Check this out: "Namaste, y’all: Kicking back at a Texas-style New Age resort in Austin."
Seldom have I seen a more apt headline. If only the entire Washington Post story on a new agey resort near Austin were as pithy.
Unfortunately, the Post shows less interest in the spirituality of Travaasa Austin. It mainly snickers over a place that would offer "vision boarding" and "Equine Encounters" on the one hand -- and on the other, courses in hatchet throwing, Texas two-step dancing and mechanical bull riding.
Multiple spiritual "ghosts" hover about:
It’s rare for a hotel to offer both guided meditation sessions and hatchet-throwing classes. But Travaasa Austin is like few other hotels. This "experiential spa resort" is like a land-based cruise, with a cowboy and a shaman fighting over the helm.
The extensive list of activities — which includes hula-hooping, ¬sachet-making (with cocktails), archery, harmonica lessons and a mechanical-bull fitness class — is both enticing and daunting. Not to worry: "You don’t have to sign up for anything," the chirpy concierge reminded me during a recent visit, and in fact the expansive grounds offer ample opportunity for nothing-doing.
And yet I wanted to do it all -- to learn the Texas two-step, tour the hotel’s organic farm, try its elaborate zip-line course, and still have the time (and energy) for a swim, massage and dinner. But how? Perhaps I needed to settle down with a yoga class or try vision boarding, a course where I’d learn to "channel the power of positive energy and see what happens." Perhaps that power would manifest itself in a wine tasting later that evening.
So the story skims over facials, wine tasting, hiking and dirt biking. Photos show the zip-line, the infinity pool overlooking a lake, and a bedroom built of "reclaimed wood" with a "fiber-optic rendition of the night sky." Then there's the spa package including a pedicure, a 90-minute massage and an "organic, locally crafted Texas beer."
The Post especially likes the Equine Encounters, which it calls a "perfect blend of New Age and Old West":
The class opened with a kind of group-therapy session, a way for us humans to get to know one another before we were introduced to our horse. Next, we started a bonding process (by combing and talking to the animal) and then were sent into a pen to try to get it to walk calmly by our side, another activity that’s a lot harder — and more dangerous — than it sounds.
And that is about as new age as you'll get here, despite the headline and the first few paragraphs. And maybe Travaasa set itself up for that, when its own website says little about its new age side. You'll find a few clues on its Experience Schedule list, but even those are as spare as the Post reviewer found the meals.
The activities include at least three kinds of yoga -- hatha, yin and "yoga for strength" -- but only yin gets any description:
Yin Yoga poses apply moderate stress to the connective tissues—the tendons, fascia, and ligaments—with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility. Yin Yoga poses are also designed to improve the flow of qi, the subtle energy said in Chinese medicine to run through the meridian pathways of the body.
You may recognize qi as another spelling of chi, the life force of east Asian belief. It's the basis for the slow, fluid exercise known as tai chi. But Travaasa doesn't say so, even though it also holds tai chi classes.
But we do get a nibble of what they mean by guided meditation: "visualization techniques as a means of concentration. Through the focus on the guided words we aim to open ourselves to experience our deeper inner self within a meditative state."
The list also adds a bit on that "Equine Encounter." It's supposed to help you "learn how your non-verbal communication, internal mind state and focus on being in the moment affect your ability to lead and project your intentions. Guided by our equine team, you will complete exercises that lead to greater self-awareness and confidence."
The lengthiest description was on that new age mainstay, crystal meditation:
The healing power of crystals and stones may be subtle to the average person, however once one opens themselves to the possibilities of crystal vibrations they may have a profound affect. In this meditation each person will choose a crystal to hold or keep near by during the guided meditation. Each crystal is unique, and is known to have particular healing qualities. Through the meditation we will focus on our personal crystal and mantra (repetitive form of affirmation) to hold us firm in the present moment of the focused meditation.
Crystal, vibrations, healing, meditation, a personal mantra -- yeah, now you know it's new age country. But it doesn't get into the Post article.
I can only guess why. Maybe the Travaasa staff figures you either know the spiritual elements, or you'll ask once you get there. Or possibly, they think many people will care about the "experience" more than going deeper into "one's true, authentic self."
If the latter, they were right with the Washington Post. I don't know if Travaasa delivers on its promise of self-awareness or positive energy. But the article's writer was more into rubdowns and horse whispers, when she could have asked a few probing questions. Some of us would have been interested in the answers.