Miraval, Life in Balance

As wellness travel continues to grow, it is not surprising that this year Miraval added a second wellness resort in Austin, Texas and has a third one on the way, which will be located in the heart of the Berkshires!

Recently voted the #1 Wellness Resort at the 2019 Virtuoso Travel Awards, Miraval has something to offer everyone, regardless of the reason for your visit. Each day, you have a plethora of diverse and rotating activities, classes, lectures, spa treatments, and much more to choose from. Miraval also offers weekends and full weeks dedicated to a particular theme or event, with visiting experts and specialists offering workshops on the topic. One of the upcoming ‘Events that Elevate’ is called ‘Season of Gratitude’, offering activities including a Cleansing Ceremony, Mindful Horseback Riding, Appreciating Chocolate, and Walking the Labyrinth.

I recently experienced Miraval’s new resort in Austin, located in the heart of Texas Hill Country, just a half hour from downtown Austin and a short shuttle ride to nearby Lake Austin.

Miraval Austin’s infinity pool overlooking Lake Austin.

What makes Miraval Austin different than other wellness resorts I have visited is the wide range of guests—varying ages, a mix of women and men, and some couples. Another unique part of the Miraval experience is that they have a no tipping, no cell phone usage outside of your room, and no dress code policy to make sure each guest is relaxed and disconnected from the worries of everyday life!

Miraval’s philosophy of ‘Life in Balance’ is accurately apparent throughout your stay. They are committed to healing your whole self and will set you up with obtainable lifestyle changes to get you on the right track to reach your goal. Mindfulness is at the core of all they practice and represent. Their ideology is that balance is not something you find, but something you create. You begin when you make the life-enhancing decision to go to Miraval. In our hectic, fast-paced, digital, and often troubled world, I believe a wellness trip is not only well-deserved, but much needed. The more significant part of my experience was that not only did I learn about their philosophy, but I discovered more about myself.

Before I delve into my experience, it is important to share the “why” of choosing to visit a wellness resort, as the reasons are endless and personal. Some reasons may be to relax and renew, to enrich and heal, or to challenge yourself and your body. Others may crave an escape to disconnect from the digital world or to reconnect with their spouse or friends. Whether it is a milestone, overcoming life’s hardships, a girls’ getaway, getting back on track to begin a healthy lifestyle, or just some quality ‘me time’—whatever the motivation, you will find guidance and support at Miraval. Their incredibly friendly, passionate, supportive staff will ensure your experience is top notch. Wellness getaways are an undeniably personal journey, and Miraval and Frontiers will work with you to tailor your itinerary to you and your goals to make certain that you get the most from your visit.

The next integral step is to set your intention. You may have a single intention or multiple intentions. My intentions for my visit to Miraval were to find a balance that worked for me once home in a daily routine, focusing on ways to de-stress, a fitness routine that worked into my schedule, and healthy eating patterns. With your intention set, you are equipped to plan your daily schedule and choose from a vast array of activities, classes, treatments, appointments, and experiences to support you in fulfilling your objective.

For example, to de-stress and relax, focus on meditation, yoga, and a few spa appointments. And for a new, healthy lifestyle, see a Miraval exercise physiologist who will discuss objectives and design a personal routine for you specifically that fits your health, body type, and lifestyle. You could also speak with a registered dietitian and take part in one of the challenge courses that will push your body in a new way, building strength and confidence. No worries if you need guidance—Frontiers will listen, and Miraval’s team of experience planners is available to consult with you prior to your visit, and throughout your stay, to offer suggestions and curate your journey. We can also arrange private sessions for counseling on wellness, meditation, yoga, nutrition, outdoor adventures, challenge courses, and more.

Ropes challenge course at Miraval Austin.

