Quantcast
Photo courtesy of Lake Austin Spa Resort

When the Lake Austin Spa Resort went shopping for a 25th-anniversary gift for guests, it aimed higher than traditional silver and picked treatments that incorporated gold, diamonds, and caviar. As a result, the dreamy destination spa now offers some of the most opulent, exclusive, and — at upwards of $1,000 — most expensive facials in the world.

In anticipation of its milestone anniversary in 2022, the Lake Austin Spa Resort’s LakeHouse Spa partnered with Swiss luxury skincare brand Valmont to introduce the new facials, which are as cutting-edge as they are indulgent.

Creme de la creme among them is The Regal by Valmont, which costs a jaw-dropping $1,050. The Regal was designed in Switzerland exclusively for LakeHouse Spa, and Austin is the only place in the world to get it.

“It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a lot of people,” says Becky Bence, Lake Austin Spa Resort lead esthetician. “And it’s definitely worth it.”

The 135-minute facial begins with the high-tech deep cleanse of the HydroFacial and proceeds with seven masks, including four collagen masks, a papaya enzyme, and a medical-grade LED light mask. Every single product from Valmont’s ultra luxe “masterpiece collection” called l’Elixir des Glaciers is used; some products are made with an uber anti-aging essence of gold sturgeon fish. All are applied using a Valmont signature “butterfly” motion that helps to lift and sculpt the face.

What puts the Regal over the top, though, are 35 minutes of choreographed massage, including a 500-year-old technique called “kobido,'' developed for the empress of Japan. Touted as a “surgical facelift as a massage," Bence says, kobido was once reserved only for nobility and the empress, then later handed down from masters to disciples.

So rarified is the Regal facial, that just six of the 21 LakeHouse Spa estheticians are trained to perform it. They learned at a weeklong “bootcamp” conducted by two Valmont experts who flew in to Austin from Switzerland.

“It was kind of like the Navy Seal program of facials,” Bence says. “It was kind of like being handed down something from a true master.”

The $1K price tag hasn’t kept people away. Since the Regal was introduced several months ago, guests have come from all over the world — and from all corners of Texas — to experience what the spa calls “the ultimate in anti-aging perfection and cellular renewal.” (After all $1,000 is still far less than an actual facelift or even regular nick-tuck-plump-ups by a cosmetic surgeon.)

Why reach all the way to Switzerland for the palatial new treatments? After emerging from COVID shutdowns, Bence says, LakeHouse Spa personnel “auditioned” just about every single skincare line out there. The estheticians voted, and Valmont won.

“We wanted to add something really special, something luxurious but yet something out-of-this-world amazing that truly benefited the skin,” Bence says. “Something almost to replace Botox and fillers …that gave you basically a natural face-lift without being invasive but still being relaxing.”

In addition to the Regal, other new Valmont facials introduced in this 25th anniversary year include:

  • The 150-minute Gold & Diamond Trifecta Facial that involves three massages, four masks, infra-red LED, and a hydrogel mask with micronized gold and diamonds, which costs $990.
  • The Golden Aura Rose & Caviar Facial, a 100-minute treatment that incorporates marine products containing caviar extract and Diamond Collagen, costing $790.
  • Energy of the Glaciers, a 90-minute facial that features rare ingredients from Switzerland and deep, structural massage of the face, stimulating muscles to tone and lift; $750.
  • Luminosity of Ice Facial, a 90-minute treatment described as a “toxin-flushing, facial reflexology-inspired facial” that uses a cocktail of seven plants organically cultivated at high altitudes; $650.

The spa also has a complete menu of non-Valmont facials and dozens of other signature treatments.

Luxe but laid back
Lake Austin Spa Resort’s Dallas-based co-owner, Mike McAdams, says the new facials are indicative of how high the spa wanted to aim for its 25th anniversary.

“Our guest demands a luxurious, more refined experience, and Valmont helps us deliver on that objective,” he says.

And yet, Lake Austin Spa Resort remains a place where robed guests can emerge from a $1,000 facial and step over geckos skittering along the sidewalk while a speedboat whizzes by pumping Beyonce through the speakers. It’s upscale but unpretentious, luxurious but laid-back — almost like “spa camp.”

