Review of Lajitas Golf Resort
We had heard a number of both good and bad things about a west Texas golf resort in Lajitas Texas called
So we decided to check it out as a part of our fun and adventurous 15 day trip exploring west Texas. We booked a couple rooms, a reservation for dinner, two spa treatments, and an ATV tour and headed from Dallas to Lajitas to experience it first hand. And now, we can't wait to go back and spend more time at this fabulous west Texas golf resort.
Imagine a place where the Comanche Indians once roamed, Pancho Villa led raids across the Rio Grande, cowboys sat around an open campfire, and miners drank whiskey at the Trading Post - all among dramatic Chisos mountain vistas and the borderland majesty of the Rio Grande River. Also imagine a revived ghost town converted into a classy, Old West-style resort community alongside the Rio Grande which has old west charm blended with modern day luxury; gourmet dining; championship golf; plenty of outdoor activities; and a range of spa treatments in an intimate and soothing atmosphere! That's some of what it's like when you stay at Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa, which is unquestionably one of the best resorts in Texas.
Lajitas has grown from a small luxurious cowboy hotel with a nine-hole golf course to a flourishing world class Resort & Spa facility. It is the first resort in Texas to be named a Leading Hotel of the World and in 2008 Lajitas was once again named as a AAA Five Diamond Award Winner for Quality and Service! Lajitas is now a mixed use development that includes a 103 room resort, 18 hole championship golf course, equestrian center, airport, and real estate development.
As I mentioned, prior to our visit, we had some mixed reviews about Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa. Good news - in February 2008, Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa changed hands and the new owners are making very significant changes to improve Lajitas and eliminate a lot of the past negatives you may have heard about the Resort. The former owner of Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa tried to capitalize on the remoteness of Lajitas by billing the Resort as "The Ultimate Hideout" and revamping it into a playground for the rich. Room rates were over $300 a night, the Ocotillo was designated as a swank restaurant with a dress code and a $50 steak plate, the golf course rates were "Pebble Beach Prices," and memberships were required for RVers to stay and play. All of that has now changed - Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa is no longer the "ultimate hideout" for the rich and famous! Some of the welcome changes include: the room rates have dropped significantly; the swank restaurant has changed into a events center and the Candelilla restaurant now serves reasonably priced contemporary American cuisine in a casual indoor or outdoor setting; golf course fees are affordable; RVers can stay in the Resort's RV Park (read our review of Maverick Ranch RV Park) and enjoy all of the resort amenities; the beautiful, 100-year-old Mission chapel is now the ideal setting for wedding ceremonies and the Franciscan friars who were asked to leave will now be welcomed back; gas pumps are coming in; and snobbery is going out.
Getting there can be a little demanding because Lajitas is way off the beaten track, which adds to it's character and charm. It's 320 miles east of El Paso, 245 south of Odessa, almost 600 from Dallas, and about 470 miles from San Antonio - but let me assure you, it is well worth the drive to get to stay at Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa and explore Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park, Terlingua, and the surrounding area - but don't try and do it in two days, give yourself plenty of time. If you're lucky enough to have a jet or know a friend with one, then you can fly into the Lajitas International Airport. If you can't find a friend with a Jet, Lajitas Resort is working with Resort Air Services and flying an Embraer private charter for 24 to 30 passengers out of Dallas each weekend and during the weekdays on demand. Regardless of how you get there, just plan a trip and get there - life is short and the Resort will be one of your top memories.
Golf At Lajitas Resort
The first time we visited Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa, the course (named Ambush) was closed thanks to records floods which overtook and damaged most of the course. Shortly after the flooding, the Resort hired professional golfer Lanny Wadkins to began a complete redesign of Ambush and Lanny designed a fun and challenging layout that is a mix of desert vistas and mountain holes with breathtaking views of the mountains, desert, and Rio Grande River. The course reopened in 2010 as Black Jack's Crossing Golf Course and quickly received rave reviews. Unfortunately, Mother Nature bit Lajitas again when severe freezing cold weather and snow gripped West Texas in late 2010 and early 2011, causing severe damage to the greens and fairways. The course was closed again for renovation and reopened in October 2011 and we were excited about playing in when we visited Lajitas Resort for Jimmy LaFave's Songwriter Rendezvous Music Festival in November 2011.
