In the Lone Star State’s buzzy capital city, you can stand on a downtown bridge and watch the world’s largest urban bat colony emerge at dusk like ribbons of undulating black velvet as the mammals fly out from below for their evening dinner reservation with the local bug population. Their exodus occurs in the apropos burnt orange (University of Texas-hued) skies, while human spectators applaud in ritualistic glee. Below, at the same time, intrepid bat lovers gaze up from canoes or kayaks, poised on the dammed-up Colorado River (known as Lake Lady Bird) that bisects the city. From that perspective, the bats appear as a nightly, star-studded ballet. Either way one experiences the adventure, it won’t be forgotten. Some 50,000 visitors flock to Austin annually just to partake of this phenomenon.
For an alternative connection with nature, swim with an indigenous, endangered species in Austin’s best-loved pool. While most people don’t visit Barton Springs Pool, a historic, eighth-of-a-mile-long, natural swimming hole near downtown, to gape at an endangered species (and this one isn’t the loveliest — he’s an albino lungless salamander), the popular gathering space maintains a year-round temperature of 68 degrees. Ideal for cooling off during the region’s unbearable summer days, Barton Springs, sometimes referred to as Austin’s living room, attracts a coterie of serious swimmers, sunbathers, nature lovers and gadabouts in all seasons.
A city that revels in its unofficial motto (“Keep Austin Weird”), it won’t fulfill that snippet image of Texas that some anticipate. Sure, barbecue rules some roosts, and on the city’s verges you can spot horses, cows and ranch houses — maybe an erstwhile cowboy donning an old hat. More likely you’ll see cyclists. In fact, Backroads just launched a weekend Texas Bike Tour which explores Austin’s hinterlands over a long weekend. For decades an enclave spiced by its university town spirit, this liberal place mixed hippies with rednecks and intellectuals with artists in past years. Today it welcomes a hipster, urbane vibe into that fusion. Skyscrapers and old neighborhoods rejiggered as entertainment districts abound. Don’t miss Rainey Street, East Austin and SoCo, to name a few. Lording over it all stands the elegant, granite capital building.
With restaurants helmed by James Beard Award-winning chefs, thoughtful museums, bedazzling alchemy-focused bars, hike-and-bike trails galore and world-class spas, Austin won’t let you or your clients get bored. For Austin’s most power-packed brunch, save Sundays for Fonda San Miguel, a mind-boggling production of soul-satisfying, interior Mexican fare in an artistic setting. During the week, reserve the private dining room for a memorable meeting. Choose Loro Asian Smokehouse and Bar, a barbecue extravaganza born from the collaboration between James Beard-winning Tyson Cole (Uchi) and Aaron Franklin (Franklin BBQ), for a business lunch to impress.
Perhaps Austin, from which music stars such as Janis Joplin, Blue October, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Willie Nelson climbed to fame, is best known today for its eclectic live music scene. It produces major music festivals, such as Austin City Limits and South by Southwest, but also vaunts an array of some 300 music venues, from stylish haunts to hole-in-the-wall hangouts. If time limits visitors to one musical foray, let it be the storied Continental Club, a boozy, historic stronghold on South Congress Avenue which offers music performances nightly (and in the afternoons). Music styles range from country to funk to gospel — and there’s always somebody famous lurking in the crowd, guitar cast casually over their shoulder, waiting to be asked on stage by the booked act.
Combine your listening skills with a spirited excursion with Twisted Texas Tours (book via Get Your Guide), a bus ramble to the city’s best distilleries and breweries, complete with onboard live tunes and animated guides. For oenophiles, the surrounding Texas Hill Country calls. Amid this hilly landscape rife with wildflowers, charming villages, peach orchards and pecan trees, vineyards speckle the terrain just an hour from town. More than 100 wineries produce award-winning wine and offer tours and tastings.
Where to stay? Golfers will want to check into the Omni Barton Creek, a 4,000-acre resort perfect for socially distanced fall getaways and casual meetings, located just 20 minutes from the city center. Enjoy a multi-tiered pool, upscale dining and 72 holes of championship golf. Located on the banks of Lake Lady Bird, Four Seasons Austin excels with citified hospitality and tranquil incentives. Ideal for unwinding at day’s end, the retreat’s “cocktail trailer,” located at the newly renovated swimming pool on the lawn by the water, serves stellar libations. Moody hanging tree lights and irresistible lawn games add to the fun. Indulge at Ciclo, the resort’s smart restaurant, where the signature, tequila-marinated, flambéed Texas Wagyu tomahawk steak lights up your dining experience. Finally, arrange an unforgettable team getaway at Lake Austin Spa Resort, set on the water’s edge, accessed by boat (or car) from central Austin. Its nearly 100 treatment options, water play and stunning setting can be enjoyed for day-long or overnight visits.
Since Cheval Blanc, an extraordinary, newly designed and refurbished 72-room hotel owned by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey, launched in September 2021, it has been the talk of the town. Le Tout-Paris remarks about its WOW factor … and the hard-to-get reservations for the 30 seats at Plenitude, the intimate, first-floor gastronomic outlet headed by chef Arnaud Donckele, who earned three Michelin stars at Cheval Blanc Saint Tropez. Reservations are also recommended for Limbar, the ground-floor bakery/café/tea shop/bar where we watched Pastry Chef Maxime Frédéric preparing desserts and an absolute must-have for dinner at Le Tout-Paris, the 7th-floor, all-day brasserie. This brightly colored space, with its raised seating and Fauve-like floor tiles and the adjacent Milanese restaurant, Langosteria, both have access to terraces facing the Seine River, with amazing views encompassing Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower.
Go ahead, take a nice, deep breath. Because a Seabourn voyage is all about this moment you’ve come so far in life to embrace. It’s not an escape, it’s an arrival.
Nevada-based The Spa at Green Valley by Well & Being and The Spa at Red Rock by Well & Being celebrate the start of 2022 with new health, wellness and spa treatments available through March 31. Both spas offer an array of treatments for guests wanting to relax and unwind before 2022 kicks into full gear.
To allow visitors to safely and responsibly enjoy their trip to Barbados, the island announced streamlined port entry protocols. Barbados’ Ministry of Health and Wellness released the following protocols for all travelers planning on coming to the island.
IHG® Business Edge: Working Together with SMEs for a smarter way to manage travel
Mar Del Cabo launched a new luxury beach fishing experience with an interactive paella workshop for guests. The Los Cabos-based hotel offers guests an immersive experience that takes them through the journey of creating paella, starting with a fishing session.
It’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Santorini, Greece, with us.
Located in the South Pacific, The Islands of Tahiti are just eight hours by air from California. Surrounded by pristine, crystal-clear blue waters, the 118 islands and atolls offer natural beauty, authentic island culture and unique French Polynesian style. The Islands of Tahiti are world-renowned for white-sand beaches, stunning turquoise lagoons and varied landscapes ranging from coral atolls to volcanic mountain peaks. Privacy comes naturally in The Islands of Tahiti and offers visitors the space to relax and reconnect and to be Embraced By Mana. Mana is the life force and spirit that connects all things in The Islands of Tahiti.
COJE Management Group raised the bar when it comes to cuisine and cocktails. The Boston-based group, founded by Chris Jamison and Mark Malatesta, offers guests the ultimate dining experience with old-world hospitality and an array of cuisines for every guest to enjoy. With culinary director Tom Berry incorporating the cuisines he encountered during his travels to South America, Cuba, Japan, Southeast Asia and France, each restaurant has distinguished itself as a must for anyone visiting Boston and each is designed exclusively in-house using inspiration from different regions and countries around the world.