“We never wanted to create the ‘zen’ spa with stark lines and absence of color – we aimed to create just the opposite,” McAdams says. “Your surroundings absolutely have an impact on how your wellness journey can unfold and influence your daily life. The colors and textures that surround you mimic the vibe of the Texas Hill Country and pay homage to nature.”

The top-rated spa and resort is a far cry now from the place McAdams purchased on January 1, 1997. Located along the shores of scenic Lake Austin in the Texas Hill Country, the property had lived previous lives as a fishing camp, nudist enclave, rodeo ranch, and diet camp.

McAdams — at the time a commercial real estate developer for Dallas-based Trammell Crow — experienced a personal work-life-balance crisis that's wholly relatable in today's post-pandemic, "great-resignation" world two-and-a-half decades later.

“I was living on a plane, traveling a lot. It was high stress, and high energy and I loved it,” he says. “In 1984, I found a place that changed my life — the Ashram in Calabasas, California. It was a true bootcamp, with physical activities and dietary restrictions that were very intense… This experience forced me to come down from my hectic lifestyle of traveling, eating, drinking, and not exercising."

After adopting healthier habits in his own life, he and an LSU fraternity brother, Billy Rucks, seized an opportunity to buy and transform the Lake Austin Spa Resort; they still co-own it today. “It was a diamond in the rough," McAdams says.

More 25th anniversary offerings
One of the biggest challenges running the spa the last 25 years (besides navigating a global pandemic), McAdams says, has been continually evolving in an industry dominated by fleeting fads and headline-grabbing gimmicks.

“The changes in the last 25 years in the spa industry have been monumental,” McAdams says. “The global wellness industry is now a $4.5 trillion economy, with ‘spa’ being one small part of the bubble. We are all seekers looking for ways to look and feel our best, and I think the growth is due to a demand in wanting to take our health into our own hands.”

One of the resort’s newest touts (proudly stated on their home page) is that they’re Texas’ only destination spa on a lake. Recently they’ve introduced a full range of water activities, including a water taxi that transports guests to the spa and back.

“When we bought Lake Austin Spa Resort in 1997, our guests would put a toe in the water — but we’ve also evolved and now understand the power of being near a moving body of water and how it affects your health, happiness, and even alleviates depression,” McAdams says.

Along with the new fancy facials and lake programming, the resort has also added new classes and activities and upgraded amenities for its 25th anniversary. Befitting its location in the “live music capital of the world,” Austin-area musicians now entertain guests nightly around s’mores pits. There’s new artwork around the campus, too.

“My favorite part of celebrating our 25th anniversary this year has been to watch a very special piece of commissioned art be installed in the first few months of the year,” McAdams says. “A local Austin artist created a 64-foot long, 400-square foot abstract mural of stone, glass, and tile designed to honor our magnificent natural location on Lake Austin.

"Within the creation, I wanted to honor all of the amazing past and present people who helped get to where we are today. Their names are included in this mural, discreetly placed within this homage to nature. Because of these special people, Lake Austin Spa Resort has enjoyed many wonderful accolades through the years.”

---

To mark its 25th anniversary, Lake Austin Spa Resort is offering 25 percent off stays of at least two nights or more, through January 31, 2023. Reservations must be booked by October 31. Some packages include generous spa credits, but sadly, the $1,050 Regal facial is not 25 percent off. Find more information at www.lakeaustin.com.

Photo courtesy of Lake Austin Spa Resort

A red light mask is part of the $1,050 Regal by Valmont facial.

Photo courtesy of Burley Auction

Texas icon Ray Benson auctions off custom guitars, classic cars, and more music memorabilia

Asleep at the Auction

There’s no stopping some collectors, who make historical gear and other oddities a lifelong pursuit. Ray Benson, frontman of the longtime Austin-based Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel, has a looser grasp on some of his items.

“After 50 plus years of collecting, I realized it’s time for me to clean house and let someone else enjoy them for a while,” said Benson in a press release. “I wouldn’t say that I became a collector on purpose,” he later added.

In particular, he’s talking about memorabilia, custom guitars, classic cars, and even a custom motorcycle. New Braunfels-based Burley Auction is in charge of the sale, which will occur both in person in New Braunfels and online on October 15. So each item’s true value shines through, Benson will walk onlookers through his collection, telling stories from his career since 1970.

