My wife and I and our two mules, Reba and Sarah stayed at Lajitas the week after Christmas through New Years day. It was intended to be a 2 day stay on our way to Arizona but we ended up staying 5 nights.
First of all, the name; Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa is very misleading. Lajitas is (or at least could be) so much more than a golf resort. But since that’s what they called it, my wife and I got massages and facials and took a golf cart tour of the course. The spa was excellent, and the Lanny Watkins designed course was close to insane!!! I’m not an avid golfer, but this course was amazing with spectacular views and obviously one of the most difficult courses in the nation if not the world. Some holes had as much as a 300 foot change in elevation from tee to green and you can forget about an even lie. They provide clubs but if you bring your own, bring a small iron you don’t mind damaging. There is no out of bounds but the ruff is rocks!
So I understand their desire to promote it as a golf resort but Lajitas is actually a vacation destination within over a million acres of some of the most remote and beautiful area in the nation and they offer rooms and activities that are appropriately styled and take advantage of the area. And by the way, they have an awesome golf course.
When we first arrived, we met with O.K. Estes. O. K is the director of the equine center and we stabled our equine and scheduled riding lessons. O. K is the “Real Deal” and widely known as an excellent horse trainer and World Champion Cutting Horse Rider. One hour in the round pen with O.K. taught my wife and I more than we had learned with all other equine professional combined. After a couple of sessions we went on a trail ride across some moderately difficult terrain and had a good ride. I had recently had a very bad wreck on my mule breaking 3 ribs and tearing a shoulder. In two days, O. K. had restored a confidence in me and my mule that I wasn’t sure I would ever get back. O. K. would probably call me a liar if he read s this, but we left the girls with him as he agreed to take them in for training to reestablish their foundation and finish them off.
After a couple of nights staying in the lodge, we moved over to the properties RV Park and spent the remainder of our stay in our horse trailer with living quarters. The RV Park is another one of the hidden gems of Lajitas that the name ignores. Big pull threws, great views, community center with pool, laundry and all of the amenities that go with the resort are available to the Rver’s as well.
As far as the hotel itself, we were generally pleased. Some complained it was not “resort quality”, but it is area appropriate to the era and style of the surrounding environment and similar to other regional hotels such as the Gage in Marathon, the Paisano in Marfa, the La Fonda in Santé Fe or Stockyards in Ft Worth. It is not a Las Vegas or Caribbean style resort.
The food was excellent although as some have said, it is a little pricey. But note to traveler, everything except rocks are a little pricey in West Texas do to the remoteness of the area and the transportations cost to bring in product. The grilled swordfish was excellent but it wasn’t caught in the Rio Grande. Be prepared to spend 20% more on most commodity items throughout far West Texas.
So In summary, this is how I perceive the strengths and weaknesses of Lajitas.
They should broaden their public identity to include more than golf. The golf course is outstandingly fabulous but not the only thing they have. Golf is a 72 billion dollar industry in the US but the horse industry is a 107 billion dollar industry and RV travel is probably bigger than the other two combined. The combination of equine facilities, RV Park, thousands of sections of wilderness and an excellent restaurant and bar is a horse lovers dream. Get that message out and improve the equine and Rv Facilities. Horse stalls, lighted arenas and picnic tables are cheap compared to golf carts and greens.
Hire a concierge and staff. Have them promote all the other activities and book all activities through them. There seemed to be too much miss communications and too many different people for guest to deal with.
Unfortunately, my wife thought the jewelry shop was great adding a significant cost to the trip.
The staff is very friendly and work hard but the resort seemed to be a little understaffed causing longer than normal wait times and minor cleanliness issues. This gives the chronically impatient and annoying people reasons to complain.
Occasionally, thoroughly steam clean the old adobe brick rooms. Some complained about the smell. I have found the same smell in an 800 dollar a night stone concept suite in Dallas. Closed natural stone rooms get musky and cleaning staff will get use to the smell and not notice it.
Expanding an all inclusive package would give guest a better ability to budget the actually cost of their stay.
My personal pet peeve is they allowed children in the bar which I find inappropriate. Most of the children in the bar seemed to be there because of the big screen TV and lounging chairs, not because they wanted a Vodka Collins or to gaze and the 6 foot picture over the bar of a semi nude woman. A children’s activity room with TVs, games and computers would be a great addition to the property!
And finally, take full advantage of the uniqueness of Big Bend by organizing and promoting annually recurring trail rides, horse clinics and sales, hunts and golf tournaments that allow guest to plan well in advance when they can schedule vacations to take advantage of well organized events that suite their individual activities and allow them to socialize with others from across the nation with similar interests.
Lajitas and Big Bend in general, is a great destination for so many different outdoor enthusiasts. The RVer, Harley rider, mountain biker, hunter, painter, photographer, golfer and equine enthusiast will all find something to do there and the Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa is certainly the top facility in the area to use as base camp for so many different activities.