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APHA
Wanderlust—Travel & Adventure

Hill Country Paradise

Experience the serenity of wide-open spaces with a touch of Texas lifestyle and luxury.

By Raquel Lynn

Miles away from deafening, bustling, restless urban environments, JL Bar Ranch, Resort & Spa in Sonora, Texas, is a sactuary, nestled in the sprawling Texas Hill Country. Dotted with cacti, mesquite and jagged rocks, the arid, undisturbed land offers a tranquil escapefrom the go-go-go demands of everyday life. Pampering guests with warm hospitality, chef-prepared culinary excellence, well-appointed cabins and activities to suit every fancy, JL Bar Ranch’s alluring atmosphere offers a perfect balance of luxury and isolation.

A Welcoming Place

Mike Hetherman of Palm Springs, California, visited JL Bar Ranch last summer with his wife, Cathy, and fondly recalls driving through the impressive gates leading into theranch.

“I’ve never been on land so vast,” Mike said. “When you arrive at the gates and a signsays you’re 1.5 miles away from the lodge, you experience this anticipation of ‘Where am I?’ ”

Owned by James and Lois Archer, the couple’s love for the ranch is felt in every detail, from the thoughtfully curated décor to the activities that relish in all the land has to offer. The Hethermans were impressed by the couple’s genuine care for their staff and guests and spoke highly of James and Lois.

“It’s not a Marriott; it’s their ranch. There’s a real warmth that comes from within,” Mike said. “The main lodge feels like you’re sitting in Lois’ living room, and personal connection makes this such a special space.”

Stephanie McVeigh, director of sales at the ranch, describes the Texas splendor’s luxurious accommodations and amenities—comparable to those of a St. Regis hotel, though the ranch is much more than a lavish resort.

“You don’t feel like a hotel guest—you feel like a member of the family,” Stephanie said.

A stunning, stone edifice, the main lodge serves as the ranch’s reception area, whereguests check in, mingle or savor specialty cocktails. The back of the lodge opens to a spacious veranda overlooking the ranch’s 13,000 acres and offers breathtaking views.

“It’s hard to describe a place so beautiful and welcoming,” Mike said.

Lois’ vision for décor, architecture and design is felt throughout the ranch’s 32 sumptuousguest accommodations. Luxury meets creature comfort in tastefully curated rooms, each brimming with custom-made furniture, woven textiles and plush linens, ensuring guests are as excited about resting as they are seizing the day. As Mike and Cathy opened the door to their cabin and newfound sanctuary, he recalls feeling like the weight of the world dropped off his shoulders.

“As soon as we walked in the door, we both had an almost emotional reaction,” Mike said. “The ranch even included pillows specifically monogrammed for us; we were so surprised.”

The ranch’s all-inclusive packages allow guests to enjoy an afternoon snack or cocktail without the hassle of dipping into their wallets each time. Senior Executive Chef Michael Collins brings a sophisticated touch to Texas Hill Country dishes—smoked-cheddar-loaded macaroni and cheese, crispy pork belly, barbecue beef brisket, fried green tomatoes and JL Bar’s toppings-loaded signature nachos are just a handful of menu favorites.

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This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Spring 2020 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.

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