Collectibles are a great chance at name dropping, which in this case calls to memory connections with Willie Nelson, George Strait, Dolly Parton, and Commander Cody, among others. This is as interesting for an Asleep at the Wheel fan as any buyer who loves Texas and its nonconformist entertainment history.

“I’ve accumulated a vast collection of some really cool stuff! From the bay area music scene of the early ‘70s, to the Austin ‘Cosmic Cowboy’ movement” Benson said. “Hats, boots, posters, cars and guitars!”

Ray Benson Benson will auction off custom guitars, classic cars, and more on October 15.Photo by Mike Shore

In addition to connecting people with items that make them happy or teach them something, this auction benefits the Texas Dance Hall Preservation, which maintains antique gathering places across the state including two in Texas: the Austin Son’s of Hermann Mixed Lodge and the Broken Spoke.

The auction couldn’t have come at a more nostalgic time for Asleep at the Wheel, in the wake of its album Half A Hundred Years, released on October 1. As usual, the band will be at the Austin City Limits Festival (as one of its more stable offerings year-to-year) supporting the 19-track new release. Iconic musicians from the genre join the record as guests, plus three original band members who lend their talents for the first time in 40 years.

Registration details and a catalog of items for auction are available at BurleyAuction.com.

Photo courtesy of H-E-B

H-E-B rings up new debit card with cash back perks for customers

Here Everything's Debit

As if Texans couldn’t already get nearly everything at H-E-B, they can now get even more with H-E-B, at other stores. The ubiquitous grocery store announced big news on September 12: It’s slipping its own debit card into users’ wallets, offering cash back on qualifying H-E-B purchases.

The H-E-B debit card, ready for applicants now, opens up a few avenues to grocery shoppers, most notably 5 percent on “thousands of products from H-E-B.” Specifically, the cash back applies to H-E-B brand items from pantry items to prepared foods, kitchenware, and more. Shoppers don’t have to do anything to claim the extra funds — they just appear right back in the account.

Further, it is one more card to carry, but it may replace or duplicate one other. H-E-B debit will be accepted anywhere Mastercard is accepted, and essentially functions just like any debit card from a bank: it offers “an optional, high-yield savings account,” direct deposits, and free H-E-B ATM withdrawals.

“At H-E-B, we’re always looking to provide Texans more ways to save,” said H-E-B Group vice president of marketing Ashwin Nathan in a press release. “With the H-E-B debit card, customers can have a more rewarding shopping experience that allows them to keep more money in their pockets while enjoying valuable benefits and perks.”

Maintaining the card is almost as simple as keeping it on hand, with no fees and multiple options to add funds, including cash at H-E-B and directly from other debit cards. While there is no full overdraft program (which allows the grocer to claim no overdraft fees), there is a $20 “purchase cushion” on qualifying purchases that gives the shopper 30 days to make up the negative balance. Users can more carefully track their spending through the H-E-B Debit mobile app.

So far, there is no sign that users can use the account without the physical card, so once it comes in the mail, shoppers should remember to bring it along.

More information on H-E-B Debit accounts, including a list of qualified brands for cash-back purchases, is available at hebdebit.com.

Courtesy of Texas Book Festival

Texas Book Festival uncovers full literary lineup for 2022 event

On the books

With less than two months before the Texas Book Festival makes its fully in-person return this fall, the anticipation is building like your favorite thriller novel. After announcing the keynotes earlier this summer (including Omar Epps, Angie Cruz, Sandra Brown, David George Haskell, Michaela Goade, and more), the TBF recently released its full author lineup.

Taking place on November 5 and 6, the 27th annual Texas Book Festival will feature nearly 300 national and Texas authors, including debut and bestselling writers, celebrated chefs, and more. Scattered along Austin's iconic Congress Avenue and surrounding the State Capitol, the event is a unique opportunity for attendees to both connect with favorite authors and meet new stars of the literary world.

As always, this year's lineup stretches across all genres, from cookbooks to thrillers and everything in between. Newly announced authors include Top Chef finalist Chris Scott and James Beard Award recipient Vishwesh Bhatt, University of Texas at Austin's own H.W. Brands, New York Times bestselling author Xochitl Gonzalez, and many, many more.

