In 2004, when Houston couple Tina Sabuco and Shellye Arnold decided to celebrate their eighth wedding anniversary, they wanted to locate an exceptional place to commemorate one of the happiest days of their lives. But where could they find a unique and tranquil escape for their celebration? Both women are executives with demanding schedules, so finding a time and a place to relax was difficult.
Sabuco is the founder and artistic director of Arts Alive!, a popular arts-education program for children in Houston. Rather than force kids to sit still with their hands behind their backs, Arts Alive! encourages children to learn through movement, dance, yoga, and music. Arnold is the president and CEO of Memorial Park Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of Houston’s largest urban park. She is responsible for managing the park’s long-range restoration and expansion plans.
The couple decided to search locally for their anniversary getaway spot, since they did not want to waste time in airports. They soon found a hideaway in Wimberley, Texas, that offered everything they sought, and it was only a three-hour drive from Houston. ”We found a perfect getaway on sparkling Cypress Creek, across from a nature preserve and just steps from historic downtown Wimberley,” Arnold says.
They enjoyed their getaway so much that they purchased the property. “We were able to establish a welcoming and distinctive place for guests to celebrate, restore their spirits, and even to heal,” Arnold explains.
“We seek to create a superlative experience for our guests—including the furry ones,” Sabuco adds.
The couple transformed the spot they purchased and named it Abundance—A Hill Country River Retreat. The couple’s care and attention to detail is seen in the comfy seating on their 2,500 square feet of porches and decking; homemade treats for pups; an array of dog beds and toys; clean, well-stocked, and beautifully appointed homes; and a popular “Must See and Do in Wimberley” guide for their guests.
For the past 16 years, the couple has enjoyed many visits to Abundance, and they’ve developed a deep bench of returning guests who love it, too. “Half of our guests are repeat visitors, some of whom have come three, five, even twelve times. Guests call us Nature’s Disneyland,” says Sabuco.
Abundance consists of two log homes that seamlessly blend natural beauty with luxury in a unique Hill Country location teeming with ancient trees. Sundance Lodge, the larger of the two log homes, is named for its bright interior that is bathed in natural light. It is a sumptuous and spacious log home that brings nature indoors. Popular with groups, its three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths can accommodate eight guests.
The smaller Moondance Cabin is noted for its rustic and romantic charm and coziness. This three-room log cabin accommodates up to four guests and includes a private sauna and an oversized soaking tub. Moondance’s recently added 400-square-foot back porch may be the prettiest perching place in Texas.
Georgia Lister, an entrepreneur and married mother of two, is a “frequent flyer” at Abundance. “We think of it as a quick getaway close to home,” Lister says. “My family feels rejuvenated when we spend time there. The creek, wildlife, and magnificent setting all restore our energy and recharge our batteries. Plus, Wimberley has many artists, unusual shops, and really good dining.”
Sabuco and Arnold’s guests are supplied with everything they might need during their stay: kitchenware, linens, kayaks, and even deer feed for those who want to attract “visitors.”
“We like to call Abundance Retreat an immersive experience,” Arnold explains. “There is so much to take in and enjoy. Our guests often tell us this is their favorite vacation spot in the world. It is so rewarding to be able to share it.”
Mandy Trichell has been a returning guest for over a decade. In May, she and her fiancé will spend four days together in Moondance Cabin, and she can’t wait.
“We’ll sit on the porch with coffee and enjoy the cool mornings,” Trichell says. “My fiancé loves to cook, and they provide all the equipment we need; he is really looking forward to that. I like to watch the wildlife and feed the deer. Last visit, we counted 30 in one herd. The entire experience is heaven on Earth.”
In April, Sabuco and Arnold celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. Who wants to venture a guess as to where they went to celebrate?
For more information, visit abundanceretreat.com.
This article appears in the May 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.