No matter where you travel in the world, you’ll never find a place like Texas. It stands out for its unique blend of cultures and influences and is the only state that has endured eight changes of government and six different flags. Before it was the 28th to join the U.S., Texas was its own nation from 1836 to 1845. Fiercely independent with a touch of swagger and rebellion, Texans have a long history of fighting for who they are. The most famous took place at the Alamo, where Texas defenders were willing to die rather than live under the rule of Mexican General Santa Anna.
Remember the Alamo? It is considered the cradle of Texas liberty and the state’s most popular historic site. Visitors may walk in the Alamo Plaza, which is free to the public, and browse the former Spanish Mission along with the documents which provide context for the battle and artifacts representative of the time period.
But it wasn’t history that drew me to the home of the Alamo. I recently visited San Antonio for what I needed in the present: relaxation. As most know, the City of San Antonio is famous for its Riverwalk – the 2.5-mile loop of pedestrian walkway along the San Antonio River. Flowing one story below the city’s main streets, the river is lined with shops, restaurants and hotels and attracts locals and tourists from all over the world. The Riverwalk officially opened in 1939, and it is still the number one tourist attraction in Texas. There is something very romantic and calming about strolling along the water as tour boats glide by. The hustle of city life and traffic above feels a world away. Among the Mexican handicrafts, Mariachi bands and table-side guacamole stations, the Riverwalk is home to a few of the most restorative and rejuvenating spa treatments.
First stop for total relaxation is the entrance flanked by sapphire blue umbrellas and outdoor cushions: The Omni Mokara Hotel. This hotel’s spa overlooks the Riverwalk and boasts 18 private treatment rooms, separate men’s and ladies’ private lounges, whirlpools, steam rooms and saunas, plus an outdoor café with rooftop views of the city. Plan to arrive an hour or two before your treatment to enjoy the relaxation rooms and an amazing hot tub in a private area full of flickering candles and warm towels – all included in your service price. Treat yourself to a few minutes in the steam shower and breathe deeply allowing your body to sweat out the toxins. Then, after you cool off in the lounge with ice washcloths and herbal tea, you’re ready.
The Mokara offers services from body therapies to facial treatments, but for a decadent experience, try the spa’s most luxurious massage: the four hands massage. This is an authentic experience where two therapists work on you at the same time, mirroring each other’s movements. If you are seeking total relaxation and restoration, you need to experience the four hands massage – the therapists will target the areas where you are feeling the most stress and take turns tackling knots and sore muscles. In the end you’ll feel like you’re floating down the Riverwalk; there is no better way to melt away tension.
But the four hands massage at the Mokara costs a pretty penny. If you want to save your money to spend on mouth-watering Tex-Mex food, try a different treatment at Dasa Spa at the Hyatt Hotel. The lobby and lounge have no bells and whistles, but it is located off the beautiful waterfall and over the bridge as you enter the hotel. Reservations are not required but encouraged if you have a particular service or time in mind. Online booking is available for your convenience.
Although I was truly pampered at the Mokara, my massage therapist at Dasa, Elizabeth, was extremely skilled which made the experience superior. Their signature treatment is an exfoliating mango enzyme body wrap filled with antioxidants that will unclog pores and pack your skin with rich nutrients. After they wrap your body in luxurious linens, you get a scalp and neck massage followed by a body butter application. I highly recommend any of the signature treatments at Dasa, including this one, which will leave you feeling like a new person ready to conquer the world – just like a true Texan.
Krisha Chachra serves on the Town Council of Blacksburg and is a regular columnist and author. She has traveled to over 40 countries in 6 continents and reported and hosted shows for public radio and television. Her columns are taken from her journals and personal insights from traveling nationally and internationally throughout her life. Her book about returning to Blacksburg, Homecoming Journals, may be found online or in local bookstores.
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org