A few new highlights to add to the radar include:

  • Gabino Iglesias, award-winning author, will present The Devil Takes You Home, a genre-defying thriller about a father desperate to salvage what's left of his family — even if it means a descent into violence.
  • Culinary legend and 16-time James Beard Award recipient Jacque Pépin will present Jacques Pépin Art of the Chicken, chock-full of recipes, humorous stories, and his own paintings.
  • Grammy-nominated Margo Price will debut her memoir, Maybe We’ll Make It, a revealing look at loss, motherhood, and the search for artistic freedom.

While the festival always attracts talent from across the country, the event also showcases the incredible homegrown talent from right here in the Lone Star State. Texas authors featured at this year’s festival include Robert Draper, Simran Jeet Singh, LaToya Watkins, Will Hurd, Leon and Tiffany Chen, May Cobb, Alex Kiester, Katherine McGee, Amanda Eyre Ward, Amy Kim Kibuishi, Lise Olsen, Evan Griffith, Natalia Sylvester, and (you guessed it) many more.

Don't leave the kids behind, either! Young adult and children's programming will be as robust as ever, featuring numerous YA and children’s book authors such as Maggie Stiefvater, Aiden Thomas, Natalia Sylvester, R. M. Romero, Carole Boston Weatherford, Michaela Goade, David Bowles, David Levithan, and Mac Barnett.

"We are eager to present authors and exhibitors in person again, for the biggest Texas Book Festival since 2019,” says TBF Literary Director Matthew Patin in a release. “An incredible slate of debut, emerging, and established literary talent from across the state and nationwide will be in Austin this November. And we’re looking forward to connecting audiences with writers they’ve long been fans of, and with those they’ll be lifelong fans of soon.”

For a full list of 2022 authors and to learn more about each one (read: to memorize their photos so you can spot them in the inevitably crowded festival atmosphere), head to the Texas Book Festival website.

Mico's Hot Chicken/Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/micoshotchicken/photos/1562564624075499]

Yelp gifts $10,000 to Houston hot chicken restaurant as part of $100k in grants to Texas businesses

Yelp Help

It seems like every calendar year is named “challenging” for local businesses, and never without reason. Businesses need constant maintenance to stay ahead of the community’s needs, and Yelp, the consumer ratings company, wants to help beyond its usual search streamlining.

With help from celebrity designer and born-and-raised Texan Bobby Berk, Yelp is making sure Texans have a bit of a windfall. That may be families in need of home repairs or businesses working hard to keep up; either are eligible for a grant on the second annual Make It Happen Day on August 26.

The fund attributes 2022’s challenge to severe weather, which is what launched the inaugural campaign in 2021 after Winter Storm Uri caused widespread physical damage on top of the inertia of the pandemic. While each ridiculously hot day this summer brought the threat of a power grid collapse, Texas was able to stay on its feet, and was left instead with severe drought.

Houston wasn’t so lucky in September, 2021, with Category 1 hurricane Tropical Storm Nicholas.

The fund will be split between 50 Texans receiving $1,000 for home improvements using professionals on Yelp, and five local businesses receiving $10,000 each, making a $100,000 grant in total. Individuals can enter by using Yelp’s Request a Quote feature, which matches them with professionals in the area, and submitting that quote on August 26.

The businesses are already chosen, including Mico’s Hot Chicken in Houston, The Grill at Leon Springs in San Antonio, Simply Good Pies in Dallas, Texas French Bread in Austin, and Ambur Fire in Round Rock.

The inaugural round of funding went to five businesses, including beloved The Big Easy blues club in Rice Village.

In 2021, Yelp partnered with Grace and Frankie actress and part-time Austinite Brooklyn Decker, who calls herself a “home decor fanatic” and helped spread the news. Bobby Berk, the home renovator of Queer Eye (and the subject of lots of memes about carrying your team), is taking over the spokesperson role in 2022.

To enter to win a $1,000 “Make It Happen Day” grant, search on yelp.com for a home services business you may be interested in hiring. Under each listing, there may be a button that says “Request a Quote.” Submit the quote on the giveaway site on August 26, 2022.

Houston's Mico's Hot Chicken suffered some damage caused by a break-in.

