An all-inclusive Central Texas oasis: A review of Miraval Austin Resort and Spa
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
In 2020, many of us need a minute to breathe, reset and recenter. Getting the chance to do that in luxury -- wholly thanks to the stay requiring fewer points than normal -- sounded almost too good to be true. But it was a very real opportunity, so we booked a two-night stay at the Miraval Austin Resort & Spa using World of Hyatt points and eagerly counted down to the first overnight break from full-time parenting, working, cooking, cleaning, etc. since 2019.
Our stay at the Miraval Austin resort was the breath of Texas-fresh air we needed and it provided an exceptional return for our Hyatt points. The only real problem with our stay is that it eventually had to come to an end. (But fear not, I've already booked a second trip.)
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If you want a chance to focus on yourself while someone else takes care of everything else, here's what you need to know about the Miraval Austin Resort and Spa.
The three Miraval resorts are all high-end, mostly-inclusive, adults-only destinations. Predictably, they're not cheap. They can easily cost close to $1,000 per night for double occupancy. You can book award stays for 65,000 World of Hyatt points per night for double occupancy and 45,000 Hyatt points per night for single occupancy. Both of those options are a little rich for my blood, but thanks to stacking a few promos the deal was much better than normal.
Through the end of 2020, you can buy one Miraval night with Hyatt points and get the second one totally free. Not only that, but each person on the reservation gets a $175 resort credit for the night paid with points.
On top of that, another promo that runs through Jan. 4, 2021 awards up to 25% of your redeemed World of Hyatt points back if you have the World of Hyatt Credit Card (15% of your points back if you don't have the Hyatt credit card).
This dropped the price of a two-night award stay for two people from 130,000 Hyatt points without the deals (65k points per night), to just 48,750 total Hyatt points -- plus we still got a total of $350 in resort credits between the two of us included. That points price covered our room, meals, smoothies, snacks and many activities. It was an amazing deal.
If you don't yet have Hyatt points, remember you can transfer points instantly to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio from your eligible Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve. (Remember, the Chase Sapphire Preferred currently has a welcome bonus of 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.
To book an award stay with Miraval using your Hyatt points, you have to call Miraval to book over the phone at 1-(866)-792-3395.
It's worth mentioning that you need to book your Miraval activities and classes well in advance. If you wait until just a week or two from your stay to line those up, there's not likely to be much available. Take a look at the daily activity calendar on Miraval's website and secure your classes and appointments as soon as the booking window opens, if you can. It seems they offer the current month and next month's activities at once. So, on Nov. 1 you should be able to book November and December activities. You can do this by calling Miraval, or using their online booking calendar, though it was quite glitchy at times.
Related: How to earn World of Hyatt points
Miraval Austin is set in a beautiful spot just northwest of Austin in the Texas Hill Country. The resort sits on 220 shady rolling acres that overlook the blue waters of Lake Travis.
If you're coming from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), it's about a 30-mile drive to the resort. Miraval provides a complimentary shuttle if you provide your arrival information ahead of time. Just know that if you arrive in the midst of Austin traffic, that 30-mile drive may take longer than the usual 30 minutes to get through town.
Miraval has its other wellness resorts in both Tucson, Arizona and the Berkshires in Massachusetts. If you want to read more about these properties, here is my review of the Miraval Resort and Spa in Arizona and one by TPG's Zach Griff of the new Miraval Resort and Spa in the Berkshires.
You first enter the gated resort by pressing a button to speak to the front desk. Once the gate is raised, you'll drive up a winding, turning hill that has a maximum posted speed limit of 12.5 miles per hour. I never quite understood the extra .5 MPH, but the drive up the steep hill sure got our attention.
Once your vehicle has scaled the hill, you've made it to the welcome center and your stay begins.
Self or valet parking is included, so you can leave your vehicle right there and immediately start your stay if you wish.
In the lobby, you'll be given a welcome tote bag that included some disposable face masks, hand sanitizer and a reusable water bottle, along with individualized itineraries for the stay. The staff wore masks (or occasionally neck gaiters) during the majority of the interactions we had over the course of our stay. The only exceptions I noticed were when very distanced and teaching a class outdoors. The guests wore masks when indoors, but were not required to wear masks in most outdoor settings when distanced from others.
Like at most resorts right now, there was no nightly housekeeping at Miraval in order to limit contact. You are also asked to make a reservation for any meals you'd like to eat in the onsite restaurant to assist with distancing.
