Many people think a destination wedding requires getting a passport and taking a plane to a remote island in the Caribbean. But sometimes plans don't allow for that. I had a client who wanted the look and feel of a destination wedding but centrally located in Texas. So when I received and invitation to attend a FAM (familiarization) trip at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa located in Bastrop, I had to check it out.
Stacy Seaborn, the resort's catering manager, welcomed a group of over 20 event planners from Houston, Austin, Dallas and San Antonio for a day and half of leisure time and information gathering.
Upon arriving at the resort, we were greeted by key hotel staff and served glasses of champagne, an indication of the pampering yet to come. The afternoon activities included samplings of spa services and golf lessons.
The well-manicured Wolfdancer Golf Course, located on the property, is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program course as of January 2012. The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses awards certification to recognize golf courses that protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and provide wildlife habitats. The course's famous 12th hole has breathtaking views of the entire property.
Spa Django, named after Texas music legend Django Reinhart, features natural herb treatments (lavender, peppermint and rosemary) with ingredients that are grown on property.
The welcome dinner was held at LBJ Pavilion, an ideal spot for receptions, considering the space can be made to feel rustic or more romantic depending on your choice of décor. Dinner was preceded by a fun "Make Your Own BBQ Sauce" contest (which I am happy to say my group of four won). The food consisted of steaks, barbecued salmon, chicken and a host of fixings, including a baked potato bar. The catering team went all out sporting their rich-colored linens and rustic centerpieces from Brenda Abbott Floral Designs.
After an invigorating walk down by the river, the next morning I rented a ElliptiGO — a cross between a bicycle and an elliptical machine — and went for a ride around the property. While it takes some time to get the hang of, it’s fun. The resort is test piloting them for future rentals — currently they are provided at no charge.
From an event planning perspective, the resort is a perfect locale for a destination wedding. There are several amazing locations for a wedding ceremony, including the amphitheater (interestingly carved steep into the side of a hill adjacent to the Guadalupe river), as well as a small waterfall area near a pond adjacent to the private house, which serves as the resort's master or presidential suite.
Gorgeous trees decorated with chandeliers or handing lanterns? Yes, please!
The Pecan Terrace is a great space for a bridesmaids’ luncheon as it creates an intimate environment overlooking the great lawn of the resort. Either the Butterfly or Hummingbird Gardens would really wow guests for a cocktail reception or intimate seated lunch, as both are set among a mass of wildflowers that attract their namesake creatures.
For corporate business, Lost Pines Resort has over 60,000 square feet of indoor space and 230,000 square feet of outdoor space. Lost Pines Ballroom is the largest indoor space and would be perfect for exhibits and trade shows. Participants in conferences will want to bring their families and partake in the many — and I mean many — resort activities. Of particular note are horseback riding at Renegade Trailhead, the Crooked River Water Park and rafting or kayaking at McKinney Roughs Nature Park. All activities can be booked through the Resort Reservations desk.
The resort hosts nine dining options, including Firewheel Cafe, Stories Fine Dining Establishment and Sheller's Barrelhouse Bar. Probably one of the coolest aspects is the rustic fire pits in several well-placed locations where guests gather around to eat s’mores. Rest assured the food will be a crowd-pleaser, with ample farm-to-table selections. Executive Chef Sutti Sripolpa has dedicated his team to buying local and sustainable goods for all the resort restaurants and catering.
I'm currently sitting in a wooden rocking chair located off their back lobby porch. And I have to admit, it’s hard to fight dozing off, considering the relaxing breeze and Texas music tunes softly playing. This is the life!
CultureMap contributor Deborah Elias is the founder and president of Elias Events.