Mico's Hot Chicken/Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/micoshotchicken/photos/1562564624075499]
Houston's Mico's Hot Chicken suffered some damage caused by a break-in.
Photo courtesy of Skies Over Texas

Raise a glass to Texas wine and outdoor fun in friendly Early

On the Road

Wine lovers, put Early on your must-visit list. Tucked between Austin and Abilene lies the Skies Over Texas winery, where owners Brian and Moira McCue have been bringing their award-winning, handcrafted vinos to Central Texas since 2017.

Everything from reds and whites to rosés and sweet varieties are all made with 100-percent Texas grapes.

The winery’s onsite tasting room, which is constructed entirely from reclaimed and repurposed materials found on the property, not only serves up these delicious pours, but also appetizers and pizzas.

Try the Dirty Dill pie, with Moira’s Dill Pickle Ranch dip topped with a five-cheese blend and jalapeño garlic seasoning, thinly sliced dill pickles, and bacon pieces. It may sound strange, but give it a try and you'll discover that they know their pizza and well as their wine here.

With plenty of space inside and out to relax, play some patio games, and "unWINEd" (as the McCues would say), the Skies Over Texas winery is perfect for a day trip or as a stopover on a RV excursion, with their readily available RV parking.

The winery's motto is: "Enter as strangers. Leave as friends," and we’ll cheers to that.

While in this suburb of Brownwood, make time to tour the Brown County Museum of History and the Lehnis Railroad Museum, or attend a play, musical, or concert at the historic Lyric Theatre.

Relax on Lake Brownwood near Early, where you can swim, boat, fish, water ski, hike, bike, and picnic. Lake Brownwood State Park offers campsites, cabins, a lodge, rental fishing gear, an Explorer Pack, and free Junior Ranger activity journals to complete tasks and earn a badge.

Head to the Sound Garden at McDonald Park to make some noise at this family-friendly attraction, or simply stroll around the walking track, grill on the barbecues, and get active on the sand volleyball and basketball courts and multi-use sports field.

Come summer 2023, you'll also get to enjoy the new Early Town Center — the community's first official central point for dining, entertainment, and recreation. Follow its exciting progress here.

Skies Over Texas winery has a variety of award-winning wines made with Texas grapes.

Photo courtesy of Skies Over Texas
Skies Over Texas winery has a variety of award-winning wines made with Texas grapes.
Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Iconic Texas 'cowboy-style' BBQ joint's Katy outpost closure leads week's top stories

this week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week.

1. Iconic Texas 'cowboy-style' barbecue joint's Katy location quietly closes. Sadly, the local outpost couldn't replicate the magic of the original in Llano.

2. Ken Hoffman urges Houston travelers to keep calm and enjoy the trip at the new-look Bush IAH. Our columnist explains why travelers might be in "for a big, pleasant surprise at Houston’s Bush-Intercontinental Airport."

3. Houston's most spectacular winter light shows and events dazzle for the holidays. We rounded up where to see dazzling lights with family, friends, and visitors.

4. Disgraced Theranos CEO and former Houstonian Elizabeth Holmes sentenced to 11 years for fraud. Additionally, Holmes faces a fine of $400 million.

5. Houston's NASA leaders 'giddy' after historic Artemis 1 moon flyby. The spacecraft cruised just 81 miles above the lunar surface.

Disney's Strange World is a visual stunner with too many story ideas

Movie Review

For a studio whose entire reason for being seems to rely on creating and sustaining familiar characters, Walt Disney Animation takes its fair share of risks. In the last 10 years, it has released nine films, seven of which were not based on pre-existing properties (the other two were sequels for two of those seven). That’s a lot of new stuff, most of which has succeeded mightily for the perennially-popular leaders in animation.

They’re at it again with Strange World, which takes place in an unknown country/world known as Avalonia, where Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) is a famous explorer whose only desire is to find a way over, around, or through the imposing mountains surrounding the land. His son, Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), doesn’t share his enthusiasm, and an early discovery by Searcher of a unique energy source leads to a rift between father and son. Jaeger continues onwards, while Searcher returns home with a plant they call Pando that creates harmony throughout the land.

Years later, when the plant shows signs of failure, Searcher is recruited by Avalonia leader Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu) to help in an expedition to find the source of whatever is attacking Pando. What they and others – including Searcher’s wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union) and son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) – find in their travels certainly lives up to the title.