While you certainly could take your luggage to your room yourself, you also have the option of an open-air golf cart tour and transfer to your room. We took advantage of the ride to get oriented to the resort and avoid lugging our bags while looking for our room for the first time.
When we offered gratuity for the resort tour and transfer to our room, we quickly remembered from our previous stay in Arizona that Miraval is a no-tipping destination. This is actually a joyful break from the usual word of hauling around cash or waiting for a bill to add a tip, but it was an awkward encounter at first when we forgot this rule. (We did leave a cash tip for housekeeping in the room at the end of our stay.)
Related: 9 ways to use points to book wellness retreats
Miraval Austin has 13 three-story lodges spread across the property that each house eight to ten rooms or suites. Our third-story king Dreamcatcher room was in Building 7, which is relatively centrally located. This means it isn't right next to very much, but it's roughly equidistant to the spa, restaurant, lobby, gym and pool.
Between the hills, the stairs and the sprawling resort, you will likely get some steps in before you ever set foot in an actual class or on a hiking trail.
Our third story room was actually just up one flight of stairs and it had a Miraval cleanliness seal on the door.
The room itself was peaceful, beautiful and clearly spa-inspired.
There was a fluffy king-sized bed, a good-sized lounger, a 65-inch TV, bedside tables with charging outlets and an outdoor balcony with two chairs.
To keep your items cold, there was also a mini-refrigerator and filtered water.
If you wanted to continue the relaxation in your room, there are in-room meditation channels, Himalayan singing bowl and a meditation pillow. While our Dreamcatcher room didn't have this, some of the "Hill Country" rooms have outdoor showers as well.
The room had a walk-in shower with full-sized Miraval Zents branded shampoo, conditioner and body wash.
Of note to me was that the bathroom also had a high-quality Drybar hairdryer available, which is unusually high-end but much appreciated.
While the room and bed were visually stunning, the "cloud-like" bedding didn't work as intended for either us or a set of friends who were also staying at the resort at the same time.
It looked like it would be the most comfortable bed ever, but the reality of the bed's mattress topper would bunch up or move as we did and ended roughly where your head would go, creating a drop-off at your neck. The pillows also squished down considerably over time, and didn't provide the head or neck support any of us were hoping for. To avoid being hot under all that bedding, you also may need to turn the thermostat way down before heading to bed.
Perhaps we all just had unlucky experiences with the bedding, but sadly all four of us traveling together that weekend had very poor sleep for both of the nights we were there. For what it's worth, we had great sleep in 2018 at the Miraval in Tuscon, which may well have the exact same bedding, so your sleep experience may vary.
That Goldilocks bed issue aside, the room was tranquil, well-appointed and served us well.
Related: How to redeem points in the World of Hyatt loyalty program
Where the Miraval resorts truly shine is when it comes to amenities -- both those that are included with your stay, and those that are accessible with an additional fee (which are also eligible for booking using your credits).
Included activities and classes
On the daily schedule at Miraval Austin, there are included activities such as meditation, a joy of java coffee class, morning stretching, TexZen yoga (set to Texas music), Cypress Creek farm visit, Hill Country challenge course, cardio drumming, quick sip (adult-beverage tasting), climbing wall, body and barre, hiking, pilates fusion, nature walks, intro to fly fishing, salsa making, quantum leap (from 25 feet up) and because this is Texas, even country line dancing.
Classes available for a fee
Activities available for an additional fee include archery ($45), cocktails in the kitchen ($75), aerial yoga ($75), floating meditation ($75), hatchet throwing ($45), painting horses ($105) honey tasting ($75), rhythmic horseriding ($175) and outdoor picnic at Cypress Creek farm ($125).
This time, I tried out TexZen yoga, salsa making and rhythmic horseriding. All were absolutely worth the time for different reasons. The equine experience was truly memorable and it included pre-class intention setting, centering and some absolutely fun horse walking, trotting and even cantering set to music.
It was unquestionably worth the trip all by itself. If you make the trip, say hi to Vince the horse for me as he was a great equine partner for the day.
The TexZen yoga set to Texas music provided some great stretching, while the salsa class was good for indulging in just-fried chips and as-fresh-as-it can-possibly-get "San Antonio-style" salsa.
It's not all classes and workshops, there's also a world-class spa at Miraval Austin. A sampling of the spa services includes a 60-minute relaxation massage ($210), 60-minute Vitamin C Facial ($220), shampoo and condition ($25) and a 60-minute signature pedicure ($125).
