Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa

Crime is afoot at the Cactus Oak Tavern, and the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa needs your help to find out whodunnit.

From May 27 to August 12, the San Antonio-area resort will be hosting an interactive murder mystery every Saturday at the Cactus Oak Tavern. Doors open at 6:45 pm with the event itself starting promptly at 7 pm sharp. Each $60 ticket includes the ability to participate in solving the murder mystery of the night (and yes, the theme of each week's murder mystery will rotate!) full access to an open bar, and a selection of appetizers.

There will be prizes for guests who correctly guess the murderer as well! (Whoever pulls off the most convincing "I'm not the murderer" act of the night may also win a prize for their Academy Award-winning acting skills.)

You don't actually have to stay at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa in order to reserve a spot (or two) at one of the Saturday murder mystery events. However, if you do book a staycation there, you'll get to enjoy $50 million dollars worth of recent renovations.

Another option to extend the night after the murder mystery is solved is by dining in at one of the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa's in-house restaurants. Guests can choose from two options if mystery-solving stirs up your appetite: For anyone craving classic bar fare, head to Charlie's Long Bar, which features a menu full of comfort food favorites, from nachos, ribs, pulled pork tacos, fish and chips, and more. Charlie's serves food until 10 pm on Saturday nights (they're open until midnight otherwise.)

Option two is for the fine dining foodie guest: Antler's Lodge is open Saturday nights until 9:30 pm and features a menu full of wild-game centric cuisine, from a wild game sausage trio appetizer to main courses like chili coffee rubbed elk tenderloin, multiple cuts of fine steak, and more.

In other words – if you're looking for a fun, full Saturday night this summer, the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa has you covered.

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Austin neighbor booms as 4th fastest-growing U.S. college town, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From Austin, to San Marcos, to Hye, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. Austin neighbor booms as 4th fastest-growing U.S. college town, report says. San Marcos' population in 2000 was 36,120; in 2023 the population has nearly doubled to 70,372.

2. Exclusive pickleball club scores space in East Austin. Other Racquet Social Club brings three tournament regulation pickleball courts to a large lot protected from the surrounding area by trees, fences, and buildings.

3. Austin keeps movers on speed dial as No. 1 city for recent moves, says report. The study reflects people moving around Austin as well as moving into it, so it's not just new Austinites being counted.

4. Extraordinary self-sustaining Hill Country ranch hits the market for $8.75 million. Past the gate is 260-plus acres of land, a one-acre pond, and four fully-furnished buildings.

5. Austin golf course scores title from Texas Monthly as one of the state's best. The publication says Austin's Roy Kizer Golf Course maintains the "unpretentious flavor" of Austin before it got so big.

Country icon Willie Nelson returns to traditional 'hillbilly' inspiration in new album

The Red Headed Stranger goes Blue

Almost as much as Willie Nelson is known for Austin, he's known for Nashville — and for subverting it. The 90-year-old singer has made an iconic, and extremely long career of conforming to and bucking against musical expectations, and now he's circled back around to tradition — without losing his own sound.

Nelson's new LP, Bluegrass, is his first album-length tribute to the traditional country genre. Yet, released on September 15, it's not even his first album of 2023. It follows I Don't Know A Thing About Love: The Songs of Harlan Howard, a tribute to the Nashville songwriter who gave folks "I Fall to Pieces."

Bluegrass, in a way, is Nelson's genre-bent tribute to his own work. The setlist gathers a dozen of the songwriter and his fans' "favorite" songs he wrote, according to a press release, re-rendered with a bluegrass ensemble.

The focus on orchestration highlights that this is a collaborative effort by the amiable, but largely solo performer. One song, "Good Hearted Woman," is the only track on the album not just written by Nelson, thanks to the similar creative genius of outlaw country great Waylon Jennings. Willie's son, Micah Nelson, created the cover art: an appropriately blue portrait of the singer with warm undertones and a wreath of familiar recreational leaves. The album was produced by Willie's longtime collaborator Buddy Cannon.

Willie Nelson BluegrassNelson's son created the cover art — in blue, of course.Image courtesy of Willie Nelson; created by Micah Nelson

Even if a listener doesn't recognize each song on the album, Nelson's voice is as unmistakeable as ever. Against a bluegrass arrangement, it floats undisturbed and unhurried. At times, it even sounds like Nelson and the band are performing in different meters, the band bustling along cheerfully while the singer lounges around the beat — but never on it.

In fact, listeners who avoid Bluegrass may find their tune changes when listening to these laid-back renditions. "Still Is Still Moving To Me" brings the more frenetic tempo and multi-part harmonies that the genre is known for at its most ferocious; but iconic songs like "Sad Songs and Waltzes" and "Yesterday's Wine" may not even strike listeners as bluegrass if they're not listening for it — just very string-heavy traditional country tunes.

