Hyatt Regency Lost Pines was a favorite trip with my children when they were one, three and five years old. But how would it be to visit this iconic resort now that some of us were teenagers, and didn’t want to leave home and friends? What would we find to do, and what was there to do for families of all ages? Much more, as it turns out, than I ever knew. And as a family with older children, we are more discerning than when our day was centered on the kiddie pool and tethered to our room for naptime. We need and expect more from our vacation experience. Could Hyatt Regency Lost Pines meet our expectations?
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines (HRLP) is located along the banks of the Lower Colorado River, 25 miles from Austin, near Bastrop. After driving through the secure gates of the property the eye rests on acres of green forests and fields, blue rippling Colorado River, and scans up to endless cerulean Texas skies. The architecture is stacked stone and clean clapboard. Though the resort opened in 2006, it is fresh and updated. Buildings and even the resort pool area blend with the landscape and salute the history of the region, while remaining a luxurious wilderness escape. Families will find that function—and action—follow form on this thoughtfully designed property.
It would be a challenge to find a family member who couldn’t find something enjoyable to do at HRLP. With a spa, tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, hiking, biking, jogging, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, a video arcade, Camp Hyatt children’s camp, a water park with lazy river and water slide, a dedicated adult pool, a splash pool, stores and retail, live weekly entertainment, bird watching, Hooves and Horns animal mascot program, archery, trap shooting, stargazing, and bird watching, the biggest challenge is finding time for a long enough stay in which to do it all. Simply listing all that makes me tired and reminds me to mention the many nooks and crannies where folks can sit and read a book or watch the family busy bodies recreate.
My favorite spot along these lines is the Firewheel Café—named after a Texas Wildflower. It’s a bright and airy restaurant illuminated by stained glass and handmade chandeliers. It is a place to congregate, rest, or dine. Like the activity menu, the breakfast buffet menu we sampled is extensive. Stations placed around the restaurant ensure that diners aren’t forced to queue up in one spot. Teens and adults find themselves patiently flowing around sticky-fingered children, rather than resentfully lining up to take one maple-syrup drenched ladle at a time. Artistically arranged and delicious food is placed at a level where kids can see it and serve themselves. We sampled hash browns, French toast sticks, grits with bacon and cheese, lovely ripe fruit, pastries, pancakes, ham, muffins with decorative wrap, and an omelet station where I met a lady from Phoenix. She held a plate while she watched her omelet-to-order sizzling on the griddle, and I heard her murmur to Chef Brian, “You were the main reason I was excited to get up this morning.” Yes, Phoenix Lady, yes.
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines seems to be a lingering kind of place. I saw adults sipping coffee in a climate-controlled room with plenty of comfy chairs and benches, while looking out Firewheel’s wall of square-paned windows at kids and grandkids meeting real Longhorn cows or playing badminton on the lawn outside. Just down the hill the Colorado River flowed and happy shouts of canoeists could be heard by those close enough. In the evening this outdoor space hosted s’mores cooking. Diners included one brave raccoon who I’m told makes nightly appearances, deftly cleaning up crumbs from the perimeter. Down the way, casual outdoor movies with popcorn and a come-and-go feel allowed families with younger kids to snuggle up and wind down before bed. There were HRLP staff supervising events, so it felt safe for kids to play even when parents and grandparents weren’t right on their heels.
The resort’s holiday and winter events include a trail of lights that is breathtaking in the wooded setting. The Holiday Experience featured fun family things, like a breakfast and photos with Santa, a holiday treat light show, cookie decorating, and Elf-on-the-Shelf readings. There will also be a special Christmas Market with local vendors.
My family’s take on HRLP? My teen daughter liked that they thought of nice details like a mirror outside the bathroom for makeup and grooming. She saw five small deer which were, “soooo cuuuute!” She’d like to bring a group to play volleyball on the sand court at HRLP. My 14-year-old son commented that the waterpark is not big, but he likes the fishing, kayaking, the s’mores raccoon, whitetail deer, and the white bird he saw at the fishing pond. Also, he really wants to try 3D Archery (we didn’t this time). My hubby had an astute observation that I have repeated to a number of friends since we returned home. “Hyatt Regency Lost Pines is a great Austin getaway. Compared to Watersound or Rosemary Beach (in Florida), you get two more days with your family instead of wasting time traveling to get there. And there are more activities. It’s not ‘just’ a golf resort or a ‘just’ a pool resort.”
For families young and old and all their members, Hyatt Regency Lost Pines has lots to offer. And for the holidays, it couldn’t be brighter or more joyful.
Merry and Bright
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines will officially kick off the holiday season immediately following Thanksgiving. Overnight, the resort will transform into a winter wonderland complete with an oversized decorated tree in the lobby and extravagant decorations throughout the property.
- Holiday Night Stroll
Enjoy the resort’s “Holiday Light Stroll”— a magical forest of colors with more than 150 LED floodlights programmed to create a specific color and effect, blue and green laser lights creating sparkling firefly- like visuals, and more than 3,000 twinkling holiday lights spanning through the resort’s grounds.
- Holiday Parade
Every Friday at 7:00 p.m. the resort will showcase a holiday parade featuring its animal mascots showing off their best holiday gear. Guests can join the resort’s four Texas longhorns, two alpacas, two miniature horses, four pygmy goats, and Beans the potbelly pig as they help to kick off each weekend’s holiday festivities.
- Santa’s Workshop
Following Santa’s arrival on November 29, Santa’s Workshop will be open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday throughout the season. Guests can meet some of their favorite holiday characters while they enjoy activities including cookie decorating, ornament making, gingerbread house construction, and a letter station where children can write and send letters to the North Pole.
- Holiday Photos and Stories
Each Saturday, Jolly Old St. Nicholas will visit Santa’s Workshop to greet families and take holiday photos. Additionally, Mrs. Claus will visit Santa’s Workshop every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. to meet families and read holiday stories. Visits with Santa can be made through resort reservations.
- Holiday Feasts
Guests will be able to enjoy holiday feasts throughout the season with breakfast buffets in the resort’s Firewheel Café every Saturday and Sunday and dinner every Friday and Saturday between Nov. 30 and Jan. 1.
- New Year’s Eve
The resort’s holiday festivities will conclude with the New Year’s Eve celebration on Tues., Dec. 31. Guests will be able to ring in 2020 with a holiday dinner buffet in the resort’s ballroom, a family DJ dance party, and the property’s signature fireworks display, and a champagne or apple cider toast at 9:00 p.m.
Jill Sayre is an Austin-based freelance writer and mother of four.