There are nearly 200 lakes and reservoirs across Texas that are larger than 5,000 acre-feet, according to the Texas Almanac released annually by the Texas State Historical Association. With so many large bodies of water weaving through the state, it’s little wonder there are so many options when planning a waterside retreat. Water skiing, beaches and even crushing cars with heavy equipment are all possible at these lakeside retreats.
La Torretta Lake Resort and Spa
MONTGOMERY, LAKE CONROE
About an hour north of Houston, Montgomery County is known for the lush greenery of the Sam Houston National Forest and the marinas and yacht clubs that dot Lake Conroe.
Seated on the shores of the lake, La Torretta Lake Resort and Spa provides more than 70,000 square feet of IACC-approved conference space and a private golf course for lakeside golfing tournaments or team-building golf outings.
The resort has mix-and-match meeting packages with the option of choosing tennis, golf and spa treatments, or any of the outdoor recreation activities offered through the hotel. Canoeing and fishing are both options for getting in some lake time before or after sessions.
The resort is built to accommodate large conferences or smaller retreat groups, with 19 different conference and meeting rooms. Since 2009, the resort has won multiple service awards each year from magazines, travel websites, newspapers and groups like the Automobile Association of America and the International Association of Conference Centers.
The Cliffs Resort
GRAFORD, POSSUM KINGDOM LAKE
Sheer bluff walls surround much of Possum Kingdom Lake, along with sloping, rolling hills and thick trees and shrubbery. Located less than an hour northwest of Fort Worth, this resort sits 200 feet above the lake, nestled in a truly unusual Texas landscape.
The facility has a private golf course, marina and spa and fitness center. From its perch above the lake, the resort has gorgeous views of gently sloping hills and the crystal blue water of Possum Kingdom Lake.
“We have plenty of wildlife—we have deer that’ll come right up and eat out of your hand,” says Wendy Ridgway, group sales manager for the resort.
With 75 rooms and event space that accommodates up to 200 people, the resort has become popular for scenic lakeside weddings and corporate retreats. Its proximity to Dallas-Fort Worth and the scenic sharp cliffs that surround the lake make this a memorable venue people talk about during an event.
Tanglewood Resort and Conference Center
POTTSBORO, LAKE TEXOMA
And now for something completely different … crushing cars lakeside using heavy equipment.
Extreme Sandbox, a Minnesota-based heavy equipment adventure company, wanted to open a second location and turned to Tanglewood Resort and Conference Center. Beginning in April 2016, Tanglewood guests could drive a 26-ton excavator or bulldozer, help crush a car and ride around in a firetruck. The company offers group bookings and team-building exercises “built” around operating heavy equipment together.
Of course, Tanglewood offers more traditional lake activities, like relaxing on the beaches of Lake Texoma, boating, fishing, water skiing or hiking through the adjacent Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge. Banquet and ballroom space is available for meetings and retreats that range from five to 500 participants.
Canyon of the Eagles Resort
BURNET, LAKE BUCHANAN
Overlooking Lake Buchanan in the center of Hill Country, the aptly named Overlook Restaurant sits on a hill and offers a panoramic view of the lake and wildlife below. The Overlook is part of Canyon of the Eagles Resort, and chef and Food and Beverage Director Matthew Wayland says it offers some of the greatest views in the state.
Stretching more than 940 acres, the grounds are home to 15 miles of hiking trails and 6,000 square feet of customizable indoor/outdoor space for up to 230 people. “Our menu has some wild game—we have a lot of game in the park and a lot of fish and seafood. We also have a lot of vegetarian items,” Wayland says.
Food is a cornerstone of the Canyon of the Eagles experience, he says, even when it comes to group activities. “We do a burger cook-off team-building exercise, chef demos, we’ll bring down antelope and things,” Wayland says.
He’s quick to point out Lake Buchanan is finally full again after years of low levels due to drought. “Business has boomed. The lake was down for about five years, and I think everyone learned from that experience,” Wayland says.
A new park store has been launched on the lake to accommodate guests boating in and enjoying the lake.
Lakeway Resort and Spa
AUSTIN, LAKE TRAVIS
With glass walls overlooking Lake Travis, the 24,000-square-foot meeting and event space at Lakeway Resort and Spa is modern and industrial with hints of nature found in stretches of interior wood paneling. The space is divided into 17 meeting rooms with 12 breakout rooms and four ballrooms.
What makes this lake resort special? One of the featured activities at Lakeway is its full regatta team-building activity. Up to a hundred participants break out into teams of three, man a sailboat and compete in a regatta while being coached along by facilitators and coordinators.
For the nonsailing inclined, the activities staff can organize fishing tournaments on the lake, mixology contests and photo scavenger hunts that take teams out to explore the lake and the grounds.