“The landscape looks a lot like many of the places we lived and traveled in East Africa, and so it seemed like a natural fit to take inspiration from places we’d gone to and try to create something similar here because it looked the part.”
We’re in great company with Blake Smith, Founder and CEO of Walden Retreats, where he has the great privilege of creating an escape into nature in the heart of Texas Hill Country that brings guests a renewed sense of place and self.
Since 2016, Walden Retreats has provided guests the ultimate comfort of a luxury hotel in safari style canvas tents amidst the adventures of the outdoors. Located just west of Austin and north of San Antonio, there is much to do and to discover on 96 private acres along the Pedernales River.
In this episode, Blake sheds light on his business development journey, his passion as a result of his upbringing and international experiences, and the community surrounding the retreat he is creating back home.
[1:20] How time oversees in East Africa working for a non-profit inspired Blake to bring that sense of safari adventure, campsite lodging and kind hospitality back home to the Texas.
[8:00] With no roadmap, Blake faced too many challenges to count in educating investors, council members, contractors, and finally potential guests on the new frontier he was creating.
[11:35] “We live in a high pressure world full of activity that we often don’t take the time to sit down and think.”
[15:10] What started as a concept in business school, proved the perfect market opportunity and provided the necessary professional framework, to bring the idea that would become Walden Retreats to life.
[19:00] From a drive down a long dirt road, the scene is set with a mood of mystery upon entering the secluded property.
[22:22] How Blake’s wife Sarah brought the design of the spaces to life from the rich cultural pieces inspired by her time living in Indonesia to a more modern and refined approach to the accommodations.
[28:15] Whether you want to catch an old country concert, two step the night away, find an antique treasure, or enjoy a crisp glass of wine, the hillside towns around Walden Retreats welcome visitors to explore.
[32:55] What inspired Matthew McConaughey to partner with Blake and his team in creating the Longbranch Ranch and all the “unexpected” experiences yet to come!
[35:30] Blake spills the tea and sets the table for their upcoming supper clubs in collaboration with local Austin chefs and much more on the horizon.
[49:00] “I went for a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” - Henry David Thoreau
- Casper Mattress
- Public Goods
- Field Company Cast Iron
- Lukenbach Dance Hall
- Fredericksburg, TX
- Altstadt Brewery
- William Chris Vineyards
- Enchanted Rock, TX
- Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
- Longbranch Bourbon
- Longbranch Ranch Experiences
- Sway Thai Restaurant