Every person in our group that visited the spa had nothing but glowing reviews about both the services and precautions being taken. Naturally, if you choose to receive a spa service, you will have close-up interaction with the person providing the service, but masks are required for both therapists and guests and temperatures are taken when you enter the spa.
The relaxation room within the spa was empty and complete with a five-star view of Lake Travis and the rolling hills.
Within the spa, there was also a heated soaking tub that is limited to one person at a time. This one was in the women's locker room area.
Miraval Austin has a gym equipped with almost every type of machine you could be seeking -- including free weights, elliptical machines, treadmills and the popular Peloton bike to use at your leisure. It's worth noting that masks are required when indoors, including within the gym.
While there are some small classes available, you can also opt for personal training services at a rate of $115 for 50 minutes.
There are two pools at the Miraval Austin -- both unique, jaw-dropping infinity pools.
The first is the Discover Pool, which is also where you'll also find the Discovery Cafe.
At this pool, you can hang out, chat, and order a drink or chips and guacamole to munch on while next to the pool. Drinks with alcohol do cost extra, but the chips and dips are included. My understanding is that during normal times there are more snacks available at the Discover Cafe, but right now it's just beverages, along with chips and dips.
The pool was bordering on a little cool on our early-October visit during all but the heat of the mid-afternoon.
Luckily, there is also where you'll also find the nice and toasty hot tub.
The Serenity Pool, located right next to the spa, is an enritely different setting. This pool is not intended for chatting, eating or drinking. This is where you go to have some mindful quiet next to or in the water -- it's also a great place to enjoy the sunset.
Both pools -- and really most of the resort -- are supposed to be "device-free" so you can connect with yourself, each other and nature.
Related: 9 of the best spas in the world
Food and beverage
The food at Miraval Austin is wholesome, fresh, healthy and a part of the whole experience. (In other words, you don't go here expecting french fries, soda and chili dogs.)
Instead, you'll find "queso" made with vegetables instead of cheese, margaritas made with fresh lime, oranges and honey, crispy cauliflower tacos, vegan chili, seared salmon, wagyu beef burgers, pumpkin hummus, apple harvest salads and chocolate pecan tarts.
You can have a sit-down breakfast, lunch and dinner at Hilltop Crossings Kitchen, either indoors out on the patio. Both indoors and outdoors, the tables are very distanced from each other and reservations are required to promote staggered dining times.
However, you don't have to eat in the restaurant or have your food served to you at all. There's also a grab-and-go section with sealed containers of yogurt, pasta salad, breakfast burritos, sliced fruit, salads and overnight oats that you can eat on the patio or take wherever you'd like to go.
The Nest is where you can order coffee, wine, beer, mixed drinks or (included) smoothies.
I can vouch for the plant-based blackberry peach smoothie that I devoured every single day.
While the food itself is included with your stay, if you want to order it for room service or pool delivery, that is a flat $20 fee per delivery. Alternatively, you can order your food to-go for no additional fee if you walk over to the restaurant to pick it up yourself.
I love vegetables and creative food combinations and as a result truly loved the food at Miraval Austin, just as I did in Tuscon. However, if you are a burger and fries sort of diner, then know that the menu may start to feel a little old by the second day. There are specials that vary daily, but it isn't an entirely new line-up of offerings each and every day.
Since Miraval is a no-tipping resort, you don't have to linger at dinner when you are done since there is no check to sign. The food service itself at Miraval Austin wasn't always perfect, but it was good on the whole. The absolute stand-out person was the bartender, who was a true joy that we looked forward to seeing each evening and would look for on a return visit.
Related: All-inclusive stays for people who hate all-inclusive resorts
If you want a getaway that emphasizes the great outdoors, fresh air, healthy food, requires masks in most locations and doesn't nickel and dime you once you arrive, then the Miraval Austin checks those boxes and more.
It's been open since 2018, but it took a better than normal points redemption opportunity for us to take our first trip away from the kids in close to a year.
The weather in Central Texas can be extremely hot in the summer months, so April/May and October/November are likely some of the better months to plan a trip for more temperate visits, making our early October trip just about the optimal time to visit.
While you can certainly have a great and relaxing trip to the Miraval Austin and do nothing more than sit by the pool and enjoy the view, included meals and smoothies, the value is best for visitors who want to take advantage of at least some of the classes and activities. The spa was phenomenal, as were the equine offerings.
We didn't get a chance to try the challenge course on this trip, but the squeals and screams from that area of the resort certainly sounded exciting. When you're ready for a reset, Miraval Austin is a great choice to help you exhale and get you on your way.
All photos by the author.