Horseback riding and skeet shooting: Work and play at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines
After spending most of the year at home with our 4- and 5-year-old children, it was past time for my wife and me to escape to a new office and classroom for the week.
The monotony of entertaining and attempting to teach two little ones so close in age had really begun to wear on us mentally and physically. The thought of not having to prepare three meals a day (and clean up after said meals) was almost as appealing all on its own as a Texas-themed menu at a sprawling resort nestled amongst grandfather pecan trees, overlooking the Colorado River.
So, to press pause on the craziness of 2020 and expand our horizons, we took advantage of the Work From Hyatt program and set out for a week-long stay at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa.
With the Work From Hyatt program, I knew I could count on certain perks and amenities (a private workspace; a daily food and beverage credit) to keep my work on track.
The property has all the trappings of a traditional resort: A pool, spa, restaurants and optional housekeeping services (it’s way easier to work when you don’t have to worry about constant cooking and cleaning). But with its Southern hospitality and array of activities — horseback rides for the kids, skeet shooting and letting off steam for me — our trip began to feel less like a workcation and more like a complete escape from reality ... even though work was absolutely accomplished.
After all, there’s no greater way to reset toward the end of the day than floating down a lazy river, cocktail in hand — knowing you aren’t responsible for cooking for your entire family after yet another busy day at work.
Deep in the heart of Texas, the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa is an oasis. Though it’s just 20 minutes east of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), it feels like traveling back to a simpler time, long before ceaseless Zoom calls and the coronavirus pandemic made life even more complicated.
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Heading to the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines
Picking a resort where my family could spend a week in October was a more difficult decision than I’d anticipated. There were dozens of properties and locations to consider in the work from Hyatt line-up. We could head to a mountain getaway at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe for an outdoorsy California escape or get our Disney World fix at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress.
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There needed to be plenty of (adult- and kid-friendly) activities and tons of space, and after a long summer in Georgia, we were all ready for a break from the heat.
Several colleagues and friends spoke highly of the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort, and after a quick check of the anticipated weather (cool nights and warm days) and its lineup of activities, we were sold. Then, it was just a quick 2-hour flight from Atlanta to Austin and a short 20-minute SUV ride to the property before our workcation could begin.
A serpentine front drive takes you past horse riding trails, barns, corrals and across the rolling Central Texas landscape to the resort, which is located on 400 acres surrounding the Colorado River.
The resort comprises multiple wings and buildings and features a two-story, rustic Texas lobby.
As a Hyatt Globalist member, I've received some great complimentary suite upgrades in my time at Hyatt properties. But this particular stay resulted in a next-level upgrade. We were upgraded to the just-refurbished Governors Suite. With a quick glimpse of the cathedral ceilings and huge living space, my wife and I immediately knew we were in for an epic treat.
The two-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom suite contains a living space, dining room table, library and balcony that runs the length of the room overlooking the playground area.
We were full-on spoiled for the entirety of our stay.
Because the kids had their own space, our evenings could continue after their bedtime — and my evening could continue in the living room after my wife, who also goes to bed early, turned in for the night.
After a full day of work and an evening of family time, I could unwind with a glass of wine and the World Series on the massive living room television.
Related: 6 etiquette rules to master if you plan to work remotely from a resort
The novel coronavirus pandemic has inundated my personal and professional life. Before deciding to travel, my wife and I carefully consider every precaution our destination or travel provider is taking to keep people safe.
Both Hyatt at large, with its commitment to cleanliness, and this resort, specifically, are taking serious safety precautions designed to prevent infections and give guests peace of mind during these troubling times.
From the moment we were picked up at the airport, the Hyatt associate was wearing his mask, and he donned a new set of disposable gloves to handle our luggage. Masks are required everywhere on the property for all guests ages 2 and up, unless you’re swimming, eating or drinking. All hotel staff members were wearing masks at all times.
Hand sanitizer machines are scattered all across the property, social distancing markers abound, staff members could be seen regularly disinfecting surfaces and hydrostatic sprayers were used in public spaces.
Even the on-site amenities were altered to adhere to social distancing guidelines, down to where you put your used lazy river float for disinfection. The gym, spa and golf course had additional precautions. Never once did I hesitate to use the facilities.
Given the expansive natural outdoor space of the property and how almost all the activities were already perfectly suited for social distancing, the property was an excellent choice for our week away.
Working and schooling with Hyatt
The Republic Boardroom became my private office for the week. The large table was more than enough space for me to spread out. My favorite feature was the double doors that opened outside to a wooden terrace under a large pecan tree. The on-site cafe was around the corner from my room, making for convenient coffee refills, and the staff offered to provide any office supplies I needed.
I took multiple Zoom calls and uploaded images from both the boardroom and from outside on the terrace without issue.
While our room was certainly big enough to serve as my office, the kids did homeschooling in there and it was nice to have two physically separate spaces for work and sleep during the week.
One of our favorite aspects of working and schooling from the property was the flexibility of choosing activity time. We're typically an early-to-rise family, so when we requested morning activities while it was still cool (and before any little ones decided to be grumpy for the day) the property made it happen.
The ability to work and learn in a new setting was a revitalizing reset.
Horses, shotguns and swimming
A stunning suite, a classic Texas setting and a different work environment were great, but we were also at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort to have some fun.
While the traditional Camp Hyatt is closed because of COVID-19, I can't really see any need for the club beyond the occasional childcare assistance. At the end of the week, we’d run out of time to finish all the activities we wanted to try.
Getting to know the property’s mascots is a fun (and free) way to spend an afternoon. Alpacas, goats and two Texas Longhorn cattle live right near the hotel. We did a brief meet-and-greet with the moody alpacas and playful goats.
