November 1, 2021
Written by Colby Hammond
I had the wonderful opportunity to enjoy four days on a FAM at Miraval Austin. Most of our days we were free to do as we pleased and enjoy the property as a guest would. A couple weeks prior to my arrival, the experience planners at the hotel reached out to begin planning my activities. I learned that the spots go quick - so be sure to sign up as quickly as possible. I went into the weekend a little bummed that I wasn't able to make it into my top activities; HOWEVER, once I was at Miraval and sat down with an experience planner we were able to get me into everything I had wanted and then some. I still would recommend planning everything ahead of time, but there is always opportunity to switch things around.
I landed in the afternoon and received a phone call from my shuttle driver almost immediately after I landed. He let me know where he would be waiting for me. The ride was a very scenic and smooth 40 minutes. Upon check in you choose between a tote and a backpack (I chose the tote but later learned the backpack was the way to go), are given a map and booklet for the property, a phone sleeping bag, and have the option to be shuttled to your building. They have a digital mindfulness policy on the resort. There are a few designated areas around the hotel that you are free to use your devices as you please, but outside of those areas it is expected that it is put away and on silent. You are welcome to take a few photos at the start of your experience, but it is almost relieving in a way to walk around on vacation and not see a single person looking at their phone.
Everything is walkable. I was placed in a building located more of the outskirts of the property, and the longest it took me to get to the opposite side was around 10 minutes. You could flag down a golf cart if you liked.
I went straight to my room after checking in (A Hill Country King). The room was very open and bright with many windows. The bed was out of this world. I had both an indoor shower and an outdoor shower along with my own balcony. It had everything I could need, and was the perfect amount of space.
After dropping my things at my room I headed to the spa for a deep tissue massage appointment. The entire spa experience felt five star. You check in and are given a tour, and as you walk to your locker room they radio back so that you are greeted at the door and they know exactly what you need. They have a sauna, indoor hot tub, and dry sauna available in each locker room to guests even if they do not have a service scheduled. They also offer a quiet lounge to relax in and wait for your services, with a jaw dropping view.
I finished up at the spa and ran straight to the Live Oak Center (this is the common meeting place for activities, and home to multiple conference rooms). The other travel agents and I competed in a salsa making relay race. The instructor was a chef in the restaurant and had so much passion and knowledge about his craft. After our salsa competition, we had an AMAZING dinner in the restaurant. I am not exaggerating when I say I had one of the top 5 best meals of my life that first night. They have certain signature items that stick around, and the other half of the menu rotates depending on what is fresh and available. Most of the ingredients come from their farm on property that you can tour as an experience. I ordered an antelope steak with greens and it did not disappoint. For all inclusive, your meal options are quite impressive.
After dinner we all headed back to our rooms. Upon check in you are given an envelope. At the beginning of your stay you are expected to write a letter to yourself that will be mailed back to you in 3-4 months. It was a simple touch that made the experience that much more magical. I was sure to write my letter that first night and cannot wait to be surprised with it in the mail.
I began the day with a preserve hike at 8:00 AM. This was my first activity at Miraval and a great way to start the weekend. Their outdoor guide Collin led the hike and had countless facts about the surrounding nature. He was able to provide a bit of history and safety while guiding the hike. He would go on to guide a few of my other activities during the weekend.
I went straight to the experience planners to change my schedule around once we were back on property. I changed so much but walked out of the building so satisfied with the rest of my weekend. While trying to kill time before 12:00PM I stumbled upon the slackline class. I had to drop this class for one of the other ones I wanted to fit in my schedule. I asked the guy if I could just try it really quick. He explained that no one had signed up for that current class and he ended up providing me with a one on one lesson for the heck of it. It was so challenging and such a perfect way to spend an hour.
At noon, I shuttled down to the Cypress Creek Farm only five minutes away and had a tour of the place. The farmer leading the tour, Keegan, had studied biology and had a connection and understanding of the farm like no other. He explained to us about all of the different things they were growing and raising, the obstacles they face and how they overcome them, and their countless sustainability projects. It was amazing to see how two polar opposites - the rugged farm and the elegant restaurant - had such a dependent relationship upon each other.
I shuttled back up to the main buildings for a couple of wellness classes. I had one with a psychologist on Life, Loss and Letting Go that was especially powerful. I followed that class with one on your energy and chakras. They had a wide variety of wellness and nutrition courses you could sign up for. I enjoyed the pool some more before heading off to dinner.
TIP: I learned later in the trip that once I left my room in the morning I did not want to go back until I was ready to sleep. I know not everyone is like this, but by the last few days of my trip I had a system where I was packing everything with me that I would need for the day. Apart from the usual things you would take with I always had my book with me, a bathing suit to change into, and a hat of some sort. I would set off for experiences and have an hour or two to kill and I wouldn't want to go back to my room to change and then back to whatever it was I was wanting to do in the short amount of time. I found the system that worked with me and I stuck with it.
I woke up extra early and headed down to the Live Oak Center for my sunrise kayak experience. It was just a quick shuttle down to Lake Travis and we were led by Collin and another outdoor guide. They did such a great job of navigating everyone's different skill and mobility levels. The water was insanely warm for how cold the morning was, so we were able to dip our legs in the water if we liked.
One of my top priorities of the weekend was to get myself onto the Hill Country Challenge Course. I know these are a must do item when staying at Miraval and it was well worth it. We had Collin as our guide again, and he made sure to test us as we were going through the course. My favorite thing they did was switching around the people who volunteered to go first or last. I jumped on completing the course first, so they had me bring up the rear and go slower than I would have which was a great mental exercise. The woman who volunteered to go last, was not as keen on being the first.
After the bit of adrenaline, I had the opportunity to sit down with a psychic on property and have a 50 minute reading. Despite walking into it pretty skeptical, I had to have an hour to walk around afterwards to process everything. My reading was with Priscilla and I still am thinking about what we discussed that day.
We ate dinner on the patio and were able to watch the sunset over the hills. The view was spectacular and the food was just as good as it was every night I ate there. I was sure to try a wide variety of plates and never had a thing I did not like. They plate everything in "mindful portions" which was perfect for me. The portion size is probably too small for most, but you are free to order as many plates as you liked. I was a fan of the portion size because my eyes tend to be bigger than my stomach and I hate wasting anything.
The night before I received a letter in my room informing me of my shuttle to the airport, my current bill, and letting me know I could leave my bags in my room and enjoy any experiences I had planned for the day. Once it was time to go my bags were waiting for me at the front desk.
I had one experience planned for my last day and it was the one I was looking forward for the most. It was their "Rhythmic Riding" experience down on the farm. You had two hours of horseback riding to Texas country artists and learned how to communicate with your horse without using words. It was a very moving experience and I was so happy to be able to squeeze it in before my flight. If I had to pick a favorite experience of the entire weekend, that would have to be it.
It was time to say goodbye and head to my shuttle afterwards. I had the same driver that I had on the way there, and we made it to the airport in good time.
The highlight of the entire trip had to be both the staff and the guests of the resort. Every member of the staff wears a nametag that reads “I am…” They choose the word that follows the I am and it is so interesting to hear their story and how they chose it. The words were all over the place and such an easy way to connect with someone. As you bounce around from experience to experience, you have some faces that become familiar in your classes and you begin to make relationships with these people. Just walking around the property every single person staff or guest says hi. The sense of community had to be my favorite part. This was my first trip that I have ever taken alone. While I did have my own alone time, there was not one moment that I felt like I did not have someone I could sit down and talk to.