Travaasa Austin guests experience nature and nurture at this green resort.
I’ll be honest: eco-friendly hotels tend to scare me. Probably because I just read about one in Seattle that turns off the electricity from 11am to 4pm daily. This includes air conditioning (or heat), lights, TV, even a power source to your laptop! Can you imagine? And people flock to it as if J-Lo was hosting a birthday party in the lobby!
While cutting power sources may seem a bit extreme, there are many hotels living a greener life in smaller doses. One of these is Travaasa Austin, which I had the pleasure of visiting recently. Travaasa Austin is a newly rebranded experiential hotel that sits on 200-plus acres within the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve overlooking Lake Travis. The natural and pristine surroundings alone serve as the inspiration behind this environmentally conscious yet lavish resort.
The property has a unique programming model which allows for locally infused, robust activities focusing on five core pillars: adventure, culinary, culture, fitness and spa. Guests choose their own daily schedule, with varying skill and fitness levels ranging from ropes challenge courses, sunrise hikes, two-step dance lessons, culinary classes and many more Texas-inspired activities.
A proud winner of TreeHugger’s 2010 Best of Green Award for “Best Resort,” the property’s green features focus on sustainable site selection, water and energy efficiency, the use of sustainable materials and indoor environment quality. Travaasa Austin utilizes a number of eco-friendly techniques throughout daily operation, including waste minimization, reuse and recycling of all possible materials, composting, local and organic food sourcing, recycled paper product usage, sustainability education and preservation of land. Only 34 acres are developed out of the 210-acre property, allowing native vegetation and wildlife to remain undisturbed.
Travaasa Austin recruited the help of hatch + ulland owen architects of Austin to ensure the property remained as green as possible. Together they implemented a master plan, fully integrating the existing terrain using a “least disturbance” design philosophy. One of their key strategies kept paving and landscaping to a minimum, opting instead for unpaved parking areas to reduce water runoff and promote groundwater recharge. The property’s landscaping was designed to encourage and promote walking and battery-powered golf carts when needed.
Travaasa has been recognized for many big-ticket green items, but it’s the little things that seem to have the greatest impact. One of the first things I noticed upon arriving in my room at Hacienda Longhorn was a small placard laid out on the bed with a picture of an elephant on it. The front of the card read: There’s Wisdom In Every Wrinkle. The back: We happen to think that wrinkles are wonderful—on elephants and people alike—a certain sign of wisdom. The same is true of our Travaasa bedding. It’s natural, free of processed chemicals and dyes, and supremely comfortable. And no ironing saves lots of energy. We hope you agree…a wise choice.
As a rookie slowly but surely embracing this green movement, notes like this go a long way with me. Not just in recognizing the green attributes of the property, but in educating me on the small things that can create big change.
In-room bath products boasted the BeeKind product line from Gilchrist & Soames. Along with their recyclable packaging and skin-friendly formulas, the line supports honey bee and sustainable pollination research. Their motto is Feel Good. Do Good. If that’s the motto in the bathroom, I’m sure you can only imagine how the rest of the room feels.
Executive Chef Benjamin Baker employs local and organic food sourcing, which not only helps sustain the local economy and utilizes less gas in the acquisition, but it also provides a safer and higher quality food for his guests. The culinary department, as Chef Baker refers to it (rather than calling it a restaurant), shares information about where their food—the meat, the produce, pretty much everything—originated. “People are taking responsibility and demanding to know where their food is coming from,” Chef Baker says. Because the team bases their ever-changing daily menu on what’s locally available at the time, the food is always fresh and rarely, if ever, wasted. Chef Baker and his team give real meaning to farm fresh produce as it comes directly from the source to the table without the added pesticides and chemicals.
Savvy travelers can check-in on the green hotel movement and stay in a healthy, nurturing environment at Travaasa Austin.