A personal recommendation from my trip for destressing is called ‘Unforgettable Canvas’, an equine experience at Miraval’s Cypress Creek Ranch. During this experience, you use the side of the horse as your artistic canvas. All of the paints used are non-toxic and completely safe for the horses, and it is evident that they find the experience to be relaxing! Similar to a few of Miraval’s other equine experiences, no background in horseback riding is necessary, and you do not even have to get on the horse for some of the activities. The goal of ‘Unforgettable Canvas’ is teaching yourself to be present. Prior to this experience, I have always had a fear of horses and never felt comfortable in their presence. Needless to say, I was initially intimidated by Pepper, the horse assigned to me, but in my new-found Miraval Mode, this was the most relaxed I’ve felt around a horse. In retrospect, I’m not quite sure who enjoyed this experience more, me or Pepper! I began the process by starting to brush Pepper—this is considered clearing the canvas. Pepper was so relaxed, which in turn, relaxed me. It doesn’t matter what you paint, and you don’t have to be an artist (clearly). It’s all about being in the present and connecting.

Miraval’s equestrian specialists interact with you during the process and offer insight as to perhaps how you approach life itself based on your interaction during the session. After you are done painting, one of the specialists will talk to you about your painting, inquire if it has special meaning, and ask how you felt during the experience. At the end, you bathe “your canvas,” another moment that Pepper seemed to appreciate! If you are interested in learning more about this unique experience as well as Miraval’s other equestrian experiences and the thought and research behind them, I recommend reading the book “It’s Not About the Horse,” by Wyatt Webb who designed the program. Other exclusive activities at Miraval Austin include stand up paddleboarding, stand up paddleboard yoga, kayaking, archery, and the 10-acre Cypress Creek Farm tour.

Paddle boarding on Lake Austin.

Jaye with Farmer Ed enjoying a tour of Cypress Creek Farm.

Of course, no trip to Miraval is complete without a few spa appointments to treat yourself! Deciding which of their treatments to have was the most difficult decision I had to make during my visit! Although, if you had to choose only one, I recommend the Pranayama-Dina Massage, a Miraval Austin exclusive. Sanskirt for ‘flying breath’, this signature treatment relaxes you as your massage therapist guides you through breathing enhanced by the aroma of lemongrass. You rock ever so gently in a silk sling as you receive a massage from underneath the sling through the skilled footwork of your therapist. My other favorite is ‘Pravasana,’ Sanskrit for ‘to embark on a journey’ which is very fitting for a wellness getaway. This treatment involves visualization and meditation, which promote relaxation and allow you to be open and receptive to your thoughts. The therapist uses healing techniques aimed at restoration, ending your massage with the sound of Tibetan bowls. These treatments will help you acclimate to the Miraval philosophy during your stay.

In addition to all of the wonderful activities and experiences Miraval Austin has to offer, at the end of the day, I welcomed sitting down to a healthy, yet delicious dinner with organic vegetables from their own farm on property, having a nice glass of wine, and then retreating to a peaceful, comfortable room.

A scrumptious risotto with organic vegetables from Miraval’s Cypress Creek Farm.

Each night, I cherished sleeping in a bed that was like a marshmallow cloud. I don’t think I have ever slept so well away from home. Miraval Austin has 117 Dreamcatcher rooms and suites, located in 13 separate lodges scattered along a meandering pathway so it is easy to maintain your privacy throughout your stay. During my stay, I was in the Serenity Lodge in a Dreamcatcher room. Along with my cloud of a bed, each room and suite also includes a meditation pillow and Tibetan singing bowls for your individual use.

My Dreamcatcher room in the Serenity Lodge at Miraval Austin.

The daily dose of healthy, mindful living—using my body, mind, and spirit in unison—created a seemingly blissful state, or as I would refer to it, my Miraval Mode.

The best advice I can give you when planning your own Miraval experience is to not over schedule yourself, and allow some free time to reflect. Take advantage of the experts available for one-on-one consultations. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try something you wouldn’t normally do at home. For example, if you do Pilates or hike at home, consider trying something new, like a dance class, archery, or even a drumming class!

Returning home, I felt I had accomplished my intended goals. I felt more relaxed, grounded, and focused. I gained the tools to enhance a daily, healthy routine of diet and exercise and to practice daily meditation and being mindful and present.

When I returned from my trip, I felt like I fully understood the meaning of Miraval’s Mission: “When you learn to appreciate the moment that you are in, rather than worry about the past or the future, life gets better.”

Some photos courtesy of Miraval.

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