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HIDDEN GEM: The Retreat at Artesian Lakes

The 500-acre property features five artesian wells that produce crystal-clear water as well as dozens of cabins for visitors.

ROMAYOR, Texas — About 60 miles north of downtown Houston, you'll find a place where you can seriously unplug: The Retreat at Artesian Lakes.

"It’s East Texas. East Texas is considerably different," smiled owner Jimmy Smith. "Huge trees."

In addition to the trees, the 500 acres owned by Smith features five artesian wells that produce crystal-clear water.

"When I say flow, we don’t pump. There’s no pump. It just flows almost 1 million gallons a day," Smith said. "That’s what feeds the lakes."

Generations ago, the property between Cleveland and Liberty was known as Chain O'Lakes because of the dozens of interconnected lakes. Smith’s family bought it in 1932. He took over ownership in the ‘80s when it was just a campground.

"We decided we didn’t want to do that anymore," Smith said.

The former dentist overhauled 100 acres, turning them into a place where companies could bring employees for retreats and where families can unwind and reconnect.

"Good old-fashioned stuff where people spend their time together," Smith said. 

The property has a couple dozen cabins on it and they range in size from one that holds 18 people to those that hold just two. Every cabin is built lakeside, so visitors can fish right off their porches.

"It’s all about nature. It’s hiking. It’s canoeing. It’s boats," Smith shared. "We have basketball, volleyball, soccer, a frisbee-golf course."

The list goes on. Kids can catch their first fish in this pond, stocked with blue gill. There’s a pool to cool off in right next to the swimming lake. The Hilltop Restaurant serves up dishes with a side of wildlife.

"A large dose of Mother Nature," Smith summarized.

That’s what keeps visitors coming back.

"It’s really not unusual to have a guest come in and say, ‘We’ve been coming here for 25 or 30 years,'" Smith said.

Some decided to stay here permanently. Since the resort only takes up 100 of that, Smith opted to sell lakefront lots on the other 400.

"They have really nice homes here," Smith said. 

A few of those are available to rent throughout the year as well. 

For more information about The Retreat at Artesian Lakes, click here

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