WOW, WOW, WOW!!!! What a stunning course and very unique to Texas. Breath taking views of the Rio Grande, the mountains, Mexico, and the desert; fun and demanding holes; lots of variety; good conditions; and reasonable rates all contributed to making Black Jack's Crossing one of the best courses in Texas. Read our review of Black Jack's Crossing Golf Course. Black Jack's Crossing should be on your bucket list of Texas courses you've got to experience.
Accommodations At Lajitas Resort
Talk about some great lodging, Lajitas offers 103 distinct and unique rooms located throughout the resort - from the cowboy chic of the Cavalry Post or Officers Quarters to the elegance of the new Boardwalk Suites or to the Cowboy bordello interiors of the Badlands Hotel. The four unique buildings offer several lodging choices and a range of prices. All of the lodging combines old west charm with all of the modern conveniences that you would expect and each room has a look and feel all it's own. Most of the resort is centered around or adjoining the resort square which includes the Badlands Hotel, Boardwalk Suites, Candellilla Cafe, shops, the bakery, meeting rooms, the Agave Spa, Thirsty Goat Saloon, Flat Rock Theater Company, an open air amphitheater for movies, and the medical clinic.
The Badlands Hotel is located in the center of the resort above the boardwalk and has 15 rooms which are reminders of the old west cowboy days and don iron beds, red velvet comforters, Mexican-tile bathrooms, and fabulous views of the valley and mountains. Across the courtyard from the Hotel are the luxury Boardwalk suites. There are both two bedroom and one bedroom suites that feature charming Southwestern decor, a large living room, complete kitchen, and a patio or balcony - perfect for a couples or small families.
La Cuesta is across Highway 170 from the boardwalk and is also excellent for families. The one bedroom suites are adjacent to a fantastic swimming pool and flanked by a lovely courtyard. Several of the rooms can be made to adjoin a standard room with a double queen bed. Each room's unique decor was inspired by characters of Big Bend's past and present. Overlooking the golf course and a few steps from the Spa are the Officer's Quarters. These 16 junior suites have patios or balconies with French doors opening to beautiful views of the golf course, mountains, and Rio Grande River; elegant rustic bedrooms; artistically tiled bathrooms; and beautiful landscaping around the building.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in two of the twenty eight rooms in the Cavalry Post which is also across the street from the boardwalk. The rooms are situated on the site where General John J. “BlackJack” Pershing’s cavalry post was built at the turn of the 20th century. This section of the resort has the true feel of a cavalry post and all but two of the rooms surround a well landscaped and tranquil reflecting pool. Each of the rooms has a unique decor ranging from cowboy chic with cowhide rugs and rough-hewn saddles to victorian with softer accoutrements and clawfoot tubs. One of our rooms was around the reflecting pool and included tile floors, comfortable unique western furniture, tile shower, large screen TV, and all the other conveniences you would expect like hair dryer, coffee maker, and more. Our other room was outstanding - it was one of the two cottages with kitchenettes and private patios just behind the Cavalry Post. The room was over sized and had a log poster king bed, comfortable wood chairs, kitchenette, and more.
For larger groups, there is a 3 bedroom house and 2 bedroom condos available for rent. If you have an RV, then Maverick Ranch is just down the hill from the resort and it has full hook-ups, WiFi, satellite TV, luxurious bathrooms with private showers, laundromat, new state of the art exercise room, and a great pool. Maverick Ranch also has indoor space for group gatherings and meetings. When you stay at Maverick Ranch, you can enjoy all of the resort amenities and activities at the then current rates.
Activities & Things To Do At Lajitas Resort
If you don't golf, you will not be bored when you stay at Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa. If you just want to relax and chill out, you can lounge by the pool, spend time at the spa, or enjoy time sitting on the patio taking in the magnificent views, sunrises, and sunsets. But, we recommend that you get off your can and take advantage of all the fun things to see and do in and around the Resort.