Co-directed by Don Hall and Qui Nguyen and written by Nguyen, the film is a visual stunner. The quality of animation in Disney movies rarely fails to impress, and Strange World is the latest and greatest example. Whether it’s the humans, the landscape, or the innumerable weird creatures that populate the film, there is almost nothing that doesn’t deserve to be stared at and admired.

It’s odd, then, that the story does not come close to matching the graphics. There are a variety of reasons for this failure. Nguyen is the sole credited writer, and he stuffs the film full of big and small ideas, probably too many for this type of project. Searcher’s family and the world of Avalonia and beyond are diverse in multiple ways, to the point that it feels like Nguyen was trying to include everything he could think of in case he never got another shot.

The bigger sin, though, is how quickly the film advances through its plot, often bringing up new things out of nowhere. While Searcher and his family make for an interesting group, the side characters never make an impact. There are also multiple instances where the story takes a turn that makes no sense, either in the world of the film or a storytelling manner.

This includes the final act of the film, which features a significant twist that is presented and accepted in a way that doesn’t fit with the rest of the film. It adds on yet another message in a movie that contains a lot of them, but in a way that even those inclined to believe in what it’s trying to say may wonder why that part is there at all.

The science fiction element of Strange World is a bonanza for the filmmakers and animators to go as wild as they wanted in the visual department. But all that splendor is in service of a story that just doesn’t measure up, making it one of Disney’s less successful offerings in recent years.

---

Strange World is now playing in theaters.

Photo courtesy of Disney

Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), Jaeger (Dennis Quaid), and Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White) in Strange World

Affluent Houston suburb leads region for highest holiday spending budgets in U.S.

Santa Baby

As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, holiday shopping budgets are in the spotlight, and a study from WalletHub lists Sugar Land as one of the top cities where Santa doesn't need a whole lot of help.

According to the personal finance website, the average holiday budget in Sugar Land is $2,793 per person, the 15th highest in the nation. As CultureMap previously reported, Sugar Land residents here make an average of $123,261; the average home price is $337,600.

Fittingly, Fort Bend, home to Sugar Land, was recently named the second-richest county in Texas.

As for Greater Houston, Santa's bag could be a mixed bag, with three suburbs in the top 100, but the urban center falling far behind:

  • Sugar Land, No. 15, $2,793
  • Pearland, No. 36, $2,172
  • The Woodlands, No. 71, $1,733
  • Houston, No. 366, $890

Each year, WalletHub calculates the maximum holiday budget for over 550 U.S. cities "to help consumers avoid post-holiday regret," the website says. The study factors in income, age of the population, and other financial indicators such as debt-to-income ratio, monthly-income-to monthly-expenses ratio and savings-to-monthly-expenses ratio.

Despite nationwide focus on inflation strains, holiday spending is expected to be healthy, and higher than last year.

"The seeming social upheaval in recent times may lead households to spend more in an attempt to take some control of the environment which they can control," says Robert Wright, University of Illinois, Springfield professor emeritus who was among five experts consulted for advice about holiday shopping.

Elsewhere in Texas, 10 North Texas cities landed in this year's top 100 heftiest holiday budgets:

  • Flower Mound, No. 3, $3,531 (The only Texas city in the top 10)
  • Allen, No. 17 , $2,670
  • Frisco, No. 37, $2,150
  • McKinney, No. 45, $2,070
  • Plano, No. 50, $1,999
  • Carrollton, No. 55, $1,837
  • Richardson, No. 58, $1,823
  • North Richland Hills, No. 81, $1,658
  • Lewisville, No. 90, $1,630
  • Fort Worth, No. 366, $890
  • Dallas, No. 401, $845

Spending in the Austin area won't be ho-hum with the Capitol City's budget of $1,705 ranked at No. 78. Two Austin suburbs, Cedar Park (budget $2,855) and League City (budget $2,541) ranked 14 and 20, respectively.

Things don't look too jolly for San Antonio, ranked at No. 431 with an average budget of $803 or Pharr, which was the lowest ranked city in Texas.

At No. 553 with a budget of $487, the Rio Grande Valley city came in just a few spots ahead of last place Hartford, CT with a budget of only $211.