The Van Keppels, the Montagues, and the Dvoracheks have a few things in common: They’re all Houstonians who typically vacationed with their families in Colorado or California—until they visited Boot Ranch.
“It’s my happy place,” says Andrea Dvorachek, who, along with her husband and two young daughters, owns a share in one of the Sunday Houses at the private-club community in Fredericksburg. Indeed, Boot Ranch is beloved by Texans for its luxurious amenities and exclusive atmosphere, including a Hal Sutton Signature golf course, three heated pools, athletic courts, a 55,000-square foot clubhouse, and brand-new adventures on Longhorn Lake, where children can take a swinging bridge from treetop to treetop or hop onto a Huck Finn–style raft that leads to jumping platforms. “My girls screamed when they saw it!” says Dvorachek.
Nature and Nurture
While some members live at Boot Ranch year-round, or build custom vacation homes on lots that range from one-half to 18 acres, the Sunday Houses offer members a chance to spend six to eight weeks a year in a four- to six-bedroom home that’s impeccably decorated in rustic-chic ranch style. Eight families share the ownership of each Sunday House, and divide its use and operational expenses, which include daily maid service. The Dvoracheks have been Sunday House #1 owners for five years now, and love the opportunity to have a second home without any responsibility for maintaining it. And because the lineage-style membership applies to the greater family as well (think grandparents, grown children, grandkids), it’s become the chosen place for the Dvoracheks to host their relatives from up North.
The Dvoracheks discovered Boot Ranch through golfing—Andrea’s husband played the course while on business—but they weren’t really looking for a vacation home. But after her husband came back raving about it each time, she finally decided it was time to get in on the fun. Though she doesn’t golf, her girls are increasingly interested in the game and play often while there. Meanwhile, she goes to the Pilates and yoga classes and the cocktail parties for members, including special “slab” gatherings—that celebrate when a member’s newly-built home’s studs are put in—with food, live music, and an open invitation to get to know your neighbors. Often, those neighbors end up being acquaintances from their Houston country club or friends of friends.
“Every time we go there, the sky at night, seeing the stars, you just don’t get that in the city. We just love it,” says Andrea. “My husband and I say that it’s nice to be able to get out of the city and bring them here so they can have the childhood we did. It just takes my breath away every time I’m there. It’s Boot Ranch for the soul.”
Modern Living Meets Texan Tradition
Jim and Vicki Montague’s children are grown—they now have several grandchildren—but they decided to stop in for a tour after visiting cousins who lived nearby. “My husband and I looked at each other and said that this was the first place we’d ever been where we actually wanted to own the place,” says Vicki. “And I will tell you, we have stayed at a lot of fabulous resorts and considered a lot of places for second homes, but this is the only place we’ve been that really fits a year-round situation.” She points to the people, the amenities, and the privacy as the ultimate selling points. She loves that there are two separate clubs: the Ranch Club, with activities like swimming, basketball, tennis, archery, and the main Clubhouse, with a spa, exercise room, and restaurant.
While the Montagues have stayed in the member Lodge Suites many times, Sunday House #5, which was completed in December, was just too special to pass up. “The rooms are beautifully done and fit so well into the Hill Country style while still being elegant,” says Vicki. “If I built a home, I don’t know if I could have decorated it as well. It’s so nice to be able to have maid service and exquisite furnishings. There’s even a wonderful woman, Karen, who works with the Sunday Houses, and you can email her your list of groceries and she’ll pick everything up and stock your house.” And while her grandson loves the fishing and trap shooting best, Vicki is a sucker for the casual but traditional Texan atmosphere that pervades at Boot Ranch. “Being a Southern girl, I love that on weekend nights men are required to wear a coat in the dining area—even though they can pair it with jeans and a cowboy shirt,” she says, chuckling.
Carrying On Family Legacies
The Van Keppels found their way to Boot Ranch via a close friend’s 60th birthday party and then a wedding held on the property. Each time they went, they fell more in love with the tranquility of the ranch. Now they own a share in Sunday House #5, and their own daughter got married there a year ago. The Van Keppels have three grown children and one grandchild, and Cindy Van Keppel remembers that it was difficult to find a place for them all to vacation together. But with the Sunday House’s five bedrooms (including a bunk room), and the club’s family-friendly facilities, that’s no longer the case. “When our kids were growing up, we’d go to Galveston and rent a beach house,” says Cindy. “We’re trying to carry that tradition forward into the next generation.” Cindy’s particular fondness for Boot Ranch is tied to the service. “It’s not snobby, but they’re just really into customer service, from the bartender to the guy who runs the golf carts. They know your name and always ask how they can help you,” she says.
While the Van Keppels belong to a golf and country club back in Houston, it’s large and they’ll never know everyone there. But at Boot Ranch, Cindy says it’s much more intimate, and people really get to know each other’s families. “It’s just good people,” she says. She also loves that she can go with just her husband, with the kids, or with girlfriends, and experience something different each season. And like the other families, she welcomes the drier air and the undulating hills.
Shares in Boot Ranch’s new Sunday Houses start at $325,000 and resales shares start at $280,000. Find more information at bootranch.com.