A bit later in the week, T-bone and Ribeye (you guessed it: the two Longhorns) were in the pasture next to the hotel. Our kids also took a horse and a pony ride. Little ones may prefer a short walk around the corral, while older kids and adults can take an hour-long trail ride with a horse.
If outdoor time without animals is more your taste, there’s still more than you can probably do in a week while trying to also work or school. The hotel is directly up the hill from the Colorado River where you can take a bike or hike. One morning, I saw a herd of cattle emerge from the trees and head into the river for a swim.
There's an outdoor recreation area with horseshoes, cornhole, bocce ball, table games and tetherball, and a stocked lake for fishing (catch and release only).
And in the hotel's Crooked River Waterpark, you'll find a zero-entry pool with a sand play area leading directly into the water. In the center of the waterpark, you'll find the waterslide and an adults-only pool in a far corner.
Separated by a small waterway from the main pool is the lazy river that winds throughout the shaded pool and lounge areas.
Everything is connected by the lazy river, including a float-up bar and a few quiet, shallow water alcoves. A fair warning: The main pool with the beach entry is heated, but the lazy river is not.
There's a splash pad for the littlest ones in your family and a pool bar. Also in the pool area are complimentary bike rentals ranging from small bikes with training wheels to adult-sized bikes.
My wife and I made great use of the two Pelotons in the gym for our daily workouts. You can then enjoy the steam room, dry sauna and Jacuzzis, or the shared pool in the spa.
One of my favorite activities was skeet shooting with a 12-gauge shotgun.
For $85, I shot a box of shells (buy more for $15 each) with Dusty, who may very well be my favorite Hyatt Regency Lost Pines partner — a true Texan through and through. He launched the clay pigeons and made the entire experience all the more entertaining. The shooting pavilion also has an archery range and ax-throwing experience.
Still have time to fill?
The Wolfdance Golf Club right across the street was incredibly beautiful. The course is a challenge for golfing novices but was in top condition. The GPS-enabled carts gave a perfect view of every hole. I managed two pars on the front nine but also found myself down three balls, as the natural landscape that starts just off the rough is unforgiving and thick.
After all that outdoor fun (or a full day’s work), my wife and I would retreat to rocking chairs while the kids collected pecans, or my family would sit around one of two fire pits serving complimentary s’mores at night.
The Work From Hyatt program helped us get our business and homework done so we had plenty of time to play and relax during our trip. For the first time in a long time, we’d all found our work-life balance to be in perfect equilibrium.
Ribeyes, fried avocado and martinis
There’s a wide array of dining available at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines (best accompanied by a regimen of daily Peloton classes, of course) but we spent the majority of our meals in the main casual restaurant, Shellers. We usually dined outside on the porch, but the tables inside were spaced far apart.
The Texas-inspired menu (including a knockout fried avocado and ribeye) gave us plenty to try for lunch and dinner. I ordered several of the cocktails, too, and suggest you start your stay with the Mexican Martini.
There’s a breakfast restaurant, Firewheel Cafe, where I had the signature Austin Migas breakfast, and McDade's Emporium and Ice Cream Saloon that served quick breakfast sandwiches, snacks and pizza in the evening. All physical menus have been replaced with a QR code.
During the summer when demand allows, Old Buck's Place at the pool is open for snacks, beers and cocktails, and there’s a semipermanent Smokin' Food Truck serving poolside barbecue.
While the resort staff was great at every turn, the service in the restaurants was probably the best I've had at any hotel stay, which is saying a lot. Our servers suggested off-menu items for the kids and were always incredibly friendly. Our breakfast server remembered it was my son's birthday on the final day of our stay after he mentioned it to him the morning prior.
But because of COVID-19 staffing and occupancy, I do recommend you call ahead of your stay to see which restaurants will be open, as service can vary during these unpredictable times.
If you can't tell, we had a great time at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines. With an array of activities to suit everyone's desires, wide-open spaces and a change of scenery, this workcation did everyone in my family a world of good.
And with rates starting at just $139 per night at participating Work From Hyatt properties with an included daily food and beverage credit, free parking and many other perks, it’s far more accessible than you might think.
With any stay of seven nights or longer at a participating property, you can book the Work From Hyatt package and enjoy every comfort of your home office or classroom — or both. On top of your room, you'll have a distinct workspace that can be either a second room or a separate, private space. You’ll get free or discounted laundry and you won’t have to worry about any resort fees, either.
You'll also receive all your standard Hyatt benefits such as points earning, elite-tier qualifying nights and any status benefits.
On top of the benefits, you can stack multiple World of Hyatt promotions right now to earn major points and double elite night credits on a Work From Hyatt package.
Hyatt is running its latest Bonus Journeys promotion, which allows you to earn 3x points on paid stays at all Hyatt locations worldwide, up to 150,000 World of Hyatt points. World of Hyatt Credit Card holders (and travelers with the old Hyatt credit card) can earn 4x points on resort stays, up to 75,000 points.
This new promotion also includes an offer for bonus elite night credits. For every tier-qualifying night you complete during the promotion dates, you’ll earn a night toward both 2020 and 2021 World of Hyatt elite status. Make sure to register for the promotion before your stay.
And if you want to redeem points for your Work From Hyatt stay, you can receive up to 25% points back on the cost of your seven-night (or longer) stay. All World of Hyatt members will receive 15% of their points back, and World of Hyatt credit cardmembers will receive 25% of points used back. Again, just remember to register for the promotion.
If (or when?) I needed another week away to work and have fun in a very safe environment, perhaps we’d relocate the office (and home school) to the Grand Hyatt Vail for a week of ski lessons and après ski cocktails. Or, follow the lazy river all the way to the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa near Naples, Florida.
Then again, I wouldn’t hesitate to return to the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa.