Luxury Hill Country Escape

If you say "Cadillac" to most people and they think of two things the Escalade or classic cars with big fins. Despite the reputation for building some of the largest and most ostentatious vehicles in history, Cadillac's top-selling model is the compact XT5 crossover. But does the XT5 live up to the Cadillac lifestyle? To find out I headed to the Texas Hill Country for a luxury retreat at Contigo Ranch and a game of golf at one of the most exclusive courses in Texas.  

It would be about a three-hour drive to Fredericksburg, so I would get a good impression of how the Cadillac would perform. A quick stop to pick up my golfing partner Bruce and we would be on our way. The XT5 shares a platform with the Chevrolet Blazer which I have already driven, so I was excited to see how different it would feel on the road. The first test would be if it could hold luggage, my camera case, and two golf bags, surprisingly only of our bags had to into the back seat. 

On the road, the Cadillac is smooth and more refined than its bow-tie brethren, the remarkably quiet V6 produces 310 horsepower which is more than enough for a crossover of this size and worth the $1,000 price increase over the turbo four-cylinder. Once we got to some of the twisty roads of Hill Country the XT5 was surprisingly well-composed, it's not sporty, but I wasn't expecting it to be, it felt solid and smooth... it felt like a Cadillac. 

The interior is refined but understated, the carbon fiber and aluminum accents are about as dramatic as it gets, it is comfortable and the layout of the controls, especially the console-mounted infotainment, is more intuitive than many vehicles in this segment. The wireless inductive phone-charging slot in the console also works well and fits even larger phones, however, you will still need to plug in to take advantage of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

As we get closer to Fredericksburg signs for wineries get more frequent and the traffic gets a little heavier. We would just be passing through town before heading to our accommodations for the night at Contigo Ranch, a luxury guest ranch just twenty minutes north of the city. The property is the vision of fourth-generation ranchers Frede and Claudia Edgerton, who wanted to create a different kind of guest ranch and event space. The Edgerton's took thirty years of hospitality experience and tapping the next generation of family members including arborists, interior designers, and restauranteurs to blend modern design and comfort seamlessly into the natural beauty of Hill Country.    

The property has lodging in two distinct areas, one features classic Swiss log cabins with large porches and spacious floorplans. The second, a short drive up the hill towards the back of the property offers modern cabins, a larger stone house, and a string of rooms that overlook the valley and event center space. The clean modern lines mixed with rustic leather, wood, and wool are the perfect mix of rustic luxury. The log cabins feature amenities like a full-size fireplace, in-room jacuzzi tubs, and large living areas with kitchenettes. Wifi is also available at the ranch so you can choose how much you want to really disconnect. 

There is no onsite restaurant at Contigo, however, each morning a basket with breakfast items is delivered to your door, but lunch and dinner will require you to head into town or use the kitchenette in your room. We didn't pack any groceries, so we opted to head downtown. Fredericksburg is famous for German food, but if you are craving something a little less Bavarian, I would suggest August E’s, one of my personal favorites where Chef Lue Savanh blends traditional Texas and European cuisine with classic dishes from Asia. But with dozens of restaurants that range from fast-casual to fine dining finding something to eat has never been a problem in Fredericksburg.

After dinner, the drive back to Contigo Ranch felt longer, perhaps it was the darkness, but as we made our way back onto the property and away from the city lights the number of stars that could be seen was breathtaking. I dropped Bruce off at his room up on the hill and head down to my cabin, I spend a little time sitting in the rocking chair on the porch listening to crickets and watching the occasional deer dart across the path near the cabin. With rooms starting at just $155 a night, Contigo Ranch is an amazing value for a truly unique country retreat. 

Up bright and early, it is time to head to Boot Ranch, one of the most exclusive golf courses in the world, winner of Clubhouse of the Year by Golf Inc., and often cited as the best private club in the state of Texas. Playing a round of golf at Boot Ranch is strictly reserved for members and their guests, so it was a rare treat for non-members. The Hal Sutton-designed golf course is known for its sweeping views has been called challenging yet extremely fun to play. Bruce who is a much more avid golfer was very excited about the course, we had perfect weather and an early tee-time.

After checking in at the main gate, we drove up to the clubhouse, perched high on a hill overlooking the course it's a study in Hill Country architecture. Pulling up, the parking attendant waved us down and asked that I open the rear hatch so he could remove our golf clubs, another attendant took the Cadillac and we made our way down to the Pro Shop to check in. Our tour of Boot Ranch would begin at the 55,000 square foot clubhouse, which has a men's locker room that is by far the most luxurious I have ever experienced. Overstuffed leather chairs, large lounge areas, steam rooms, and of course taxidermied porcupines.

Even as guests for the day we were shown to our lockers which had our names on them, we were to be given the full club experience. The valet showed us around the locker room and even pointed out some of the more notable member's lockers like Nolan Ryan and former President George H.W. Bush who's locker bares the Presidental Seal, his membership is continued posthumously and the club takes great pride in preserving his legacy as a member.  receives a pair of custom Boots made by famed bootmaker M.L. Leddy of Fort Worth. He then showed us the restaurant, bistro, and outdoor lounge areas, pointing out to distant amenities like the skeet shooting range, the Ranch Club, and Longhorn Lake.

Heading outside we met by our caddie who points us to the golf cart and suggests we head to the 34-acre Practice Park to warm up. After swinging a few drives and missing several puts we head to the first tee. The course is serene, one of the benefits of playing a private course, the only sound on the course comes from the construction that is happening as Boot Ranch has been attracting several new members. While originally membership to the club could be purchased for six figures, today membership is contingent on being a property owner. With home sites ranging from high $200K to $2.5 million, Boot Ranch has become one of the most exclusive clubs in all of Texas.

The course is carved out of the native Hill Country designed to complement the natural terrain and native plants that make up the rough. The contrast between the wild native grasses and the impeccably maintained fairways and greens makes Boot Ranch one of the prettiest golf courses I have ever seen and by far the most beautiful course in Texas I have had the pleasure of playing. The course is more challenging than it looks and was designed to test every part of your game, it requires more finesse and accuracy than distance. When in doubt, listen to your caddie.

While the golf was amazing and the clubhouse luxurious, the staff is what really makes Boot Ranch stand out as one of the single best experiences I have had at a club. Even though we were just guests for the day, at every step of our experience the staff was amazing, professional, and attentive. It is easy to understand why so many new members have bought into the Boot Ranch lifestyle, while it is a retreat it still is a community. With over forty new homes under construction and nearly half of the recently added Nordenhill phase already sold out, homesites are going fast.

After wrapped up our round of golf we headed into the clubhouse for lunch, the tacos are amazing, then over to the pro-shop to pick up a few things before heading back towards College Station. As we made our way to the valet stand the Cadillac was parked up front already waiting, our golf bags carefully loaded inside, it was time to go home.

For more tips on visiting Fredericksburg, check out my full guide here. See more of our photos from the trip on our Facebook Page.