Last week I attended a women’s wellness retreat at Miraval Austin, an all-inclusive luxury resort and spa in the Texas Hill Country that takes a holistic approach to well-being. It was a much-needed time to relax and unplug, and connect with other like-minded women.
I’m no stranger to going on trips with a bunch of women I don’t know, thanks to the many press trips and conferences I’ve attended in my 18 years of blogging, but I never cease to be amazed at how well a random selection of women can click when they’re open to it.
There were 10 of us on the trip, and we all agreed by the end that we were leaving with nine new friends… well, make that eight, considering that each of us came with a personal friend.
I threw it out to a few women who I thought might be interested in joining me on such a trip, and Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life took me up on it!
It was so nice to see her again and have someone in my corner, so to speak… although I didn’t really need it. Everyone was so friendly and got along so well, we all ended up mixing and mingling during our time there.
I would definitely recommend going on a trip like this as a part of a group, if possible. It could be a small group, but having other people to process the experience with and share about our various activities definitely enriched my time there.
When I was invited on this trip, I had no idea what to expect, and I didn’t really do much research. A quick glance at the Miraval Austin website showed me about all I cared to know. It’s a beautiful property with nature trails and two infinity pools, it has a luxurious spa, and I wouldn’t have to come up with what to make my family for dinner for four nights. Count. Me. In!
So let me share a little about my trip and what I thought about Mirival, and then I’ll talk about what to pack for a wellness resort.
What is there to do at Mirival?
There were lots of activities available, should we choose to partake, but they were all optional. I didn’t over-schedule myself because I really just wanted an opportunity to escape from the rat race for a few days. My gas tank was running on empty, and I was looking forward to taking some time to unplug and rest without family or work obligations.
But for those who like to stay busy, there are cooking classes, exercise classes, wellness classes, nature walks, scenic hikes, and more. Plus, the amount of spa services that are offered are quite impressive. My biggest regret is not doing more of those! I did enjoy a luxurious facial and a deep tissue massage while I was there.
I also took a class called Art of the Cocktail, which teaches the components of the main two categories of cocktails, and another one called Quick Sips, where we were taught about a proper wine tasting. Both were extremely interesting, and entertaining, as well.
Our group of 10 did a Cardio Drumming class, which was a blast, and I signed up for a Nature Walk and a Preserve Hike, but it was so cold that I bailed on those. I was also planning to take a Pilates class, but I accidentally slept through it. There were a few other classes I wanted to take but decided to nap instead. I really made the most of my commitment to rest and unplug.
Speaking of which, there were signs all over the property reminding you to unplug, and they even give you a sleeping bag and a little bed for your phone when you arrive.
I did not make use of those, but I did keep my phone in my bag much of the time, and I did not listen to any of my podcasts or read a single news story. And more importantly, I did not work, other than to zap out a quick email newsletter the first morning of my stay. In fact, I never even called home!
If I ever go back to a Miraval resort, I will be sure to try some of the more unique spa services and body treatments. I will also sign up for more fitness classes and outdoor hiking/walking activities.
I will also make sure to plan a trip for a more temperate time of year. It was verrrry cold during our stay, and we had to walk outside to get to and from our rooms and the meals and activities. I didn’t mind that as much as I regretted not getting to spend more time doing outdoor activities.
The Arizona location looks amazing… I would definitely try that over the one in The Berkshires, unless it was summertime.
What is included in a Miraval resort stay?
Mirival resorts are all-inclusive, with the exception of their spa services, certain activities, and alcohol. It is also a tip-free resort. Tips aren’t just discouraged, they are absolutely forbidden, which is nice because you don’t have to wonder who you should tip and what is appropriate. They really do try to eliminate all distractions and potential stressors.
Accommodations are very nice, but not super posh or luxe. I was very comfortable, though. It almost seemed fitting for a rustic, wellness-focused resort. And the bed was the most amazing I have ever slept on. They all have feather mattress toppers, feather duvet covers, and feather pillows. I felt like I was sleeping on clouds.
I’ve been really struggling with a sore shoulder/arm/back situation, and I was more comfortable in that bed than I’ve been anywhere in months. Now that I’m back home, I feel like I’m sleeping on cement, and my pain is back. I have half a mind to order a set of their pillows. (All of their bedding is for sale on the website.)
