-than-life spa. The golf course was designed by none other than golfing legend Arnold Palmer. Would you expect anything less from southeast Texas?
Luxurious Dining in Southeast Texas
In southeast Texas you'll also find the best of international cuisine, including French, Tex-Mex, and Cajun cuisine done luxuriously.
Houston's best steakhouse, and thus one of its best restaurants in any category, is Pappas Brothers Steakhouse. Service at this establishment is fine, but it's the food that sets a new standard of excellence. Choose the fried oysters as a first course, then, while you're thinking it couldn't get better, comes the entrée: perhaps grilled double lamb chops, or a three-peppercorn steak. For a memory to last a lifetime, choose one of the restaurant's vintage wines, from a selection going back over 100 years. Aside from the vintage wines, fully 25,000 bottles grace the steakhouse's cellar. Then finish the meal with a gratifying cigar, of which there are over 60 types to choose from.
While we're at, we'll let you in on another excellent southeast Texas eatery, this time in Austin. Hudson's-on-the-Bend is this region's answer for the lover of meats - exotic meats like antelope, rattlesnake, wild boar, and more. It's based out of a quintessentially Hill Country house, small in size and of stone. They also have a variegated wine list, with reserves from as close as California to as far away as South Africa and Australia, with plenty of France and Italy mixed in. For an excellent combination to drink with the rattlesnake cakes, ask for the 2004 Archery Summit Pinot Noir.
Southeast Texas, as you can see, is a region where living large is a natural. Reap the benefits at first-class hotels and spas and restaurants. Whatever you do or don't do in the region, whether you're sightseeing or not, just make sure to remember the Alamo!
Luxury Vacation Ideas in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Padre Island and Southeastern Texas