We were amazed and surprised at all there is to see and do in the area. Here is just a sampling of some of the great times we had when we stayed at the resort and in nearby Terlingua:
- ATV Tour - we took a guided ATV tour that was fantastic and led us through the desert, up and down the hills, and across the arroyos. The ATV's are new and very fast; the guide was outstanding and very knowledgeable of the desert, the history, and geology and parted with his knowledge on several short stops; and the scenery is stunning.
- Mountain Biking - we rode mountain bikes on some of the many rugged trails through the Lajitas desert on the 25,000 acres surrounding the Resort. There are a variety of trials of various lengths for a variety of skill levels and many are rough, strenuous, and technically difficult. The Resort rents mountain bikes and offers a variety of guided mountain bike tours - here is a link for more info on biking at the Resort. Route 170 to Terlingua or Presidio is conducive for road bikes. There are also miles of mountain bike trials in nearby Big Bend Ranch State Park.
- Scenic Drive - don't miss the 49 mile Route 170 out of Lajitas leading to Presidio which was chosen by Automobile Magazine in the April 2006 edition as one of the 20 most outstanding drives in America. National Geographic Magazine rated it as one of the most scenic roads in the country as well. Perhaps it is because of the many sheer precipitous drops to the Rio Grande, the majestic views of the mountains, or maybe just the raw desert landscape. A great trip and make sure you take your time and stop at all of the scenic overviews. Stop in Presido for lunch and slip across the border in Mexico for shopping, restaurants, and more.
- WorkIng Out The Kinks - nothing beats a great massage at the Agave Spa after biking, hiking, and golf. The Resort has a full range of spa services (facials, pedicures, body treatments, massages, and more) and we can highly recommend the Agavita - a traditional Swedish style massage utilizing medium strokes and kneading to help relax your tight and sore muscles - no more kinks and great stress relief from head to toe
- Hiking - it is an easy 20 mile drive to the entrance of Big Bend National Park which has miles of hiking trails for all skill levels and treks from one hour to multi-day. We particularly enjoyed these trails: Windows (you won't believe the view at the end of this trail), Boquillas Canyon (easy hike to the entrance to the canyon and a tall sand dune), Lost Mine (beautiful hike with majestic panoramic views), and Santa Elena Canyon (easy hike to the entrance of the majestic Santa Elena Canyon). To view some pictures and more of some of our hikes, check our .
- Chili Cook Off - part of the reason that we picked this time of the year to visit Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa was to attend the 42nd annual Terlingua Chili Cook Off - what a blast: lots of great people watching, good chili, excellent music, and lots of laughs. Here is a link for more info on our two days at the .
- Hanging With The Locals - although there is no need to leave the Resort, we wanted to get out and find out why people live in the desert hundreds of miles away from major shopping, traffic, Wal Mart, and high prices - maybe those are the reasons! We enjoyed a meal at the Starlight Theater, drinks and music at the unique La Kiva, hob knobbing with the locals on election night at the Boathouse, and lots more.
- River Rafting - you can't visit this area without taking a rafting/canoeing/kayaking trip down the Rio Grande. There are a variety of trips available that are primarily dependent upon river flow. We were lucky because the Rio Grande was flowing much faster than normal due to the flood and we had an outstanding full day of rafting half of which was the 1500' sheer walls of Santa Elena Canyon and the notorious Rockslide rapids - a fantastic trip which you can read more about by clicking here. One of the put in spots is just west of Lajitas and the Resort can schedule trips.
There are plenty of things to do to keep you busy for a week or more. In addition to the above, Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa has an outstanding equestrian center with a variety of trail rides; if you like skeet or sport clay shooting, there is five stand skeet shooting; better yet, there is Cowboy Action Shooting where you can step back in time and shoot a single action pistol, side-by-side shotgun, and a lever action rifle in a recreated cowboy town with plenty of targets for you gunslingers; you can tame it down and take a fossil tour; and depending on the season you can go dove or quail hunting.
Lajitas Hunt Club is a 650-acre track for hunting and also has "luxury" bunkhouse accommodations, a full bar, a commercial kitchen, seating for up to 65, and a screened porch with shuffleboard.
