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Now more than ever, a summer staycation sounds like the ideal strategy for maintaining sanity and keeping your cool. From vino-fueled vacays to glam poolside getaways, here are five ideas for hip Houston-area hangs. By Evan W. Black
1. Wine Not!
Northwest of Houston, forested land beckons with wineries, golf — and uniquely hip tiny homes.
Nestled into the wooded wonderland of the Brazos Valley, about an hour outside Houston, is a collective of quaint cabins for rent. Getaway (17777 Deer Run Rd.), a national company offering convenient “mindful escapes” from 10 major cities, recently opened its largest outpost yet: 46 “tiny homes” on more than 140 acres — perfect for a socially distant weekend trip. Each cabin includes a queen bed, kitchenette, bathroom, and a grilling area with picnic tables and a fire pit. There’s a stash of complimentary snacks, and an option to purchase things like pasta and coffee on-site — but it might be a good idea to take a day trip to the nearby West Sandy Creek Winery (1773 FM 1791) for libations. The rustic-chic winery, currently open from 12pm-6pm Thurs.-Sun., is situated among the trees of the Sam Houston National Forest, and often features al fresco live music on weekend afternoons. Smack in between Getaway and West Sandy Creek is the stunning Bluejack National neighborhood and private club (bluejacknational.com) that boasts the first Tiger Woods-designed golf course in the country. Visitors can schedule a tour of the five-year-old community, which also includes a movie theater, sports fields, skate park and seven miles of private trails.
2. Style a While
In Uptown, score a sabbatical that’s still fashion-forward.
While an overseas vacation may not be a viable option this summer, Hotel Granduca offers a slice of Italian paradise to Houstonians. (Bonus! Locals who book a room by Aug. 30 receive 20 percent off, and complimentary breakfast.) A luxurious afternoon of lounging at the villa-style pool is a must — but so is a second wind, because across the street, Uptown Park has undergone a massive facelift, and new boutiques and restaurants like the upscale American spot Merus Grill await. Still want to shop? Take a stroll through the nearby River Oaks District, and find covetable pieces from top designers — and equally stylish cocktails at Loch Bar. Alternatively, spend the whole weekend curled up at the Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, thanks to its Bubbles & Breakfast package: a bottle of wine, in-room movie, and breakfast in bed. Or go big at The Post Oak Hotel, which can assist in booking private helicopter trips, shark feedings, tequila tastings and other unique excursions.
3. Urbane Oasis
The bustle of Downtown may be muted — but all the more reason to visit!
Just as Downtown Houston was realizing its potential outside of the workweek, Covid hit — hard. Theaters have pressed pause; stadiums remain empty. But a crop of high-end hotels and restaurants promise a delicious Downtown staycation. At press time, the still-new C. Baldwin remains closed — but once reopened, it’s the perfect spot to post up for a weekend. With the in-house Rosalie and neighboring Guard and Grace steakhouse, guests who opt to hunker down won’t go hungry. But a fleet of new dining halls offer a fun foodie tour of H-Town, with everything from tacos to sushi. Consider renting from the B-Cycle stations around town — or even a kayak from newly reopened Buffalo Bayou Adventures — to earn those calories. Or get pampered with Hotel Alessandra’s $249-per-night “relaxation escape” package, featuring a $100 spa credit and a plush robe to take home.
4. Center of it All
H-Town’s world-class medical complex has new hotels to match.
A lot of attention has been on the Med Center lately — but perhaps more should be paid to its two new hotels. The urbane InterContinental (6750 Main St.), with its rooftop pool and vacation-worthy happy-hour specials at Safina restaurant, is within walking distance of Rice Village, Hermann Park — and the amply air-conditioned spaces of the Museum District. While some remain closed, many venues have reopened with exciting new exhibits, like the MFAH’s Soul of a Nation show. (For more, see page 19.) Meanwhile, the Westin (1709 Dryden Rd.) has deployed “germ-zapping” robots to sanitize the hotel, including its stylish Terrace 54 restaurant.
5. Go West…
… and discover plenty to eat, drink and do in Memorial.
With shopping, restaurants, bars and even a bowling alley, CityCentre is something of a one-stop-staycation-shop. Its renamed The Moran hotel (800 Sorella Ct.) — currently offering Houstonians 30 percent off rooms through September — boasts weekend live music on its poolside patio, overlooking the ever-evolving center that will soon include a Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream shop and Yi Peng Thai food. The complex is planning a July 4 celebration with all-day concerts on its plaza. Just down the Katy Freeway, the ZaSpa (9787 Katy Fwy.) at Memorial City is a nice spot to unwind before venturing across I-10 for a drink at the new Kirby Ice House Memorial (1015 Gessner Rd.), which boasts a 120-foot bar and 22,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor space ripe for socially distant drinking.
The new CityPlace mixed-use development at I-45 and the Grand Parkway offers a beautifully remodeled Marriott overlooking 290 acres of parks and trails. Refuel after a ride with bites from Island Grill (below) or Common Bond — then take a dip in the pool.
Margaritaville Lake Conroe
The just-opened lifestyle resort, formerly La Toretta, has 32 waterfront cottages and 300 hotel rooms, plus a golf course, spa, and five bars and restaurants — all you need for a laid-back lake-cation.
The Woodlands Resort
A fun package includes a midweek stay with two bonus guest passes for the pool and lazy river. Chill out with treats from the poolside ice cream parlour, and frosé at the Cool Water Café.
One of the oldest structures on Galveston Island, Carr Mansion has found new life as a charming bed and breakfast on the East End. Each bedroom has a unique design that feels more like a home than a hotel; buy out all eight for a special rate, and enjoy a safe and solitary trip with loved ones.
Eric & Jay’s RV Resort
Local businessmen Eric Houston and Jay Fields are driving into a new venture — a luxury RV resort in South Houston. A modern clubhouse, pool and grilling gazebo overlook a stocked pond, and more than 100 slips are available for rent starting at $56 per night.