I also had this little nook in my room, where I could read or even get some work done, if I needed to. My view looked out over the Texas Hill Country, and I had a small balcony, as well.
I forgot to take pictures of the bathroom, but it was spacious and well-equipped, and they provided spa-quality bath and body products, although the shampoo was a bit of a disappointment. I had a hard time working up a lather, so I’ll bring my own next time.
I also have to say, the towels were disappointing. They were thick but very small and rough and scratchy. I felt like I was drying off with a bath mat. It seemed a bit incongruous for a luxury resort. But the bed linens were lovely, and that is far more important, in my opinion!
There is a coffee maker in every room, and they keep a pitcher of filtered water filled in your fridge, but it was pretty bare bones. I would expect a Keurig or Nespresso in a resort like this. And maybe even some energy bars and snacks, since it was a long walk over to the food and coffee from my room.
All meals and snacks are included in your Miraval stay, which makes those transactions far more efficient… you aren’t standing around, waiting for every cup of coffee to be rung up and paid for.
I also loved how they would bring out a sample of all the appetizers on the menu to our table each night. (Our group of 10 ate dinner together; that wasn’t required, but we all ended up choosing to do so.) And that is the perfect segue…
What is the food like at Miraval?
I got this question a lot while I was there. There are lots of options, and most of it is healthy. If you like to eat vegan or vegetarian, you can find plenty, but if you enjoy your meat, they had that too.
My favorite meal was the sirloin steak and loaded baked potato on my third night. I can still almost taste it… I appreciated that serving sizes were modest, so I wasn’t tempted to overindulge, but it was plenty to fill me up.
But I had some meals that weren’t so inspiring, and that’s okay. I usually just needed to add some salt, lol!!! Breakfast and lunch fell rather flat for me, but I like rich, savory foods, so I think part of that was me, not them. They also had some delicious desserts. The flourless chocolate cake is to die for.
And yes, there is alcohol at Miraval. In fact, they had some wonderful cocktail options each evening in the bar that we enjoyed before dinner, and the wine selection was superb. I had the best Pinot Noir of my life on our final night there. (We splurged on 2 bottles for the table.)
I wish I had taken a picture so I could find it around here. Someone probably has one… I’ll have to ask in our group chat.
What to Pack for a Wellness Resort
When I went to pack for my trip, I felt a bit flummoxed, so I googled it. Everything I read said it is very casual there, and that some people even come to dinner in their spa robes, but some dress for dinner, so it’s a bit of a mix.
I knew I would want to bring athleisure for daytime activities, so I ordered a few new Vuori pieces that I thought I might enjoy having with me. (Of course, those are the only pieces I forgot to photograph! D’oh.)
I was going to wear a pair of ankle boots with my jeans on the plane, which I could also wear to dinner if I wanted to level up a bit while I was there, but at the last minute, I decided to wear sneakers, and I didn’t pack any boots. I lived to regret that decision.
It turned very cold while we were there, and the boots would have been a welcome addition to my travel capsule. Plus, several of the other women in our party wore boots and denim to a most of the dinners, and I was wishing I could level up a bit more.
That said, no one cared, and my denim and sneaker outfits were perfectly appropriate. I wore a variation of this every night, except the first night, I wore athleisure.
You definitely want to bring a swimsuit if you ever go to a Miraval resort, because the hot tub is open, even on the coldest days. The other ladies partook, and I sat beside them and chatted because I forgot my swimsuit!
Of course, weather is a factor. In my case, it was 75 degrees the day I arrived, and the next morning, I woke up to 35. Brrr… I hadn’t really prepared for all of the outdoor walking I would be doing, and I was wishing I had brought my The North Face Metropolis puffer coat.
I ended up purchasing gloves from their shop while I was there. (They also carry a few swimsuit options, so if I had really wanted to, I could have purchased that too.)
Basically, if you ever decide to go to a wellness resort, you will want a variety of casual options, and be sure to look at the weather and plan for all possibilities. That sounds obvious, I know, and I thought I did that, but I was not prepared for needing to be outside so early in the mornings to get my coffee and walking back from dinner so late in the evenings.
I realize this is not the type of trip that every woman would be interested in, but if it’s something you’ve ever considered, or you were just curious about my experience, I hope this answers your questions! If I forgot anything, let me know and I’ll answer you in the comments.
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