"On the Road Again," "Man With the Blues," and album-opener "No Love Around" are perhaps the tracks that benefit the most from the Bluegrass treatment. All three seem a little more cheerful, a little more upbeat, and a little more reassuring than their original forms. There's nothing warmer than hearing the iconic "On the Road Again" melody on gut strings — except perhaps listening to the country legend offer his "advice" over that plucky, self-assured backcountry orchestra.

Most important, the arrangements rework rather than rewriting the songs. None of the renditions give off an air of hokeyness or trying to shake things up; These are just great country songs that sound even better with a banjo. It makes sense that the change in instrumentation wouldn't shift much, since according to the release, Nelson decided to record the tribute because the style informed so much of his natural songwriting style.

"Using his own catalog as source material, in the spirit of traditional bluegrass sourcing hillbilly folk music, Willie chose songs combining the kind of strong melodies, memorable storylines and tight ensemble-interplay found in traditional bluegrass interpretations of the roots (from European melodies to African rhythms) of American folk songs," acknowledges the release.

By Texas Monthly'scount (shared in the release), this is Nelson's 151st album. Avid collectors can look forward to a 12-inch special edition pressed in blue vinyl, available for purchase on September 29. Preorder ($29.98) at willienelson.com.

This year the songwriter was honored with a five-part documentary series, a blowout 90th birthday concert, the naming of a prestigious arts endowment by the University of Texas at Austin, and two Grammy Awards. His book, Energy Follows Thought: The Stories Behind My Songs, comes out October 23. He will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame days later, on November 3.

Listen to Bluegrass on your favorite streaming platform. More information is available at willienelson.com.

Homebuyer confidence is growing in Austin with an August increase in closed home sales

real estate report

The Austin Board of Realtors has revealed a more optimistic outlook on Austin's housing market, with the latest data showing the first increase in closed home sales year-over-year since February 2022. More closed sales and a gradual increase of housing inventory convey growing buyer confidence throughout the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan statistical area (MSA).

2023 ABoR president Ashley Jackson said in the report that with the increased inventory, buyers can afford to be pickier about the homes they want to purchase. It's especially prevalent for first-time homebuyers to own a house that "checks all the boxes."

"When compared to the past two years of highly competitive market activity, this is both a welcome reprieve and perfect opportunity for buyers looking to enter the market," Jackson said. "Now is the time to take advantage of the increase in leverage that buyers now have."

The slight boost of housing inventory in the MSA is good news, but supply is still limited overall, according to ABoR housing economist Clare Losey, Ph.D.

"ABoR’s Central Texas Housing Development Fees Analysis, released in July 2022, shows that Austin’s drastically high development fees pose a significant barrier to new home construction and thereby diminish growth of our housing supply, especially when compared to other development fees in other Central Texas cities and major metropolitan Texas areas," Losey said. "Higher mortgage rates have led potential sellers to wait longer before entering the market, further constraining the supply of homes for sale."

Losey says it will get harder to predict the state of the housing market through the rest of 2023, as interest rates are likely to increase again before the end of the year.

Median home prices dropped slightly to $460,000 in the Austin-Round Rock MSA, which is a 7.6 percent decrease year-over-year from August 2022. Closed sales rose to 2,939 in August; a 1.4 percent increase. Homes are spending an average of 60 days on the market, which is 28 more days than this time last year.

Travis County
Over 1,350 homes were sold in August of 2023 in Travis County, with median prices dropping almost 5 percent year-over-year to $534,000. There were 4,772 active listings on the market; about 18 percent more than August 2022.

Williamson County
More than 970 homes were sold in August, with median prices sitting at $435,516. There were 1,241 new home listings in Williamson County, with a total 2,867 active home listings.

Hays County
A total of 417 homes were sold in August in Hays County, with median prices continuing to fall to $394,990. Pending sales were up by 8.2 percent year-over-year, while active listings had also risen 33.9 percent to 1,550 homes.

Bastrop County
Bastrop remains the county with the highest inventory in the MSA at 4.8 months' worth, which is 1.2 months more than August of 2022. 154 homes were sold this past August, and median prices are just under $340,000 (a 15 percent decrease). There are 28 percent more active listings on the market in Bastrop County, coming out to 586 homes.

Caldwell County
Homes in Caldwell County sold for a median of $299,990 in July, which is a 6.9 percent drop year-over-year. 42 homes were sold last month, nearly 18 percent less than the year before, and there are 180 active homes on the market. In a massive uptick in new home listings, Caldwell County had 92 new homes on the market in August, or 61.4 percent more than this time last year.