Enjoy the great outdoors while staying in the lap of luxury at this resort outside of Austin.
According to local legend, the majestic Loblolly trees of Lost Pines were brought to the area by Native Americans from Eastern Texas to comfort a homesick bride. Botanists, however, say the trees are remains of pine forests that covered Texas before the last Ice Age. Regardless of which story you choose to believe, the hundred-foot trees provide a stunning backdrop for the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa, a 405-acre resort located near the hip capital of Texas, Austin.
Recently named as one of the top new hotels in Conde Nast Traveler’s “2007 Hot List,” the ranch-style hotel is located close enough to the historic town of Bastrop for a day trip, but far enough from the hustle and music clubs of Austin for families to appreciate the rugged wilderness of Central Texas. With the McKinney Roughs Nature Park right next door, the Hyatt Lost Pines is the perfect lodging choice for active, outdoor-oriented families who want urban pleasures within reach.
Fun in the Wild Pines & Colorado River
From horseback riding to nature trail treks, families won’t have a minute to spare as they explore the great outdoors around the Hyatt Lost Pines. Knowledgeable guides lead trail rides for guests of all experience levels. The Lost Pines Trail Rides, available from Tuesday to Sunday, and the Hyatt Trail Rides, available on weekends, take seasoned riders through McKinney Roughs Nature Park and teach them about the indigenous flora and fauna around the Colorado River. Beginners are welcome to join the Armadillo Rides, which takes riders on a 45-minute journey along the resort’s golf course. Kids must be at least 8-years-old and children below 12 need to be supervised by an adult. With kids who don’t meet the age requirement, parents can sign up for 15-minute pony rides.
If families prefer to travel by foot, they can embark on a self-guided adventure or join a tour headed by one of McKinney Rough’s Naturalists. The two-hour hike teaches visitors about the different plants and animals that inhabit the area and if you’re lucky, you may spot a deer or armadillo. Families also have the choice of attending a Twilight Tour, when they have the opportunity to use a bat detector and learn the calls of different owls as they explore the nature trails by flashlight.
Another way to travel is by water. Visitors have the option of afternoon kayaking or a sunset float off the banks of the Colorado with certified Aquatic Rescue Professionals. Both trips are suitable for kids since the Colorado is so calm—midway through the excursion, most boats are empty because the passengers, young and old, are busy swimming to the finish point!
Active & Cultural Activities for Everyone
Parents won’t have to feel guilty if they choose to explore alone—with Camp Hyatt Tortuga, the kids won’t even remember Mom and Dad aren’t around. Open to kids between 3- and 12-years-old, Camp Hyatt Tortuga allows young ones to learn about the Lost Pines environment first-hand. There are plenty of activities to keep kids busy during the four-hour camp sessions, such as nature art, Southwestern picture frame designs and underwater scavenger hunts. Meanwhile, teens can take part in activities at McKinney Roughs Nature Park. Rock Climbing and Zip Line are open to 7- to 18-years-olds. Another fun option is Lost & Found with GPS, where groups navigate through a pre-arranged course and stop at different stations to perform an array of physical and mental tasks.
While the kids are playing at Camp Hyatt Tortuga and McKinney Roughs Nature Park, parents can head to Spa Django for a massage or the Wolfdancer Golf Club to play a few rounds. The 18-hole Wolfdancer golf course was designed by renowned golf architect Arthur Hills and has received several honors, including 6th place in Golfweek Magazine’s 2008 “Texas’ Top Golf Courses You Can Play.” Lessons and clinics are available for players of all levels and kids are invited to join in the fun, too. Spa Django, which translates to “I Awake,” fuses music with different spa treatments to give guests a unique and relaxing experience. Parents may want to try the Couples Massage or the Lost Pines Hiker Massage to help reduce the aches and pains from earlier trail tours. Other treatments include facials, body scrubs and manicures.
The fun can continue after the family reunites, too. The entire family will enjoy a trip to the Hyatt Lost Pines’ Crooked River Water Park. Neither parents nor kids will want to leave without splashing in the pools, riding the two-story waterslide or floating down the 1,000-foot long Crooked River. There’s also an interesting Experience Art program in summer, in which guests of all ages can take pottery, mosaic plaque making, treehouse building, and watercolor classes. Teens may join more technically advanced arts classes taught by well-established local artists; here’s the place to make a real family souvenir.
Or, take a rest and stop by McDade’s Emporium & Ice Cream Saloon for a treat. Families can buy candy by the pound, enjoy a milkshake or treat themselves to a scoop of McDade’s signature flavors, Dewberry or Butter Pecan. Attend events such as the Tales of Texas or Tribes of Lost Pines to listen to stories about Texas Rangers or learn more about the Tonkawa Indians, the original inhabitants of Lost Pines. End the day by stargazing with a Park Naturalist who will identify different constellations or hang out by campfire and make s’mores.
Visiting Austin & Bastrop
Although there is lots to do on the Hyatt Lost Pines property, families may want to take a day to visit nearby Austin and Bastrop. Bastrop, nicknamed the “most historic small town in Texas,” is home to over 120 historic sites and often hosts traditional parades and festivals. Walk through Bastrop’s Old Town and take a look at the city’s historic architecture. They city may be tiny, but it has had plenty of time in the spotlight — several films have been filmed in Bastrop, including the 2004 remake of “The Alamo.”
Austin, Texas’ capital city, is also full of fun activities for families. The Austin Children’s Museum (512/472-2499) has sights and sounds for all ages. The Rising Star Ranch, for kids age 2 and under, allows mom and dad to explore with their toddlers. Exhibits such as the Frog Pond, a mirrored, miniature lake complete with singing frogs, keep parents and kids laughing as they learn more about Mother Nature. For older kids between 5- and 11-years-old, the museum hosts the Tinkerer’s Workshop. Activities like the Pig Parachute Drop Tower, where kids build and test parachutes, are both fun and educational.
If families want to learn more about the different plants and animals of Texas, then the Austin Nature and Science Center (512/327-8181) is a perfect destination. The center has over 90 different animal exhibits as well as a Dino Pit where families can dig up actual replicas of fossils found in Texas and follow dinosaur tracks. The Discovery Lab has seven mini-labs with interactive, hands-on activities that teach and entertain.
For another unique experience, families may want to take a trip to the Barton Springs Pool (512/476-9044) in Zilker Park. Originally called the Sacred Springs by Native Americans who believed the water had spiritual powers, the springs are still a popular destination for local residents today. Parents can enjoy their swim without worry—lifeguards are on duty for most of the day and the waters are a comfortable 68°F all year long. Another fun activity at Zilker Park is canoeing and kayaking to nearby Lady Bird Lake. Rentals cost $10/hour or $40 for an entire day, including life jackets.
Austin is known as the “Live Music Capital of the World” and the Texan capital comes to life as the sun goes down. East Sixth Street is where most of the action takes place—bars, clubs, music venues and shops line the road. Take a short walk and listen with the kids before heading to the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge to see the world’s largest urban population of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge at sunset in search of food. It’s a stunning—and somewhat odd—phenomenon to behold.
The resort can arrange transportation and almost any day trip that interests you, but many families will want to rent a car to explore. An easy way to travel around within the city of Austin is on the ‘Dillo, a free bus that runs through Central Austin and the nearby University of Texas campus. Pick up a map at the Austin Visitor Center at 209 East Sixth Street for a list of routes and times.
There are two main seasons at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa (512/308-1234) located at 575 Hyatt Lost Pines Road, Lost Pines, TX 78612. Between March and October, 2008, rooms start at $269/N. Prices drop to $189/N between November 08 and February 2009.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.