Adjacent to the Badlands Hotel, the Flat Rock Theatre Company is open for movies and plays, plus the Resort sponsors a number of seasonal events like concerts, 4th of July festivities, wine tasting, putting classes, Texas hold-em, cooking classes, and lots more - check out the Resort Events Calendar and plan your trip accordingly. Oh, and make sure you take a quick tour of the old Lajitas Trading Post which is now home to the world's largest Texas Longhorns exhibit.
Dining At Lajitas Resort
The Candelilla Café is excellent and serves contemporary American Cuisine enhanced with indigenous ingredients such as prickly pear and cactus. You can dine inside or on a fantastic patio with a fountain and majestic views of the golf course, Rio Grande, and mountains. When we stayed at Lajitas, the service was excellent, the prices were reasonable, and the food was outstanding.
We started with a sample appetizer plate made especially for us that was out of this world - we wondered if it could get any better than this or maybe we were in for the best meal ever! It turned out to be a combo of both - the Ribeye was tender and cooked as ordered, the grilled tilapia was excellent, the chicken mole sauce was perfect, but the pork tenderloin marinated in Negro Modelo bean and finished with mango jalapeno sauce made the evening! After all that good food plus beer, the infamous Prickly Pear Margarita (wow!), and a couple bloody Mary's, we were stuffed and ready to waddle home, when Jason, the Candelilla assistant manager, brought us a huge bread pudding topped with ice cream. Outstanding, we licked the plate clean and then waddled back to our room - good thing we didn't have to drive. Our thanks to Jason for outstanding service and attention to detail and to Executive Chef Blaz Gonzales for a really special dinner!
Our original plan was to head next door to the Thirsty Goat Saloon for one last night cap after dinner, but we never made it that evening. The Thirsty Goat is a very cool, comfortable, and enjoyable place to hang out for drinks, occasional live music, socializing, and casual dining. We made it the next night and had a great time meeting some of the guests, locals, and wait staff while we sat outside on a really neat patio enjoying some drinks around a fire pit and millions of stars above.
Candelilla is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can also enjoy coffee and fresh baked goodies on the patio at the bakery on the square. The Trading Post on the square has basic staples and some gift items.
Agave Spa At Lajitas Resort
The Agave Spa at Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa has three massage rooms, a facial room, and salon. They offer a variety of treatments ranging from Swedish Massages to manicures and pedicures. Aromatic and healing elements of the Chihuahuan Desert are the foundation for their treatments which are "designed to nourish both your body and soul."
Corporate Meetings, Retreats, Reunions, and Weddings At Lajitas Resort
Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa is perfect for corporate meetings, executive retreats, family or social reunions, or destination weddings. In addition to great lodging, good dining, fantastic golf, plenty of activities, you'll find over 6000 square feet of meeting space, catering, state-of-the-art equipment, and services designed to meet your needs. For example, the Resort can arrange for unique group activities like a shootout on the boardwalk, a West Texas BBQ on an antique chuckwagon, or a horseback ride down to the Comanche Creek War Trail.
For special events, the Ocotillo is truly the place to be. The Ocotillo is in an old ranch house with an expansive bar, a third-level observatory with unmatched views of the Rio Grande and Mexico, multiple patios, and a relaxed yet elegant atmosphere.
For weddings, there are several unique and beautiful ceremony sites including the Lajitas Chapel which is newly restored with saltillo tile, adobe walls, and hand-painted artistry. The chapel maintains its original 19th-century charm and has been designated a Historic Landmark. You also have excellent and unusual choices for the rehearsal dinner, reception, and honeymoon suite! Full catering and other wedding services are available. You could have your reception at the concert stage, at Ocotillo, by the pool, at the Calvary Post courtyard, the ballroom, or other choices.
What Are You Waiting For!
Bottom line, Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa is clearly one of the best and most unique resorts in Texas. From cowboy chic rugged luxury lodging to tons of activities and things to do, Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa may be a little difficult to get to, but it is well worth the trip. We are already making plans to return next year with the kids and grandkids. Make sure you like Lajitas Golf Resort on Facebook.