It doesn’t matter how often you go to Austin; you can have a different experience every time. If you want to live the country-club life, if only for a weekend, then Barton Creek Resort and Spa (8212 Barton Club Dr. 866-572-7369. www.bartoncreek.com) is just the ticket. Only a short drive southwest of downtown, off scenic Bee Caves Road, the country club and resort is nestled in an affluent and scenic community where famous folks like Karl Rove are homeowners. Though it certainly has a laid-back, family-friendly air about it, it’s fancy enough for a celebrity wedding; Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey held their reception there. Even if you’re not a celebrity, it’s a hot spot to say your vows.
SPORTS AND SPA: My instinct is to stake a claim to a chaise lounge and sit by the pool with a book in one hand and a piña colada in the other. We did do that—alongside many families whose kids were running around while their parents were doing the same thing we were—but we also signed up for a one-hour beginner’s golf lesson at the Fazio Canyons course with Brech Spradley, director of instruction at the Barton Creek Golf Academy. At the end of our instruction, we could see a tremendous improvement in our swing, and we were given the chance to videotape it for posterity. Tennis is an option, too, as is an easy hike along the flora and fauna trail, a round of miniature golf, or a few quiet laps in the indoor pool. We chose a hike and a couple of spa treatments. The spa and fitness center is where the club and resort worlds collide, so while you’re sipping champagne in your spa robe, you might catch a few sweaty people coming up the stairs from an intense cardio workout. But once you step inside a treatment room, you’ll forget all about those folks. We suggest a Marble Falls Stone Massage—the therapist effortlessly rolls the stones around in her hands to ensure they never get too hot on you or on her—followed by a pedicure performed from a throne in the salon area. I was joined by a mom and her young daughter, who was getting her very first pedicure (and what an excellent one it was). All three of us enjoyed soothing leg massages and left with expertly polished toes.
WHAT’S FOR DINNER: The restaurant at Barton Creek, 8212, is ambitious—mostly Mexican and Southwest flavors with a few Asian influences—but many of the dishes mysteriously lacked flavor, in spite of myriad ingredients. However, mahi mahi tacos worked with a dose of salt. You can also enjoy a glass of wine at the adjacent wine bar. If you venture off-site, the famous County Line Bar-B-Q (6500 Bee Cave Rd. 512-327-1742. www.countyline.com) is nearby, and the views from the patio are spectacular. Hudson’s on the Bend (3509 Ranch Road 620 N. 512-266-1369. www.hudsonsonthebend.com), though more out of the way, is worth the drive west for a beautifully crafted meal made from fresh and seasonal ingredients, such as escargot and hearts of palm in a zesty lemon broth and a perfectly prepared ribeye. Cheers to that.